Deborah as a minister of the word being a prophetess, and Barak as warrior, together occupy the offices which the other judges had in their one person. Here the two however sing together, as God intended (v. 1). Victory was inseparable from instruction and adherence to the law-word of the covenant. Two things were sought of the nation, which are the constant refrain of this book, leaders who would judge by the word, and fight for a complete victory, and a people who would “willingly offer themselves.” (v. 2). Then they would be blessed. Deborah, under inspiration of the Spirit recounts the history of the LORD delivering his people up to her present with the foreigner Shamgar, with her as judge concerning the word. It went all the way back to the covenant at Sinai (vv. 3-6). At the time when Deborah, Barak, and Shamgar came on the scene, the people were vagabonds, afraid to venture out on the highways and byways. It wasn’t until the word came through Deborah that they turned from their idols and then the LORD gave them victory (vv. 7-9).
They celebrated the new day when the LORD’s redemptive acts were again recited and judgment according to the law was to be found at the gates (vv. 10-11). Again, of the tribes extolled in this battle, Benjamin is mentioned but not Judah (vv. 12-15a). An argument could be made that the narrator(s) favoured Benjamin over Judah. The people would seek for a judge to be their king, preferable from Judah, but from him not even a judge would rise. As Jordan pointed out in his commentary on Judges, the descendants of Judah were forbidden from leadership for ten generations because they were bastards, which the law forbade (Dt. 23:2)! On the other hand, Rueben, Gilead, Dan, and Asher carried on with life as usual, refusing to fight with their brothers, but Zebulun “jeopardized their lives,” and “Naphtali also” (vv. 18). Deborah notes that it was the LORD overflowing the river Kishon that ultimately gave them their victory over the iron clad chariots they so much feared (v. 21). They were instruments of The LORD’s curse upon Meroz (vv. 22-23).