See Judges 4:1-4.
Judges 4&5 tell the same story in 2 distinct and different ways. Ch.4 gives a conventional, historical account; ch.5 tells the same story in song.
V.1b…The time of the Judges was a dark time in Hebrew history. It wasn’t the fault of the judges; God’s people lived a perpetual cycle that kept them in perpetual trouble. See Judges 5:8.God hadn’t deserted His people; they had deserted Him.
V.2…Jabin, king of Hazor, was considered the “King of Canaan”. The commander of his incredible army was Sisera.
V.3…Jabin overpowered the Israelites… and for 20yrs he held them in tortured subjection. For 20yrs, he “harshly oppressed” them. The people had given up; see Judges 5:6-11.When the people eventually did try to fight back, they were beaten back… and beaten down.
Jabin trusted in his mighty army. he had 900 iron chariots. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us he also had 300,000 foot-soldiers, 10,000 horsemen, and over 2,000 wooden chariots… and we must assume he had enough chariot-drivers & horses to make all of that functional. Jabin’s army was a fearsome fighting machine! Led by a skilled military tactician!! Israel was hopelessly out-positioned, outmanned, and intimidated.
This desperate situation finally brought them to their senses; God’s people finally cried out to God for help… and their deliverance came in an unexpected way from an unexpected source.
V.4…God told one of His prophets, Deborah, to act as His judge. She was to call on a military man named Barak to lead God’s people into battle.
Barak’s unwillingness to lead unless Deborah went with him is a story for another day… but, Barak did send out word to gather an army from God’s people. And only 10,000 reported for duty!
See Judges 4:13-16…Barak and his relatively small army won a decisive victory! All but 1 man were killed (and that 1 man, General Sisera, escaped – only to die a tragic death by another unlikely source [again, a story for another day]). Jabin would also die… a beaten man.
How could this happen? We are told in Deborah’s & Barak’s song they sung as a duet in ch.5.The earth shook. The clouds poured out torrents of water. The historian Josephus says violent winds drove rain and hail into the faces of the Canaanites. They were unable to see. Their slings and arrows were of no use. The chariots got stuck in the mud. And the KIshon River swept away all the Canaanite soldiers in its path.
No 1 verse of Deborah’s song sings of the efforts of the Israelite army… God is given full credit!
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” – Psalm 20:7
Remember where – in Whom – to place your trust as you face this day!
You can read Jabin’s story in Judges 4&5.