Thursday, August 27, 2015

Judges 5: Preserved In Song

Have you ever learned anything through music?  Maybe the "alphabet song" or the "nifty fifty" United States?  How about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its imagery of the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812?  Songs have a unique way of impressing their lyrics upon us and embedding themselves in our memory.  We may come to learn something better when it taps into our sense of hearing and rhythm.

Perhaps this is why Judges 5 contains the "Song of Deborah" sung by Deborah and Barak (not Obama). The song recapitulates the Israelites' epic fight with against Canaanite forces with their iron chariots.  It recounts important details like which tribes fought (and which did not), the scenes of the battle, as well as the starring role of Jael, who did indeed get the glory of the victory instead of Barak (vs. 24-27).

Just as the Israelite women were the heroines of this battle, so, too, does the song include women on the other side of the war.  Sisera's mother and her attendants are pictured in verses 28-30 at the conclusion of this song as they futilely await the return of their commander.  The glee in Israel over their tragedy reveals how cruelly oppressed the nation was at the hands of the Canaanites.

The song emphasizes the heavenly realities that are taking place beyond the veil of earth.  The Lord and His angels figure largely in the verses as they are seen as the ones punishing Israel's enemies.  The deliverance that Israel has been crying out for has been granted in the rout of the Canaanites and the death of Sisera.  If only their newfound devotion to the Lord would last!

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