First, the image is not about me.
Second, it fits because our world consistently celebrates victories such as being tobacco, alcohol, porn, or drug free for x amount of time.
That’s sort of what’s happening in Judges 5 and Deborah’s song. Judges is peppered with defeats. Deborah and Barak sing a song that celebrates a tremendous victory. Throughout the study of Judges I’ve had to translate their victory over their physical enemies into our spiritual victories over temptation and sin. That’s especially important if we’re going to preach this chapter in a way that functions for the church.
I think it’s easier for our faith-family to celebrate financial milestones. It’s important for us to develop a culture that can celebrate spiritual milestones too.
But, if you ever preach on Judges 5, it’s a great opportunity to highlight how God fights hard for us. In another famous OT song in Exodus 15:3 we read, “The Lord is a man of war…” Maybe not too popular in our day, but I love the fact that our God fights for His own. Judges 5:20 contains this great statement: “From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.” (If you’re interested in understanding this statement, take some time to read Parry’s fascinating book, The Biblical Cosmos.)
Our cause for repeated celebration is that our God continually gives us spiritual victories over temptation and sin. This gives our people opportunities to express their thanks and joy for these “wins.” Verses 1, 3-11a, 19-22 contain this thought of God protecting His own.
Then, in vv. 2, 11b-18, 23-27 we learn the vital part that God’s people play in their own victories. God fights for us. True. We also fight for faith and obedience. We read in v. 2 “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly…” Then in v. 18 “Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death…” Passivity won’t cut it in the fight against temptation and sin.
The chapter closes with some incentive for us to be on God’s side in this fight (vv. 28-31). Deborah’s song contains a terrible scene of Sisera’s mother waiting for her son to return and wondering why he’s taking so long. Verse 31 states: “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!”
This chapter–this song–is one of the hardest to preach in Judges. The key is to be genre sensitive. Chapter 5 is a celebration of having achieved a victory. Let that drive the sermon. We could use a little more celebration in our faith-family, a little more acknowledging of how God is carrying us through this world with our faith intact.
Preach well for the sake of His reputation (Ephesians 3:21),