These small group studies of Judges contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Judges 4-5 Inductive Bible Study
Israel’s idolatry brings servitude once again (1-3)
Deborah judging Israel (4-5)
The command from God for Baruk to lead the army against Sisera (6-7)
Baruk agrees and they go to war (8-11)
God gives victory over Sisera’s army (12-16)
Jael kills Sisera with a tent peg (17-22)
God gives them victory over Jabin (23-24)
I. Verses 1-3
Do you see anything familiar between this passage and the previous ones? What?
Why did the sons of Israel turn to God for help this time?
Can you remember the principles we learned from this the last couple of weeks?
Psalms 106:41-45 – Many times they rebelled, but He still listened to their voice.
1 Samuel 12:9-11 – They forgot God so He delivered them into Sisera’s hands. When they repented, He raised up judges to save them.
Psalms 50:15 – Call upon God in the day of trouble and He will deliver you.
Exodus 14:7 – Pharaoh of Egypt only took 600 chariots, so 900 was really a large number.
Judges 3:31 – If God can deliver Israel by an oxgoad, there is no need for chariots.
This same process keeps repeating itself again and again. Like we said last week. It is easy to look at them and think they are foolish and sinful, and they are. But how about ourselves? Did we do that last week? Did we keep repeating the same sins we already knew were wrong? Did we always do the good things we knew were right? Hopefully this week we can break out of those sinful habits.
The 900 large iron chariots were only part of this army. Pharaoh only chased Israel (the entire nation) with 600, so this was a very large number. This was a very big and powerful army they were going up against. What is more, their army was far less equipped. They had no chariots, probably very few horses, probably not much armor, and probably not a lot of weapons (judging from Ehud making his own before). At that time iron chariots are almost like tanks against infantry today.
II. Verses 4-5
What did Deborah do?
What is a prophetess?
Some people like to point to this passage and say that because Deborah was a judge of Israel and had leadership that women can teach in the church. What do you think? Is Deborah proof God thinks it’s ok for women to teach in the church?
So how would you respond to someone who believed this or asked you this question?
1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Titus 2:3-5, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Galatians 3:28
Luke 2:36, Acts 21:8-9 – Philip’s daughters prophesying.
This begins one passage that is often used to support women taking leadership positions in the church or becoming pastors/preachers/elders. First, let’s look at what it says about Deborah. What does it say about Deborah?
Deborah was a prophetess. What does this mean? What does a prophet do? This was her particularly gifting. She would have been more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading than most people. And probably God at times gave her some special revelation. In fact, we see that He does later in the chapter use her as a messenger to Barak and the armies and tell them God will give them victory.
Deborah was a judge. She served the country judicially because of her wisdom in settling disputes.
Go over what it doesn’t say about Deborah, why she is not a support for women preachers, how to answer this question, and all the verses on women teaching in the church. What can we learn from this?
We can draw the conclusion that God uses women in amazing ways even in the public arena (such as Esther, Mary, Priscilla). We may can also draw the conclusion (at least this is support of) that it is not sinful of itself for a woman to be involved in politics, be a judge, or be a boss of man in a secular setting (Deborah was a secular leader of her people). But remember that of the 13 judges, only one was a woman. So although it is not sinful and sometimes might be necessary in a secular setting if men are taking the responsibility it is also not the normal way God structured it.
III. Verses 6-10
Who gave the command for to attack Sisera and his army?
Who was commanded to lead Israel in battle?
What character qualities can we seen in Deborah?
How about Barak?
Why did Barak want to go up only with Deborah? What did this show about his character?
What was the result of his cowardice?
Who is Zebulun and Naphtali?
Hebrews 11:32 – Barak commended for his faith.
Judges 5:21 – God used the river Kishon to help destroy Sisera’s army.
Revelation 16:16 – God will gather man’s armies again one day at Armageddon. People think they are acting freely to do their own plans, but often don’t know God is the one moving them to do it.
Exodus 4:10-14 – Moses has some excuses and wants Aaron to go with him.
1 Samuel 15:6 – The Kenites were normally on friendly terms with the sons of Israel.
Notice it was God giving the command to Barak. Deborah was merely a messenger.
Notice also the military leader was Barak.
God was going to give the victory to them even against such a strong force.
Barak was fearful to go by himself, even a little bit cowardly. Yet we can read in Hebrews that he is an honorable mention in the hall of faith. He was by nature scared, yet he did do what God requested of him. He did lead a far inferior army against a seemingly unbeatable force because God had commanded him to. This also took great faith. I think we can get a lot of encouragement from this. God doesn’t only use superheroes. He doesn’t only use giants or perfect people. He doesn’t only use the Daniels or Josephs. He uses common everyday Joes, people like you and me. He uses people who have weaknesses, who make mistakes, and who don’t always do what they should. But all of those people in Hebrews 11 had faith. God can use even weak you and me, but we need to have faith in Him and His promises. Don’t shrink back from doing the job He has given you even if you are nervous or feel afraid. Take for example, sharing the gospel. You may be afraid to do it or even nervous. But conquer that fear. Don’t let it stop you from doing what you know you should. Decide to trust in God and share anyway.
The Kenites were relatives of Moses’ wife’s family. They generally had good relations with the people of Israel and at least originally believed in God. They were also descended from Abraham.
IV. Verses 11-16
What was so special about iron chariots?
So how could Israel defeat such strong opposition?
How complete was Israel’s victory?
What does this show us about how God works? Do you think its normal for not even one of an army to be left?
Joshua 10:10, 1 Samuel 7:10, 2 Kings 7, 2 Chronicles 13:15-17 – All cases where God routed Israel’s enemies, sometimes using miraculous ways.
Psalms 33:16-17 – A horse is not hope for deliverance.
1. 900 chariots were only part of his force. He surely had thousands of foot soldiers as well.
2. Arise! Get Up! Go! Serving God is not something we can do sitting down (figuratively). It takes work. It takes doing something. It doesn’t come by itself. In other words, don’t just stay here and wait for that army. Go to the battle instead of waiting for the battle to come to you. As believers, we are to be people of action, not inaction. At this point Barak had already decided to fight the battle. Now it was a matter of getting up and doing what he knew was right. Wow, this has a lot of potential applications for us. Can you think of any? I remember the Great Commission. How does it begin? Go! Sharing the gospel doesn’t normally happen if we are waiting for people to ask us about it. Reading the Bible, loving your wife, praying, etc. are all potential applications.
3. The Lord routed the army. It wasn’t Barak or Deborah. The Lord did it as He had done so many times before. Not even one was left. This refrain occurs many times when the Lord gave them victory in the battle. It shows how complete the victory God gave was. It doesn’t leave room for coincidence. Normally speaking, no matter how great a battle, it is very likely that at least some will escape. This shows the miraculous nature of the victory. God doesn’t do things half-heartedly.
V. Verses 17-24
What do you think of Jael?
Is what she did good or bad?
What can we learn from this event?
Psalms 37:35-36 – The wicked may flourish like a tree for a while, but then they will die away and be seen no more.
Discuss verses one by one.
What can we learn from Jair? Why do you think she did what she did?