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This Chapter contains the second triumphant song of the church over her enemies. That at the Red Sea by Moses, is the only one prior to this which the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to have recorded on those memorable events. Probably with a view not only to show the suitableness of praise for signal mercies, upon all occasions, but as a pattern for the after ages. Here are blended both praise and prayer. It begins with praise and ends in prayer, and celebrates both the divine goodness, and the instrumentality of human endeavors, crowned with God's power.
Observe, how soon the song of praise begun. It was on that day. What day so suited as the day of mercy? When the Lord comes near his people in grace, then ought his people to go near him in praise. Reader! have you began your song of deliverance from greater enemies than Sisera and his host? Hath Jesus said to you what he once said to Zaccheus? Luke 19:9 . Oh! how precious are the first visits of God to the soul! If the Lord remembers the day of our espousals, well may you and I. See Jeremiah 2:1 ; Song of Solomon 3:11 . It should seem that Deborah was both writer and speaker of this holy song. Evidently, therefore, a prophetess, and under divine influence. Oh! thou Holy Spirit, how sweet and extensive are thy teachings! See that blessed Scripture, and behold its fulfillment at Pentecost, and yet more particularly, look after the gracious effects now in the church of Jesus, among his people, and in your own heart. Joel 2:28-29 ; Acts 2:16-18 ; Isaiah 54:13 ; John 14:26 .
It is precious to begin with Hallelujah. It resembles the worship of heaven. Praise is comely for the righteous. And oh! what unceasing cause do the redeemed of the Lord find for it! I have often admired that sweet expression to this purpose, in Psalms 107:2 .
The sacred song begins with calling upon the great ones of the earth to attend to it. Let impious princes take warning by the fate of Sisera. Let righteous princes never forget by whom they reign, and under whose authority they act. Psalms 2:10-12 . There is a great beauty in the humbleness of Deborah's mind. Here is not a word of merit to herself, but all praise is referred unto the Lord Jehovah. Oh! how sweet it is, when the Lord hath exalted his people to the view of others, that they lay low themselves the more, and exalt him the higher. Isaiah 2:11 .
Here is a beautiful retrospect to the Lord's former mercies for his people, and to his former manifestations on Mount Sinai. The Holy Ghost taught the Prophet Habakkuk to record similar things. Habakkuk 3:3-4 . It is always profitable to connect in one and the same view, God's past with his present mercies. It shows his unchangeableness in his love to his people. And it serves to beget faith in the same for what is to come. God in Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 .
Deborah takes a most effectual method to heighten to the view of the people, the deliverance their God had wrought for them, by dwelling more particularly upon their former misery. From their last judge Shamgar, it should seem that their enemies would not allow them any judge or governor; consequently they had no ministration of justice. Hence their highways were infested with robbers, and the poor traveler was obliged to seek out his path through intricate ways. Trade from caravans was of course no more; nay, the very villages were deserted, and their fields not tilled. Everything was wretched and miserable to poor Israel. The very places for drawing water it was dangerous to go to. And as for the armies of Israel, there seemed to be not a soldier among them. But wherefore this sad state? She says they had chose new gods; and this gave birth to the war. Alas! alas! that nation so favored, so blessed, so upheld by Jehovah, should have so far fallen, as to leave the Lord for the dunghill gods of wood and stone. Reader! do turn to that portion of God's expostulation by the Prophet, and when you have perused it put your hand to your heart, and ask whether it is not but too applicable to yourself, and God's people in all ages? Jeremiah 2:11-13 .
This is an interesting part of the song, in calling upon those whom the Lord had inclined to take a more active part in the service of the day. Psalms 110:3 .
As she had so pathetically lamented in the former verse, that the soldiery of Israel had been so dispirited, that neither spear nor shield could be found among their armies, she now looks with pleasure upon them whom the Lord had inclined to be his instruments in this battle. Particular note is made of such, for while we behold the Lord's hand in all things, we give due praise to the Lord's instruments. They whom the Lord honors we ought to honour. White asses and mules were beasts of distinction in the early ages. See 2 Samuel 18:9 ; Judges 12:14 .
Special songs of praise are justly expected from those who by the victory are delivered from their fears. But is there not much of gospel here? Let the poor sinner, who by Jesus' deliverance from sin and death is brought out of all his fears, let him, for he is best qualified to speak of it, let him say what righteous acts of Jehovah have been displayed in saving his soul from death, and his feet from falling. Psalms 40:2-3 .
It should seem by this new and repeated call of the Prophetess, that she thought her soul was not as yet sufficiently roused to the service of praising God. And though she had put forth all her strength, yet she fell so far short of what she wished to say, that language failed. It is remarkable, that the Holy Ghost puts the same language in the mouth of the Church in after ages, when calling upon the great Head of his Church the Lord Jesus, under one of his well known characters, The arm of Jehovah. See Isaiah 51:9 . And it is yet further remarkable, that the Lord himself is, by the voice of the Prophet, calling upon the Church in the same words, to take hold of him in the moment of need. See Isaiah 53:1 . I do not presume to say that it is so, but I would humbly ask the Reader to pause over the passage, and devoutly inquire whether Barak, in being called upon to lead his captivity captive, was not a type of the ever blessed Jesus? Yes! thou dearest Captain of our salvation, it is thou which didst lead thy captivity captive, when thou ascendest up on high; when thou hadst triumphed over principalities and powers, and hadst vanquished hell, death, and the grave. Psalms 68:18 .
There is a great beauty in this verse. It is more than probable that from the long oppression the enemies of Israel had exercised over them, God's people had been reduced in number. Yet, saith Deborah, the remnant were made victorious in this day over the mighty. Yea, such was the Lord's display of the sovereignty of his grace, that he made me, a poor woman a mother in Israel, to triumph over the powerful. Reader! do not forget to recollect that the promise is, Satan shall be bruised under our feet shortly. Romans 16:20 .
If the Reader, after reading all these verses as they stand in their proper places, will attend to the several things contained in them, he wilt find that Deborah takes a view of the whole army both for and against Israel. Praise is given expressly, and with particular mention, to such of the tribes of Israel as were foremost in the battle. Just reproof to the tribes which remained at home. The defection of Reuben is very pathetically lamented; and Dan and Asher are noticed with suitable regret for their indifferency. But while those who ought to have been alive to the service of God's cause are thus reproved for not doing it, how delightfully doth Deborah dwell upon the Lord's interposition. The very stars fought from heaven on the side of God! I would desire the Reader to remark the confederacy of the kings. So earnest were they for the ruin of Israel, that contrary to their usage, in hiring out themselves and soldiers for gain, they were volunteers in the cause. Yes! to crush the Lord Jesus in his person, or in his people, the rulers of this world are confederate. Psalms 2:1-2 . Observe how this person looks with a twofold aspect; curses to God's enemies: blessings to his friends. Is not this angel here spoken of as commending the execution of Meros the Lord Jesus? Joshua 5:13-14 .
What a very high commendation hath the Holy Ghost been pleased to bestow on Jael? There is but one beside of whom the same is said, and the occasion is yet concerning a much greater deliverance, see Luke 1:28 .
What an awful contrast to the wife of Heber doth Sisera's mother appear! Little better than a common strumpet, she seems to rejoice in her son ' s supposed debaucheries, and those of his army, over the chastity of Israel's daughters. What a disgrace to the delicacy of her sex! How ripe for ruin! And Reader! do not overlook the honour she conferred on the daughters of Israel, though on her part perfectly undesigned, when she makes mention of the prey on their needle work. What a proof this was that Israel's daughters were renowned among the nations for their industry. Not slothful in business, while fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, are qualities the apostle joins in the character of God's people. Romans 12:11 .
The song as beautifully ends in prayer as it had opened in praise: to the contents of which every lover of the Lord Jesus and his Church, cannot but say Amen. They who love God's church, must hate the foes of that church, for there is no being neutral in this holy war. The appeal of every heart is like the Psalmist's, Psalms 139:21-22 . Forty years rest was a blessed consequence of this victory. But oh! what an everlasting rest hath the Lord Jesus, by his victory obtained over sin, death, hell, and the grave! And how is he himself become the rest of the soul. Isaiah 25:8 ; Matthew 11:28-29 ; Hebrews 4:9 .
BEHOLD! My soul with holy joy, how infinite the resources are in the faithfulness of Israel ' s God! What hath he not wrought! What is he not able to accomplish! And although Israel merited it not, yet nevertheless Jehovah wrought for his name ' s sake, and that he might make his power to be known.
And is there nothing in all this, to lead the heart both of the writer and the reader in the discovery of similar deliverances? If Deborah and Barak had their day of triumph in the Lord's manifestations for Israel, cannot you and I look back, my brother, and count the day when we had cause to praise the Lord for the avenging of Israel? Oh! yes, trust we may both well count the day when the Lord Jesus made bare his holy arm, and rescued our souls from the arrows of the enemy, in the place of drawing water from the wells of salvation. Long did our foes oppose our way, and the highways of ordinances were unoccupied by us, until that Jesus arose and led captivity captive. Then, dearest Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, then did the mountains of sin in our nature melt before the Sun of Righteousness at his rising, and Sinai with all its terrors gave way at the presence of Jesus. Oh! give us grace, dearest Redeemer, to awake and utter a song, even a song of salvation, to the Lord Jehovah. May this be the everlasting rejoicing of our hearts: the Lord is our strength, and our song, and he is become our salvation.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13