The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
THE SONG OF DEBORAH AND BARAK
- Judges 5:1 says, “Then sang Deborah and Barak…” and so I have entitled tonight’s message, “The Song of Deborah and Barak.” However, the song is often referred to as “the Song of Deborah.” There are some good reasons for this.
- First of all, according to the account given us in Judges 4, Deborah is the stronger leader (cf. 4:4-9).
- Secondly, Judges 5:7 seems to indicate that Deborah wrote the song.
- In Judges 4 we read that God gave Israel a great deliverance, and this song of Deborah and Barak commemorates that great deliverance. It is a song of praise to God and a rehearsal of the entire episode (5:11).
- There are also a few facts not revealed to us in chapter 4 (cf. 5:28-31).
THE SETTING OF THE SONG (JUDGES 4)
- We studied Judges 4 last week so there is no need to go over all of that again. Because of Israel’s sin, the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin, the king of Canaan. Jabin’s military commander was Sisera.
- Sisera was a formidable enemy. Judges 4:3 tells us that he had 900 chariots of iron, and he oppressed Israel for 20 years.
- Remember the pattern in the book of Judges: rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration. Israel cried unto the LORD and the Lord raised up Deborah.
- Why did God send them a woman judge? Apparently because the men were so weak and lazy! There is a story told about the great preacher Harry Ironside walking through the park one day with a friend and they saw a woman preaching the Gospel.
- Ironside’s friend said, “It is a shame for a woman to get up and preach like that. I deplore it. She should not be doing that.” Dr. Ironside replied, “I agree with you that it is a shame, not that a woman is preaching, but that there is not a man to take her place.”
- So we are already familiar with the setting of the song. Let us now consider the subject of the song.
THE SUBJECT OF THE SONG (5:1-5).
- The subject of the song is the LORD (5:2, 3, 4, 5).
- The LORD is an avenging God (5:2). In both the OT and the NT, He says, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
- The LORD is worthy to be praised (Judges 5:3). He is an awesome God (5:4).
- The LORD is a sovereign God (5:5).
- It is well to remember that in the midst of the horrible apostasy, God still gave the Israelites a song to sing. Judges 5:12 suggests that Deborah was singing even before God gave Israel the victory.
- I think we Christians should sing more and worry less. We should praise God and stop complaining.
THE SORROW OF THE SONG (5:6-8).
- This is a song of praise but it also strikes a plaintive note. Verse 6 speaks of desolation and declension. It was not safe to travel on the main highways. The Israelites were unable to use the main roads but had to resort to using the byways to get to their destination.
- Because her enemies, the Canaanites, had gotten control of the main roads, Israel was severely restricted. It remained this way until “Deborah arose” (5:7).
- Deborah was a mother (5:7) and so her first priority was her children. But because of the desperate situation she stepped out and took the lead in a day when most men refused to lead.
- The Israelites were guilty of committing the sin of idolatry – “They chose new gods” (5:8). Retribution always followed rebellion – “then was war in the gates” (5:8).
- “Was there a shield or spear seen among 40,000 in Israel?” (5:8). The implied answer is “no.”
THE SOLDIERS OF THE SONG (5:9-23).
- The days of the Judges were days of declension, but conditions were not all bad. Deborah thanked God for the good governors of Israel that offered themselves willingly (5:9; cf. 5:2, 18-22).
- Theirs was a volunteer army. Many of the Israelites willingly went forward to fight but unfortunately there were quite a few slackers as well (cf. 5:16, 17, 23).
- This is the way it is today. Some Christians are always engaged in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, but there are others are sitting back and watching.
- They that rode on white horses and they that sat in judgment (5:10) refers to the noblemen and magistrates. They willingly joined the fight.
- The LORD intervened for His people (5:20). He sent a fearful tempest, and the rain turned the Kishon River into a raging torrent, and plain of Megiddo into a huge mud puddle (5:21). The Canaanite chariots of iron were no longer an asset but a liability (5:22).
THE SMASHED HEAD OF THE SONG (5:24-31).
- In Luke 1:42, the angel Gabriel says to Mary, the mother of our Lord, “Blessed art thou among women.” Roman Catholics repeat this Scripture over and over again when they pray to Mary.
- But here in Judges 5:24, Deborah and Barak sing, “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be.”
- When Deborah and Barak said Jael “smote off Sisera’s head” (5:26), they meant Jael smashed Sisera’s head with her hammer.
- Deborah (the author of this song) then remembers Sisera’s mother (5:28-31). How would Deborah know this? Because “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Tim. 3:16).
- Judges 5:19 refers to the armies of Israel defeating the kings of Canaan “by the waters of Megiddo.” Military leaders have called the plain of Megiddo the world’s greatest battlefield.
- Not only did Barak defeat Sisera there, soon Gideon would defeat the Midianites there (Judges 6 & 7).
- King Saul died there (I Samuel 31).
- King Josiah was killed in battle there (II Kings 23:28-30).
- But the most famous battle of all has yet to be fought, but it will certainly be fought there – the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16; 17:14).