What does Judges 5:9 mean?
ESV: My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.
NIV: My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!
NASB: My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel, The volunteers among the people; Bless the Lord!
CSB: My heart is with the leaders of Israel, with the volunteers of the people. Blessed be the Lord!
NLT: My heart is with the commanders of Israel, with those who volunteered for war. Praise the Lord!
KJV: My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
NKJV: My heart is with the rulers of Israel Who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the Lord!
Verse Commentary:
Deborah has been singing (Judges 5:1) of the dark times during Israel's cruelly oppressive captivity to Sisera and the Canaanites (Judges 5:6–7). In symbolic terms, she indicated there wasn't a single military weapon found among 40,000 Israelites. Likely, this meant Israel's armaments had been confiscated by the Canaanites or given up as the people despaired.

Now Deborah returns to the theme hinted at from the start of her song. The modern English phrase "my heart goes out" is mostly used as an expression of pity, or sympathy. In this case, Deborah means that her support—her love, her spirit, her approval—is for those leaders. Specifically, she means the commanders of Israel who volunteered to fight with Barak against the Canaanites. This was especially brave given that—at the time they were called—they didn't have much in the way of shields or spears (Judges 5:8).

Once again, Deborah blesses the Lord for this circumstance. She credits God for the willingness of brave men to offer themselves for battle.
Verse Context:
Judges 5:1–11 begins a song composed by Deborah, the prophetess and judge of Israel (Judges 4:4–5). This segment introduces the troubles experienced by God's chosen people leading up to their battle against Canaan. Though Israel had been blessed by God and His miracles when they came out of Egypt, the nation had fallen under oppression. As explained in the prior chapter (Judges 4:1–10), the people responded to Deborah's call for action. What follows is a celebration of Israel's victory against Sisera, Jabin, and the Canaanite army (Judges 4:12–16).
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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