1. Our study of this fascinating book moves this morning to the third epoch of that time in the history of ancient Israel known as the Period of the Judges. The third epoch lasted forty years, but most of the events recorded in our text passage occured on a single, tumultuous day. Two women -- one, a wise and faithful leader and the other, a fearless and treacherous avenger -- dominate the narrative, but there is a large, colourful cast of characters in this biblical drama.
a. J __ __ __ __
(1) King of H __ __ __ __, the powerful Canaanite city north of the Sea of Galilee
(2) A tyrant, he oppressed God's people for _____ years after the death of Ehud.
b. S __ __ __ __ __
(1) Jabin's enforcer, the general of the Canaanite armies under the king's rule.
(2) He was without military peer in the land, commanding a great army which included _____ iron c __ __ __ __ __ __ __.
c. D __ __ __ __ __ __
(1) Israel's only female j __ __ __ __, and the only one of the twelve of whom the Bible records as functioning in a truly judicial capacity.
(2) She was also a p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.
d. B __ __ __ __
(1) A leader from the tribe of N __ __ __ __ __ __ __ who became Deborah's ally;
(2) His lack of confidence in his army's chances against the mighty army of Sisera stands in sharp contrast to Deborah's unswerving faith in the power of God.
e. H __ __ __ __
(1) A Kenite bedouin who was on friendly terms with Jabim;
(2) He and his wife did not see eye-to-eye politically.
f. J __ __ __
(1) Heber's w __ __ __;
(2) She knew how to handle a h __ __ __ __ __.
g. Y __ __ __ __ __ ( a.k.a. "Jehovah" )
(1) The one true G __ __;
(2) He was in charge of w __ __ __ and w __ __ __ __ __ __.
2. These two chapters of the Book of Judges each tell the same story of what constituted the first major threat to the security of the young nation of Israel.
a. Chapter 4 is an historical narrative.
b. Chapter 5 is an ode to triumph, widely regarded as one of the greatest epic poems in Hebrew literature.
(1) The poetic nature of chapter 5 is completely obscurred in the King James Version of the Bible. For fullest literary effect it should be read in one of the more recent translations like the RSV, the NASB, or even the NIV.
(2) The poem was probably set to festive music and was handed down from generation to generation. There are other examples of the Hebrew "song poem" in the Old Testament, including:
- Exodus 15:1-18 and 15:21;
- 2 Samuel 1:17-27; and
- Psalm 18 ( as well as other Psalms )
3. At the epicenter of our text, however, is a unique leader - Deborah ( whose name in Hebrew means "honeybee" ). That she was a prophetess is unusual, but not without precedent in God's Word.. Other women so called in the Bible include Miriam ( the sister of Moses ) in Exodus 15:20, Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14, Noadiah in Nehemiah 6:14, Anna in Luke 2:36, and the four daughters of Philip in Acts 21:9. Deborah is one of several women mentioned in the Bible who were in positions of leadership. But she is the only woman in all of Scripture who has a major, God-given leadership role over His people. Hebrew culture was completely patriarchal, so it is easy to assume that Deborah's rise to prominance was due in no small part to a want in Israel for godly, mature male leadership. As we will see, however, when God raises up a leader who is willing to be the faithful vessel through whom His power is exercised, neither experience, social standing, nor gender are of critical consequence.
B. TEXT: Judges 4:1 - 5:31
1. 4:1 contains a phrase which is beginning to have a sadly familiar ring to it: And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord....
a. Key word: "a __ __ __ __"
b. The word translated as "evil" is actually more pointed in the original text language: And the children of Israel again did the evil in the sight of the Lord. "The" evil is a specific reference to God's people succumbing yet again to the worship of the false and sensuous gods of the Canaanites: the B __ __ __ __ and the A __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.