Judges 5

Listen to Judges 5
1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2 “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the LORD !
3 “Listen, you kings! Pay attention, you mighty rulers! For I will sing to the LORD . I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.
4 “ LORD, when you set out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, and the cloudy skies poured down rain.
5 The mountains quaked in the presence of the LORD, the God of Mount Sinai— in the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.
6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the days of Jael, people avoided the main roads, and travelers stayed on winding pathways.
7 There were few people left in the villages of Israel — until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.
8 When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates. Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!
9 My heart is with the commanders of Israel, with those who volunteered for war. Praise the LORD !
10 “Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys, you who sit on fancy saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road.
11 Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes. They recount the righteous victories of the LORD and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the LORD marched down to the city gates.
12 “Wake up, Deborah, wake up! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song! Arise, Barak! Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!
13 “Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles. The people of the LORD marched down against mighty warriors.
14 They came down from Ephraim— a land that once belonged to the Amalekites; they followed you, Benjamin, with your troops. From Makir the commanders marched down; from Zebulun came those who carry a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak. They followed Barak, rushing into the valley. But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.
16 Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds— to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? Yes, in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.
17 Gilead remained east of the Jordan. And why did Dan stay home? Asher sat unmoved at the seashore, remaining in his harbors.
18 But Zebulun risked his life, as did Naphtali, on the heights of the battlefield.
19 “The kings of Canaan came and fought, at Taanach near Megiddo’s springs, but they carried off no silver treasures.
20 The stars fought from heaven. The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.
21 The Kishon River swept them away— that ancient torrent, the Kishon. March on with courage, my soul!
22 Then the horses’ hooves hammered the ground, the galloping, galloping of Sisera’s mighty steeds.
23 ‘Let the people of Meroz be cursed,’ said the angel of the LORD . ‘Let them be utterly cursed, because they did not come to help the LORD — to help the LORD against the mighty warriors.’
24 “Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.
25 Sisera asked for water, and she gave him milk. In a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him yogurt.
26 Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg, and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head. With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples.
27 He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet. And where he sank, there he died.
28 “From the window Sisera’s mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don’t we hear the sound of chariot wheels?’
29 “Her wise women answer, and she repeats these words to herself:
30 ‘They must be dividing the captured plunder— with a woman or two for every man. There will be colorful robes for Sisera, and colorful, embroidered robes for me. Yes, the plunder will include colorful robes embroidered on both sides.’
31 “ LORD, may all your enemies die like Sisera! But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!” Then there was peace in the land for forty 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 3

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  • [c]. As in some Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac version, which read searchings of heart; Masoretic Text reads resolve of heart.

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