Judges 5

Deborah's Song

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang:
2 When the leaders lead[a] in Israel, when the people volunteer, praise the Lord.
3 Listen, kings! Pay attention, princes! I will sing to the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.
4 Lord, when You came from Seir, when You marched from the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens poured [rain], the clouds poured water.
5 The mountains melted before the Lord, even Sinai[b] before the Lord, the God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the main ways were deserted, because travelers kept to the side roads.
7 Villages were deserted,[c] they were deserted in Israel, until I,[d] Deborah, I[e] arose, a mother in Israel.
8 Israel chose new gods, then war was in the gates. Not a shield or spear was seen among 40,000 in Israel.
9 My heart is with the leaders of Israel, with the volunteers of the people. Praise the Lord!
10 You who ride on white[f] donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets, and who travel on the road, give praise!
11 Let them tell the righteous acts of the Lord, the righteous deeds of His warriors in Israel, with the voices of the singers at the watering places.[g] Then the Lord's people went down to the gates.
12 "Awake! Awake, Deborah! Awake! Awake, sing a song! Arise Barak, and take hold of your captives, son of Abinoam!"
13 The survivors came down to the nobles; the Lord's people came down to me[h] with the warriors.
14 Those with their roots in Amalek[i] [came] from Ephraim; Benjamin [came with] your people after you. The leaders came down from Machir, and those who carry a marshal's staff [came] from Zebulun.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; Issachar was with Barak. They set out at his heels[j] in the valley. There was great searching[k] of heart among the clans of Reuben.
16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds listening to the playing of pipes for the flocks? There was great searching of heart among the clans of Reuben.
17 Gilead remained beyond the Jordan. Dan, why did you linger at the ships? Asher remained at the seashore and stayed in his harbors.
18 Zebulun was a people risking their lives, Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield.
19 Kings came and fought. Then the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they took no spoil of silver.
20 The stars fought from the heavens; the stars fought with Sisera from their courses.
21 The river Kishon swept them away,[l] the ancient river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul, in strength!
22 The horses' hooves then hammered- the galloping, galloping of his[m] stallions.
23 "Curse Meroz," says the Angel of the Lord, "Bitterly curse her inhabitants, for they did not come to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty warriors."
24 Jael is most blessed of women, the wife of Heber the Kenite; she is most blessed among tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water; she gave him milk. She brought him curdled milk in a majestic bowl.
26 She reached for a tent peg, her right hand, for a workman's mallet. Then she hammered Sisera- she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 He collapsed, he fell, he lay down at[n] her feet; he collapsed, he fell at her feet; where he collapsed, there he fell-dead.
28 Sisera's mother looked through the window; she [peered] through the lattice, crying out: "Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don't I hear the hoofbeats of his horses?"[o]
29 Her wisest princesses answer her; she even answers herself:[p]
30 "Are they not finding and dividing the spoil- a girl or two for each warrior, the spoil of colored garments for Sisera, the spoil of an embroidered garment or two for my neck?"[q]
31 Lord, may all your enemies perish as Sisera did.[r] But may those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its strength. And the land was peaceful 40 years.

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Judges 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

Praise and glory ascribed to God. (1-5) The distress and deliverance of Israel. (6-11) Some commended, others censured. (12-23) Sisera's mother disappointed. (24-31)

1-5. No time should be lost in returning thanks to the Lord for his mercies; for our praises are most acceptable, pleasant, and profitable, when they flow from a full heart. By this, love and gratitude would be more excited and more deeply fixed in the hearts of believers; the events would be more known and longer remembered. Whatever Deborah, Barak, or the army had done, the Lord must have all the praise. The will, the power, and the success were all from Him.

6-11. Deborah describes the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin, that their salvation might appear more gracious. She shows what brought this misery upon them. It was their idolatry. They chose new gods, with new names. But under all these images, Satan was worshipped. Deborah was a mother to Israel, by diligently promoting the salvation of their souls. She calls on those who shared the advantages of this great salvation, to offer up thanks to God for it. Let such as are restored, not only to their liberty as other Israelites, but to their rank, speak God's praises. This is the Lord's doing. In these acts of his, justice was executed on his enemies. In times of persecution, God's ordinances, the walls of salvation, whence the waters of life are drawn, are resorted to at the hazard of the lives of those who attend them. At all times Satan will endeavour to hinder the believer from drawing near to the throne of grace. Notice God's kindness to his trembling people. It is the glory of God to protect those who are most exposed, and to help the weakest. Let us notice the benefit we have from the public peace, the inhabitants of villages especially, and give God the praise.

Verses 12-23 Deborah called on her own soul to be in earnest. He that will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. Praising God is a work we should awake to, and awake ourselves unto. She notices who fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Who fought against them. They were obstinate enemies to God's people, therefore the more dangerous. Who fought for them. The several tribes that helped are here spoken of with honour; for though God is above all to be glorified, those who are employed must have their due praise, to encourage others. But the whole creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy. The river of Kishon fought against their enemies. At most times it was shallow, yet now, probably by the great rain that fell, it was so swelled, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass, were drowned. Deborah's own soul fought against them. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us. She observes who kept away, and did not side with Israel, as might have been expected. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantage. Narrow, selfish spirits care not what becomes of God's church, so that they can but get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, ( Philippians 2:21 ) . A little will serve those for a pretence to stay at home, who have no mind to engage in needful services, because there is difficulty and danger in them. But we cannot keep away from the contest between the Lord and his enemies; and if we do not actively endeavour to promote his cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse against the workers of iniquity. Though He needs no human help, yet he is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance his cause. He requires every man to do so.

Verses 24-31 Jael had a special blessing. Those whose lot is cast in the tent, in a low and narrow sphere, if they serve God according to the powers he has given them, shall not lose their reward. The mother of Sisera looked for his return, not in the least fearing his success. Let us take heed of indulging eager desires towards any temporal good, particularly toward that which cherishes vain-glory, for that was what she here doted on. What a picture does she present of an ungodly and sensual heart! How shameful and childish these wishes of an aged mother and her attendants for her son! And thus does God often bring ruin on his enemies when they are most puffed up. Deborah concludes with a prayer to God for the destruction of all his foes, and for the comfort of all his friends. Such shall be the honour, and joy of all who love God in sincerity, they shall shine for ever as the sun in the firmament.

Footnotes 18

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 5

This chapter contains a song of praise on account of the victories obtained over Jabin, and his kingdom; after an exhortation to praise is given, and kings excited to attend to it, the majestic appearance of God at Seir, on Sinai, is observed, to raise in the mind a divine veneration of him, Jud 5:1-5; then the miserable state and condition Israel was in before these victories, and therefore had the more reason to be thankful, Jud 5:6-8; the governors, and judges, and the people that were delivered, together with Deborah and Barak, are stirred up to rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, and bless his name, Jud 5:9-13; and those who willingly engaged in the war are praised, and such who were negligent reproved, and some even cursed, Jud 5:14-23; but Jael, Heber's wife, is particularly commended for her exploit in slaying Sisera, Jud 5:24-27; and the mother of Sisera, and her ladies, are represented as wondering at his long delay, and as assured of his having got the victory, Jud 5:28-30; and the song is concluded with a prayer for the destruction, of the enemies of the Lord, and for the happiness and glory of them that love him, Jud 5:31.

Judges 5 Commentaries