A few weeks ago I asked you all what woman from the Bible you would like to know more about. One of the leading responses was Deborah, so I’ve done so more reading about her and wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations with you.
1) I am amazed at Deborah’s influence. Deborah was a prophetess and judge of Israel at a time when it was highly unusual for a woman to serve in such positions of leadership. It makes me think she must have had some significant influence to have been appointed to these positions to begin with. (If anyone knows how prophets were appointed during this part of Israel’s history, please let us know.) It also seems as if Deborah had respect beyond just the positional power of her role. For example when Deborah gives the directive to Barak to go battle Sisera, Barak insists that Deborah go with him. Now maybe he was thinking “If this stupid woman is going to send me to my death, she’s at least going with me”, however I get the impression that Barak respected Deborah and felt like her presence would be valuable.
2) She displayed incredible strength. I can’t imagine living in the times that she lived in. Not only were living conditions tough, Israel was weak, defenseless and far from God. I suspect moral was low and hope was barely a flicker. But Deborah had hope and a vision from God and out of this she summoned the strength to still the voices of doubt and timidity, and as one author describes, “called the people to battle, leading them out of idolatry and restoring their dignity as God’s chosen ones”.
3) Deborah was humble. Rather than describe herself as prophetess or judge which were incredibly influential positions, she describes herself as “a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7).
4) She was close to God. God gave her the directive for the battle with Sisera and she didn’t lose sight of this even in the heat of it. Judges 4:14 says “Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?'” After the battle was finished she and Barak sang a victory song in which they repeatedly thank God.
5) Deborah had style. Judges 4:5 says she would sit under a palm tree in the mountains and the children of Israel came to her for judgment. Seems to me the best office space in Israel would be under a palm tree in the mountains. It’s funny to me that the Bible would give the specifics of where she operated as judge… doesn’t seem that consequential to the story, but it made me smile. As strong of a woman and leader she was, she was still a ‘girl’ – environment was important to her.
Read Judges 4 & 5 and share some of your observations of Deborah with us too!