“Victory Song” (Judges 5:1-31)

“Victory Song” (Judges 5:1-31)


Martin Luther once said that he did not care so much who wrote the theologies, as long as he could write the hymns. Music has a powerful effect and can do more to change the culture than mere logic. Songs have a way of bringing head knowledge to the heart.

Israel’s downward spiral entered it’s third cycle in ch.4. Deborah’s leadership role, Barak’s faith, Jael’s assassination of Sisera.

How do we know Deborah wrote it? Not a duet wearing matching outfits (vv.3, 7, 9, and 21). Why is it inserted here? Reveals religious syncretism of the premonarchic era, the actions of those worthy of commendation before the nation, to give glory to Yahweh. As a praise song, it is conceptually different than any of the modern songs. Dove Award?

Let us sing praise to our God who carries out justice and leads us to victory.

Read Judges 5:1-31

A Call to Worship (1-11)

2 Bless the Lord for Israel’s military leaders.

3 Foreign kings (no king in Israel)

4-5 Divine travel unhindered

6-7 Israel’s travel hindered

8 Foreign gods

9 Bless the Lord for Israel’s military leaders.

Their singing to the Lord was before the nations (2 Sam. 22:50). This would have served as both a proclamation about the goodness of the Lord and a rebuke of God’s enemies.

Deborah recalls imagery from the Lord descending upon Mt. Sinai (storm, earthquake). This is also a polemic against the foreign gods these kings, of whom Israel has come alongside, served (Baal = storm god).

The sufficiency and power of God is placed side-by-side with the desperate situation of Israel in this songs opening stanza.

This hymn of celebration to God is much like Moses’ Song (Exodus 15) which followed the crossing of the Red Sea.

10-11 Deborah calls upon all Israel, whether rich or poor, to sing of the Lord’s triumphs. The musicians have returned to their locations.

Peace has been restored, and the only proper response is to lift up their hearts in praise and adoration.

But apparently, Deborah didn’t know the trick to writing a hit worship song. It’s too judgmental, not enough emotion. You won’t hear this on KDUV!

The song transitions from a call to worship to…

A Call to War (12-23)

12-15a, 18 Those tribes that went to the battle risked their lives and trusted the Lord because they believed in his promise to deliver them.

15b-17 Several tribes stay home, and their faith is mocked in this song.

Deborah, Barak, Jael, and 10,000 men from several tribes responded to the Lord’s call. Their faith was tried and it was found true and they are all commended without hesitation.

12 Barak’s victory is secure. The Israelite captives will be lead away in freedom (Eph. 4:8).

19-22 Recounting the battle: Yahweh is not a territorial deity but the cosmic Lord, sovereign even over Baal (20). The leaders fought and then the Lord sent a “torrent” that “swept them away.”

23 Meroz was probably close to the battle, but interestingly, we have no idea where it was located. I’d say it was thoroughly cursed!

This was a moment of testing. Would they stay in the comfort of their homes, far away from battle, or would they join the fight?

Augustine War is loves response to a neighbor threatened by force.

Although all wars are not just, this passage makes clear that some wars are. Some of us need to be woken up to the physical warfare that is going on all around the world! Love requires intervention!

A just war involves…

A Call to Wrath (vv.24-31)

Deborah as the Mother of Israel and Jael, a non-Israelite, are recognized in this song for their heroic response to evil.

Not only does Jael stand in contrast to Meroz, but she also is contrasted with Sisera’s mother. Her wicked imagination could’ve be worse than her son’s. Deborah’s song mocks her greed and disrespect for God’s people.

31 Praying for the Lord’s enemies to perish is not improper.

Whereas Jael kills the sinner, Sisera’s mother proves that she condoned and enabled her son’s sin.

This is a picture of what sin deserves. Jael carried out justice in honor of a holy God who will not let sin go unpunished.

This act of justice for the Canaanites was an act of mercy for the Israelites. But why? It wasn’t because they were better! They certainly weren’t more righteous (Deut. 9:4-6)!

In light of our sin, the real question is: Why haven’t all of us received a tent peg to the temple? Our sin is cosmic treason! We’re all guilty before a holy God. All of us deserve a death like Sisera!

But instead, God offers us mercy. Why? Because Jesus Christ endured “the most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice” 1when he died on the cross for us.



  1. A Call to Worship (1-11)
  2. A Call to War (12-23)
  3. A Call to Wrath (24-31)

Unfortunately, songs like this are rare today. Can you praise God for Jael’s actions? Of course!

HC Q.123 Destroy the devil’s work; destroy every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your holy Word. Do this until your kingdom fully comes, when you will be all in all.

In worship, we recount all that God has done for us. Imprecatory Psalms are not outdated.

Let us sing praise to our God who carries out justice and leads us to victory.

  1. Sproul, The Holiness of God, 147. ↩︎