The Song of Deborah Judges 5
The Song of Deborah
This week we began to read the Book of Judges together.
-The Book of Judges details life in Israel in the Promised Land of Canaan after the death of Joshua
(covering about 350 years)
-The Book of Judges features this cycle. 1. The Israelites rebel against God (disobeying the
Commands, worshipping false gods, etc. 2. This provoked God to anger. 3. God hands them over to
their enemies 4. In their distress the people call upon God in repentance 5. God raises up a
Judge/deliverer and the people are rescued 6. As long as the Judge lives the people follow God. 7. The
Judge dies and the people quickly abandon God--- and the cycle repeats. This is happens about 12
times in the Book of Judges. A great overview of the cycle of of the Book of Judges is found in Judges
-The Book of Judges ends with a very striking comment "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did
as he saw fit." Judges 21:25. How interesting that the ethic of today is "I make my own rules. I
determine what is right and wrong for me"
This morning we are going to take a look at Judges 5. In Judges 5 a judge named Deborah, along
with a man named Barak sing a song of praise and thanks to the Lord for a great victory He gave
them over their enemies.
-To understand Judges 5 we need to have Judges 4 in mind. In Judges 4 we are told that for twenty
years - because of the Israelites abandonment of God- the nation was cruelly oppressed by a
Canaanite king named Jabin and Sisera, his general (who it is noted had charge over 900 iron chariots--
which means they had a huge military advantage over the Israelites)
-In response to the people turning their hearts back to Him, God raises up a woman named Deborah (a
woman in whose mouth God puts His Word and His wisdom). To her the Word of the Lord came to
summon a man named Barak with the command that he gather 10,000 men together and lead an
attack on Jabin and Sisera.
-Instead of being strong and courageous, despite being told that God would deliver their enemies into
his hands, Barak tells Deborah that he will only go if Deborah goes with him. Hearing this, Deborah
proceeds to rebuke Barak, prophesying that instead of him, a woman will get credit for their victory
over their enemies.
-Things unfold just as Deborah prophesied. The enemy is routed and destroyed-- despite the fact that
the Israelites were outmanned and outgunned.
-For those of you that have read Judges 4, you will remember how the evil general Sisera meets his
end. Fleeing on foot from the battle, he comes to the tent of a Heber- a Kenite (who had peaceful
relations with the Jabin). Jael, the wife of Heber invites Sisera in, gives him a drink of milk, covers him
with a blanket, and then in a shocking manner, proceeds to drive a tent peg through his temple. The
end of the account is this: The enemy who had robbed, raped and pillaged the Israelites for 20 years
was vanquished in a moment and we have 2 unlikely heroes- Deborah and a previously unknown
woman named Jael.
Following this great victory of the Lord, Deborah writes and sings a song of thanks and praise to
the Lord. This song, which I think a lot of people are tempted to overlook, adds a lot to the
account of Judges 4.
-lots of details not included in Judges 4
-added drama and perspective
-shines the spotlight on women.***
In a moment we are going to read Judges 5 together, but before reading I just want draw your
attention to the prominent role of women in the Judges 4-5 account.
Through and through, the spotlight is on women. The men of Judges 4-5 are all secondary
A couple of questions to ask and ponder as I read - as it regards the women of our text:
How are women depicted in Judges 4-5?
What lessons and principles can one glean from the depiction of women in these two chapters?
THOUGHTS/PRINCIPLES/LESSONS from the Song of Deborah
1. Praise and thanks belong to God for all the wondrous things He has done and does v.1-3
Credit for victory and blessings, peace and prosperity does not belong to us-- It belongs to God
Songs of praise, worship, reflection are fitting in worship for God. This is why singing is part of of
Time is to be taken form our schedules to recite His mighty deeds and to celebrate His goodness,
grace, mercy, promises, and love v.10
We are to give thanks to Him with a grateful heart
2. Willing service and obedience- this is what God looks for and pleases Him v.2, 9
"When the people willingly offer themselves-- praise the LORD!"
"My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!"
In our text Deborah later proceeds to identify which tribes willingly joined in the battle-- they are
commended while those who avoided the conflict and offered up excuses are rebuked and shamed.
v.13-18 (read select parts)
This leads to another point: WHEN THERE IS A JOB TO DO, when there is an emergency to respond to,
it should be "all hands on deck"
i.e The crisis in the Philippines. We need to be generous.
Sure, the Philippines is on the other side of the world, but what's happening there is relevant to us--
there is human suffering and we can and should doing something about it.
We are our brothers keeper. We must keep in mind the responsibility that we always have towards
others and especially as the followers of Jesus Christ-- to care for, to love, to serve, to come to the aid
of, to share the message of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.
Questions of reflection:
a. How quick does your hand go up when help is asked for? Let us not forget what Isaiah said when
called by God "Here I am Lord, send me" Isaiah 6:8
Do you know that God always is looking for people to follow Him willingly and from their hearts?
We are to have the heart and attitude of Christ when it comes to service! Sacrificial, loving, not
3. Nothing is too hard for God. v.4-5, 19-21
Israelites were outmanned and outgunned (because of Sisera they didn't even have enough weapons
for 40,000 men), yet that didn't matter for what does God do? He causes an earthquake, he brings a
giant rainstorm that floods the rivers and grounds the iron chariots of Sisera-- leading to widespread
panic and the routing of the army.
We must always be mindful that the battle belongs to the Lord. Victory and success is not our doing.
Interesting verse: Psalm 20:7 "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of
the LORD our God."
Another great verse: Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by
your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." See also Luke 1:37
Our responsibility; Commit our way to Him, and trust Him -- even when walking through the valley of
the shadow of death
4. Hard times, lawlessness, lack of peace, oppression, chaos, and misery are a result of the
abandonment of God v.7-8
The repeated cycle of the Book of Judges is not merely an article of the past. Blessing and obedience
to God goes hand in hand. The abandonment of God and disobedience to Him always brings judgment.
Hard times is often an instrument of God to get our attention and to bring us back to God.
Great passage: Psalm 32:1-5
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the
Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones
grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My
vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have
not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," And You forgave the iniquity of my
sin. Then note v.10 "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the
person who trusts in Him."
The writing is on the wall as it regards Canada: The farther we step away from God (lying, stealing,
abortion, sexual sin, the celebration of evil (whether it be gay marriage or hanging on to the doings,
opinions, and lifestyles of so called celebrities like Charlie Sheen, lady Gaga, Eminem, etc) euthanasia,
drug use, disrespect of parents, worship of other gods) the worse things will get (oppression, income
disparity, corruption, violent crime, addiction, abuse, perversions of every sort, persecution)
The only solution is Christ. We are His ambassadors. We are to lovely go, calling people to repentance
from sin, calling people to faith in Christ. We too be salt and light.
5. As for a point on women: While the text subtly addresses the issue of gender roles (suggesting
that such does exist) it also make the point that women are just as capable of men -- in every
respect (good and bad)
On Deborah: a woman, a wife, a judge, a mother in Israel (to Israel) v.7, a woman who expected Barak
to step up and fight
Jael: A nomadic woman, wife a Heber, capable and strong (could wield a hammer pretty good), decisive
and bold, gentle and nurturing (milk and a blanket)
Sisera's mother: Evil and given to it -- reminding us that as for sin and wickedness in our hearts --
both men and women are equally sinful and in need of Christ to be their Savior.
We are to celebrate, honor, and teach gender and role differences between men and women, while
affirming that all people are equal before God.
6. The sinfulness of the human heart is why Jesus came
As for sinfulness, men and women are equal before God. Judges 5:28-30 drives this home in pointed
fashion for what is it that consoles the mother of Sisera? The counsel of her ladies in waiting that he is
delayed in coming home because he and his men must be busy raping and pillaging the Israelites.
Romans 3:23 says; "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
Romans 6:23 tells us that "the wages of sin is death"-- this is what we deserve for our sin and
rebellion against a holy and perfect God
God in his mercy and love has made a way to be forgiven and to escape the judgment to come that we
deserve. While the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23b
How can one take hold of God's mercy? How can one can to be a partaker of forgiveness and eternal
Call on the name of the Lord while He may be found. Put your trust in Christ- who came down from
Heaven on a rescue mission. He lived a perfect and sinless life and then died as a sacrifice on the
cross for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve. Put your trust in Jesus and you will be
Romans 10:9 says; " If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God
raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Judges 4-5 is a real neat text. God delivers his people after they humble themselves and repent. He
delivers in a most amazing way--using an earthquake, rain, a flooded river, a nomadic woman, a timid
man, and Israel's first female leader.
Read your Bible slow and steady and don't skip over anything. Judges 5 is an easy passage to skip for
the title "The Song of Deborah" doesn't quite grab everyone, yet it is the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says; "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good