Song of Deborah – Judges 5:1-12
We are going to study Judges 5, I think one of the most interesting and in some ways challenging passages in Judges, because unlike the other chapters in Judges this is not historical narrative; this is poetry. This is Hebrew poetry and Hebrew poetry is a challenge to translate. That's why when they start off in your second year of Hebrew studies you start translating Psalms. That's not the first thing you start translating but it's pretty close because it's very difficult to translate poetry from one language to another because poetic language makes us of a lot of idioms, it makes use of a lot of imagery, a lot of similes and metaphors that do not necessarily carry over from one language to another. So it involves a tremendous amount of skill in order to not only translate it, you can translate it word for word but then you end up with somewhat of a wooden translation that may not make a lot of sense when it comes over into the English and then you have to start working on your English to try to make it read well as beautiful poetry in English. So it stretches the skill of the translator.
In Judges 5 we have the poetic hymn that was written, a praise psalm that was written to praise God for the victory that He gave the Jews over the army of Sisera that we studied in Judges 4. So this gives us a fascinating look at the development of Scripture where we have one event told first as historical narrative and then in the next chapter it is related to us in very poetic language as a descriptive praise psalm. So we have to understand the category. Now you remember when we were studying our introduction to the Old Testament earlier this year I took some time when we went through the Psalms to talk about the different types of psalms, that there are one category of Psalms that we studied were lament psalms and in lament psalms either you have an individual lament or what's called a communal or national lament where the writer is in some sort of adversity. He's going through some sort of difficulty and he expresses his heartache, his problems, his difficulty to God and calls upon God for rescue in a time of trouble and then he describes how God rescues him and then ends with a brief praise of what God has done to rescue and deliver him.
What happened in the development of the psalms, and we don't know just when this took place or how in the development of the literature, that final section in a lament psalm, that praise section was then sort of taken out and divorced from the rest of the lament psalm, where the praise section itself would become a psalm in and of itself. And there were basically two types of praise psalms, there is individual praise psalms and there are national praise psalms and they can be classified further as either declarative praise psalms where the person is declaring a specific answer to prayer and describing a specific act of God done on their behalf, or it is a descriptive praise psalm. In a descriptive praise psalm the writer is giving general praise to God, focusing on perhaps some attribute of God and talking about how great and wonderful and extolling the benefits and the blessings of God.
So what we have here when we come to Judges 5 is a declarative praise psalm. The main idea of a psalm comes from the Hebrew word which means to remember and it has the idea of reminding us about the attributes of God, His person, who He is and what He has done in human history. See, we think of history, I think in our modern context as somewhat fluid if not unimportant and we think that there's an attitude in our culture that history can be reshaped and people can interpret it any way they want to because that's part of our loss of any concept of absolutes. But history is the outworking of God's plan and purposes and if we look at history from God's perspective God only needs to do something once; He doesn't need to do it in each and every generation. I think this is one of the problems that undergirds the charismatic Pentecostal problem is that there are folks that think that the miracles, the signs and wonders that were performed by Christ, by the apostles at the foundation of the church need to be repeated for every generation. But the point is that once it has occurred then we are to remember what God has done and it is just as real and just as valid for Jesus to have healed the blind man in John 9, it is just as real and significant as if it were to happen today. But in our view of history we divorce it and we think well, if it happened a thousand years ago it can't happen again so God's not active. And that is a false view of history.
God puts a lot of emphasis on history and on remembering what He has done. That's why when the Jews went into the Promised Land and they crossed over the River Jordan the first thing they did was they took large rocks and they built a rock cairn made out of twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes as a memorial so that in future generations when a family would be traveling and they would come to the fords of the Jordan River and they would see this mound of stones, the children would say hey pop, what happened there, what are those stones for, and they would then rehearse the doctrine of how God had brought the people into the land and go back and teach the Abrahamic Covenant and the land promises and the land covenant. So it was these historical reminders that were set up and there were various monuments of that type, rock cairns that were set up around Israel so that people would remember what God had done.
But as we've seen in our study of Judges what was happening was that people were forgetting God and this was the problem in the cycle is that they would forget God and we studied the Hebrew word for forgetting which doesn't mean that you just oops, I forgot to have my devotions this morning, I just got too busy and overlooked it; but it has the idea of an intentional removal, that there is a volitional, a negative volitional choice there to remove God from our conscious thought. And that's what happened in Israel. Of course what happens is that whenever you remove God from your thinking you create a vacuum in the soul and into that soul pours a vast amount of false teaching, false doctrine and idolatrous concepts.
In the ancient world they got involved in physical idolatry and what happens to day is rather than getting involved in physically idolatry we get involved in more subtle and sophisticated mental idolatry and we begin to worship material gain and success, we worship athletes, we worship many different things, whatever takes priority over the study of God's Word and Bible doctrine becomes an idol at that particular time and it can be just about anything in our lives. At that point, once we succumb to idolatry and we are out of fellowship and in carnality then at that point we become a slave to the sin nature. And unless we confess our sins and we're restored to fellowship, use God's grace recovery procedure, then what happens is that we stay in carnality and then we start going through the cycles of reversionism as we sink deeper and deeper into apostasy and we become soul slaves, slaves in our thinking, slaves in our mentality and then eventually we become slaves to whatever it is that we are serving in life because we are looking to that as the source of happiness, and whenever you put your happiness on something in the created realm, on one of the details of life, then you are saying that your emotional well being, your happiness, your joy is dependent upon that person, those events those responses from people's success, material gain or whatever and then you are totally enslaved to achieving that or having that person like you or whatever it might be.
This is what's gone on in Israel and up to this point they have gone through two cycles of enslavement that we have seen because they have gone into apostasy by rejecting God and rejecting doctrine. And then they recover through confession, they cry out to God, and God provides a deliverer and in Judges 4 we saw the historical episode of how God had raised up Deborah, not in response to a cry but just as part of God's common grace to Israel as the king to provide someone to adjudicate decisions. And then when it came time that the nation cried out for deliverance God raised up a military commander in the person of Barak and He informed Deborah to go commission Barak to lead an army against the armies of Sisera. But Barak was exhibiting the feminist traits of a pagan society. One of the symptoms, it doesn't happen in every pagan society, but the model we have built is that like having a disease, someone might have the flu and one person might have the same disease and have one set of symptoms and another person may have similar and yet a few other symptoms.
The same thing is true with paganism; all human viewpoint thought is going to manifest a certain set of symptoms in the culture. One culture may manifest symptoms in one way; another culture may go the other way. Just like in a person, when a person becomes apostate and is controlled by the sin nature, one person is going to manifest trends towards antinomianism and lasciviousness and licentiousness and another person is going to manifest symptoms toward legalism and asceticism. They are both manifestations of sin nature control in the soul but they are different. But they are the same symptoms so one culture may exhibit a certain pattern of symptoms because of pagan thought and another culture will exhibit maybe even antithetical symptoms but they're all part of representing what happens as we fall into paganism. And what happened in the ancient world, what is happening today is that you get this role reversal. I just wish I had the time to go out and really do some detailed study on some of these things and I don't even know if the data is available but there are certain things that seem to go together and seem to be interconnected. And I'm not saying that there are direct cause/effect relationships, I think the ultimate cause is sin nature control and it produces certain effects and these effects seem to be related to one another.
But what we see in the book of Judges in terms of the influence of paganism on the culture is we started off and we had an ideal view of a marriage, of Othniel and Achsah back in Judges 1, and nothing negative is said about that couple. Achsah is presented as a woman who is not only oriented to the authority of her father and her husband but she is [can't understand word] she exercises initiative. We saw that when Othniel conquered Debir Caleb gave him property down in the Negev as a reward but it didn't have any springs and he also gave him his daughter as a reward and she doesn't fight it; she shows respect to her father, she is married to Othniel, this great warrior who trusts God and yet she realizes that in this tract of land that Othniel was given there are no springs; it's dry land, it's desert land. So she goes back to her father, she gets off her donkey, she shows respect, she shows that she's been brought up well, and shows all the proper forms in that culture and she requests of her father additional land that has springs on it and he grants her request. So she's presented as a woman who has wisdom and foresight and thinks in terms of future generations and providing for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, on down the line in terms of their later possession of this land.
And the next woman that we see in this book is Deborah and Deborah is presented as a prophetess, she's wise, she is leading the nation adjudicating conflict between people in the nation and she calls forth Barak and now we see something negative, just a hint, a strong hint of something negative because Barak won't go into battle unless Deborah goes with him. So we see that Deborah has to step into the gap of leadership and you see this trend toward masculinization of women and feminization of men. And in a couple of weeks when we get to Jephthah we're going to see that what happens is you get into a situation and a culture where you don't understand the proper roles of males and females in society that what happens is women start becoming victimized, and so Jephthah goes out to war, promises God he'll sacrifice whatever comes out of the door of the house to greet him when he comes home; he comes home and his daughter runs out and so he builds an altar and offers her up as a burnt offering; he kills his daughter, she's a victim of his paganism. Then we come eventually to Samson and he's a sexual predator in modern parlance and he just can't control his lust patterns whatsoever and this is typical of the culture. Then there are some other episodes that take place in Judges 17-18 in the epilogue that demonstrate all of these problems.
Another thing that happens as part of this, in the leadership thing, and I'm not saying that women can't function as leaders in certain areas; in the Scriptures they are specifically forbidden to function in the role of explaining Scripture. They are not to teach or have authority over men and that teaching implies authority. It doesn't say that women can't be a CEO of a company, that they can't have a leadership role in a social organization, they can't have a leadership role in politics; it simply restricts it in that one specific area of leadership in the realm of teaching the Word and in spiritual things in 1 Timothy 2:8-15. But what happens in a culture where you start seeing paganism take over and these role reversals take over is that men tend to abdicate their position of leadership and then women have to take over; it happens in the home and it happens outside the home and you see women becoming more and more masculinized.
I was talking with a pastor last week we got back to the subject that so many of these men are concerned about and that is that in their circles, and it's happened in the liberal circles for several decades where they have ordained women and have women pastors but now it's coming into some of the more conservative Baptist denominations. The Southern Baptist Convention is going through a major battle over this right now and so are many of the black churches and I mentioned the problem of an association of churches in Columbus, Ohio where there were about 54 black Baptist churches and of those 48 have women pastors. Now that's not necessarily senior pastor but they have women pastors on staff who are preaching. And he was telling me that of the top ten black Churches in Houston that only two do not have women on the pastoral staff as pastors.
Another thing that he pointed out and this would be interesting, and he's gone through a couple of seminaries trying to get some additional training and it's hard when you don't have time to go to a school and leave your church, trying to find some kind of correspondence and he went to one up in the Midwest and he lasted about three weeks; he was not allowed to refer to God as "He." If he ever referred to God as "He" in any of the papers that he wrote he automatically failed the paper and they were very strong in promoting women leadership. Now his contention, from his experience, and he's been around a lot of women preachers in his circles and he said that there is a high percentage of lesbianism among the women preachers. I think these things would go together because what you see is this role reversal and this masculinization so what you have in society is a result of a culture becoming more and more controlled by pagan ideas is you have the men become effeminate and you have a rise of homosexuality among men, and on the woman's side you have masculinization of women, they get fed up with their husbands because the husbands aren't leading in the home and so they divorce them and they become the leader in the home and then they go out and get a job and you see this permeating society and it becomes something that has cumulative effects and eventually it affects sexual identity. So that now we have a group out in California who is trying to get the California State Board of Education to adopt a definition of sexual identity that is based on perception, self-perception, not how other people see you. So one day you may wake up and be in touch with your feminine side and be Mrs. Smith and the next day you wake up and you feel a little more masculine so you're Mr. Smith, and that's going to be just fine according to state law if that gets passed.
So these are the kinds of silly things that are going on in our world and it's not new; these kinds of things have happened throughout the ages. And as believers we have to learn how to live in the midst of a culture that is becoming more and more paganized without letting that influence our thinking because it's very easy to do that because we live with family members and with friends and we have to work, in many cases, in jobs where there are government mandates to put into place certain procedures in the work place that we know are ultimately disastrous for the country because of the way they affect how people view the roles of men and women in society, and that this leads to a breakdown of the divine institution of family and it leads to a breakdown of the divine institution of marriage. And eventually, once those break down, and we're there now, they have broken down in case you don't know that, once we get there then it's not long before the nation just disintegrates from the inside out because of fragmentation and all of that is what's going on.
Now Israel combats that, not always successfully. We see these trends and these symptoms here in Judges 4 and 5, and in Judges 4 we see that Barak is called out by Deborah to lead the troops, the army against Sisera, and he is victorious, but because of his unwillingness to be the leader, to be the leader that God intended the man to be and to have courage to go forth into battle and to defeat the enemy he is told that he will not have the glory of the victory; it will not be his. He will have the victory and to that degree he is honored and praised but the ultimate victory, the destruction of the enemy, and that's the goal in combat is to destroy the enemy, not just to reach a balance of power. That's another problem that we have in modern society is to often what we find in the upper echelon of leadership in nations is an attempt to try to control history. God is the One who controls history, Jesus Christ controls history and controls the destinies of nations but we see man in his autonomy, once he rejects God then man has to move onto the throne and try to control history and so the attempt is made to maintain a balance of power.
This is what gives rise to so many of the things that we've seen over the last 20-30 years is where you have things where the CIA gets involved in selling drugs, you have other groups getting involved in arms trades because they're trying to manipulate power bases between Arab countries and central American countries to maintain as what they perceive as the proper balance of power. And ultimately that house of cards is going to collapse and fall apart because man cannot manipulate history or control history. It is God who controls history and the ultimate issues in history, as we see in our study of Judges, are spiritual issues, and that's why when it comes down to Israel's deliverance here the issues are fundamentally spiritual and God is praised and God is the One who gets the glory for the victory that He brings about.
So we come to Judges 5 and we need to start and look at this overall psalm, we're going to have to deal with it as one element because it's an integrated unit and I want to give you a brief outline, just to help structure our understanding of this passage. The first major division is just the first verse which gives us the title of the psalm in verse 1. Then the second section which gets into the praise section is a proclamation to praise Yahweh, and this is Judges 5:2-8. Then there is a report or description of the deliverance, this is in Judges 5:9-30. So the report of the deliverance, verses 9-30 and we will break that down a bit as we get into it. Let's start off going through this verse by verse.
Judges 5:1 says, "Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying," so this introduces us to the hymn, "on that day" doesn't necessarily mean on that specific day; here it has a general reference to at that time. There's a lot of discussion in the literature as to when this psalm was developed but it was written by probably Deborah after the battle had taken place in response. So they had a celebration and that's what worship is all about; it is a celebration of what God has done in our lives ultimately in terms of solving the greatest problem we'll ever face, which is salvation. And because He's done that, He's given us the ability and He's given us the spiritual assets to solve any other problem that we can face in life.
Then we come to the proclamation to praise God in Judges 5:2-8. It begins in verses 2-3 with the call, the invitation to praise, that the people should come forth to praise. Judges 5:2, "That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the LORD!" Now verse 2 is an interesting phrase in the Hebrew that the leaders led in Israel, it literally reads that "the releasers who released." Now what exactly does that mean? This is a difficult word, it's only used twice in the Hebrew in the Old Testament and it had to do with men who had let their hair grow long, like a Nazirite vow, they weren't specifically Nazirites but they had let their hair grow long and the reason was that it indicated, like a Nazirite, that they had made a special vow to God and that related to their military service. So this apparently refers to the fact that this was a special group of troops in the military that had made a vow to God that they were going to defeat and throw off the enemy and they would not cut their hair till that had been accomplished so they had dedicated their lives to train, to be skilled in their weapons so that they could be used in combat. So this refers to a special group that would not go home until they had thrown off the power of the Canaanites who were pressing Israel.
So this indicates that there were some men in the nation, not all were as wishy-washy as Barak but there were some who were definitely stepping into the gap to function as leaders. That's why this term comes to be translated as leaders because they had taken the initiative to take these vows and to be at the forefront of battle. This was the point team that was sent into the combat with the chariots of Sisera. We saw last time that one of the reasons Israel had succumbed was because they were overpowered by the military might of the Canaanites; they had over 900 iron chariots that would go up and down the Valley of Esdraelon, the Valley of Jezreel, which is the same place the battle of Armageddon will take place. And as they went up and down they just wreaked havoc among the farms and every time they would harvest they would come along and steal everything so that there was economic depression in the area and there was violence and criminality and there was no safety anywhere. And that's why the armies of Sisera had to gather up in the highlands because it was only up in the hill country that the chariots could not operate, could not function.
So these men had taken the initiative to prepare themselves so that they could go into combat against this superior fighting force even if it meant hand to hand combat. So there's praise for them that the leaders led in Israel "that the people volunteered," not all were cowards. And this refers to the fact that they volunteered and they understood the principle that true freedom is gained through military victory and it is preserved through a strong military. And it is only that way because we live in a fallen world and what happens is when you have to deal with people who do not understand the military, do not like the military, do not think it's necessary for a nation to have a strong military and they're pacifists, they do not understand the realities of living in a fallen world. And that God never condemns or criticizes any nation for getting involved in war because it's war or having a strong military.
So Deborah is praising God here for two things, for the fact that there are some men who function as leaders and secondly, that the people are willing to step forward and to fulfill their role in delivering the nation. You see, what we must understand again and again is that when we pray to God for deliverance there are certain responsibilities that are on our shoulders and there are certain things that are on God's shoulders. God's going to give us the victory but it's our responsibility to learn doctrine and apply doctrine in the process and the God is the One who is going to come in and solve the problem. We may not know how He is going to do it, He may not remove the circumstances, He might remove the circumstances, it may take years before He changes the circumstances but in the meantime we are to be involved in our responsibility. God just doesn't come into Israel and send down thunderbolts from heaven and wipe out the army of the Canaanites so that all the Israelites do is just sit back and enjoy the benefits. They get involved in their part which is being willing to go out and fight and be willing to die if necessary for the freedom of the nation.
In Judges 5:3 we read, "Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the LORD, I will sing, I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel." What we see in verse 3 hearkens back to the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember in the Abrahamic Covenant God promised Abraham that in his seed all nations would be blessed, those who blessed Israel God would bless and those who cursed Israel God would curse. So here Deborah is addressing all of the nations so that they would see an example of how God is faithful to his covenant and how God has blessed the nation. This is an example, in one sense, of evangelism in the Old Testament, one form in which it took. She is addressing the nations, see what God has done, God is a God of history, He acts in history, He is in control of history, this is the true God who created the heavens and the earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who interacts in history and controls history; He is the God who provides salvation and deliverance and so you, as the Gentile nations, must learn to come into right relationship with God. So that is an indication of an Old Testament appeal for evangelism in the ancient world.
Then we come to an introductory summary of what God is being praised for in Judges 5:4-5. We read, "LORD, when You went out from Seir," that's another name for Edom or Moab which is on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, "When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water." This is a reference back to how God had delivered Israel and some of the battles they fought as they were coming up before they entered into the land. And also a second reference is to God's activity at Sinai in verse 5.
Judges 5:5, "The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel, saying on that day," so there is a reminder of how God has worked to deliver Israel in the past, that it has involved supernatural events that God worked in and used to bring deliverance to the nation. This is a hint, we don't know exactly what God did in giving them victory but the suggestion in the text is that as the troops of Barak gathered up in the hill country, that it forced, because of their maneuvers, they forced the chariots of Sisera to go up along the Wadi Kishon, it was it this upper area, north towards what was later Cana of Galilee and Nazareth, in this hill country, this represents higher elevations, that the army of Barak gathered here and on the hill of Mount Tabor. And the Wadi Kishon comes down through this area which is the lower level and that would only run with water during the rainy season.
Sisera would not take his troops into a dangerous area like that during the time of the rainy season because they could be wiped out by a flash flood so he takes them there at this time because it's the dry season, there's no possibility that that's going to happen. But what does happen is God sends the torrent, sends the rain at the upper elevations and as the troops are maneuvered into this area then God acts in history and sends a flood which wipes out the army. So we never know how God is going to give us the victory but if we're in the place, doing the right thing in our spiritual life, then God is the One who promises to take care of the situation so we trust in Him.
Then Judges 5:6-8 describes their need, the problem, the adversity, the testing that they had faced. It identifies the time, that it was in the days of Shamgar. We studied Shamgar at the end of Judges 3:31, that Shamgar was not a judge he was just a deliverer, and the suggestion there, because of his name and his identification as the "son of Anath" was that he was not a Jew; he was not a believer, he was a Gentile who was used by God because of the lack of leadership in Israel to defeat the Philistines. In Israel they had problems with the Canaanites under Jabin and Sisera in the north; they had problems with Eglon to the east, and now the Philistines who are Greek sea peoples who were settling colonies along the coast, down to the southwest, were beginning to flex their muscle, so God used Shamgar to come up and he killed 600 Philistines with a cattle prod. It must have been an interesting scene; he kills 600 Philistines with a cattle prod just to keep them settled down so they wouldn't threaten the left flank of the nation. It's in "the days of Shamgar" so it happens roughly at the same time, a few years earlier perhaps, we don't know for sure, the text doesn't tell us, but it does use parallelism here to suggest that this is in roughly the same time.
Judges 5:6, "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael," now Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite who drove the tent peg through the temple of Sisera. After the battle Sisera fled on foot, and he came to the tents of Heber, the Kenite, and there is a picture of Sisera who has laid down in the tent of Jael and he's taking his nap and she sneaks in with a tent peg and a hammer and drives the stake through his skull and she is then praised mightily in this psalm because she is the one who has brought the ultimate final deliverance in this problem to the nation Israel. So that's the reference to her here, "In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, And travelers went by roundabout ways." The reference to highways here, these were the caravan routes; this was the path of commerce, how they moved goods across the ancient world and if you have a map of the entire ancient world, you have the Hittite nation up what's in modern Turkey, then to the east you have the Assyrian people and then to the south of there the Babylonians and then you come along and you have Israel, then to the southeast, south of the Mediterranean you have Egypt. So that Israel was located on the crossroads of the caravans and so all goods passed through Israel. So if things were going well in times of stability then there would be material prosperity in Israel, they would have access to imported goods that came from all over the ancient world. In fact, we even have indications that they had spices available to them that came from as far away as India and Southeast Asia and central Asia. And that these spices were available to them so there must have been tremendous trade.
Now that also had implications for evangelism because as these caravaners, the truckers of the ancient world…[tape turns]…convoys through Israel, then they would see what was going on in Israel and if they were following the Lord then they would hear about God and they would see this people and the wonderful things that God was doing and then they would go back and tell their people so that was a way in which evangelism was conduced among Gentiles in the ancient world. But what we see here is because of Israel's carnality, because of their disobedience, because of their idolatry and apostasy, now they are under the fourth cycle of discipline and they are under economic oppression so that the highways are deserted. There are no caravaners coming through; there are no Gentiles coming through the land because there's too much turmoil and violence so they were having to rout their way around through some other means. As a result the people were becoming impoverished, they didn't have access to a lot of the things that they perhaps had grown dependent on or enjoyed that were imported from other parts of the world. So it had an economic stranglehold on the nation; they couldn't ship out their goods that they were producing and they couldn't bring in goods because the Canaanites were controlling everything so this was impoverishing the nation and they were under in an economic depression during this time. Travelers went by round about ways; they had to find alternative routs to avoid Israel.
Judges 5:7, "The peasantry ceased," and then its repeated again for emphasis, "they ceased in Israel," see, what happens is that the farmers had to desert their land and their farms in the lowlands because they were being overrun by the chariot forces of the Canaanites, and if they weren't down there operating on their farms then no vegetables and no grain was being produced and the result was that people went hungry, there wasn't grain for food, they didn't have anything to get them through the hard times so not only was commerce disrupted but there was probably a famine in the land as a result of their inability to produce. It's interesting how God has used that in Israel through the years, during the time from 70 AD up until the return of Jews to Israel and the reestablishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948, the land hardly produced anything, it just became desert and as the Jews returned they began to introduce irrigation and they introduced crop rotation and all sorts of modern ways to make the land fruitful, and it has once again produced a bountiful harvest and Israel is economically viable because of their hard work and their energy, something the Arabs could never do and would never do. They're just jealous now; this whole Palestinian conflict is derived because they're jealous; we had the land, we didn't do anything with it and now you've got it and you've made it a wonderful place to live so we want to steal it from you. They're whining and crying about it, which I guess is the modern way to deal with any kind of adversity in life, is that you just whine and cry and throw a temper tantrum about it. We won't go there right now. [Judges 5:7b, "Until I, Deborah arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel."]
Judges 5:8, we go back to the basic problem and the basic problem is spiritual then and it's spiritual now, it's not political, it's not economic, it is not agricultural, the problem was a spiritual problem; they weren't farming, they weren't operating the farms, they didn't have commerce because ultimately it went back to their apostasy. "New gods were chosen; Then war was in the gates. Not a shield or a spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel." There's almost a cause/ effect relationship here when we go back to the big picture. Because they had succumbed to apostasy and were serving the false gods and had become influenced by the Canaanites God was taking them through the four cycles of discipline and ultimately they're in the fourth cycle where they're under oppression, and as a result of the oppression of the Canaanites and the Philistines they've got a disarmament policy towards Israel and won't allow them to have iron or to have blacksmiths in the land. We learn that from 1 Samuel, and as a result of that they do not have the means to defend themselves and so they are at the mercy of the tyrants.
And that is always the case when someone wants to control a culture they first take away the people's ability to protect themselves. And that is why we have to be very careful with these gun laws because the ultimate agenda for many people isn't just to have a way of tracking guns so that they can arrest criminals when they commit a crime because the criminals are always going to have guns and they're going to have those that can't be traced, but it is ultimately to take away from the citizens the ability to defend themselves so that those who are operating on power lust can then tyrannize the citizenry. We've seen examples of that, there was an incident that occurred last year in England where a man owned an illegal weapon, he had a pistol, he did not have a license for it, he kept it in his house, he had it for years, since before some of these laws had gone into effect, and one night two men broke into his house and they were attacking him and his wife and he pulled out the pistol and he shot them. You think that that was good and in Texas we would applaud the man and make him a hero, but in England they arrested him for murder and put in prison where he is serving a life sentence. It didn't matter, the fact that these men were criminals, what mattered was that he had murdered them and he had used that horrible, horrible evil weapon called a pistol. That is just a way in which those who are in power seek to tyrannize and control the citizenry.
Then in verse 9 we get into the report of how God has delivered Israel and the principle is that no matter what the problem is that faces us, even in the case of self-induced misery, which is the situation we have here, Israel is in this problem because of their own disobedience, because of their carnality, because of their apostasy, that is why they are under oppression, that even when we have messed things up to the maximum in our own lives, our failures are never too great for the grace of God and God is still able to change the circumstances and change the situation and reverse our fortune, but first we have to turn to Him with 1 John 1:9 and begin to learn and apply doctrine and start making good decisions from a position of strength and a position of strength is being in fellowship, operating under the filling of the Holy Spirit and applying doctrine. A position of weakness is always being in carnality because when we produce from the sin nature, it ultimately and always is going to be self-destructive, whether it is human good or whether it is sin, it is always going to fall apart eventually. And all sin and human good is consistent with the policies and the procedures of Satan and his cosmic system and we've studied cosmic thought, that it is defined in James 3:13-15 as earthly, natural and demonic. So it is always self-destructive.
Now in verses 9-30 we have the description of how God delivers us even when we have messed up to the maximum. In verses 9-11 we have the summary which is challenging us to listen carefully, to pay attention to doctrine and to understand how God has worked because just as God has done this in history, in the past, God can do the same things in our life and in our nation's life.
Judges 5:9, Deborah says, "My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel, The volunteers among the people; Bless the LORD!  You who ride on white donkeys," that refers to the upper classes, the aristocracy, those who are wealthy and who possess the finer animals and final transportation. Today we would say those who are riding around in BMW's and Mercedes. "Those who ride on white donkeys," those who have the material means to have the best transportation. "You who sit on rich carpets," this would refer to the middle class, and then the last, "And you who travel on the road—sing!" that's those who walk on the road, that would refer to the lower classes, those who did not have access to the greatest level of transportation. So it involves the fact that Deborah is basically saying that it doesn't matter what your economic station in life is, whether you are in the aristocracy of the nation, the upper class or whether you're in the lower classes, everyone owes their freedom to military victory and so it is the responsibility of everyone, no matter what your station in life is to volunteer for the military and to serve in the military.
This goes back to Deuteronomy 20:1-9 which shows that Israel had a military system that was based on volunteering and it was based on every male understanding the responsibility of serving in the military. It was not something for women to serve in the military. Women should not be serving, at least in combat positions. I don't think there's a problem with many of the support rules but today the agenda of the liberal feminist left is to put women in combat and what happens there, I have been told and have read some of the reports that have not been published or reported on by the national media, about what happened to some of the women who were captured during Desert Storm and they were raped continuously daily. It wasn't just once a day, it was several times every day the entire time that they were captured. And that's not reported because if the American people knew what happened to the women who were captured by the Iraqi's during the war, then there would be tremendous outrage because most people would rise up and take a stand against putting women in any position that would open them up to that kind of assault. But in a pagan culture you no longer care about things like that and so we are willing to put our women in a position of danger.
It's interesting that the people who have the same agenda of dumping on the males for all the problems in society and going after them for every form of abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and whatever, are the same people that want to put women in combat positions so that they can be captured as prisoners or war and abused on a daily basis. That's the inconsistencies of the liberal left position. So Deborah is calling for all to come forth and under God's standard that would just apply to the men who would come out in order to serve in the nation's army to bring military victory.
Judges 5:11, "At the sound of those who divide flocks among the watering places, There they shall recount the righteous deeds of the LORD, The righteous deeds for His peasantry in Israel, Then the people of the LORD went down to the gates." This first phrase, "the sound of those who divide flocks among the watering places," this is referring to the fact that there were those who would take the sheep down to the watering places and protect them and guard them against the assault of the wild animals, the lions, the wolves, the bears that inhabited the wild places. By extension what that applies to is the army that is serving in that same function towards the flock of God; they are the ones who are protecting the nation. This is the army, there they would gather after the battle and to recount what God has done, not to recount and extol their own deeds and how great they functioned in the battle but to apply it all back to the Lord, and how He had functioned in His role as the nation's protector.
Then in Judges 5:12-15 there is a listing in praise for the tribes who responded and there is also criticism for those who did not. Verse 12, "Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Abinoam.  Then survivors came down to the nobles; The people of the LORD came down to me as warriors.  From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek" that means that they had been…the Ephraimites in the hill country in the central area had had problems being oppressed by Amalekites, see even though its primarily…the oppression here was attributed to Jabin and the army of Sisera we see it wasn't just Canaanites.
Now back when we were in Judges 3, I talked about the fact that there's an analogy, that God left the Canaanite tribes in the lands in the land and then there were also those outside the land who were the Philistines and the Amalekites, the Moabites, the Midianites and other groups that oppressed Israel from the outside. And God left these Canaanite tribes, the Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Girgashites, all the other "ites" in the land in order to test Israel. They were not oppressors though. Now it seems, if you look at this, it seems at Hazor, that Jabin, the king of Hazor, is a Canaanite, that they're oppressing the land. So it sounds like an oppression from inside; but it's really not, they're in league with the Amalekites from outside the land. Hazor was defeated by Joshua back in Joshua 10 and wiped out and the town was destroyed and so you had the royal family of Hazor, the title was Jabin, they're in exile. So they're in exile outside the land in a coalition with Sisera, who comes from a town called Harosheth-hagoyim, Harosheth is the nations, it's Gentiles, it's not in Israel and now we're seeing an introduction to the Amalekites. So these are the outside forces that are constantly coming against Israel. There's always somebody different at the top but it's the same groups of people. And it's the same people that are oppressing Israel today, the same Arab groups that are involved today so it's just like it's right off the front page.
"From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek, they came down, Following you, Benjamin, from your peoples, From Machir commanders came down," so this praise for those who got involved in the battle, but then starting in the latter part of verse 15 she attacks and criticizes Issachar and Reuben because they failed to get involved and to follow the call. We'll stop here we'll pick up with verse 15 next time to finish the song of Deborah.