What does Judges 5:31 mean?
ESV: “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.” And the land had rest for forty years.
NIV: So may all your enemies perish, LORD! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.' Then the land had peace forty years.
NASB: May all Your enemies perish in this way, Lord; But may those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.' And the land was at rest for forty years.
CSB: Lord, may all your enemies perish as Sisera did. But may those who love him be like the rising of the sun in its strength.And the land had peace for forty years.
NLT: 'Lord, may all your enemies die like Sisera! But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!' Then there was peace in the land for forty years.
KJV: So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.
NKJV: “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord! But let those who love Him be like the sun When it comes out in full strength.” So the land had rest for forty years.
Verse Commentary:
Deborah's victory song (Judges 5:1) ends with a prayer to the Lord. She returns to her emphasis that this triumph was God's. He brought it about, from the deluge that flooded the river and rendered Sisera's iron chariots helpless (Judges 5:19–22) to the grotesque way in which Sisera died at the hands of a woman used by the Lord to bring justice (Judges 5:24–27).

The prophetess (Judges 4:4–5) concludes by asking the Lord to bring such death to all His enemies. She doesn't call them "her" enemies or even "Israel's" enemies, but God's enemies. He brings justice to those who stand opposed to Him. In the same way, she asks the Lord that those who honor Him be like the sun: rising in might, bringing heat and light while remaining untouchable.

Within Deborah's words are echoes of God's own covenant promises to Israel. These were made exclusively to that people, in that time. If they will remain His friends by doing what is right before Him, He will bless them. If they choose to rebel against Him and make themselves His enemies once more, He will bring suffering and death (Deuteronomy 30:15–18). Sadly, the next verse reveals the choice Israel will make, once more, to continue the downward spiral of the book of Judges (Judges 2:11–19).

The last phrase of this verse is not part of Deborah's song. Rather, it's the conclusion of this cycle in Israel's history. After the defeat of Canaan, Sisera, and Jabin (Judges 4:1–3), Israel will see peace for an entire generation: forty years. Then the pattern will repeat (Judges 6:1).
Verse Context:
Judges 5:24–31 completes a song of victory celebrating the defeat of the Canaanites (Judges 4:12–16). This especially notes the slaying of Sisera, Canaan's general, by the woman Jael. Her brutally efficient methods were described in the prior chapter (Judges 4:17–21). Sisera's death is given an especially dramatic, poetic treatment—the ancient written equivalent of a slow-motion sequence. The passage also imagines the surprise which will accompany Sisera's death, depicting it from the view of his mother and servants. The song ends with a plea that God would extend the same defeat to all His enemies. The peace won by Barak and Deborah (Judges 4:4–7) will last forty years.
Chapter Summary:
Deborah and Barak sing a victory song she has written. This celebrates all the Lord accomplished through Israel's victory in battle over Sisera and Canaan. She praises God for willing volunteers and calls for everyone to pass along the story. She tells of the torrent of water that flowed down the Kishon River and swept away the enemy. She describes in detail the death of Sisera at the hands of a woman and even shows his mother crying for his return. Her song emphasizes that credit for success goes to the Lord.
Chapter Context:
Judges 5 follows the narrative-style account of the battle between Sisera and Barak, as instigated by the prophetess Deborah in chapter 4. This chapter is a song, poetically depicting the same series of events. Deborah describes Sisera's defeat in battle, Jael's bold killing of the cruel general Sisera, and the tears of his mother as she waits for him at home. The following chapter shows that Israel—once again—responds to this hard-won peace with another cycle of idolatry, sin, and oppression (Judges 6:1).
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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