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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.

Commentary for Judges 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.

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, #Php 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.

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.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Judges 5

  • Dewey J
    Norman, the Scripture means exactly what it says Zebulun and Naphtali were the only tribes of Israel to go up to war against GOD's enemies. The other tribes for one reason or the other didn't show up for the Lord to use them and were cursed in the end for their sin of omittion. What a pity? Glory be to God in the highest through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen.
  • Diann Risner
    This chapter relates how Deborah, as a prophetess is giving us a messianic prophecy dealing with the coming of the Messiah in power. The entire chapter is dealing with Christ's return to this earth in power.
  • What a glorious day it will be when all of God 's enemies, both fleshly and spirit, are no more! I definitely look forward to this peaceful day.
  • CATHERINE
    in every victory we should give praises and honour to God knowing that it all comes from Him.
  • Norman Trought for verse 18
    What does 5:18 mean?
  • Kenny kgatla for verse 3
    The kings - you mighty rulers planning to launch attack against the people of Israel of GOD. The LORD GOD OF Israel is mightier than you and will protect them through their praises and petitions to him.
  • Susan Dalton
    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. Judges 5:23

    Here we see a curse upon the inhabitants of Meroz, and for what? They came not to the help of the LORD against the mighty. They came not. They did not get involved. They did not take the side of the LORD to battle against the mighty.

    Why do some not want to go to battle for the LORD? Jesus spoke of a certain man who made a great supper, and bade many...but, they all began with with consent to make excuse: one bought a piece of land that he needed to go see, another had bought five yoke of oxen and he was going to prove them, and another had married a wife and therefore could not come. Each one had an interest that they put before the Lord.

    Some people will not come out to the Lord's battle against the mighty because they love the praise of men more than the praise of God. They prefer to stand with men and with the acceptable gospel than to risk persecution for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Still others will watch and say it's not my battle. They do not want to get involved because it will cost them something, something they do not want to give up; a false peace, a false unity, a false reputation.

    To come to the help of the Lord, to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty, one must be willing to forsake all. One must be willing to count the cost, deny oneself, and take up one's cross daily and follow the Lord. This needs to be done individually and collectively as the body of Christ.

    In Judges 5, the LORD commanded Barak to take ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the the children of Zebulun to go to battle against Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, the king of Canaan who had a host of men and nine hundred chariots of iron.

    The LORD commanded Barak to take of the tribes of Naphtali and of Zebulun to go to battle. Later, we see that some tribes did not take part in this victory. Why?

    Barak was sent on foot into the valley; then we see "For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. Why abodest among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart."

    Could this be the result of a divided heart? Barak was sent on foot into the valley to meet with the mighty - he was sent on foot into the valley - here one must have faith and obedience. When you are sent on foot into the valley to do battle against the mighty who are mightier than you, a divided heart can stop you from entering that valley on foot. Was Reuben divided? Had they things that divided their hearts? Was their heart with their sheep? Was the heart of Dan with his ships? Was the heart of Asher with his business on the sea shore? Did Gilead stay on the other side Jordan because their hearts were not with the cause of the LORD. Had things and distance divided their hearts against the LORD and when the time came to enter into the valley on foot, their hearts, having divisions, were against the LORD? They either feared, or either felt it was not their battle, or they had other interests that manifested their hearts had divided against the LORD.

    Barak was sent on foot into the valley. Jesus was sent on foot into the valley of death. To overcome all the foes of darkness, He had to be in complete obedience and subjection to the Father. Jesus came out victorious over all darkness.

    Divisions of heart can make the head and heart have great thought: should I go, what will I lose, is it my battle, do I take part in the victory? Sometimes the heart can rationalize not entering on foot into the valley. A divided heart is unstable in all its ways. Jesus said a man cannot love God and mammom. He will either hold to the one, or he will let go of the other; but, he cannot hold both. The allusion is he thinks he can; but, when it is time to enter on foot into the valley, he will not go.

    Nothing can be put above the Lord's will for the one who is sent on foot into the valley - he must be willing to go, even in the face of death with full assurance and complete trust in the Lord who sent him. He must love the Lord his God with all of his heart; a divided heart will fail.

    Meroz, and her inhabitants, were cursed because they came not out to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

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

    A divided heart produces failure. We must love the Lord our God with all of our heart. When we are sent on foot into the valley of death, we must go with a single heart, and we will always be victorious.
  • Wayne Wilson for verse 20
    I believe the literal translation as in most the commentaries and the author's viewpoint. I Also think there is a latter time fulfillment of the stars/planets and their movement judging the wicked on earth to help deliver the saints. God is so sovereign I believe, that he foreordained this cataclysmic, intergalactic event to happen right on time. Those that are in the arc of Christ will not be affected :)

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Bible Trivia

Why was a blessing pronounced upon Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, in the book of Judges?
  • She took a peg and hammered it into Sisera's head
  • She cursed the people of Meroz
  • She was a great encouragement to Barak
  • She hid Barak from his pursuers