According to the Book of Judges, Deborah was the fourth of 12 judges God provided for Israel. Like the other judges, Deborah “held court” to settle disputes, as well as serving as a military and political leader. But God also saw fit to gift her as a prophetess. And we see her serving in all these capacities in her story in Judges 4-5.
As a prophetess, Deborah was able to foresee both the victory over Israel’s enemy, and the way to achieve it. As a wise leader, she was able to bring about a great victory for God by delegating responsibility and giving credit to other people, like Barak and Jael. As a woman in a male dominated society, she also had the wisdom to offer the victory to Barak, the commander of Israel’s army.
She was not power hungry; she just wanted to serve God. Whenever praise came her way, she gave God and others the credit, as her song (Jud. 5) demonstrates. She didn’t contradict her place in the culture as a woman and wife of Lappidoth, but neither did she allow herself to be hindered by it. Her story shows us that God can accomplish great things through those who are willing to be led by Him.
Deborah’s life challenges us in several ways. She reminds us to be available to God and be willing to work through others. She encourages us to expend our effort on what we can do rather than on worrying about what we can’t do. Deborah challenges us to serve and honor God with our gifts. She demonstrates what a person can accomplish when God is in control.
What can we learn from Deborah’s life? God gives gifts and abilities by His standards, not ours, and He wants us to use them for His intended purpose. We also learn that wise leaders involve others in God’s work, for His glory.
We can learn much from Deborah, as well as the six other Old Testament women in this month’s Feature articles.
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org