Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Song of Deborah

"Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel" (Judges 5:7).

Just as Israel sang a great song after the victory of God over Pharaoh (Exodus 15), so here in Judges 5 we find an amazing song that celebrated the victory of God over the Canaanites. Let’s consider two aspects of this song today.

First, the song celebrated God’s triumph in terms of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. That prophecy predicted a war between the woman and the serpent, and between her seed and his seed. The war of the mothers was in sharp focus in the Song of Deborah. Deborah said that she was the mother for Israel (Judges 5:7). She raised up a godly generation, who were willing to break the idols and fight the holy war. Barak and his army were her spiritual sons, the true seed of the woman.

Deborah ridiculed the mother of Sisera, a savage woman who raised a savage son. She imagined Sisera’s mother thinking about all the fun her son was having raping Israelite women (Judges 5:30). Sisera’s mother looked forward to receiving nice red-dyed garments from the spoil. She would not be disappointed, for her son’s garments were dyed red with his own blood.

Secondly, the song provided a roll call of the tribes, those who showed up to fight and those who did not (Judges 5:13–18). Deborah praised those who came to fight. Their names are recorded for all time: Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali. Deborah ridiculed those who did not come to fight: Reuben, Gilead, and Dan. (The tribes of Judah and Simeon, being far in the south, were not expected to fight in a battle this far north, so they were not mentioned.) As the song was sung at the watering places in Israel (Judges 5:11), those who fought would receive a good reward of praise and those who did not would turn red with shame.

This was the battle of Megiddo (Judges 5:19). The greater battle is Armageddon, fought by the church (the new Deborah) and her Greater Son throughout history against Satan and his seed. At the end will come a new song, a song of judgment, when all of us will find ourselves on one list or the other. Which will you be on?

While some who failed to make the trip to the battle were only ridiculed, those who were near the battle and refused to fight were cursed (Judges 5:23). Spiritual conflict is prevalent in the lives of all true believers. Many, however, shirk their call to wage war, making excuses that fall short of convincing the church, far less God. How would you fare if Deborah was writing her song today?