Deborah the judge and prophetess served God during a tumultuous time for the Israelites. Her faith brought victory to her people.
How do we handle chaos around us? What do we do when it seems the world has gone astray, when everyone is going their own way, when no one seems to know which way to turn? In a world of chaos and confusion, what do you do? Where do you turn? How do you find the answers?
Deborah became the voice of calm in her world of chaos.
Deborah in the Bible
We find Deborah’s story in the book of Judges. If you’re looking for an uplifting read, the book of Judges is probably not for you. It’s a gory book filled with vile behaviors. It covers a time period much like modern days.
Judges opens with the death of Joshua and explains how the Israelites failed to follow God’s instructions to defeat the enemy nations but instead chose to intermingle, to intermarry, and to intertwine with the pagans. They lost sight of who they were, and God allowed them to become oppressed by their enemies.
For over 200 years, the children of Israel followed a pattern. They did evil in the sight of the Lord. He gave them over to their enemies. They cried out to God for mercy. He raised up Judges to deliver them, and while they listened to the judges, they experienced times of peace. But once the judge died, they’d go back to their old ways, behaving even more corruptly than before.
This was the early beginnings of the Iron Age, and Sisera’s army had 900 iron chariots that they used to terrorize the roadways. As a result, the Israelites were forced to hide in the hills and travel backroads. Village life was almost completely wiped out.
In the midst of the chaos and terror, lived a housewife named Deborah, an unassuming woman, married to an obscure man. But Deborah the judge was also a prophetess. God spoke to her and she listened. And she shared what He said to those around her.
Deborah the Judge and Prophetess
We’re told that Deborah the judge would sit under the palm tree in her front yard and the children of Israel came to her for wisdom and judgement. One day she called for Barak, the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”
She wasn’t giving him a new command. She was only confirming what he’d already been told. But he was scared. His response? He says the only way he’ll go is if Deborah goes with him.
Do you see how far the Israelites had fallen? That a military leader would only go to battle if a woman goes with him?
Deborah agreed to go with him, but she warned him that because of his refusal to go without her, a woman would get the glory of defeating Sisera.
Deborah the Warrior
Deborah was not a militant woman, but she left the comfort of her home in the mountains to accompany Barak and his army to Kedesh, some 70 miles away.
The 10,000 soldiers were no match for Sisera’s mighty army and chariots, but they huddled on the mountain and waited for their next command.
At the appointed time, Deborah told Barak, “this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand.” And as they made their way down the mountainside, God sent a massive storm, complete with hail and sleet. Sisera’s army waited in the dry riverbed of the Kishon, but the hail blinded them and the pouring rain overflowed the river banks.
The heavy chariots were trapped in the mud, so the soldiers had to flee on foot. They made easy targets for the Hebrew army, with everyone dying by the sword except for Sisera.
But Sisera met his match with Jael, another housewife, who undertook the gruesome task of bringing him to his death.
Why Did God Choose Deborah?
Under normal circumstances, God would probably not have chosen a lowly woman to lead his people. But these were not normal times. In a time of uncontrolled chaos, God worked in a most unexpected manner in order to get the attention of His people. Her weakness as a humble woman brought to light God’s strength. The people recognized that Deborah the judge was only a vessel used by God. He was the source of the power.
Deborah did not go out seeking a leadership position. She stayed at home, talking and listening to God, and He sent the people to her. She was serving God in the only way she knew how, and God used her in a mighty way.
What Can We Learn From Deborah the Judge and Prophetess?
In today’s world of chaos and confusion, God needs calm women and men to stand strong, to remain steadfast in their faith, keep their eyes focused on Him, and to be willing to serve Him however asks.
Deborah probably would have rather remained at home under her palm tree than to travel across the country, climb a mountain, and lead army troops to battle. But when faced with the challenge, she demonstrated her faith by following God outside of her comfort zone. And her faith was contagious. The men listened to her because they knew she walked with God and that her walk was real. Because of her, they were victorious.
What about you? Are you tuned in to God’s voice? Are you close enough to Him that you can distinguish His voice from those of the world? Are you keeping your focus on Him and not what’s going on around you? Are you a voice of calm or a voice of confusion to those around you?
Lord God, we come to you today weary from all that is going on in our world right now. We feel overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion that is rampant. But we know that we are not the first to go through difficult times, and we won’t be the last. Just like the Israelites, we’ve lost sight of you and conformed to the world. But God, we come to you, begging for mercy and grace.
Send a revival among Your people. Rise up leaders who will speak the truth and lead us back to You. May you be with each of us, as we go about our daily business. Guide us in the way we should go. Give us wisdom and direction. Use us to impact the lives of others, drawing them near to you. We love you. In Christ name. Amen.
Deborah Bible Study
Bible Review Questions
1. Who was Deborah in the Bible?
2. Where did Deborah serve?
3. What did Deborah tell Barak to do?
Thoughts to Ponder
1. How did God use Deborah?
2. Why did God have to use Deborah to speak to Barak?
3. Who go the credit for the military win?
1. Are you serving where you’re at?
2. Are you willing to do whatever God asks?
3. Are you willing to share credit?