Judges 5

When we have received mercy from God,
we should be speedy in our returns of praise while the impressions of the mercy are fresh.
Song is a good expedient for perpetuating the memory of God’s special favors.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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?

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

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?

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.

Judges 5:1-11 – The Song of a “Mother in Israel”

   One of the noblest odes in literature! It celebrates a mighty victory through the enthusiastic consecration of the people, who laid themselves as freewill offerings on the altar of their country’s deliverance, Judges 5:2, 9. There is a greater cause that summons us today, for we fight “not against flesh and blood, but… against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” Ephesians 6:12.
   The singer recites the mighty deeds of the Exodus, Judges 5:4-5. She feels that the present hour is not less full of God. Let us dare to believe that today is as sublime as any day of the past, and live as though it were. She describes the desolations caused by the foe: the divested caravans, the deserted roads, the defenseless, weaponless people, Judges 5:6-8. She tells how men mustered in the city gates to take their part in the great effort to which she called them, Judges 5:9-11. Ye daughters of Deborah, who know God, wake again and sing till your hearts grow hot again; and ye brethren of Barak, arm yourselves for battle against the lies, fashions and sins that curse both the Church and the world! —Through the Bible Day by Day

Judges 5:12-23 – The Stars in Their Courses

   This noble psalm contains memorable sentences. The “captivity” phrase in Judges 5:12 is quoted in Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8; and in the latter is applied to the ascension of our Lord. He led in captivity those evil powers which had for so long held mankind in captivity. Let us not fear death, or the grave, or Hades. They have been bound to the chariot-wheels of our Lord, and their keys hang at his girdle, Revelation 1:18. 
   Levies and reinforcements poured in from the hill-country of Ephraim, once owned by Amalek, Judges 12:15; from little Benjamin; from the northern tribes: but the main brunt of the war of liberation fell on Zebulun and others adjacent to the plain of Esdraelon, one of the great battlefields of history. Megiddo stands to the south of this famous site and has given its name to the last momentous struggle of Armageddon. Clearly Deborah refers to a terrific storm that broke, perhaps at night, upon the plain, flooding the river Kishon and the adjacent lands, so that Sisera’s chariots were rendered useless. O my soul, thou, too, mayest tread under foot thy foes, Judges 5:21; but be sure never to refuse, as Meroz did, to respond when God needs thy help, Judges 5:23. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Judges 5:31—Let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.

   So sang Deborah; and we may take up her strain, making it our prayer for all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
   We desire it for his sake.—It cannot be for his glory that his followers should be weak-kneed and decrepit. waning and flickering, backsliding and inconstant. Men will judge Him by them, and will count his light a vanishing luminary if He cannot maintain the glow and fire in those that follow Him. Besides, how great the anguish of his heart must be when those on whom He has expended pains and care deceive and fail Him!
   We desire it for their sakes.—Think of the beneficent ministry of the sun—awakening bird and blossom; painting the rich colors of natural beauty; ripening fruits; gladdening children and grandsires; carrying everywhere healing with his beams. If he were conscious of the good he imparts, what blessedness would be his! Would he grudge the expenditure of his vitalizing forces, when from millions of upturned lips he heard himself blessed! Such may the bliss of the Christian worker be if, without diminution of light and heat, his life grows to the perfect day. Blessed are they who bless. If it is happy to receive, it is far happier to impart. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
   We desire it for the sake of others.—The world is sunless enough! Many are perishing for a bath of sunshine! Darkness broods chill and deathly. Let no clouds dim your pathway, or, if they do, transmute them to gold. Shine forth, ye righteous, in the kingdom of your Father, satellites of the greater central Sun of Righteousness! —Our Daily Homily