Judges 4 is a great example of the heroics and violence of the old testament that is so distant from us as modern Christians. None of us would find ourselves commanded by God to lead out an army or find an enemy general and assassinate him, but they are part of our Scriptures for a good reason.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went up to her for judgment. Now she sent word and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has indeed commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will hand him over to you.’” Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” She said, “I will certainly go with you; however, the fame shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh.
Judges 4:4-9

Indeed the glory does go to a woman; Deborah is remembered as one of the great leaders of Israel (the word we know as “judge” here is probably better translated “leader”). The army of Israel is victorious. Jael kills an enemy leader as he tries to flee for safety, breaking the leadership and morale of the enemy forces and as a result, she is praised in a song in the very next chapter.

In our lives, we will never be tasked with taking on that kind of violence for God’s sake. On the contrary, we are tasked with showing kindness to those who would harm us (Matthew 5:38-39). What is true in both cases is that God has given us a calling and we each have a choice to either step up and accept it to His glory or to fail. I hope we always choose the better path, the one which brings peace to us and glory to our Lord.

So no matter who we are, whether we are called to lead out front or we find ourselves in a moment where leadership is needed, we know who we are and whom we serve and we can reach out our hand, knowing God is with us.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published March 17, 2021