Women of the bible: DEBORAH
The more I learn about the women of the bible the more I discover they aren’t mentioned in the bible due the state of their homes, the number of hours they spend cleaning, whether they cook healthy meals but rather their faith in God and placing their trust in Him and doing as He requires of them. This may mean becoming a missionary or doctor to help the sick, a teacher or nurse or staying at home. Perhaps caring for the sick or helping those in the neighbourhood, reaching out to women in the church who have been abused. The tasks that God gives us to do will vary and may change as we grow older and circumstances change. Regardless, what He asks of me will be different to what He asks of you — so do not compare yourself to other women, undertake your mission the best you can with complete trust in God.
Back to Deborah, well, she was a remarkable woman and Israel’s only female judge.
She was married but we do not know if she had any children, we know nothing about her home life. Whether she did wasn’t considered important in her story. She is better known as a judge, a prophetess and the mother of Israel. A woman known for her courage and her wisdom.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4-5)
When Deborah became judge, the Israelites had been subjugated for 20 years by Jabin, king of Canaan. The commander of Jabin’s army was named Sisera, and he had 900 iron chariots – formidable weapons against Israel’s foot soldiers (Judges 4:3). The Israelites were treated very cruelly by Sisera and his army, and Israel’s spirits were very low. Deborah describes the hardship of living under Jabin and Sisera this way: “The highways were deserted, And the travellers walked along the byways. Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel,” (Judges 5:6-7). In other words, people feared to leave their homes; traveling was very dangerous.
God’s word comes through Deborah to a man of Naphtali named Barak. The message is that he will lead the revolt against Sisera. Barak’s response is, “I’ll only go if Deborah goes with me” (Judges 4:8). Everyone was afraid of Sisera, including Barak. Deborah agrees to accompany Barak, but she also prophesies that the honour for the victory would belong to a woman, not to Barak.
So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him. (Judges 4:9)
When the time came for battle, God again spoke through Deborah, who prompted Barak to marshal his forces. The Israelites came against the army of Sisera, and God granted the victory. The mighty Sisera himself was brought down by the hand of a woman, just as Deborah had said. As the commander rested after the battle, a woman named Jael drove a tent peg through his head.
Chapter 5 is a song sung by Deborah and Barak, if you aren’t familiar with it, do read it, this is the beginning of the song.
“When leaders lead in Israel,
When the people willingly offer themselves,
Bless the Lord!
“Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes!
I, even I, will sing to the Lord;
I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.
What can we learn from the life of Deborah?
Deborah was one strong woman and we can learn so much from her. Her inner strength, her calmness, her wisdom, her bravery and her confidences all came about because she TRUSTED in God’s power. We too can be like Deborah if only we would simply hand over our fears and concerns to God. Follow His instructions and do as He wants of us and we too can be a light in the darkness as Deborah was.
We can see that God’s power is what matters, regardless of the instrument He chooses to use. Man or woman, strong or weak, confident or hesitant – all are strong when they are moved by God’s Spirit and filled with His strength. We can also see in Deborah a picture of God’s tender care for His people. As a mother cares for her children, so Deborah led and nurtured Israel.
Another thing we can learn from Deborah is unconditional obedience. Her obediences with God was unconditional, she didn’t set up rules or would only obey if God did X, Y or Z — no, she followed Him completely and we too should be doing the same. This may place us in areas outside our comfort zone or doing things we never expected to do. What would happen if God asked you to set up a support group for single mothers. Would you find a reason to say no or place conditions on God’s request, such as as long as it was only one day a week and I’m home by 2pm? When you know what God wants you to do, but you tell Him, “I’ll obey, if. . .” you’ve put conditions on your obedience. And when you put conditions on your obedience, God doesn’t lose—you do.
The “Song of Deborah” (Judges 5), is about song of praise, giving the glory and honour to God for His deliverance. We to do should sing praise to God and give thanks.
“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.” (Judges 5:31)