This chapter contains a triumph-song of God’s people over their enemies. Herein are blended both praise and prayer; the song begins with praise, and it ends in prayer. And it celebrates God’s goodness, as well as the instrumentality of human endeavors when they are crowned with His power. Deborah and Barak sang this song on the same day that they enjoyed the victory given them by the Lord. This teaches us that no time should be lost in returning thanks to the Lord for His mercies; for our praises are most acceptable, pleasant, and profitable when they flow from a full heart. If Deborah and Barak’s example was followed more often, then love and gratitude would be more stirred up and more deeply fixed in the hearts of believers; and the Lord’s works would be more known and longer remembered.
“Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel!” sang Deborah and Barak. It is precious to begin all our songs with “Hallelujah!” – for it resembles the worship of heaven. It is fitting, indeed, that the righteous should sing praises to the Lord; and what unceasing causes do the redeemed of the Lord find for it! (Ps. 107:2) And it did not matter what Deborah, Barak, or the Israelite army had done; it was the Lord Who was to have all the praise – for the will, the power, and the success were all from Him!
Deborah described the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of King Jabin, so that the Lord’s deliverance from that oppression might appear more gracious! She was a true mother to Israel, in the sense that she labored diligently to instruct their souls in the way of salvation. And she appealed to those who shared the advantages of this great salvation, and called on them to offer up thanks to God for it.
In her song (verses 14-23), Deborah took notice of who it was that fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Those who fought against Israel were obstinate enemies to God’s people; therefore, they were so much more dangerous. Those who fought for Israel – that is, the several tribes that helped – were here spoken of with honor; for although God is to be glorified above all, those who are employed under Him must also have their due praise, in order to encourage others. But there were more than just the few tribes from Israel who helped in this battle; indeed, all of Creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy! Verse 21 even speaks of Deborah’s own soul fighting against the enemies and treading them down. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, then – through the grace of God – the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and they will fall before us. Deborah also made an observation about those who kept away from the battle – thereby refusing to take a side with Israel. Even today, many persons are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantages. Narrow-minded, selfish spirits do not care what becomes of God’s Church – just as long as they can get, keep, and save for their own self-centered purposes. We cannot keep ourselves out of the contest between the Lord and His enemies; and if we do not actively endeavor to promote His cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse that is pronounced against the workers of iniquity. Although the Lord does not need any human help, yet He is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance His cause – and indeed, He requires every person to do so.
Jael received a special blessing, as the woman who had brought an end to Sisera – that proud man who had trusted in his own chariots, and who had been a terror for so long. Even those whose circle of influence is only in their own home-sphere – if they serve God according to the powers which He has given them, they shall not lose their reward.
This song ends just as beautifully in prayer as it had opened in praise! And to its contents, every lover of the Lord Jesus and His people cannot help exclaiming, “Amen!” Those who love the Church must hate the foes of the Church, for there is no neutrality in this holy war! Therefore, Deborah concluded her song with a prayer to God for the destruction of all His foes, and for the comfort of all His friends. Those who love God in sincerity will be the possessors of great honor and joy; they shall shine forever, like the sun in the firmament!
Twenty years of rest was the blessed result of this victory over Jabin and Sisera. But oh! What an everlasting rest has the Lord Jesus – by His victory – obtained over sin, death, hell, and the grave! He Himself has become the rest of our souls (Isa. 25:8; Matt. 11:28-29; Heb. 4:9). And as a concluding thought, special songs of praise are justly expected from those who – by the Lord’s victory – are delivered from their spiritual foes. Truly, every poor sinner whom Jesus has delivered from sin and death is the best qualified to speak of His righteous acts that have been displayed in saving his soul from death, and in keeping his feet from falling! (Ps. 40:2-3)
Give us grace, dearest Redeemer, to awake and utter a song of thanksgiving to You; for You are our strength and our song, and You have become our salvation! Amen.
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