Deborah was such a bad ass. Not only was she a prophetess, a mighty warrior, and a woman who knew when to step back and let someone else lead, she was also a poet and song writer. This song she is singing in Judges 5 is about the joy and blessing in being a willing instrument of God in the battle against Sisera in chapter 4. It was a common OT practice to go straight from battle into worship. “ we have been delivered from worse enemies, and saved by a greater salvation. Let our gratitude be deeper; let our song be more jubilant.” (Spurgeon)
The people recognized that Deborah and Barack were their leaders and they were happy to offer themselves as followers in the worship of their God. There is always a time to lead and a time to follow. Knowing when God wants you to do one or the other is a part of being in tune to Him.
Deborahs worship song begins by thanking God for the rain he sent. “God won the victory for Israel over Sisera by sending a great rain (the heavens poured). In this song Deborah recalled a time when God did the same thing on behalf of Israel in the days of the Exodus (Deuteronomy 33:2).” (Guzik) She is remembering that Gods provision didn’t just start with this battle. He has been rescuing us for a long long time. Sometimes we have to step back and look at our whole story to see how many times He was right there saving our stubborn butts by telling us NO or NOT YET. God is always good. I love the imagery here, “The earth trembled and the heavens poured”. He is such a mighty God but he still loves us enough to fight for each of us despite all of the crazy things we do.
“In the time of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the time of Jael,
Public roads were abandoned, travelers went by backroads.
Warriors became fat and sloppy, no fight left in them.
Then you, Deborah, rose up; you got up, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders, who then fought at the gates.
And not a shield or spear to be seen among the forty companies of Israel.”
Judges 5:6-8 MSG
This battle against Sisera was really against the oppressive ruler Jabin. Sisera was Jabin’s army leader. Under Jabin’s rule “the land was full of anarchy and confusion, being everywhere infested with banditti. No public road was safe; and in going from place to place, the people were obliged to use unfrequented paths.” (Clarke) As I write this on my 46th birthday our entire world is in hibernation during the Corona Virus Pandemic. The highways are deserted. Travelers walk along the byways. Village life has ceased. I don’t know who will rise and be our Deborah.
Maybe for each person they will have a different Deborah. Someone who is willing to rise and let God work through her. You can be someone’s Deborah. You can rise and do the work of the Lord. It’s just about being quiet enough to listen to Gods instructions, bold enough to lead, and wise enough to know when to step away.
Know this. The village is quiet but the birds are singing, the sun is shining, the animals don’t know there is a pandemic, which means God is still and forever in charge.
“My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord!”
Judges 5:9 NIV
“Deborah didn’t only care for her job of leadership. She also had a heart for other leaders and their work. Her vision was bigger than just getting “her job” done. She wanted to see the Kingdom of God advanced. Deborah spoke of the people offering themselves willingly. Here she notes that the sacrifices should also be borne by the leaders. They also must offer themselves willingly.” Guzik
“You who ride on prize donkeys comfortably mounted on blankets And you who walk down the roads, ponder, attend! Gather at the town well and listen to them sing, Chanting the tale of GOD ’s victories, his victories accomplished in Israel. Then the people of GOD went down to the city gates.”
Judges 5:10-11 MSG
This chapter feels so real in this time of a pandemic. We are all looking to our civic leaders, our Deborahs and Baraks, to guide us through this untenable season. More importantly we are being called to “chant the tales of Gods victories” in order to remember all of the times he has pulled us out of shitty seasons. This too shall pass. I mean it will right? It’s our life assignment to tell others about the great things God has done – to sing a song of praise to the Lord for everyone to hear.
““The survivors came down to the nobles; the people of the Lord came down for me against the mighty.”
Judges 5:13 MEV
Gods help to victory came via the tribes of Israel. God helps us to victory any way He can. Through other people, books, songs. He will use whatever he needs to use to help us and guide us to victory. In this battle he also used a torrent of rain – the torrent of Kishon – as described in verse 21. But we have to align ourselves with the right people and be in the place God calls us to be.. We must make sure we are in a community of people who will fight for us. Not everyone can. Be ok with that. Sometimes you will fight for people who can’t reciprocate.
Ultimately the hero of this tale is Jael. It was she who tricked Sisera into napping in her tent. She promised him safety but then pierced his head with a tent peg. “What Jael did would be condemned by many in the days of the Judges. The responsibility to protect and bless a guest was an almost absolute command, and Jael killed a guest. Yet she was blessed here because her obedience to the cause of God was greater than her obedience to tradition and custom.” Guzik
This reminds me of dealing with somebody who is hurtful. All of my life all I ever want is peace. No drama. Just a peaceful easy life. And I assume the best about everybody. Have compassion and empathy for all of the people all of the time. On more than one occasion this has opened me up to a crazy person. A covert narcissist, a con artist, a woman with borderline personality disorder, and a pathological liar. I’m now in a season of reckoning and coming to terms with the position that “not everyone is good”. And that I don’t have to be an empath for every ass hole on the street. I don’t have to let everyone use me as a pawn in their games. I can walk away. I won’t drive a tent peg through anyone’s brain box but by God there is an inner Jael in me who is rising up and learning to know when to be fierce against the people who try to hurt me and mine. Just remember the loudest person in a fight is the one who remains silent.
At the end of her song Deborah did recognize the people who would mourn Sisera. I’m not sure if this was compassion or pity.
Finally the worship winds down.
“So let all Your enemies perish, O LORD; But let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.” And the land was at rest for forty years.”
Judges 5:31 AMP
May we all be like the RISING OF THE SUN IN ITS MIGHT ☀️