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Lesson No.: 
Memory Verse: 

“I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel” (Judges 5:3).

Cross References: 

I The Preamble to Deborah and Barak’s Song
1. Praise is given to God for His deliverance, [Judges:5:1-3].
2. God’s glory, majesty, and power, manifested in Israel’s behalf, is recounted, [Judges:5:4-5]; [Deuteronomy:33:2]; [Psalms:68:7-8]; [Habakkuk:3:3-4].
3. Israel’s shameful condition, because of idolatry, is stated, [Judges:5:6-8].
4. Commendation is given the faithful governors of Israel, [Judges:5:9].
5. Israel’s future of peace, righteousness, and just government is revealed -– speaking, perhaps, also of the Millennium, [Judges:5:10-11]; [Isaiah:2:1-4], [ISA:10-21].

II Commendation for Willing Service; Denunciation for Laxity
1. The call to leadership and responsibility is repeated, [Judges:5:12-13].
2. Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh (Machir), Sebulun, Issachar, and Napthtali are commended for willing service, [Judges:5:14-15], [Judges:5:18].
3. Reuben, Gad (Gilead), Dan, and Asher are denounced for their self-interest and laxity, [Judges:5:15-17]; [Genesis:49:3-4].
4. The people of Meroz are cursed by God for their apathy and indolence, [Judges:5:23].

III The Battle’s Course and Outcome
1. Israel is told that the tribes who responded did so willingly, without thought of financial gain, [Judges:5:19].
2. They are also reminded that God fought and won the battle for them, [Judges:5:20-22]; [Judges:4:9], [Judges:5:14-15], [Judges:5:23].
3. Jael’s faithfulness to God’s cause, in spite of a league with the ungodly, is commended, [Judges:5:24-27]; [Judges:4:11-12], [Judges:4:17-21].
4. The carnal security of the ungodly, and its futility, is brought to Israel’s attention, [Judges:5:28-30].
5. A stirring benediction is given, [Judges:5:31]; [Hebrews:11:32-34], [Hebrews:11:39].


The Song of Praise
Practically the whole of Judges 5 is devoted to the song of Deborah and Barak, sung after their battle with the Canaanite army had ended. Its context reveals some deep and heart-searching truths, excellent for personal application today, even though the song was inspired and sung in a period more than 3,000 years ago.

When comparing this song with others contained in the Bible, one can see a striking similarity in their first parts, or opening hymns of praise. The Song of Moses at the crossing of the Red Sea ([Exodus:15:1-21]), as well as the final song at the end of his life ([Deuteronomy:32:1-43]), opens with an ascription of praise to God and a testimony of His greatness. The thanksgiving of Hannah ([1 Samuel:2:1-10]), many of the Psalms, Isaiah’s hymn of thanksgiving ([Isaiah:12:1-6]), the Magnificat of Mary, the mother of Jesus ([Luke:1:67-79]), and the songs of the redeemed around the Throne of God ([Revelation:5:9-14]; [Revelation:7:12-17]; [Revelation:15:3-4]), all open with ascriptions of greatness to God and praise to the Almighty. The prayer given by Jesus as a model prayer, known as the Lord’s Prayer, also opens in the same manner ([Matthew:6:9-13]). Therefore, the first lesson to learn from this song of Deborah is the necessity of coming to God in the proper attitude -– in worship and praise.

God’s Deliverances
The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was a high point in the history of the Israelites. It was there that God made a Covenant with Israel -– a specific Covenant -– different from the Covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And it was there that the Israelites drew back from the responsibilities given them under that Covenant. God, in His glory and power, was manifested to them on Mount Sinai, as they heard His voice declaring unto them His commandments and covenant terms. And every event in their national history, as well as the personal, that demonstrated the interposition of the divine Hand in their behalf, reminded them again of Sinai and of the glory and power that they saw manifested there.

The Lord fought for Israel against the armies of Jabin, king of Canaan. It was not the military might of the Israelites that won the battle, for among 40,000 Israelites there was not found one shield or spear. We have seen in our former lesson that they had been terribly oppressed during the two past decades. But when they cried to God for help He heard them and delivered them.

We are not told exactly what means God used to rout and destroy the Canaanites, other than that the river swept many of them away to their death and that the very heavens allied with the forces of nature against the heathen. It was by the hand of God that victory was given, because Israel obeyed the commandments of God and willingly gave themselves to the cause of God. Because of this victory, Deborah was filled with the joy and ecstasy that naturally comes with victory.

It was the same God who spoke on Mount Sinai who fought against Sisera and the armies of Canaan. It was the same God who piled the waters of the Red Sea and Jordan, allowing the Children of Israel to walk over on dry ground. It was the same God who sent quail for them to eat, and who provided manna, also, six days out of every seven, for a period of four decades. It was the same God who brought water out of the flinty rock; who confounded their enemies, who sent hornets to deliver them; who shielded them in the daytime from the heat of the desert sun by the pillar of cloud; and who led them in the night by the pillar of fire. It was the same God who appeared over the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies; who opened the ground and swallowed up the rebels against His holy commandments; who threw down the walls of Jericho; and who sent plagues upon the Egyptians and yet delivered Israel from the devastating effect of the plagues.

It is a good thing to look back over the deliverances that God has given us from trouble, sin, and evil. It is good to do this in times of adversity. It is better to do it when our spirits are flushed with the excitement of God-given victory. “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High” (Psalm:92:1).

The Call, with the Commendations and Denunciations
Our last lesson showed us the characters of Deborah and Barak, as demonstrated to us in their answer to God’s call and their faithfulness to Him. But, unfortunately, all the Israelites were not like these two servants of God.

Only ten of the tribes were mentioned in the lines of this song. Simeon and Judah are not included. Perhaps the great distance between Simeon and Judah’s territory and the scene of the battle is the reason they were not present to fight with the rest of Israel. The half-tribe of Manasseh, who had settled east of Jordan, was included in the denunciation given to Gilead, as the term “Gilead” includes that part of the land occupied by these people.

Barak assembled his army of 10,000 from the area near his home, which was the territory occupied by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. They marched southward to Mount Tabor and shortly afterward engaged the enemy, because the Canaanites had been advised by Heber, with whom Jabin had previously made peace, that the Israelites were assembling at the mountain. The battle took place in the territory occupied by Issachar and the half-tribe of Manasseh that had crossed Jordan to take up their rightful inheritance in Canaan itself. Ephraim and Benjamin were settled south of this battle area and joined in the battle, probably by coming up to the rear of the action.

The two and a half tribes east of the Jordan were not too remote from the scene of action to take part. Even if they did reason that they were too far away their remoteness was of their own choosing. Since they had chosen the area by their own free will they should have been willing to suffer the temporary inconvenience of joining Israel in this decisive battle for the welfare of the whole nation. If their hearts had been right with God they would have done so without question or argument.

But Reuben stayed in the sheepfolds, being more interested in their own personal welfare than in the cause of God. They were not setting their affections on things above, but were concerned with the temporal issues of this life. The people of Gad, also, stayed beyond Jordan, with the half-tribe of Manasseh that failed to go all the way into the Promised Land years before, demonstrating again the laxity of their zeal for God’s work.

Asher stayed on the seashore -– as far from the scene of the battle as they could go and still remain in their own territory. They stayed in their own defences, or breaches. They were guilty not only of neglect to the call of God but also of alack of concern in the welfare of their brethren. Little they cared if the other tribes were subjugated and destroyed. It was sufficient, they thought, for them to man their own defences and stay in their own territory. How miserably they missed the spirit of the call that God had given all Israel, when He wanted them to be messengers of the Covenant to the people of the entire world, to bring the news of the peace, safety, and salvation, as well as the other covenant-blessings, to them all! The Asherites were guilty not only of failure in filling these Covenant responsibilities to the world of Gentiles, but were guilty of malicious neglect and deliberate unconcern for their own people -– the chosen nation of Israel! Such is the condition that follows when an individual begins to lay up treasures on earth instead of in Heaven.

The people of Dan, also, were self-centred. They stayed in their ships, carrying on their commerce with the outside world. Their attitude was extremely short-sighted; for what value would their seaport towns and commerce be without a friendly hinterland behind them? If the rest of the Israelites were wiped out, what mercy and fair trade could the Danites expect from the oppressing conquerors? They were typical of many who remain unconcerned about the Lord’s coming, filling their days with activities to please themselves, to provide comforts and wealth for their declining years, and to serve the desires of their own hearts.

But the sternest denunciations of all were given to the inhabitants of Meroz. The angel of the Lord pronounced a curse upon them, because they allowed an opportunity for service to go by without taking advantage of it. They were not guilty of active rebellion against the Israelites. It is not recorded that the reason for their neglect was that they were completely occupied with their own personal activities, as were the people of Reuben, Asher, and Dan. The inhabitants of Meroz simply did nothing; and the sin of doing nothing brought upon them a denunciation that was more severe than was given to any of the others.

Was Meroz in a vital position and invaluable to the scheme of the battle, without whose help the battle would be lost? No, for God can carry His plans through to a successful conclusion without any of us, individually. None of us are indispensable. We do not know if the people of Meroz were near to the scene of battle, or on one of the escape routes open to the enemy, and because of that might have been able to do an important service to the rest of Israel. What we do know is that they were situated in a place where they could have done service for God, but they did not do it. They did nothing!

The curse against Meroz was carried out so completely and so thoroughly that there is neither memory remaining of its people nor ruins left of its location. It has been completely destroyed. The striking lesson for us in this destruction is the fact that it was cursed because its people did nothing; which reminds one of the words of the Lord: “That servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke:12:47).

The blessing of God came especially upon the six tribes who fought valiantly and faithfully against the enemy. They came and fought, and took no gain of money for themselves as compensation for the time they had lost from their own occupations. “There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke:18:29, 30). It is easy to see what rewards are accruing to those who faithfully serve the cause of God and are obedient to His every command. They “jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.” But they earned an eternal reward for doing so!

The standards and requirements for us in this New Testament dispensation are certainly no less than those for Israel. Two of God’s fearless messengers in New Testament days were referred to in a similar manner. The sacred writer said they were “men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts:15:26). Jesus Himself gave us a very exacting standard, when He said: “If any man come to me, and hate [love less] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciples.” “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke:14:26, 27, 33).

There is an incomparable reward in store for all who take up their cross to follow Jesus, who jeopardise their lives in the “high places of the field,” who hazard their lives for His name. And there is a stern denunciation, as well as an eternal loss, for those who fail to do it and “remain in ships,” who content themselves in the “sheepfolds” of earthly responsibilities, who remain in their own selfish defences and fail to fulfil their covenant obligations, or who never attempt to rise to the help of the Lord -– and, instead, do nothing!


1. With what attitude does the song of Deborah and Barak open?
2. Name some other famous songs of Scripture and relate the background of each one.
3. In what condition was Israel at the time Deborah was called as a prophetess?
4. Why were the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali commended?
5. Why were the tribes of Gad and Reuben denounced?
6. Quote a New Testament verse that shows what our attitude is to be toward the work of the Lord.
7. Why were the inhabitants of the city of Meroz cursed?
8. How completely has this curse been carried out?
9. It can be said that the mother of Sisera felt a certain security about the safety of her son. What spiritual parallel is there in this?
10. Jael, the wife of Heber, was given a sublime blessing. Name another woman who received a similar blessing.