The Wisdom of a Deliverer

The Gospel Project® for Adults  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  57:54
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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 9, Session 2
© 2018 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., June 2022.
Summary and Goal
The era of the judges began with God providing Othniel to deliver Israel and give God’s people peace for forty years, followed by Ehud and Shamgar delivering the people (Judg. 3:7-31). In this session we will find that the Israelites were once again under God’s discipline because they had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. This time, God used King Jabin of Canaan, along with his commander, Sisera, to oppress His people. But once again we will see the pattern unfold of the people crying out for relief and God providing a deliverer, although this time the deliverer would be someone the Israelites may not have expected. We will see that God gives His people gifts and works through them so that He might receive glory.
Session Outline
++1. God’s faithful people use their gifts in service to Him (Judg. 4:4-7).
++2. God’s faithful people courageously face impossible odds (Judg. 4:14-16).
++3. God’s faithful people glorify Him for working through them (Judg. 5:1-5,9-11).
Session in a Sentence
God positions and provides gifts for His people for their good and His glory.
Deborah was the chosen leader of God who ruled with wisdom to rescue her people.
Missional Application
Because we have been given a number of gifts from God, including salvation through Jesus, we use each of our gifts to build up the body of Christ, the church, as we encourage others to do the same.
page 94 in the DDG
In the fall of 2017, as deadly wildfires swept through California, Roland Hendel realized he and his family were in danger, so they packed to leave their home. As flames approached, he turned his attention to his eight goats and Great Pyrenees dog, Odin. Hendel didn’t have time to load the goats into a trailer, and Odin gave him a look that said, “I’m not moving.” So Hendel opened the gates allowing the goats and Odin to escape if needed. He then got into his car and fled with his family and other pets.
When Hendel returned the next day, he found that his entire property had been destroyed, including his home. Odin and the eight goats, however, were alive and well. Odin’s pads were burned, his fur singed, and he was exhausted. Hendel deduced that Odin had led the goats to a clearing surrounded by some rocks where they were able to avoid the flames. 1
Ask the following question.
What are some other current examples of an unexpected rescuer?
(be prepared to give an answer of your own to jump-start the conversation)
Say: Not every rescuer looks like a Hollywood hero, strong and bold. God often chooses a different way (1 Cor. 1:27).
1 Corinthians 1:27 NASB
but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
The deliverers God often used throughout Scripture were antiheroes whose unconventional power came not from human strength but from the God in whom they believed. And God still does the same today.
The Israelites were once again under God’s discipline because they had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. God used King Jabin of Canaan, along with his commander, Sisera, to oppress His people. But once again the pattern will unfold of the people crying out for relief and God providing a deliverer, although this time the deliver would be someone the Israelites may not have expected.
God positions and provides gifts for His people for their good and His glory.

Point 1: God’s faithful people use their gifts in service to Him (Judg. 4:4-7).

King Jabin treated the Israelites harshly for twenty years, and they cried out to the Lord for deliverance. Previously, God had sent Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar. This time, God would provide a person of great wisdom and prophetic abilities, an ideal person to deliver God’s people from Jabin, except for one thing—this person was named Deborah. In an unexpected twist, God was going to use a woman to help rescue His people.
Judges 4:4-7 (DDG p. 95).
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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’?”
DDG (p. 95)
As a prophetess, Deborah’s role was to speak the word of the Lord to His people. As a judge, she helped to resolve the quarrels of her people. Fulfilling both of these roles was challenging enough for men like Moses, but doing so as a woman in a patriarchal society was more challenging still. God guided Deborah to summon Barak to battle Sisera. Barak balked at going alone, so faithful Deborah went with him. She warned him, however, that he would receive no honor because of his fear; the Lord would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman (vv. 8-9).
Voices from Church History
“The job has been given to me to do. Therefore it is a gift. Therefore it is a privilege. Therefore it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Therefore it is the route to sanctity.” 2 –Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
Deborah’s responsibility as a prophetess is rather unique; we know of only a few prophetesses in Scripture:
Miriam (Ex. 15:20),
Huldah (2 Kings 22:14),
Isaiah’s wife (Isa. 8:3),
Anna (Luke 2:36),
and the daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8-9).
But Deborah’s identity as both prophetess and judge sets her apart even more.
Only Moses (Ex. 18; Deut. 34:10) and Samuel (1 Sam. 3:20; 7:15) in Scripture hold both the roles of prophet and judge.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 95)
God’s Command Through Deborah
• Where? Mount Tabor
• Who? Barak and an army of 10,000 from Naphtali and Zebulun
• What would happen? God would give the victory over Sisera’s army
· God’s Command Through Deborah. Deborah didn’t come up with a military strategy to defeat Sisera. She was acting in her role as a prophetess, so she was quick to give God credit for His battle plan and for the victory He would provide. Deborah was a woman who was comfortable giving God the credit.
· Where? Barak was to assemble the troops on Mount Tabor, a mountain surrounded by a wide plain. The Israelite army positioned on this peak would have a perfect view of the plain surrounding them and be out of danger from Sisera’s chariots, at least until they had to engage them on the plain.
· Who? Barak was to take ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Not only was Barak from Kedesh, a city of refuge in Naphtali (Josh. 20:7), but these two tribes were close to Mount Tabor as well. When Joshua finished leading the army of all the tribes of Israel in conquering the promised land, he instructed each of the remaining tribes to subdue the peoples still remaining in their territories (Josh. 23:1-13). This was how God intended the conquest to continue to completion: each tribe was to finish conquering the land allotted to them. Mount Tabor was to be controlled by these two tribes.
· What would happen?Sisera had Jabin’s army to the southwest of Mount Tabor, across the plains, which meant the Israelite army would see their approach. God promised to lure them toward the Israelite army and hand them over to Barak and his ten thousand troops.
Through Deborah, God was giving Barak all he needed—the plans and the victory. All Barak needed to do was trust God and obey His instructions. But remember, the Israelites had been handed over to their enemies because of their unbelieving disobedience (Judg. 2:14-15). So Barak was being called on to do what he and the people should have done all along. Only one question remained: Would Barak be faithful to God?

Point 2: God’s faithful people courageously face impossible odds (Judg. 4:14-16).

Say: Barak took his first step of faith and assembled his army on Mount Tabor, and Deborah was with him, as he requested. But we can imagine that Barak faced a crisis of faith while staring down nine hundred chariots, superior firepower in ancient warfare. It was now time to step forward in obedience.
Read Judges 4:14-16 (DDG p. 96).
14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.
Barak’s actions weren’t necessarily fearless but evidence of His trusting obedience in God.
When Sisera heard the Israelites had gathered on Mount Tabor, he rounded up his chariots and army and marched toward the outmatched Israelites to destroy them. And then Barak obeyed in his next step of faith to come down from the mountaintop to attack Sisera. God calls on His people to take each step of faith knowing He is with us, leading us, and empowering us. Being afraid is no excuse for disobedience. God doesn’t require fearlessness from us, only trusting obedience.
· Obedient faith in the face of fear is still obedient faith, in fact, that is courage. Sometimes Christians believe that because we’re called to be courageous, we should not fear. However, courage is not the absence of fear but controlled fear. Fear says, “I cannot, so I will not.” Courage says, “I cannot, but God can, so I will.” Courage is what God calls us to demonstrate, even in taking one small step of faith at a time.
· Though Deborah did not pick up a sword and fight alongside Barak, she did something just as powerful: She encouraged the military leader by reminding him of God’s power. Her final words to Barak were focused not on the strength of his army nor on any tactical advantage but rather on God’s promises and power. Barak was able to fulfill the purpose God had for him because he was strengthened by God.
Ask the following question.
What are some situations that can cause paralyzing fear in believers?
(risking ridicule for your faith by taking a bold stand alone for the truth of God; serving in a ministry outside your comfort zone; sharing the gospel with an unbeliever)
DDG (p. 96)
What prompted Barak to charge into battle was not looking at the odds; they were stacked against him. The odds said to flee, or at least to hold firm on the high ground. The odds made it seem victory was impossible. But the problem with looking at the odds is that we often look at them the wrong way: The odds were never about Barak and the Israelites against Sisera and the Canaanites but about Sisera, his chariots, and his army against God Almighty. What looked impossible for Barak was actually impossible for Sisera and his forces. Barak needed only to believe and obey.
Say: The victory over Sisera did not come without a fight. Though God had the power to annihilate the oppressive army of the Canaanites, He chose to involve His faithful people in the battle. It still took the swords of the Israelites to defeat their enemies, but the battle was won by God through the people’s faith and obedience.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 96).
Faith: Biblical faith is the resting, or trusting, in Christ alone for salvation. It is not blind faith for it rests on the historical life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Essential Doctrine “Faith”: Biblical faith is the resting, or trusting, in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16-21).
John 3:16–21 NASB
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.“And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.“For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.“But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Faith is more than being simply a mental agreement of historical facts, genuine faith begins with a recognition and confession of the truth of the gospel (1 John 4:13-16),
1 John 4:13–16 NASB
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Additionally, faith is followed by a receiving of Christ as Lord and Savior of one’s life (John 1:10-13).
John 1:10–13 NASB
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Biblical faith is not blind faith for it rests on the historical life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Ask the following question.
How has faith in God, specifically in Jesus, helped you to face with confidence your fears and fights?
(be prepared to give an answer of your own to jump-start the conversation)

Point 3: God’s faithful people glorify Him for working through them (Judg. 5:1-5,9-11).

Sisera’s army was destroyed; their chariot-advantage was rendered meaningless because the Lord fought on behalf of the Israelites. And Sisera himself was slain by a woman—Jael—as Deborah had foretold. So there was much to rejoice about, and Deborah and Barak led the way with a song.
Read: read Judges 5:1-5,9-11 (DDG p. 97).
1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:
2 “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord! 3 Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel. 4 Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. 5 The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel.
................................................. 9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord. 10 Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way. 11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.
DDG (p. 97)
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the faithfulness of God’s people. Actually, it would be wrong of us not to. God has recorded their faithfulness in Scripture, in part, so we might find encouragement from them. Deborah led through her wisdom, prophecy, and wise judgment.
The believer today is no less equipped to fulfil the gift of ministry that God has called them to than Deborah was.
Barak led with his sword and his ability to gather an army. But neither one sought acclaim for themselves; their song of praise was to the Lord.
Any victory we experience is not birthed through our abilities but is a gift from God, who provided the plan and the power to achieve victory.
· For much of the history of the Israelites, they were marked by unbelief and disobedience, leading to their oppression and suffering at the hands of other nations. So when God’s people heard God’s voice and believed His word resulting in victory, they were justified to rejoice in the Lord (see Ps. 20:5). This is why we see Deborah and Barak sing not for their own glory but for God’s glory.
· Notice these phrases pointing to God:
“bless the Lord” (vv. 2,9);
“I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel” (v. 3).
We would be wise to have the same words rooted in our hearts and falling from our lips whenever we reflect on a job well done or a victory in our homes, churches, or communities.
Ask the following question.
Why might make it difficult at times, for us to glorify God for the victories we experience?
(we tried to achieve victory in our own power; we are prideful; it may seem awkward or feel like a humble brag to praise God for our victories in the presence of others; God may not have been on our minds; we enjoy the attention and applause ourselves)
DDG (p. 97)
When we experience the victory of the Lord, it is a good and right thing to sing His praises. When we do, our singing in worship goes before three audiences:
Three Audiences:
++The Lord
· When we sing, our songs of worship are to be offered to the Lord as sacrifices of praise.
The words that we sing are to be rooted not on a page of a hymnal or a screen but rather in our hearts. We are to sing truth, motivated by a deep love and gratitude for who God is and what He has done for us, especially in Christ.
· When we sing, we also sing to ourselves.
God is our primary audience, but He is not our only audience. We sing to remember. We sing to drive truth deeper into our minds and hearts. We sing to be transformed, to live differently in light of the gospel we proclaim in song. And sometimes we sing to foster worship. Sometimes we stand empty before God, spiritually dry. Praise is not found in our minds or hearts, and yet, we sing. In faith we put words of praise for God in our mouths so that they might work their way into our minds and hearts.
· When we sing, our third audience is others.
We sing so that others might hear truth, so that others might hear of the beauty, power, and glory of the Lord and be inclined to join in our songs with faith in Christ. We sing for the glory of God and the benefit of ourselves and others because our hearts cannot contain our praise. God’s glory must be shared.
It wasn’t just the responsibility of Deborah and Barak to praise and bless God; that responsibility fell to everyone who saw His power.
Everyone was also to tell of His righteous acts through the righteous deeds of His people (v. 11).
The songs of God’s people were, and still are, to be worship and evangelism, rising to the ears of God and falling upon the ears of His people and the nations around them.
Something amazing happens when God’s people live in faith and obedience: “And the land had rest for forty years” (Judg. 5:31). God worked through Deborah’s counsel and wisdom and Barak’s steps of faith to give His people what they desperately needed: rest and peace, but only for forty years because of their repeated cycle of sin. Jesus, on the other hand, promised a lasting rest (Matt. 11:28-30) and an eternal peace (John 16:33). In Jesus Christ, the Wonderful Counselor, we can find peace, yet His peace is not only in the absence of enemies but in the midst of them. If you have experienced this peace, this rest of faith, don’t keep it to yourself. Live in community with others, using the gifts God has given you to encourage others. Praise God for what He has done in your life so that others too might see His glory and join in your song of praise.
Session in a Sentence
God positions and provides gifts for His people for their good and His glory.
Because we have been given a number of gifts from God, including salvation through Jesus, we use each of our gifts to build up the body of Christ, the church, as we encourage others to do the same.
· How will you live in trusting obedience because of Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, our perfect Savior and Judge?
· What are some ways your group can better encourage one another toward deeper dependence on God and faithfulness to Him?
· Who needs to hear of God’s work in your life? What will you do to praise God and share it with them this week?
Close in prayer:
1. CBC Radio, “A dog called Odin survives California wildfires after refusing to abandon his goats,” September 3, 2018,
2. Elisabeth Elliot, A Lamp unto My Feet (Regal Books, 1985, reprinted 2004), 229-30.
3. David M. Howard Jr., “Judges,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 445, n. 4:4-5.
4. Havilah Dharamraj, “Judges,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 305.
5. Daniel I. Block, Judges, Ruth, vol. 6 in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
6. Iain M. Duguid, “Judges,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2017), 369, n. 4:12-16.
7. Barry C. Davis, “Judges,” in The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2007), 369, n. 4:15-16.
8. Tokunboh Adeyemo, “Judges,” in Africa Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 301.
9. Iain M. Duguid, “Judges,” in CSB Study Bible, 370, n. 5:4-5.
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