Judges 5


‘On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the LORD! “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song. “When you, LORD, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel.’ Judges 5:1-5

The Song Of Deborah

In the previous chapter, we saw how Deborah and Barak delivered Israel from the oppression of Sisera and his Canaanite coalition. Remember that Judges 4 gives a conventional historical account, while Judges 5 re-tells the story in poetic form.

Instead of going through every verse, we’ll simply highlight a few thoughts as we go along.

Notice from these verses that ‘when the princes in Israel take the lead when the people willingly offer themselves’, then, when God gives them the victory, the result will always end with praising God.

As God’s children, if we want to enjoy any victory in our lives, then we must fully offer ourselves to the Lord first, Ephesians 6:7-8 / 2 Corinthians 8:5.

‘In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travellers took to winding paths. Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. God chose new leaders when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.  My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD! “You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider the voice of the singers at the watering places. They recite the victories of the LORD, the victories of his villagers in Israel. “Then the people of the LORD went down to the city gates.’ Judges 5:6-11

These verses deal with the vents during the days of Shamgar, Judges 3:31, and Jael, Judges 4:16-22. These verses also give us a glimpse into what life was like during the days of Shamgar and Jael.

It appears that it was too dangerous to travel on the main roads because of the many thieves and robbers and it also appears that no one could really live in a village of any kind because it was unsafe, hence why the people lived in cities with walls around them.

We also read here of how Deborah was ‘a mother in Israel’. As a mother, she was deeply concerned about saving Israel, and her children.

She was a woman who knew how to multitask, she had responsibilities at home, Judges 4:4, and as a prophetess, she also spoke to the people on behalf of God and praise God for the people. She was also the one who encouraged others to trust in God, Judges 4:8-9.

Notice again that ‘Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people, praised the Lord’. It appears that when the princess were willing to offer themselves to the Lord, this encouraged others to do the same, Luke 16:13 / 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.’ “The remnant of the nobles came down; the people of the LORD came down to me against the mighty. Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek; Benjamin was with the people who followed you. From Makir captains came down, from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff. The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, sent under his command into the valley. In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Why did you stay among the sheep pens to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves. The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.’ Judges 5:12-18

Here we read about Deborah and Barak who came together to stand against Sisera and his great army. Here we are told that Jabin was sent Sisera to subjugate the regions of Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun and Issachar.

It appears that Reuben, Dan and Asher were not really concerned about what was going on, never mind going out to fight against Jabin and Sisera. They were more concerned about themselves than others.

‘Kings came, they fought, the kings of Canaan fought. At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo, they took no plunder of silver. From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong! Then thundered the horses’ hooves—galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds. ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD. ‘Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.’ Judges 5:19-23

Here we have a description of the fall of the Canaanites before the Israelites. Notice that when these kings came, they weren’t interested in taking any plunder or silver, this tells us that for Israel, this was all about freedom.

The battle was fought in the heights of the Carmel range which ran in a south-easterly direction from the Mediterranean seacoast. Two very important heights are mentioned here, Taanach and Megiddo.

Notice that God intervened by sweeping them away using the River Kishon, Judges 4:10-16 / Jeremiah 51:33. It appears that the chariots couldn’t move forward or backwards because they were stuck in the mud. It’s possible that the riders of those chariots left them behind and as a result, their horses died in the flood.

The words, ‘curse Meroz’, simply means it’s sinful to fail to come to the rescue of those we can help. The people who lived in the community of Meroz were cursed. This is a place in northern Palestine, which is about 7 miles south of Kedesh in Naphtali. Kedesh was a city of refuge, Joshua 21:32 / Joshua 20:7.

Since they were in the very area which lost most by Jabin’s invasion and gained most by Israel’s victory, they were singled out for a curse delivered by the angel of the Lord because they did not come into the battle.

‘Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women. He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk. Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.’ Judges 5:24-27

Here we read about the events of Jael, Judges 4:17-22. It was her who received the honour of killing Sisera with a tent peg just as Deborah had prophesied, Judges 4:9.

‘Through the window peered Sisera’s mother; behind the lattice she cried out, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’ The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself, ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man, colourful garments as plunder for Sisera, colourful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck—all this as plunder?’ “So may all your enemies perish, LORD! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” Then the land had peace forty years.’ Judges 5:28-31

Deborah describes Sisera’s mother as tactlessly gloating about her son’s army raping and pillaging the helpless Jews. But now Sisera will no longer be able to molest a single woman, because in a humiliating fashion a woman ended his treachery, Judges 4:18-21. In other words, he reaped what he sowed, Galatians 6:7-8.

The writer tells us because God used Deborah in a powerful way, the land had peace for forty years. However, as we shall see in the next chapter, this peace would soon come to an end.

Go To Judges 6