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The DEEP

Embarrassment

You will not get the glory.

Judges 4:1–10 (ESV)

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

After the usual Israelite collapse of faith, enslavement, and cries for relief, God raises up a woman to rescue Israel. The text emphasizes this fact by repeating that she’s a woman. The Hebrew (וּדְבֹורָה֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה נְבִיאָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת לַפִּידֹ֑ות, oo-de-vor-ah ee-sha nvee-ah eh-shet la-pee-dote) literally says, “Now Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth.” Most translations leave out, “a woman,” as redundant.

This point becomes more pointed when Barak says, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Many commentators (though not all) view this as timidity on Barak’s part.

Deborah has already prophesied, in detail, how they will be victorious. What’s the point of her being there in person? Barak should have the courage to do this without her.

So, Deborah’s comeback is one for the ages. “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

Sisera will be killed by a girl. Barak can’t do it, even with the Lord’s blessing. He gets none of the glory.


This emphasis on women heroes is part of a pattern. Ehud was a lefty, which has traditional sinister connotations (sinister is literally the Latin word for left). Shamgar was apparently not an Israelite. Now Israel is being rescued by women. So, what the point?

It must have something to do with humility. They aren’t being saved by any means they would expect, or even respect. They’re embarrassed, enslaved, and broken, over and over. Then they are repeatedly rescued in ways that amplify their embarrassment. Yet, over and over, they don’t get a clue.

But we do get this book out of it all. That gets the clue out to a larger audience.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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