Judges – Lesson 6


Judges Chapter 5:1-31

Introduction:   In chapter 4, we learned what God did for Israel.  In this chapter, we have the thankful returns that the people made to God.  This was done and recorded so that all men might learn that we should praise the God of our salvation.   A Christian’s desire should be to honor God with our every action.   Whether we realize it or not, many in the world are watching our actions, and you and I may be the only record of the love of God that they may see. 

I.                   The Song of Deborah 

Judg 5:1  Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

Judg 5:2  Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. 

There are many ways that we can worship and praise the Lord.  One of those is to sing.  While he was our associate pastor, Brother Buddy Woolbright said that we don’t have to have a lot of talent to honor and praise God with our voices, but we do have to be willing to be used.  We are told in Psalms Chapter 98 to sing anew song because of all that God has done for us. 

Psa 98:1  A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

 In Revelation, the people sing a new song before the Lamb. 

Rev 5:8  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

Rev 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

Rev 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 

Exo 15:1  Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Exo 15:2  The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 

Moses and the nation of Israel sang a song and praised the Lord for what He did to Pharaoh and his army.  What a great deliverance God gave His people. 

Deborah and Barak’s song praised the Lord for avenging Israel.  God avenged the people when they willingly offered themselves.   God wants people to serve Him that are humble and obedient.  

James 4:5  Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

James 4:6  But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 

1 Pet 5:5  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

1 Pet 5:6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

1 Pet 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

Judg 5:3  Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. 

Deborah called upon kings and princes to hear what she was about to sing.  We should be so proud of our service to the Lord that we would want others to see it.  It is too bad when we do so little sometimes for God that we would not want our neighbors to know that we are Christians.   Our work and love for God should be such a driving force in our lives that we would want everyone to know that Jesus is Lord of our lives. 

The songs that we sing should be songs of praise to God rather than those that glorify sin or speak of things of the world.  And the spiritual songs we sing should be Scriptural.

Judg 5:4  LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

Judg 5:5  The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. 

Deborah and Barak see the approach of God in a storm cloud rising over Mt. Sinai in the land of Edom   She speaks of the storm that God sent that day in the Kishon valley as when God came down on Mt. Sinai.  Apparently it was the flood from this storm that caused Sisera’s chariots to stall and left him on foot. 

Judg 5:6  In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways. 

Shamgar defended Israel in the south against the Philistines.   

We saw him mentioned earlier in chapter 3 of Judges. 

Judg 3:31  And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. 

Jael is also mentioned in Deborah’s song.  She had been used to defend Israel against the Canaanites in the north.  The people during this time were afraid to walk on the highways and had fled from their villages in fear of the enemies. 

Judg 5:7  The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. 

It was not until Deborah arose that the people could travel without fear on the highways.  She says that she arose as mother in Israel.   Many today worship Jesus’ mother Mary as a special person that is held in such high regard that they pray to her as if she was part of the Godhead.  This is false teaching.  We are to pray to God through Jesus Christ.  Mary was a great woman, probably the most pious and righteous woman living at that time.  But she was just a chosen vessel of God to be Christ’s physical mother, not a special one from God. 

Matthew Henry said this about Deborah. 

Deborah describes the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin, that the greatness of their trouble might make their salvation appear the more illustrious and the more gracious (v. 6): From the days of Shamgar, who did something towards the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines, to the days of Jael, the present day, in which Jael has so signalized herself, the country has been in a manner desolate. 1. No trade. For want of soldiers to protect men of business in their business from the incursions of the enemy, and for want of magistrates to restrain and punish thieves and robbers among them (men of broken fortunes and desperate spirits, that, having no employment, took to rob on the highroad), all commerce ceased, and the highways were unoccupied; no caravans of merchants, as formerly. 2. No travelling. Whereas in times when there was some order and government the travellers might be safe in the open roads, and the robbers were forced to lurk in the by-ways, no, on the contrary, the robbers insulted on the open roads without check, and the honest travellers were obliged to sculk and walk through by-ways, in continual frights.   1 

1  Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997. 

II.                The False God Among Israel Brings Them to War 

Judg 5:8  They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? 

What was the leading cause of failure in the early years of the nation of Israel?  It was the new gods, the false idols that they bowed down to worship.  God had commanded that no other God was to be before them, but they still worshipped these images made by men’s hands.  Not until the Egyptian bondage did Israel learn their lesson on this. 

Exo 20:3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exo 20:4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Exo 20:5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 

Commandment numero uno was to have no other gods before me.   The command was simple, but the people seemingly could not stay away from pagan worship.  Because of this sin, war came to their nation.  It appears that Israel had no spears or shields.   Due to this, nothing short of the power of God could save them. 

Judg 5:9  My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.

Judg 5:10  Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way. 

Deborah commends the governors of Israel.  Those in leadership positions had done their part and offered themselves willingly.  And her heart was touched and turned towards them.   From verse 10, it appears that the color of the animal they rode signified them of being in a position of authority.  The white asses were more rare than the brown and grey animals, and more valued.   We know that God will robe the saints in white when Jesus returns to earth and takes us out. 

Judg 5:11  They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates. 

In the village gathering places where the community well was located, the story will be told of that great day.  The day is coming when there will no longer be a need for archers or weapons, but the Lord himself with reign with a rod of iron. 

Judg 5:12  Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

Judg 5:13  Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty. 

In Deborah’s song, she gives glory to God and declares that He was the one who made her have dominion over the mighty. 

III.  The Other Tribes Help 

We find in verses 14 through 18 the honorable ones that came to war. 

Judg 5:14  Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer. 

We know that the first, Ephraim, was a root against Amalek.    We can assess from this verse that Ephraim’s land had been taken from the Amalekites. 

Judg 12:15  And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites. 

The second one mentioned is Benjamin, with the third being Machir.  Machir was the half tribe of Manasseh on the west side of Jordan.  It is interesting to note that the half tribe on the east side of Jordan was one of those listed that did not help. 

Fourth came Zebulum who had already been indicated as a primary tribe among those involved.  It says here that Zebulum was one of those that marched forth under the staff of the leader.   The fifth to take part was Issachar. 

Judg 5:15  And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. 

Deborah speaks of Issachar’s princes as being “with Deborah.”  Apparently some of these leaders from Issachar had come in respect to Deborah.  It is good for our character to be known as good and undefiled.  It makes others want to be with us when our minds are the minds of Christ.  And what was Christ’s number one objective.  To do the Father’s Will.  That should be our main focus in life also. 

In verse 15, there is a mention of those with Barak.  This means that they were pressed into battle in the valley where Sisera waited.   Since only “princes” are mentioned from Issachar’s tribe, this may imply that the helpers were few.  This seems strange since this was in the place of their allotted land..   in the plain of Jezreel.   But when it came time to help Gideon, this tribe refused to help at that time.   

Judg 6:34  But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

Judg 6:35  And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. 

In Joshua, there is the record that this land was assigned to Issachar. 

Josh 19:17  And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families.

Josh 19:18  And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem, 

The victory by Deborah and Barak should have been the most beneficial to Issachar.  This would have allowed them to move into their own land at last. 


IV.              The Tribe That Did Not Help 

In these next few verses, there is a list of the tribes that did not send soldiers to the battle. 

Judg 5:16  Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 

Deborah first mentions Reuben and says that Reuben’s people at least had thoughts of heart in sympathy for the cause.  When we are needed in God’s work, we need to have more than a sympathetic heart and desire to help.   We need to be in the battle doing a great work for God. 

Judg 5:17  Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches. 

The next one who refused to help that is mentioned is Gilead.  This was the other half tribe of Manessah that we mentioned earlier from the east side that did not bother to come.  Next mentioned is Dan, who remained in the ships.  This means that the people did not interrupt their normal activities of trade to go to war.  Fourth mentioned is Asher.  They continue on the sea shore undisturbed by the need of their neighbors.  I thought of how easy it is for each of us to live in our own little worlds and not see our neighbor or friend in need.  There is a saying that goes “No man is an island.”  I don’t know who said it, but it is true.  Each of us has an affect on one another.  I truly believe that if every Christian did what God would have them to do, there would be enough people to go around to minister to all the sick and needy of the world.  The problem isn’t having enough Christians to get the job done.  The problem is looking deep into the heart and making this old fleshly man do the things that God would have us to do.

Three tribes were not mentioned at all.  Judah, Simeon, and Gad.  These three were all far from the scene of battle.  It seems that real blame fails to Dan.  They had moved and were now located mainly in the north part of Naphtali.  Manesseh was on the east of Jordan with Asher.  These tribes were all near enough to send troops, but did not. 

Judg 5:18  Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field. 

The list ends with the two main tribes who contributed, Zebulun and Naphtali, mentioned again.  Deborah’s words concerning the two was that the “jeoparded their lives unto the death”.   It was to their credit that they would go that extra mile to fight.  We as God’s people should be known for being willing to go anywhere for God if He directs.


V.  A List of All That Helped Against the Canaanites 

Judg 5:19  The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. 

The kings who did help show which tribes of the day were most progressive.  Those who were the most interested found a way to help.  It may be that these tribes helped due to the influence that Deborah had on them.  Earlier they had come to her for help and now they help her when they are asked. 

Judg 5:20  They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. 

Even the stars of heaven fought against Sisera.  What this means is not clear, but when God is on your side, you have all the forces of nature on your side. 

Judg 5:21  The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength. 

The river of Kishon swept them away, apparently with a flood.  This caused their horses to balk and the chariots became heavy, which caused defeat. 

Judg 5:22  Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones. 

VI  God Curses Meroz 

Judg 5:23  Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. 

Meroz was a town in the very area of the Canaanite suppression.  They are accused of not coming to the aid of God’s people.


VII.           The Role of Jael 

Judg 5:24  Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. 

We are told that Jael would be blessed above women.  Deborah adds butter to the list that Jael gave to Sisera. 

Judg 5:25  He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

Judg 5:26  She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.

Judg 5:27  At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead. 

Deborah describes how Jael killed Sisera.  This took a lot of courage, and by doing this, she became a ally of Israel. 

Judg 5:28  The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?

Judg 5:29  Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,

Judg 5:30  Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil? 

The song closes with a scene that is filled with imagery.  The mother of Sisera is portrayed looking through the lattice of the window, wondering why Sisera had not returned.  She wonders why she can not hear the sound of chariots.  Her maids assure her that they are dividing the spoils, even perhaps a Israelite damsel or two for themselves. 

Judg 5:31  So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years. 

Deborah and Barak pray, “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord.”  The victory accomplished by these two brought 40 years of peace to the land. 

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