Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach children how to be brave in the Lord, like Judge Deborah and Jael.
Needed: whiteboard or blackboard or paper to write on, index cards with Faith or Fear written on them, drawing paper and crayons or colored pencils
Tell students, I want to play a game with you today. I want you to think of as many good men leaders in the Bible as you can. Whoever can think of the most good men leaders from the Bible wins. Ready, go! Shout them out! (Examples could include leaders like Joseph in Egypt, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon, Josiah, Daniel the prophet, Ezra the priest, Nehemiah the governor, Jesus, and the Apostles, as well as others. As students call out the names, write them on the board or on a piece of paper.)
Now, I want you to think of good women leaders in the Bible. Go! (Examples could include Moses’ sister Miriam, Queen Esther, and others. The point is that students should be able to think of more men leaders than women leaders.)
Even though our list shows more men leaders than women leaders, our story today shows that God can work through women just as much as He can through men.
Summarize Judges 4 with the following story, asking the included questions as you read.
Say, When the judge Ehud died…
Who was Ehud? Do you remember? He was the man who killed Eglon, king of the Moabites, by stabbing him in the stomach with his sword and then, led the Israelites in battle and defeated the Moabite army.
You remember that God had let the Moabites conquer Israel because the people of Israel had stopped believing in God and were sinning. God let the Moabites conquer them as their punishment. But then, when the Israelites started praying for God to help them again, He did help them by making Ehud their leader and helping them to defeat the Moabites.
But when Ehud died, the Israelites started sinning again.
How does God feel when we sin?
God was angry that the people were sinning again, so He let King Jabin, King of the Canaanites, attack and conquer the Israelites. King Jabin ruled over Israel for 20 years.
Then, the people started praying to God again, and God heard their prayer. A woman named Deborah was the leader of Israel after Ehud died. She was a prophet and a judge and one day, Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak. She said, “Barak, God is ordering you to take 10,000 Israelite soldiers and go defeat the Canaanite army. God will make it so that you will win the battle.”
But Barak said, “Deborah, you have to come with me to fight the Canaanites, or I won’t go.”
Why did Barak want Deborah to go with him when he went to fight the Canaanites? (He was afraid to go by himself.)
Do you think Barak should have been afraid? (No, he should have trusted that God would be with him and would help him. God already said that He would make it so that Barak won the battle.)
So, Deborah said, “I will come with you, Barak, but since you’re acting afraid, God will use a woman to win the battle instead of you.”
Then, Deborah and Barak took 10,000 Israelite soldiers and fought against the Canaanites. God made it so that the Israelites won the battle, and all the Canaanite soldiers were killed.
But the leader of the Canaanite army, a man named Sisera, ran away from the battle when he saw that his army was losing. He ran to the tent of a woman named Jael because he knew Jael and wanted her to help hide him. Jael saw him coming and told Sisera to hurry up and come into her tent. Then, she hid him under some blankets so that the Israelite army wouldn’t find him.
Do you think Jael will keep Sisera safe in her tent?
Sisera fell asleep under all those blankets because he was so tired from fighting in the battle and then, running away from the Israelite army. While he was asleep, Jael took a hammer and a spike and snuck up on Sisera. She hammered the spike right into Sisera’s head and killed him underneath the blankets. So God used Jael, a woman, to defeat the leader of the Canaanite army just like Deborah had said.
Barak was afraid to go to battle against the Canaanites. Do you think we should be afraid to do something God has told us to do?
It’s okay to be afraid, but we shouldn’t let our fear stop us. We should trust that God will be with us and will help us do whatever He asks us to do. We don’t have to be afraid if we know God is with us. God can help us do anything.
Game: Faith vs. Fear
Print out or write the words Fear or Faith on a set of index cards. You should have an equal number of cards that say Faith as Fear.
Divide students into two teams, and have the teams line up on separate sides of the room in single file lines. Mix up the cards and give each student a card that says Faith or Fear. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. When you say Go! the first two students run toward each and show each other their cards.
If one says Faith and the other says Fear, the student with Faith scores a point for their team. The person with Fear does not score. If both say Faith, both score a point and if both say Fear, neither does. Both return to the back of their lines and trade their cards for a new card.
As soon as they leave the center, the second two players run up and do the same thing. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Craft: God’s Punishments
Give students drawing paper and crayons or colored pencils. Remind students that God let the Israelites’ enemies conquer them when they sinned against Him and that He helped the Israelites defeat their enemies when they prayed to them. Ask, how do you think God punishes us today? Draw a picture to show how you think God might punish someone today who wasn’t listening to Him.
When they’re finished, ask each one to share, and briefly discuss it. Guide students into understanding that God can punish in a variety of ways but that not everything bad that happens is God’s punishment.
End by emphasizing that God never wants to punish us. He only punishes us to help us remember Him, just like when God let Israelites’ enemies conquer them so that the Israelites would remember to pray to Him.
Lord, give us faith so that we can be strong for You like Deborah and Jael were. Whatever you tell us to do, we want to be brave for You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Judges and Ruth Children Sunday School Lessons.