Judges 5:1 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.

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.

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.

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.

MEMORY VERSE: 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. —Judges 5:31

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The prophetess Deborah assisted General Barak to prevail against the twenty years’ oppression of the Canaanites; after which they sang an epic song of God’s victory over the enemy.


Judges 5:2 “The avenging”: commonly translated, “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the LORD!” (New International Version) or, “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!” (New King James Version) or even differently, Instead of “avenging” with its usual meaning, the translators put “took the lead.” The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges offers this in explanation: “In Hebrew the verb ‘took the lead’ properly means to loosen (Exodus 5:4), especially to let the hair go loose (Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 13:45) and the noun is used of the long locks of the Nazarites (Numbers 6:5). Wearing the hair long was the mark of a vow not to do certain things until a specified object had been attained; the practice was observed not only by the Nazarites but by warriors bent upon vengeance…”

Judges 5:4 “When thou wentest out of Seir”: a reference to Israel’s victory over Sihon, king of Heshbon and Og, king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 2). “This march seems to have been signalised, and the battles of Israel aided, by the same majestic natural phenomena as those which had helped them to defeat Sisera, as though Jehovah Himself were the leader of their vanguard. Though the earthquakes and rains which made so deep an impression upon them are not recorded in the Pentateuch, the memory of the circumstances is preserved in these three passages [Judges 5:4; Psalm 68:7-8; Habakkuk 3:3-12]” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

Judges 5:5 “Even that Sinai”: possibly a reference to how Jehovah’s presence caused Mount Sinai to move and quake (as in Psalm 68).

Judges 5:11 “They that are delivered from the noise of archers”: a reference to the peace and safety after the tumult and chaos of oppression and war; the people could now go unmolested to and from their villages and cities to the gates and wells—the shepherds could water their flocks, the maidens could draw water, the people could settle their disputes with the judges.

Judges 5:12 “Lead thy captivity captive”: a triumphant procession in which the war hero would lead the prisoners of war and carts loaded with the spoils of war into the liberated city.

Judges 5:13 “Him that remaineth”: a remnant. Barak and just a small portion of the Israelites participated in this war; several other tribes (Dan, Asher, Reuben, Gad or Gilead, etc.) did not assist, as Deborah notes in verses 15-17. “The want of sympathy on the part of the tribes that are reproved is a sufficient proof that the enthusiasm for the cause of the Lord had greatly diminished in the nation, and that the internal unity of the congregation was considerably loosened” (Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament).

Judges 5:24 “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be”: a celebration pronounced for her deed of war; not necessarily a Divine approbation for the morality of her deed; but, as Old Testament wars and plunders are allegorical of spiritual conquest in the New Testament, “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” (Matthew Henry).


The book of Judges covers the time from the death of Joshua until the death of Samson, a little over three hundred years. Although some have supposed that Judges is a compilation of the histories of each different judge, it seems evident that one person, who lived after the period, was the author, probably Samuel. The chronology of the book, being very unclear, has been debated. Adam Clarke writes: “There is, however, one light in which the whole book may be viewed, which renders it invaluable; it is a most remarkable history of the long-suffering of God towards the Israelites, in which we find the most signal instances of his justice and his mercy alternately displayed; the people sinned, and were punished; they repented and found mercy. Something of this kind we meet with in every page. And these things were written for our warning. None should presume, for God is just; none need despair, for God is merciful.”

Our lesson focuses on the song with which God inspired the prophetess Deborah, who lived with her husband, Lapidoth, and judged Israel during the time that Jabin, king of Canaan, oppressed the Israelites. Jabin had 900 chariots of iron, and his captain was Sisera. After twenty years of this bondage, Deborah, as the acting head of state both in civil and religious affairs, called Barak to organize an army “toward Mount Tabor.” This mountain stands by itself, 1,843 feet above the sea, with a plain area at the top. In the valley below, westward, is the river Kishon. The water that falls on the eastern side of the mountain during the rainy season empties into Kishon, sometimes overflowing its banks. This may be what is meant in Judges 5:21, “The river Kishon swept them away.”

Deborah prophesied that the victory over Sisera would be in the “hand of a woman.” That woman was Jael, who was married to Heber, a Kenite, a distant relative of Moses’ father -in-law. Heber had distanced himself from the Kenites and was camping in the plain near Kedesh. As Barak descended from Tabor with his ten thousand men, the Lord “discomfited Sisera and all his chariots and all his host” so that Sisera fled away on foot and came to the remote tent, seeking refuge. Jael assured him of peace and safety; then proceeded to execute him with a hammer and tent stake as he slept.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. What phrase in verses 2 and 9 teaches a valuable lesson?
  2. Share a similar thought from Psalm 110, and give its meaning.
  3. Share two other Scripture passages which echo verses 4 and 5.
  4. What is the theme of the book of Judges?
  5. What important concept is pointed out in verse 11 concerning witnessing about the Lord?


The principles of the battle between good and evil: the triumph God gives to the right,via unexpected natural sources, people and supernatural intervention; the boldness and courage of men and women who willingly “offered themselves” to God; the praise given to God because of the victory He gave—these are lessons we can glean through this painful story. The final verse gives the poem deep meaning. “So”—in this same way; by God’s leading and inspiration; by His choosing of an unlikely vessel; by His sacred judgments—”let all thine enemies perish, O LORD!” We see again the golden thread of deliverance and victory over God’s foes in this song, as well as in the songs of Moses. When we apply Jael’s victory in a spiritual way, we remember the Messiah was promised to “bruise” satan’s head. In Romans 16:20 we read that we will bruise satan under our feet.

We may see God’s mercy and redemption in all of the book of Judges; a book, I might say, that is the ugliest book of the Bible because of its graphic portrayal of the horror and degradation that comes from every man doing what is “right in his own eyes.” We may even obtain a greater understanding of God’s HOLINESS by reading the Bible’s honest portrayal of man at his worst.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


The hard shell of an oyster is in stark contrast to the tenderness of its flesh. A grain of sand slips in, irritates the flesh and the creation of beauty begins. Songs are like pearls, very valuable but often produced from a source of pain. Adversities slip past our protective layers and touch the most vulnerable parts of our being and in an attempt to find something to soothe and comfort us….the song begins.

Thomas Dorsey was raised in a Christian home but at an early age he chose a life of sin. His goal was to make his mark in the world of music and he was quite famous until a nervous breakdown cut his secular career short and sent him home to recover. His mother pleaded with him to turn his life around and use his talents for the Lord instead. Eventually he yielded.

Though he wrote various other gospel songs he is most noted for “Precious Lord Take My Hand.” This song was born of adversity. While away at a revival he received a telegram that his wife and child had died during childbirth and that he should come home immediately. The news was so devastating that he could not see a way forward. He was tempted to go back to his old life but had a desire to hold on to God if God would hold on to him. Seeking consolation, he sat at the piano and the Lord gave him this song:

“Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand.

I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.

Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light;

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near;

When my life is almost gone,

Hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall;

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near;

And the day is past and gone;

At the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand;

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Through song, God enables us to turn our adversities into pearls of great price that soothe our souls and comfort our hearts. These songs become invaluable not only to us and our generation but also to the generations that follow.

It is in these battles that we compose our songs of victory. They become our perpetual theme songs forged in conflict and designed to be sung before the battle, in the midst of it and afterwards as well.

No battle, no victory. No victory, no song.

—Bro. Darrell Johnson