What does it say?
The stage being set in the first two chapters, the first two cycles of sin immediately come into view (Jud 3); Israel doing evil and falling into oppression at the hand of neighboring tribes, crying out to God, who raises up a judge to deliver them.
The third cycle of sin is a bit different in that a prophetess named Deborah is judging Israel at the time (Jud 4:4). Together with Barak they bring victory again to Israel. Another woman, Jael, plays a key role in the victory by assassinating the enemy leader Sisera that took refuge in her tent.
What follows is one of the famous songs of scripture, the song of Deborah and Barak (Jud 5). The song is a grand celebration of the victory given by God.
What does it mean?
Never forget that everything we are seeing is part of the story that has been since the beginning. As horrendous as things become during the time of the Judges, God is still at work using flawed people with all their faults. He uses two courageous women at a time when many women had no voice. God uses whatever and whoever is available to accomplish his mission.
Barak is said to lead his captivity captive (5:12), a phrase reminiscent of the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 68:18 and applied to Jesus Christ by Paul in Ephesians 4:8. In almost all of the judges are virtuous elements that point to Christ in whom all of these qualities are joined together as one. He is the ultimate and only righteous Judge.
How will I respond?
I know the skills God has given to me and the things that I do best and enjoy doing. What is a weakness in my life that God could use? I’m not talking about my sins, but my weaknesses. Paul, a very strong man in many regards, speaks of God using him in spite of weaknesses in order that God get full glory (1Cor 1:20-31 and 2:1-5). What does that look like in my life? Can I think of a weakness of mine that God could use for his glory? Do I have a failure that I can learn from? A lack of ability for which God compensated with his glory?