Deborah (Judges 4-5)
Deborah stood breathless at the edge of the battlefield, listening intently. Over the din of the battle she was just able to make out a strange sound, like the rushing of water. Dropping her blood-caked sword, she scrambled up a nearby rocky outcropping and gazed into the distance.
“Thank you, God,” she whispered, and then shouted at the top of her lungs, “Israel, retreat!”
Her general, Barak, scrambled up the outcropping behind her, confusion filling his face.
“What are you doing?” he shouted over the din of battle and the cries of “retreat” echoing through his troops.
Deborah raised her hand and pointed down the valley.
Barak’s mouth fell open and he stood for a moment in shocked silence. Then, “Retreat!” he bellowed. “You heard naviah*, RETREAT!”
The two watched as their army pulled swiftly back, leaving the enemy commander, Sisera, and his army of iron chariots spread out across the battlefield alone. Seconds later, a wall of water came rushing down the valley floor, slamming into the enemy forces. Hundreds were swept away as the torrential flow carved its way down the valley.
The rush of water receded as quickly as it had appeared, leaving Sisera’s decimated army in its wake. Those who escaped the torrent now found themselves trapped, the wheels of their iron chariots sunk deep into the mud. Sisera, who had escaped the floodwaters, and now found his chariot too stuck fast in the mud, screamed to his remaining troops, “Fight! Fight now! It is not over! Fight!”
As Sisera screamed at his decimated army to rejoin the battle, Barak turned to Deborah, awaiting orders.
“Finish it,” she said.
“Yes, naviah,” he responded, placing his hand over his heart and bowing slightly.
“Attack!” Barak bellowed, and leapt down to join the Israelite army in battle.
Deborah remained on top of the outcropping, watching as her army fought its way to victory.
As she looked out over the field, she saw Sisera in the distance. His face was covered in mud and filth and he was screaming obscenities at his men. As the battle drew closer, his expression changed from one of fury to one of fear. As the Israelite army closed in on the defeated general, he leapt from his chariot and scrambled to the ground. Clawing his way through the mud, Sisera made his escape, leaving his decimated army to fend for itself.
As the battle waned, Barak climbed back onto the outcropping beside Deborah.
“Where is he?” he growled, his eyes scanning the field.
“Gone,” Deborah said, “clawing his way through the mud toward his doom.”
“What?” cried Barak, “which way did he go? We have to go after him. We have to stop him!”
“His end is imminent.” Deborah responded, watching as Sisera disappeared over a nearby hillside.
“And remember,” she said, turning to face Barak, “I warned you, you will not be the one to stop him—the glory will not be yours.”
Barak frowned slightly, and nodded. “The Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman” he said, “I wonder who she is”
Questions to ponder
What was your favorite part of the story?
Where did you see God in the story?
What is God inviting you to try on today in light of the story?
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