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Deborah & Barak: The Soundtrack

March 17, 2024 Preacher: Chris LaBelle Series: Judges (Broken People, Unbroken Promises)

Scripture: Judges 5:1–31

Sermon Transcript:


Main Point: The victory we have in Christ should bring praise and celebration to our lives.



  • We all have a song to sing.



Explanation: This is not only the song of Deborah and Barak, but an invitation for God’s people to praise. An invitation for Redeeming Grace Church to sing praises to the Lord.

  • First, this is not a song about the triumph of man, but a triumph of the Lord through His people. This song of praise is blessed by God and points to His work. (“…bless the Lord!” v.2).
  • Here specifically, Deborah and Barak seek to honor God through praise to God’s hand in victory. As believers, we too get to join in this song.

Ephesians 5:15-20, “15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.


Look how God used the Israelites here as an example. The leaders took lead and the people offered themselves willingly. This is a blessing from the Lord.

Judges 5:2, “2 That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!” 

  • Leaders is translated from the Hebrew to mean men with long hair. They were warriors who vowed to not cut their hair until the victory came. They offered their lives willingly and were victorious because the Lord was on their side. They knew God would deliver them from the Canaanites. Deborah was the mouthpiece of God to sending them out, and Barak the general for God to lead them in battle, and they obeyed.


Illustration: Much like an NHL player wouldn’t shave his beard for a long playoff run until they won the Stanley Cup, these leaders vowed not to shave their heads until they saw the 900 chariots destroyed along with Jabin. And God provided support from others as well. 10,000 in total.


Explanation: Verses 12-18 give us the role call of those who fought and those who stood on the sideline.

Judges 5:12-18, “12 “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam. 13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the Lord marched down for me against the mighty. 14 From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant's staff; 15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 16 Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings. 18 Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.”

  • The Lord here is working in all of this, first to the calling of Deborah as a prophetess. It was Barak who led in battle, and those that followed suit. The warriors of the Lord. Ultimately it was the tribes of Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar, and Nephtali who joined, but not all did.
    • Reuben sat by the sheepfolds. They tended to their livestock, before defending their nation.
    • Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. Idle.
    • Dan stayed with the ships. To focus on trade.
    • Manasseh, who is mentioned as Meroz in this chapter, failed to join Yahweh’s army as well. A special mention to them is found in verse 23.


Application: As believers, we are called to join this battle. To join this song. To sing praises for the victory we have in Christ. And to lay down our lives willingly. As God called Israel into holiness and obedience, we too receive the same call, and our response is an outward praise when it is conformed to Christ.

  • The battle we face is no longer a physical battle like in the times of Judges. God is not here to preserve America or our comforts. There is no covenant in which God has made with our homeland. Instead, we face and engage in a spiritual battle against an enemy that is trying to steal, kill, and destroy those that are in Christ.

Ephesians 6:12, 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

  • Every day as a believer is a spiritual battle. We all face unique temptations and snares of the devil. Temptations and distractions that want to pull us away from Christ and to compromise on living in holiness. Make no mistake about the schemes of the devil. He is looking for a chink in the armor to destroy our testimony and bring down the Church. There have been many opportunities for believers throughout time that have abandoned the work of the Kingdom for selfish means. Even opportunities that seem good from the outside, many have knowingly or unknowingly caused damage to themselves or others in pursuit of that job, the dream home, a momentary experience of pleasure, a comfortable retirement, and it cost them greatly. Their song was sung to the tune of self. 
  • The Israelites in similar fashion exchanged the truth of God for a lie. They served the Baals and Ashtoreths. They compromised on God’s goodness and promises for comfort or selfish gain. God’s judgment for them was just. Their song was sung to the tune of self.


Judges 5 entails the importance of that spiritual battle in the narrative of Deborah and Barak in Judges 4. The battle they were facing was not only a physically fought battle, but a spiritual one as well. The Israelites were reeling once again after the events of Ehud. 80 years of rest and the cycle repeated. God once again raised up another judge. It was Him who was at work.

  • Deborah didn’t have the might and brawn that a man had, but the spiritual insight as one speaking the oracles of God as a prophetess. The enemy schemes, but God will use people as a means to accomplish His will. Deborah walked willingly into God’s will to deliver the message. Barak and 10,000 fighters walked willingly into God’s will by going into battle. By doing so, God brought them victory and they have a song to sing. May this also be our song. When it was said and done, that we walked willingly into God’s will through the accomplished work of Christ in the gospel as born-again believers.


When you were born into this world you were under the curse of sin. Somewhere along the way of your life, God brought a messenger to you. Someone to share the good news of the gospel. That God sent His only Son into this world to take the curse of sin upon Him and die a sinner’s death. Jesus who was perfect took the sins of the world upon Himself. He not only died but rose again three days later to defeat death and give us access to a relationship with God like it was in the beginning with Adam and Eve. When you heard this message, God’s grace brought new life to you, and you believed. And when you believed, your entire purpose for living on this earth changed. You were born again. Born again to a new purpose: to become a living sacrifice and share this good news to all. Let this be our song of praise!

Romans 12:1-2, “1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


Transition: Secondly, God’s intervention produced this praise.



  • God’s Intervention.



Explanation: The call to join the spiritual battle depends solely on the power of God. As Deborah and Barak sing praises to the Lord, they point attention to the marvelous work of God in their victory to the surrounding nations and enemies of God. This praise is directed to God. God gets the all of the glory.

Judges 5:3, “3 Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.”


While I mentioned how God used people to accomplish this victory, we see here that God was with them step by step to ensure this. His abode transferred throughout the nation’s history.

Judges 5:4-5, “4 Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. 5 The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel.”

  • God had been at work with the nation of Israel up to this point. From Abraham to Moses in the wilderness, and to Joshua into the Promised Land. There was no boasting in which His people could rightfully say they accomplished anything without God. God had been at work to preserve Israel despite their disobedience and sinfulness. God’s mighty hand in saving Israel has been prevalent up to this point.


When the Israelites forgot this, God’s judgment, as patterned in the previous and future stories in Judges, allowed the Canaanites and surrounding nations to rule over them and bring persecution.

Judges 5:6-9, “6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. 7 The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. 8 When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? 9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord.”

  • At this point of time in Israel, they were under submission to the Canaanites. Their gods and ways of living brought upon great oppression and social decay. It wasn’t until God rose up Deborah, the “mother in Israel”, that salvation would come to the nation.
  • The highways being abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways signified a ceasing of social interaction, commerce, and a growing fear among the people. The social decay was in full effect.


Illustration: The same social decay that was happening with Israel has happened with many nations that have denied God and His Word. It’s not by accident that the nations throughout history who deny God’s Law have spiraled out of control. Wrong becomes right. The standard objectivity of truth is replaced with relativism. The worship of the one true God turns into polytheism or pluralism (the worship and serving of multiple gods). This results into man descending into sinful animalistic practice. Violence and anarchy ensue. And community as we know it dies. This was happening in Israel and currently this is happening in America. While God blesses many wicked people and nations to prosper, it is empty in spiritual prosperity.

  • The reality is that Israel would only move forward by their dependence on the power and will of God. As believers in America, we will only see lives changed by the intervention of God in our lives and others through the work of Christ.


Explanation: The example of God’s power at work is in verses 19-22.

Judges 5:19-22, “19 “The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they got no spoils of silver. 20 From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. 21 The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might! 22 “Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.”

  • The kings of Canaan, in this case Jabin and his commander Sisera, fought, but were overtaken. Interestingly enough, we see that there is no mention of Israel’s troops prevailing here. 
  • Only that from Heaven, the stars fought. The glory of Heaven thundered down with great power against the Canaanites. That the torrent (river valley; rushing water) Kishon swept them away. How the rain was enough to stop the chariots from being effective.
  • This then, was a trouncing of God, not a testament to the power of man. While God used the Israelites to pursue and ultimately finish them off, it was God at work in the background to see the victory through. This song highlights not only the futility of nations rising up against God, but that God would ultimately win. God is singing the final tune here.


Psalm 2:1-6, “1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”


The confidence of this upcoming victory brought upon praise and joy among the people of Israel. Verses 10-11 detail this.

Judges 5:10-11, “10 “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way. 11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.”

  • This is an invitation for all to praise the Lord. For His mighty hand in the victory of Israel. Those that ride on white donkeys as the ruling class, another similar social class as those who sit on rich carpets, and the less fortunate who travel by foot.
  • The confidence of God’s victory brought upon singing and music among the people. Their trust in God was parallel to their remembering of His faithful work in their lives. This joy and praise brought upon action, where they witnessed God’s marvelous and miraculous work to defeat the Canaanites. Remember, 900 chariots should have easily destroyed 10,000 troops.


Application: May our confidence in Christ bring about great joy and praise. When we meet together on Sundays, for bible studies, on Wednesday prayer, when we just hang out, let our hearts be filled with song and praise and joy to the Lord and with one another. It doesn’t matter if you have it all together. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, middle class, or in poverty. It doesn’t matter if you deal with depression or anxiety. If you are tired, or stressed, sick, or burnt out. Let us remember God’s faithfulness in our past, how He is moving in our lives currently, and how we will one day be completely healed from all our ailments and sin at the resurrection. We can lay all of our weakness and suffering at the feet of Christ. Who is our advocate to the Father.

  • As Christians, we get the distinct pleasure to come together and sing on Sunday mornings. While the world is singing famous songs of U2, about not finding what we are looking for, and ACDC being on the Highway to Hell, we get to sing praises to our God. who has found us and promises eternity with Him! He who has pulled us out of the miry clay and made us into a new creation. We get to hear the anthems of Christ’s powerful and perfected work through the death, burial, and resurrection. That we too are risen from deadness to life.
  • It has been said that not all can sing. And most of us can attest to that and hear it at times. Thankfully, we have some good singers in our praise band that bring it every Sunday, but there is a reason that not all of us come up here to sing on Sunday. The truth though, is that while not all are talented singers, if you have been born again, God has made you a singer.
  • When all of God’s children are singing together, it’s the most beautiful sound I have heard. Why? It’s because it’s the Lord’s work in our hearts to belt out songs of praise and deliverance. It’s the outpouring joy and love of Christ within believers that bring this praise!  

Transition: The Israelites had reason to praise. Deborah and Barak knew God would deliver them, but only Deborah knew that it would be at the hands of an unlikely woman.



  • Unlikely Hero and Final Chorus



Explanation: The one to deal the final death blow to the Canaanites in Judges 4, would not be Deborah. It would also not be the general of Israel’s army, Barak. Remember, Barak agreed to fight only if Deborah joined him and the army.

Judges 4:8-9, “8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.”


Deborah’s prophecy came true. Instead of Barak or one of the 10,000 troops that surrounded Sisera’s army, neither one defeated him. Sisera instead fled on foot to the tent of Heber the Kenite, where a woman named Jael awaited him. 

Judges 5:24-27, “24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. 26 She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 Between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.” 

  • As Kevin discussed last week, it’s unknown the reasons why Jael would be the one selected by God to carry out killing Sisera. Why did she give him rest? Why did she give him milk instead of water, “curds in a noble’s bowl.”
  • I tend to believe she lured him in with a false sense of security, in which she could deal the death blow by tent peg.
  • Remember, Sisera is not a good guy. It is said that he regularly mistreated and abused woman as sex slaves. It is a reminder that God will always bring judgment to sin, sometimes as we have seen in this narrative, by getting your head crushed by a tent peg at the hands of a woman. 
    • From the beginning, God promised that He would crush the head of the serpent, but that serpent would bruise the heel of the “seed”. I believe we see a reference of a future deliverer to the early prophecy. Jael serves as a reminder that God will one day send an unlikely person to this world. A leader to deliver the nation of Israel and ultimately all who are called as totally free. Jael is only a temporary leader to point us to Christ. It was Jesus who crushed the head of the enemy by getting His hands and feet pierced by a tent peg of sorts. To hang on a tree and die a violent death. The enemy was crushed when Jesus paid for the sins of the world. The enemy was defeated when Jesus rose from the grave victorious. The enemy is continually getting crushed, now that the presence of Christ dwells within His Church.

We rejoice when God wins. We celebrate when evil actions of evil people are judged. There is an innate God-given characteristic that says inwardly, let justice be done. Destroy the wicked. Let good prevail. 

Judges 5:31, “31 So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.”…”


But verses 28-30 give us a grim reminder that a sinner’s life has been lost. A picture is painted here of a concerned mother awaiting the return of her son.

Judges 5:28-30, “28 “Out of the window she peered, the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice: ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’ 29 Her wisest princesses answer, indeed, she answers herself, 30 ‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?—A womb or two for every man; spoil of dyed materials for Sisera, spoil of dyed materials embroidered, two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’”


Application: Here, Deborah and Barak are celebrating the death of Sisera. His mother worrying, waiting for her son to come back home. The emotion and pain in these verses remind us that this song is also tragic. Even Jael was guilty of murder. How could a God who is good use even sinful violent means to accomplish His will? After all, God creates all people in His image. He created humans to worship and fellowship with Him. God’s heart is that all would be saved. He sent His Son to accomplish just that. 

  • The truth is that not all receive the free gift of grace. The scandal of grace is none of us deserve it. We should be sympathetic to the lost, especially those that have perished. As much as verse 31 tells us that we should rejoice in God’s victory over His enemies and ours, the gospel reminds us of God’s heart to love our enemies and share the love of Christ with them.

Romans 12:14-21, “14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

  • Christians! Sons and Daughters of the living God! Let us remember that it is God who will ultimately judge in the end. May we go out to the ends of the earth proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. To our friends, family, and enemies! 
  • May the day never come that a mother is waiting by her window at the loss of her child without one of us sharing the good news of the gospel with them.


Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” 





Clarification: As we conclude this morning, I want to extend an offer to anyone who is an enemy of God. My only offer is this: The gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • An enemy of God is anyone who has been born into this world. You are born into this world under a curse. A curse of sin inherited from your great-granddaddy Adam. Under this curse of sin entails a life, motivated and driven, by sin. The Bible says the wages of sin is death and that we only get one crack at this life. You are ultimately earning your way into Hell. The judgment for our sin is separation from God for eternity. There will be no peace, no joy, no life. But God in His amazing grace sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life that you couldn’t, to die a death that you deserve, and to rise from the grave to forgive you of your sins as far as the east is to the west. The offer is clear: Surrender your life and accept the free gift of grace that is offered in Christ or experience eternity without Him. Please don’t leave here, or if you are listening online, without reaching out to one of the pastors about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

More in Judges (Broken People, Unbroken Promises)

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