Judges 5

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A Leader’s Song 

When leaders lead and the people offer themselves it is a blessed experience

Judges 5

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 8, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. A foreign military power oppressed you and your people for twenty years. 
    1. No one traveled.
    2. Everyone left the villages.
    3. The oppressor did not allow you to possess weapons.
  2. Then you gained your freedom. 
    1. Would you not celebrate?
    2. Judges 4 was the war.
    3. Judges 5 is the celebration.
  3. They celebrated 
    1. what the leaders did,
    2. what the people did, and
    3. what God did.
  4. The celebration focused on the women,

    “This story is unusual in the Old Testament because it centers on women: Deborah, who initiates the action; Jael, who fulfills the action…the Canaanite mother, who suffers the consequences of the action” (Ackerman, p. 129).


  1. Judges 5.1 – Celebrate with Songs

    1 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying… (Jdg 5.1).

    1. There is a time of war, and
    2. a time of celebration.
  2. Judges 5.2–3 – Celebrate Leaders and People

    2 “When leaders lead in Israel,
    When the people willingly offer themselves,
    Bless the LORD!”
    (Jdg 5.2)

    1. When leaders lead and
      1. people offer themselves
      2. all things are possible.
    2. Deborah, Barak, and the other leaders were not
      1. too busy,
      2. dwelling upon their deficiencies,
      3. making excuses,
        1. like Moses who found everything wrong with himself,
        2. rather than focusing on God.
    3. Deborah, Barak, and the other leaders
      1. thought of God’s glory,
      2. thought of the welfare of God’s people,
      3. were passionate about a cause greater than themselves, and
      4. were out front doing first what they expected the people to do.
    4. The people did not
      1. think of what their government could do for them,
      2. pout because they were not the leaders,
      3. criticize everything the leaders did, nor
      4. let someone else do it.
    5. The people were
      1. available,
      2. active,
      3. sacrificial,
      4. willing to do what was necessary.
    6. The value of people who offer themselves willingly,

      “We often hear of the need of first-class leaders, but I sometimes think what the world needs most is great numbers of men who are willing to take the second place, or the third place, or the fourth place, and to work as heartily there as if they were in the first place. That requires even more heroism” (The Biblical Illustrator).

    7. Deborah realized that God was behind them all.
      1. He moved them.
      2. He helped them fight.
      3. He gave victory and freedom.

        3 “Hear, O kings!
        Give ear, O princes!
        I, even I, will sing to the LORD;
        I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.”
        (Jdg 5.3)

  3. Judges 5.4–5 – The Earth Celebrated

    4 “LORD, when You went out from Seir,
    When You marched from the field of Edom,
    The earth trembled and the heavens poured,
    The clouds also poured water;
    5 The mountains gushed before the LORD,
    This Sinai, before the LORD God of Israel.”
    (Jdg 5.4–5)

    1. Scripture shows nature reacting to the Lord or His people.

      Psalm 97.5
      5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,
      At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

      Isaiah 64.1–3
      1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
      That You would come down!
      That the mountains might shake at Your presence—

      Nahum 1.5
      5 The mountains quake before Him,
      The hills melt,
      And the earth heaves at His presence,
      Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.

      Habakkuk 3.10
      10 The mountains saw You and trembled;
      The overflowing of the water passed by.
      The deep uttered its voice,
      And lifted its hands on high.

      1. Sometimes the text is figurative.
      2. Sometimes it is literal.
        1. Perhaps both appear in Deborah’s song.
        2. Later in verses 20–22,
          1. we have a picture of a flooding-rain
          2. impairing the iron chariots of Sisera.
    2. Seir or Edom is the region south of the Dead Sea.
      1. Yet, the battle occurred north.
      2. Mt. Tabor and the River Kishon are to the southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
        1. The help of God came from the south,
        2. looking like the area of Edom, but
          1. the help actually came from Mt. Sinai,
          2. the mountain where God met Moses.
        3. The last place to expect a downpour would be from Edom,
          1. further south in the Sinai desert.
          2. Yet, that is what happened, because when God helps His people,
            1. He does it in a way
            2. that makes it obvious that it is not a natural turn of events.
  4. Judges 5.6–9 – A Mother Celebrated

    6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
    In the days of Jael,
    The highways were deserted,
    And the travelers walked along the byways.
    7 Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel,
    (Jdg 5.6–7a)

    1. Why did Deborah and Barak refer to Shamgar?
      1. They remembered the fear
      2. from his days and after his death to the time of their victory.
    2. However, that all changed,

      7b Until I, Deborah, arose,
      Arose a mother in Israel.
      (Jdg 5.7b)

    3. Under the conditions of a harsh oppressor
      1. we do not expect a woman,
      2. especially a mother, to change things,

        “Here was a woman who was a poet, a prophetess, a judge, a genuine hero in the history of God’s people—and yet what does she take pride in? The fact that she’s a mother. There is no higher calling than motherhood because mothers have the unique opportunity to shape and mold lives” (Courson).

    4. Deborah arose, Barak arose, and other leaders arose (v. 2),
      1. moving 10,000 arise.
      2. From 1 to 2 to 10,000.
    5. Sisters, do not hide behind your femininity.
      1. Many women blame things on men or complain about men, but
      2. then do not do anything themselves,
        1. claiming they cannot do anything because they are just women.
        2. Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, and Esther show your incredible power.
    6. Israel had been following idols when Deborah arose,

      8 “They chose new gods;
      Then there was war in the gates;
      Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.”
      (Jdg 5.8)

      1. Israel chose new gods and paid for it.
      2. When Israel turned back to God the nation would be more than armed,

        “The fact that Sisera’s army had iron weapons and nine hundred chariots which controlled the plains (Judges 4:13) was inconsequential; nor was it significant that the Israelite armies had only crude and primitive weapons (Judges 5:8b). The determinative factor was Yahweh, whose entire host was engaged in the battle against Sisera…(Judges 5:20)” (James S. Ackerman, Teaching the Old Testament in English Classes, pp. 126, 127).

    7. Deborah had a cooperative spirit,

      9 “My heart is with the rulers of Israel
      Who offered themselves willingly with the people.
      Bless the LORD!”
      (Jdg 5.9)

      1. Deborah and Barak were not the only leaders in Israel.
      2. Barak had leaders under him in the army.
        1. Deborah and Barak could not be successful
        2. unless the rest of the leaders and
          1. the people offered themselves willingly.
          2. Deborah and Barak sang of camaraderie.
  5. Judges 5.10–11 – Celebrate the Lord

    10 “Speak, you who ride on white donkeys,
    Who sit in judges’ attire,
    And who walk along the road.
    11 Far from the noise of the archers, among the watering places,
    There they shall recount the righteous acts of the LORD,
    The righteous acts for His villagers in Israel;
    Then the people of the LORD shall go down to the gates.”
    (Jdg 5.10–11)

    1. Before, according to verses 6–8, they had deserted the highways and villages.
    2. With new freedom, they thanked God.
  6. Judges 5.12 – Celebrate and Sing

    12 “Awake, awake, Deborah!
    Awake, awake, sing a song!
    Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away,
    O son of Abinoam!”
    (Jdg 5.12)

    1. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3,

      1 To everything there is a season,
      A time for every purpose under heaven…

      4 A time to weep,
      And a time to laugh;
      A time to mourn,
      And a time to dance
      (Ecc 3.1, 4)

      1. Some people can never celebrate,
      2. finding something to criticize.
    2. Let the people of God praise God!
  7. Judges 5.13–18 – Celebrate the People

    13 “Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles;
    The LORD came down for me against the mighty.”
    (Jdg 5.13)

    1. Deborah and Barak did not glorify themselves, but
      1. gave all the glory to God.
      2. Today we are infatuated with having a high image of ourselves.
        1. It is time for us to start having a high image of God.
        2. If we need to be exalted, He will do it.
    2. Celebrate specifically what the people did,

      14 “From Ephraim were those whose roots were in Amalek.
      After you, Benjamin, with your peoples,
      From Machir rulers came down,
      And from Zebulun those who bear the recruiter’s staff.
      15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
      As Issachar, so was Barak
      Sent into the valley under his command.”
      (Jdg 5.14–15a)

      1. Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali helped.
      2. These tribes did not refuse to go because the others did not.
        1. As we will see they wondered why the other tribes did not.
        2. However, they did not whine endlessly about it.
    3. Hear what they said about the other tribes,

      15b Among the divisions of Reuben
      There were great resolves of heart.
      16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds,
      To hear the pipings for the flocks?
      The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart.
      17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan,
      And why did Dan remain on ships? {Or at ease}
      Asher continued at the seashore, And stayed by his inlets.
      (Jdg 5.15b–17)

      1. Reuben did plenty of thinking.
      2. Was it too hard or too far for Gilead to travel?
      3. Was Dan too comfortable?
      4. Was Asher just having too much fun?
    4. Celebrate the sacrifices of the people,

      18 “Zebulun is a people who jeopardized their lives to the point of death,
      Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield.”
      (Jdg 5.18)

      1. While the tribes of verse 17 were at ease,
      2. Zebulun and Naphtali jeopardized their lives to the point of death.
  8. Judges 5.19–23 – Celebrate the Battle

    19 “The kings came and fought,
    Then the kings of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
    They took no spoils of silver.
    20 They fought from the heavens;
    The stars from their courses fought against Sisera.”
    (Jdg 5.19–20)

    1. The kings of Canaan did not know the source of Israel’s help.
    2. Do not fight against God’s people,

      8 For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zec 2.8).

    3. The Lord of heaven sent rain from heaven,

      21 “The torrent of Kishon swept them away,
      That ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon.
      O my soul, march on in strength!
      22 Then the horses’ hooves pounded,
      The galloping, galloping of his steeds.
      (Jdg 5.21–22)

      1. Remember verses 4 and 5?
      2. God came from Sinai and then Edom to the place of battle.
    4. They also sang of a place in Israel that did not help,

      23 “‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD,
      ‘Curse its inhabitants bitterly,
      Because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
      To the help of the LORD against the mighty.’”
      (Jdg 5.23)

      1. God does not need man’s help, but
      2. God chooses to use man’s help.
  9. Judges 5.24–27 – Celebrate Women

    24 “Most blessed among women is Jael,
    The wife of Heber the Kenite;
    Blessed is she among women in tents.”
    (Jdg 5.24)

    1. This is how a woman got the glory and not Barak.
    2. Note the contrast from verses 19–23,
      1. especially verse 23 with the curse upon Meroz,
      2. with what is now said about this non-Israelite woman.
        1. Male soldiers from several tribes would not come to the fight, but
        2. a female non-soldier, non-Israelite did.
    3. Therefore,
      1. those tribes were cursed, but
      2. she was blessed,

        25 “He asked for water, she gave milk;
        She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.
        26 She stretched her hand to the tent peg,
        Her right hand to the workmen’s hammer;
        She pounded Sisera, she pierced his head,
        She split and struck through his temple.”
        (Jdg 5.25–26)

    4. He only wanted water and a safe place.
    5. She brought much more.
    6. What happened to this man?

      27 “At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still;
      At her feet he sank, he fell;
      Where he sank, there he fell dead.”
      (Jdg 5.27)

      1. He thought that he went down to sleep.
      2. He actually went down to die.
  10. Judges 5.28–30 – Mourn the Death of the Wicked

    28 “The mother of Sisera looked through the window,
    And cried out through the lattice,
    ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
    Why tarries the clatter of his chariots?’”
    (Jdg 5.28)

    1. The mother of Sisera knew that something was wrong.
      1. She missed the familiar sound of her son returning in victory.
      2. She and her friends deluded themselves,

        29 “Her wisest ladies answered her,
        Yes, she answered herself,
        30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoil:
        To every man a girl or two;
        For Sisera, plunder of dyed garments,
        Plunder of garments embroidered and dyed,
        Two pieces of dyed embroidery for the neck of the looter?’”
        (Jdg 5.29–30)

    2. He took women, but
    3. then a woman took him.
  11. Judges 5.31a – Celebrate the Lovers of the Lord

    31 “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD!
    But let those who love Him be like the sun
    When it comes out in full strength.”
    (Jdg 31a)

    1. Eventually the enemies of God and His people lost.
    2. Eventually God and His people shine in glory.
  12. Judges 5.31b – Celebrate Peace

    31b So the land had rest for forty years (Jdg 5.31b).

    1. Love God and
    2. you shall have peace.