SDA Sabbath School Lessons
April 27, 1996
#4 Coming to the Help of the Lord
Read for this week's study:
Judges 4, 5;
Judges 5:9, NRSV
God gives victory to His people when they and their leaders willingly unite
in worship, obedience, trust, and service, whatever the personal risks
involved. Those who choose not to take part in this effort lose their share
in the blessing of victory.
Every spiritual athlete in the church is important. The smallest
high school in the district wants to win the track-and-field trophies. This
is possible only with a high level of participation, commitment, and effort
on the part of the students. Every student who has ability in running,
jumping, or throwing prepares for months in advance for the yearly event.
The big day arrives. Muscles strain. Sweat flows. Voices grow hoarse from
cheering. The small school wins!
There are many situations in which full participation is needed. A sports
team needs all its members in order to be competitive. An orchestra needs
every player. A church needs every member.
In the church's mission to the world, full participation and cooperation can
mean the difference between victory and defeat. The same principle was true
in the time of Deborah and Barak, when their makeshift Israelite army took
on the powerful Canaanite forces of Jabin and Sisera.
- Sunday April 21: Deborah and Barak (
Judges 4:1-10 ).
- The apostasies of the Israelites became continually worse (
Judges 2:19 ), and their punishments became worse. Whereas they served
Cushan-rishathaim for eight years (
3:8 ) and were subjugated by Eglon for 18 years (
14 ), they were cruelly oppressed by King Jabin of northern Canaan for
20 years (
- Whereas Othniel and Ehud were apparently called directly by God (
Judges 3:10, 15 ), Barak was called through Deborah, a prophetess (
Judges 4:4-7 ). Because of her prophetic gift, the Israelites submitted
their legal cases to her for judgment (
verses 4, 5; compare
- Can you think of other women in the Bible who were specially inspired by
Exodus 15:20, 21;
2 Kings 22:12-20;
- Barak accepted Deborah's prophetic gift and believed that God would use
him to deliver Israel (
11:32, 33 ). But he insisted that she go with him (
4:8 ). Asking a woman to put herself in mortal danger by going into a
battle situation was highly unusual. Even more surprising is the fact that
she agreed to go (
9 ). Her courage, based upon absolute trust in the word of God, is
- Why did Barak want Deborah to go with him?
- Deborah, an established leader (
4:4 ), had initiated the action. Her presence would inspire soldiers
with confidence in the reliability of God's message of victory. She would
go where she had told others to go. Also, if a woman could go to the
battle, any able-bodied man who did not go would risk the humiliation of
- Are we willing to accept messages from God that are delivered to us by a
- Monday April 22: General in Tent to Kill
- When Barak asked Deborah to go with him, 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" (
4:9, NRSV ). It is natural to assume that Deborah was referring to
herself as overcoming Sisera.
- Surprise! Another woman enters the story. She is Jael (pronounced
Ya-ale), a tent dweller of the Kenites, who were related to the Israelites
through Moses (
verses 11, 17 ).
- In what predicament did General Sisera find himself?
- Sisera's fearsome iron chariots and army were gone. Footsore and weary,
he finally found a place of refuge and rest in a Kenite camp. Jael went out
of her way to be helpful, inviting him into her tent and hiding him there (
18 ). She went out of her way to be hospitable, giving him milk to
drink instead of water (
19 ). And when he fell asleep, she went out of her way to be helpful to
the Israelites! Her real loyalties were with them and with the Lord. She
could have waited until Barak arrived to deal with Sisera (
22 ), but instead, she was courageous enough to dispose of the general
- Compare the role of Jael (
Judges 4:17-22 ) to that of Ehud (
Judges 3:15-25 ) in terms of the way they acted and the results that they
achieved for the Israelites.
- Ehud had acted alone in assassinating Eglon and leading the Israelites
against the Moabites (
Judges 3:15-30 ), but God used a team against Jabin: Deborah, Barak, and
Jael. Jael was to Sisera what Ehud was to Eglon. Both Ehud and Jael acted
in response to God's command to destroy His enemies. Their acts were not
murder; they were punitive acts, capital punishment, commanded by God, of
those whose probation had closed. (See
- In our setting, what are the results when we, as a team, cooperate with
Christ in the spiritual battle of delivering sinners from the power of Satan?
Tuesday April 23: Victory Song
- The name Deborah means "bee," and Barak means
"lightning." Their forces struck like lightning and stung like a
bee. After the main battle, King Jabin was still alive in Hazor (
4:2 ), one of the largest cities of ancient Palestine. But the
Israelites went on to destroy him too (
24 ). At the end of the climactic day of battle ("on that day,"
Judges 4:14, 23), Deborah and Barak sang a victory song, a national anthem
of praise to God (
- What are the main themes of Deborah and Barak's song? Judges 5.
- Since the Hebrew song preserves many ancient poetic features and words,
it is among the most difficult passages in the Bible to translate.
Nevertheless, the poem clearly emphasizes the same overall idea as the
preceding narrative: deliverance by God through human beings who fully
cooperated with Him and trusted in His strength. Compare
- The song begins with a reminder that God was with the Israelites at the
time of their journey toward Canaan in the time of Moses (
Judges 5; compare
33:1, 2 ). Then the song describes the situation in Israel before the
Judges 5:6-8 ), tells of the call to battle and its success ( verses 9-13 ), and lists tribes who answered the call and those who failed
to do so (
verses 14-18 ). The remainder of the song vividly recounts the battle itself (
verses 19-22 ), curses the inhabitants of Meroz for not helping when their
assistance was of vital importance (
23 ), and portrays the death of Sisera (
ses 24-31 ).
- Why do you think a conversation between Sisera's mother and the wisest
of her ladies is included?
- How ironic that the wisest of the Canaanite ladies imagined that Sisera
was delayed by victory! Their "wisdom" was completely wrong
because they did not take the God of Israel into account.
- What different results do we experience when we rely on God's wisdom
rather than our own? (Compare
Wednesday April 24: Willingly Coming to the Help of the Lord
(Judges 5:2, 9, 13-18, 23).
- The song of Deborah and Barak praises the Lord for the Israelites who
volunteered to go into battle (
s 5:2, 9 ). What is the effect of willingly contributing to the service
Exodus 35:4-9, 21-29;
1 Chron. 29:5-9, 14-18;
- When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach and heal, He said to them:
"Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8, NIV). When
we acknowledge that we have received freely from God, we are ready to give
freely to His service.
- What was so wrong about what the people of Meroz did, or rather, failed
- "The Israelite inhabitants of Meroz, on the path of the retreating
hosts of Sisera, refused to render assistance in any form. With the aid of
these men the pursuing Israelites could probably have prevented any of the
Canaanites, perhaps even Sisera, from escaping the field of
battle."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 336.
- Do you do nothing in times of spiritual crisis? If so, why? What is
the connection between the state of your relationship with Christ and your
- Thursday April 25: Retell the Triumphs of the Lord
- In their song, Deborah and Barak spoke of retelling the victories of the
5:11 ), which He had won on behalf of His people.
5 with other songs of deliverance by God that are recorded in the Bible.
15:3, 4. What is the effect of such triumphant celebration?
- The song of Deborah and Barak begins with a reminder of God's presence
when the Israelites journeyed toward Canaan (
s 3:2-5 ). The rest of the song, telling of deliverance from King Jabin
and Sisera, shows that God was again with His people in the time of Deborah
and Barak. They could trust God completely in the present and in the future
because He had demonstrated His trustworthiness time and again.
- What did God's greatest triumph accomplish?
- Oppression by Pharaoh, Jabin, and Sisera is nothing compared with
subjection to Satan, who through deceit usurped the dominion that God gave
to Adam and Eve (
3:1-24 ). But at the price of incredible self-sacrifice, the Lord has
delivered from the power of Satan all who have believed in Him and has made
them citizens of His kingdom, under His protection. Jesus is the ultimate
Judge-Deliverer. By dying the death of the wicked in place of human beings,
He delivered His willing ones by casting out Satan as having any claim to
authority over human beings. At His second coming, Christ will take over
the world, exercising the right that He bought with His blood (
. 19:11-20:3 ).
- Why are personal testimonies to the triumphs of the Lord in individual
lives so powerful?
- Friday April 26:
Further study: Reconsider the relationship between faith and the punitive
work performed by Deborah and Barak (
11:32-34 ). Read the SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, pp. 333-337,
on Judges 5, the song of Deborah and Barak.
- "True Christian character is marked by a singleness of purpose, and
indomitable determination, which refuses to yield to worldly influences,
which will aim at nothing short of the Bible standard. If men will permit
themselves to become discouraged in the service of God, the great adversary
will present abundant reasons to turn them from the plain path of duty to
one of ease and irresponsibility. Those who can be bribed or seduced,
discouraged or terrified, will be of no service in the Christian warfare.
Those who set their affections on worldly treasures or worldly honors, will
not push the battle against principalities and powers, and spiritual
wickedness in high places."-Ellen G. White, "A Test of Faith," Signs of
the Times, June 30, 1881.
- Discussion Questions:
- How single-minded and determined are you to overcome the power of Satan,
by Christ's strength, in your own life and in your ministry for others? If
you lack such determination, how do you get it? (See Ac
ts 4:12, 23-31.)
- How can we have an "indomitable determination, which refuses to yield to
worldly influences," and "push the battle against principalities and powers"
and at the same time be sensitive to the needs of those with whom we come in
contact? Study this question in the context of Jesus' life. For example,
2:13-17 and Matt
. 23:13-36 with Matt.
A>. See also Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 12: "Tears were in
His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes."
- Even though we are never called today to perform the kind of work which
God directed Ehud and Jael, are Christians today sometimes called to
unpleasant duties? (See Matt
. 18:15-20; 1
Under Deborah and Barak, the Israelites were victorious because they trusted
in God's power to deliver them from superior forces. Their faith was shown
by their actions. Without works resulting from our faith, our faith is dead
HTML code added by Bob and Bryan Hanson.
Last updated on April 4, 1996.