Lectionary Year A
November 17, 2002
Judges 4:1-10

Hermeneutical Bridge


The theological center of gravity in this text finds God initiating the battle to restore Israel to faithfulness relative to God. The major concerns include Deborah’s obeying God’s call and calling Barak to duty and his agreeing to go if she’ll accompany him. She does, of course, and that element deserves high visibility in the exposition. Teamwork works in this account and that element gets high profile, too. Sisera’s role is minor, almost incidental really. To proclaim good news from this text today, we need to paraphrase current temptations of idolatry to make it relevant currently.


1 After Ehud’s death, the Israelites, yet, again did what was evil in God’s judgment. 2 Consequently, God let them fall under the hand of Jabin, King in Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of Jabin’s warfare was one Sisera who lived in a place known as Herosheth-he-goim. 3 Thereupon, the Israelites cried to the Lord for help, since Sisera had nine hundred chariots of iron and had oppressed them for cruelly for 20 years. 4 During that time, Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging for the Israelites. 5 She customarily sat under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites would come out to her for judgments. 6 She sent and summoned Barak, son of Abinoam from Kedesh to Naphtali. She said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you to ‘Go take at Mount Tabor ten thousand from Naphtali and from Zebulun. 7 I will get Sisera to come out to the Wadi of Kishon. He is the captain of Jabin’s troops and will bring his chariots. There I will give him into your hand’.” 8 Barak replied, “I will go if you will accompany me, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she assured him, “I will go with you; however, the venture on which you are embarking (under such conditions) will not bring you any glory on account of, this way, the Lord is defeating Sisera (apparently) at the hand of a female.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kecesh. 10 Barak summoned Naphtali and Zebulun to Kedesh. The ten thousand warriors went behind him. Deborah went with him, too.


This narrative tells of people getting in trouble as idolaters. People today are guilty of very similar sinfulness, to say nothing of apathy, taking the paths of least resistance and lethargy in faith development. They/we get discouraged with the negativity rampant these days. God still notices such misbehavior and is concerned enough to let troubles multiply until people cry out unto God for relief. God grants relief via returning to faithfulness. God finds servants, not unlike Deborah, today, to assist idolaters and other sinners through troubles. Sometimes it takes an army of assist-agents, sometimes “it takes a village”. People need people. God provides people to meet peoples’ needs.

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