We find ourselves in Judges chapter 4 and the people of Israel have once again turned their backs on the Lord and are living under the oppression of the king of Canaan. They like their parents and grandparents once the judges of Israel passed away embraced the culture. For 20 years they have lived in bondage and captivity, it’s here in the ancient pages of the old testament that we meet Deborah in the Bible. Deborah for many is a well-known biblical figure, but perhaps we miss a bit of the significance of her story.
Deborah is one of the few women in the Bible mentioned by name, but she’s also one of the only women in the Bible to step into a leadership role over Israel. But who was this Deborah in the Bible? What makes her relevant to our lives today? And what impacts can she have on us?
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Who Was Deborah In The Bible?
Deborah has long been one of my favorite woman in the Bible, her story is filled with courage, and her faith could leave us all inspired. But who was Deborah in the Bible anyway and what was her role in the book of Judges?
- Deborah in the Bible was a prophet of God.
- She is the 4th judge mentioned in the book of Judges, and the only female judge mentioned in the Bible.
- She was a leader of Israel.
- Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth.
- She became a military leader.
- She was a songwriter and minstrel leading her people in worship after the victory had been won.
Sadly scripture doesn’t go into a lot of Deborah’s story, we aren’t told how she rose to these positions or her triumphs and struggles along the way. We simply step into Deborah’s story in Judges 4 and find her holding “court” beneath a palm tree. This setting was a symbol of her fairness, and refusal to show partiality in her rulings. Scripture says that the people sought out Deborah’s judgment.
Deborah’s Role In The Bible
Have you ever found yourself in a daunting situation? A role that you felt ill-equipped to step into? You know you heard God’s voice drawing you here, but that little voice still whispers doubt to your heart. You pour your all, out day after day, and yet it still feels like nothing. It’s never enough, never good enough, what gives you the authority to step out, to lead, to be an example.
Fear and doubt wrestle against God’s voice trying to hold you back and keep you stepping into your calling and choke out your faith. It’s amazing how fast the devil pulls out our scars when we are trying to step into our calling. He pulls out all of the stops, dragging our insecurities, and past out from where we thought we’d left them buried.
I don’t know about you, but those feelings are all too familiar. Doubt and fear are old companions of my faith, ready to jump at any time to try and send me retreating to my comfort zone. Perhaps this is why Deborah in the Bible stands out so much to me. As a woman born at a time where being a woman didn’t give her any advantages, living in captivity, she steps through the pages of history without fanfare like the other judges in the Bible and steps to the front of the stage.
How Did Deborah Become A Leader?
Perhaps the most striking verse in Judges 4 is verse 6, the Bible says that Deborah sends for a man called Barak. She doesn’t ask him to come, she doesn’t plead. She simply sends for him with authority. Her authority didn’t come from herself, her skill, her reputation, her job titles, but from the God she served.
When God calls you to something, when He lays something on your heart it doesn’t matter what people think, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect skill set or the words to say. Your authority comes from God. By yourself, you may not be able to do what God has called you to, but with Him, you can do all things, you don’t have to be enough because He is.
Characteristics Of Deborah In The Bible
I love how as you read verse 6 you can almost feel the weight of authority in her words as she sends for Barak. The Bible says that she “sent word” and “summoned” him. Deborah tells him to gather men and prepare to go to war. Just like that she just appointed him a military leader, and declared war on the thing that has been oppressing them.
What are we being oppressed by, that we should be taking authority over? Maybe we aren’t physically at war, but spiritually and emotionally we are waging a war that we feel like we just can’t win. Your authority comes from God, the attacks from the enemy are coming from a retreating army that has already lost the war. Your victory has already been won. Trust your God, adjust your mindset, and step into the authority God has given you.
What Is The Story Of Deborah And Barak?
Barak’s reaction to Deborah’s command is so unusual, he doesn’t question her authority, her ability, her wisdom, or her knowledge. Doesn’t ask who she is to order him around. Doesn’t ask for the whole battle plan or why now. In fact, he doesn’t even ask why him.
Deborah just ordered him to take 10,000 men and go fight the king that’s been oppressing them for 20 years -a king that has 900 chariots and infantry-. And yet there is no “yeah right”, no snickers, no mocking questions, no “did you think this out all the way, no weighing the cost of these decisions. He only says one thing: “If you will go with me, I will go,”
He wanted this woman of faith to come with him, I think many times we are a little hard on this biblical figure for this request but I can’t help but wonder if he uttered this statement because he was trying to surround himself with people of faith. Perhaps he wanted someone near that believed in the same dream so that when his faith wavered she was there to stoke the fire of faith once more. Maybe he wanted her to remind him of where his authority came when the hard days came, and people doubted their mission, and in the dark hours when he found himself wagging silent battles.
What Can We Learn From Deborah?
So often we doubt the call on our lives because we fear that people won’t listen, that when it comes down to it we will fail, that we don’t know enough, aren’t equipped for the role. Doubt and fear whisper in our ears crumbling what God is trying to do, and sending us retreating back in the shadows of our comfort zone. We allow our feelings of qualification to keep us from stepping into the role God has for us.
Deborah in the Bible doesn’t question God’s voice or wonder what others will say or think she simply has the faith to do what God tells her. Whether people follow or not is not her concern. Her only concern is doing what the Lord has called her to, and not letting anything get in the way of that.
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