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Read Judges 5

The Song of Deborah

On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

“When the princes in Israel take the lead,
    when the people willingly offer themselves—
    praise the Lord!

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
    I, even I, will sing to the Lord;
    I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.

“When you, Lord, went out from Seir,
    when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook, the heavens poured,
    the clouds poured down water.
The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel.

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned;
    travelers took to winding paths.
Villagers in Israel would not fight;
    they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
    until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders
    when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
    among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
    with the willing volunteers among the people.
    Praise the Lord!

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,
    sitting on your saddle blankets,
    and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
    They recite the victories of the Lord,
    the victories of his villagers in Israel.

“Then the people of the Lord
    went down to the city gates.
12 ‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
    Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, Barak!
    Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.’

13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;
    the people of the Lord came down to me against the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;
    Benjamin was with the people who followed you.
From Makir captains came down,
    from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
    yes, Issachar was with Barak,
    sent under his command into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.
    And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained on the coast
    and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;
    so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.

19 “Kings came, they fought,
    the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,
    they took no plunder of silver.
20 From the heavens the stars fought,
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The river Kishon swept them away,
    the age-old river, the river Kishon.
    March on, my soul; be strong!
22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves—
    galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.
23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the Lord.
    ‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the Lord,
    to help the Lord against the mighty.’

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
    the wife of Heber the Kenite,
    most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
    in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
    her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
    she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 At her feet he sank,
    he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
    where he sank, there he fell—dead.

28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;
    behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
    Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
    indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
    a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
    colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
    all this as plunder?’

31 “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!
    But may all who love you be like the sun
    when it rises in its strength.”

Then the land had peace forty years.

Go Deeper

This chapter is commonly referred to as “Deborah’s Song.” This poetic piece is a song of victory coming off of the defeat of Sisera and his army in the previous chapter. In their plight, Deborah and Barak praise the Lord for His faithfulness and action on their behalf.

One theme we notice early on throughout this song is that of the “willing volunteers.” The poets call the people to “praise the Lord” (v. 2) in response to those willing and faithful people who offer themselves. That call is echoed in verse nine. From there, we read example after example of those who were faithful in aligning with the Lord’s work in freeing Israel from their oppressors. We see the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali were all willing volunteers for the Lord’s cause. The tribes and the surrounding creation served the Lord in this liberation of His people. “From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The river Kishon swept them away” (v. 20-21).

We can pick up on a theme that is present throughout Judges. The people who stood with God in the battle to free His people are the ones who love the Lord and accept the reality they are His. People like Jael, someone who likely never thought she’d be involved in the battle, played an integral role in finishing the fight. Even Barak, who we see was reluctant in Judges 4, accepts this call to stand with the Lord. In contrast with those who stood against the Lord (or did nothing), we see these willing volunteers.

What does this mean for us today? As we see throughout this song, it is ultimately God who seeks His people and saves them from evil. So why should Israel’s leaders and people do anything? He invites us to be active participants because He deeply wants us to be along with Him for the adventure! He calls us to follow Him because He genuinely wants us to join Him. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t tolerate us. He desires us as the loving Father He is. There is somewhere He wants to work where He calls you to join. How will you respond?


  1. Reflect on a time where the Lord asked you to “join in” on His work in the world. How did you respond?
  2. In light of that response, what are you glad you did? What could you have done differently?
  3. In what ways do you believe the Lord is calling you to “join in” in your everyday life? How can you learn from the past?

By the Way

In Hebrews 11, what is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” the author of Hebrews is sharing Biblical examples of those who lived by faith. Look at Hebrews 11:32. While he only gets mentioned by name, notice that Barak made it in. Even in his hesitance, the outcome was living in faith. If you’ve ever felt like Barak, don’t be afraid, he still is remembered as a man who walked in faith.

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2 thoughts on “Judges 5”

  1. The Israelites have experienced great victory and break out in song. Their praise is focused on God who has delivered them and put a song in their heart. It’s a victory song of remembrance of every step of God’s faithfulness to them. Imagine the elation and celebrating that broke out among the people! What a great way to to preserve and retell this amazing story from generation to generation. It’s important enough to be included in a book of the Bible. “Our God, is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power, & love, our God is an awesome God.” (Michael W.Smith)

  2. Praise is something I believe God wants from us constantly. Someone said to me that praise is like a crescendo of our delight in God!!! You were created for worship as is the earth Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declares the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night reveals knowledge. We ,as Deborah, can give God glory honor and thanksgiving with song, reading His word, communicating with Him, listening to and for His voice, and worshipping Him constantly in spirit and in in truth. Psalm 37:4 Delight in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart.

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