Chosen That You May Proclaim – Deborah
A devotional published just before Christmas highlighted the faith of Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho who became the great-great grandmother of King David and consequently an ancestor of Jesus. Rahab proclaimed truth about God to His people and, many years later, we hear of another woman doing the same.
After Joshua triumphantly leads the Israelites into their land, “there arose another generation … who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10) and a vicious cycle begins. The Israelites turn away from God, God sends judgement, they repent and cry out for help, and God sends a judge to save them.
The third time this cycle repeats, God raises up a woman as judge: “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” (Judges 4:4) Her story (told in Judges 4 and 5) is as follows: Deborah receives a message from God and communicates this information to a military leader, Barak. He agrees to go into battle against their enemy if she accompanies him. She agrees, but rebukes him for this request. Barak musters the forces, Deborah tells him when to attack, God saves His people and a woman named Jael kills the enemy commander. After the battle, Deborah writes a song to commemorate this victory.
Deborah is a remarkable character for many reasons. I will highlight a few below:
- She is respected because of her close relationship with God. Deborah is not a military genius or political mastermind: she is a prophetess who listens to God and communicates His words to the people. Her ability to judge the nation of Israel arises from this relationship. She depends on God, speaks His words, and believes that He will accomplish what He promises.
- Deborah is a “normal” person. She is married and appears to be fully integrated in society; she is not an eccentric or a loner. Deborah is presented as simply a woman who is certain of God’s call upon her life, and who is willing to play whatever part He requires of her.
- Deborah appears to completely understand her own role in Israel’s deliverance. She hears from God and sends the message on to Barak, accompanies the army right to the battle line, encourages them at the final moment, and yet fully respects God’s call upon Barak to lead them into battle. She is not concerned about her own ego or about receiving recognition; she is concerned that God get the glory.
Deborah is both courageous and humble, and consequently she proclaims great things about the God she serves: The Lord gives victory. The Lord goes out before us:
“And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” (Judges 4:14)
The Lord inspires His people to obedience in accordance with His plan:
“That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
that the people offered themselves willingly,
bless the LORD! (Judges 5:2)
The Lord’s strength is the source of her courage:
March on, my soul, with might! (Judges 5:21)
It is my prayer that you will meditate on the story of Deborah as you face difficulties today. I pray that you will rely on Him for victory, that you will ask for His direction, that you will join with others in fighting His battles, and that you will take courage from His strength. “March on, my soul, with might.”
Pastor of Women