Judges 5

The Song of Deborah

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2 “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves— praise the LORD!
3 “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to[a] the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song.
4 “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.
5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel.
6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths.
7 Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.
8 God chose new leaders when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
9 My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!
10 “You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider
11 the voice of the singers[b] 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.
12 ‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.’
13 “The remnant of the nobles came down; the people of the LORD came down to me against the mighty.
14 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[c] staff.
15 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.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens[d]to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.
19 “Kings came, they fought, the kings of Canaan fought. At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo, they took no plunder of silver.
20 From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong!
22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves— galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.
23 ‘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.’
24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
26 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.
27 At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.
28 “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?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man, colorful garments as plunder for Sisera, colorful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck— all this as plunder?’
31 “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.

Images for Judges 5

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.

Cross References 65

  • 1. S Judges 4:4
  • 2. S Judges 4:6
  • 3. S Exodus 15:1; Psalms 32:7
  • 4. 2 Chronicles 17:16; Psalms 110:3
  • 5. ver 9
  • 6. S Exodus 15:1
  • 7. Psalms 27:6
  • 8. S Exodus 13:21
  • 9. S Numbers 24:18; S Deuteronomy 33:2
  • 10. 2 Samuel 22:8; Psalms 18:7; Psalms 77:18; Psalms 82:5; Isaiah 2:19,21; Isaiah 13:13; Isaiah 24:18; Isaiah 64:3; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 50:46; Jeremiah 51:29; Joel 3:16; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:6
  • 11. Psalms 68:8; Psalms 77:17
  • 12. S Exodus 19:18; Psalms 29:6; Psalms 46:3; Psalms 77:18; Psalms 114:4; Psalms 68:8; Psalms 97:5; Isaiah 64:3
  • 13. Judges 3:31
  • 14. S Judges 4:17
  • 15. Leviticus 26:22; Isaiah 33:8
  • 16. Psalms 125:5; Isaiah 59:8
  • 17. S Judges 4:4
  • 18. Deuteronomy 32:17; S Judges 2:13
  • 19. ver 11; S Joshua 2:5
  • 20. S Numbers 25:7
  • 21. S ver 2
  • 22. S Genesis 49:11; Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14
  • 23. 1 Samuel 12:7; Daniel 9:16; Micah 6:5
  • 24. S ver 8
  • 25. Psalms 44:23; Psalms 57:8; Isaiah 51:9,17
  • 26. S Judges 4:4
  • 27. S Judges 4:6
  • 28. Psalms 68:18; Ephesians 4:8
  • 29. S Genesis 41:52; S Judges 1:29
  • 30. Judges 3:13
  • 31. S Numbers 34:21
  • 32. S Genesis 50:23
  • 33. S Genesis 30:18
  • 34. S Judges 4:4; Judges 4:10
  • 35. S Judges 4:6
  • 36. S Genesis 49:14
  • 37. S Numbers 32:1
  • 38. S Joshua 12:2
  • 39. S Joshua 17:7
  • 40. Joshua 19:29
  • 41. S Genesis 30:20
  • 42. S Genesis 30:8; Psalms 68:27
  • 43. S Judges 4:6,10
  • 44. Joshua 11:5; S Judges 4:13; Revelation 16:16
  • 45. S Joshua 12:21; Judges 1:27
  • 46. ver 30
  • 47. S Joshua 10:11
  • 48. S Judges 4:7
  • 49. Joshua 1:6
  • 50. Jeremiah 8:16
  • 51. Luke 1:42
  • 52. S Judges 4:17
  • 53. S Genesis 15:19
  • 54. S Genesis 18:8; Judges 4:19
  • 55. Judges 4:21
  • 56. Judges 4:22
  • 57. S Joshua 2:15
  • 58. Proverbs 7:6
  • 59. Exodus 15:9; 1 Samuel 30:24; Psalms 68:12
  • 60. Psalms 45:14; Ezekiel 16:10
  • 61. ver 19; 2 Samuel 1:24
  • 62. S Numbers 10:35
  • 63. 2 Samuel 23:4; Job 37:21; Psalms 19:4; Psalms 89:36; Isaiah 18:4
  • 64. 2 Samuel 18:32
  • 65. S Judges 3:11

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or "of"
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  • [d]. Or "the campfires" ; or "the saddlebags"

Chapter Summary


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

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