Personalities Of The Old Testament
DEBORAH Ė Israelís Holy Lady
Judges 4, 5
1. Deborah is one of the heroic women of history. She was one
of the most talented women of the Bible Ė a wife, mother, prophetess, judge,
poetess, singer, and political leader. Her life is a wonderful illustration
of the power that womanhood has to influence society for good. The great
influence that Deborah possessed is evident in the fact that all Israel
came to her for counsel and judgment.
2. The life of Deborah is recorded in Judges 4-5. Chapter 4 contains
the prose narrative and chapter 5 contains the story in poetry. From these
accounts we discover the following facts about Deborahís life:
a. She was married (4:4). Lappidoth was her husband. Here is
an interesting point to ponder. We would never know of Lappidoth
if not for his wife! This is the case today. Many men are honored and respected
only because their wives are holy.
b. She possessed talents (4:4,5).
c. She had a great faith (4:4,6,14; 5:13).
d. She is the only woman Judge (4:4). Deborah is the only woman
who served God as an official of the State government. Other women served
as Queen but they had usurped the role.
e. She was well respected (4:5). When she asked Barak, a general
from Naphtali, to come to her (4:6,14), he did not hesitate.
f. She confronted wrongs (4:5; 5:14b-17, 23).
g. She took action to help others (4:9).
h. She was a prophetess. Only two other women in the Old Testament
share this honored designation (Miriam, Ex 15:20; Huldah, 2 Ki 22:14-20).
3. Deborah lived in a period of Israelís history that was tragic.
Spirituality was at a low point. The standard of behavior was anarchy.
During her time the nation was oppressed by Canaanite rulers (4:1-3). ďOppressedĒ
is the same word used to describe Israeli bondage in Egypt (Ex 3:9). The
oppression of Israel was directly associated with the spiritual decay that
had corrupted that nation. Consider some of the causes for Israelís spiritual
a. It had failed to give honor to God (Ps 33:12).
b. It had failed to separate herself from evil associations (1
c. It had failed to obey Godís rules for life (Jud 17:6; 21:25).
It could not distinguish between right and wrong.
NOTE: In such a tragic time, God used a woman to bring the erring
nation back to the right way! Women have the power to correct and restore
spirituality or they have the power to propel further deterioration.
4. Deborah was a godly woman whose leadership abilities would
restore Israelís security. Look at the following leadership qualities she
possessed and discuss how each could help the lady accomplish her task.
a. She was a woman of wisdom.
People came to get her advice from distant places. She was recognized
as one who possessed sound judgment and level thinking. She could offer
counsel that guided the erring nation back toward faithful obedience. How
did she gain this ďwisdomĒ (Pr 1:7). Our modern society needs women
like Deborah who will arise and call for people to restore their loyalties
to Godís directions!
b. She possessed a keen sense of discernment.
She looked at Israelís predicament and knew the nation had erred
from Godís will. She did not excuse or rationalize the errors. She had
witnessed the decay of morals and the disregard toward Godís commands.
She was a mother and homemaker, but she saw the urgency of calling the
nation back to God. She could look at the situation and recognize what
was Godís will and what was Selfís will.
c. She believed in the God of heaven.
Her strength and courage was founded upon Godís power (cf Josh
d. She had courage to follow Godís commands.
It was Deborahís courage that enabled Barak to defeat the enemies.
Had she been reluctant to follow Godís will, the nation would have remained
oppressed. Had she not been the example of trust and full obedience, then
Israel would not have found blessings. Often in the churchís history, the
women kept the congregation faithful or that have led the congregation
away from Godís directions!
e. She properly used her tongue.
Deborah used her tongue to speak Godís commands to those who
needed encouragement to free themselves from oppression (4:6). She used
cheerful, positive words of victory when Godís people faced enemies (4:14).
Her words were wisely selected and people traveled far to hear her speak
(4:5). Women today can imitate Deborahís speech! How often have you seen
a woman totally destroy her effectiveness as a leader because she failed
to use her tongue properly? (1 Ti 3:11; 5:11-13). Because of the way Deborah
used her tongue, she lifted the spirits of those who needed to be faithful
f. She had wonderful influence.
Here is the most effective way women ďleadĒ in the Lordís church.
Deborahís life was lived in such a way that she earned respect from everyone
(4:4,5). Her influence led to a ďstrengtheningĒ of others (4:24a). She
was a source of strength to all who came to her. The influence of this
godly lady made a significant difference Ė all became better because Israel
restored her faith in Godís will!
g. She demonstrated wonderful attitudes.
She possessed an unwavering commitment to do Godís will (4:9).
She was willing to do whatever was necessary to strengthen and encourage
others to become active (4:8-9). She was aware that her efforts would actually
ďhelpĒ the Lord (5:23b). She demonstrated a love for God that was stronger
than her love for others (5:31).
h. She was a source for ďpeace.Ē
Because of this godly lady, peace resulted! Because of her presence,
peace existed in the land. How wonderful to see women today who imitate
Deborah and urge all to obey God so there will be peace (Mt 5:9). How tragic
to see congregations torn asunder and peace and harmony ruined by discord
because certain women fail to imitate Deborah! The one blemish on the Philippian
congregation was the disruption caused by two women (Philip 4:2).
I. She was active in Godís service.
Deborah was effective because she was active. Women can never
become the kind of leader that Deborah was until they become active in
the Lordís church.
5. The practical lessons from Deborahís life emphasize the critical
role that women have in the Lordís Church today.
a. Godís Cause needs women! (5:6-7a).
Women are vital to the existence of the Lordís Church; to the
faithfulness of the Lordís Church; to the spread of the Lordís Church;
to the peace and harmony of the local church. Far too many women have not
practiced their leadership role in the church. Congregations who have women
that are active, willing, and harmonious are congregations that are growing
and accomplishing great things for God!
b. Godís Cause needs women to overcome crisis! (4:14b).
When the situation appeared hopeless, a woman arose and encouraged
the men to overcome. Had Deborah not arisen then Israel would have never
found victory. Women have the power to speak encouraging words to male
leaders and to stimulate victory! When congregations face crises, the leaders
need the women to speak encouragingly to them so they will remain dedicated
to Godís will. Whenever a congregation is caught in a crisis, the women
can either help it overcome by encouraging the men to stick to Godís Word,
or hasten the destruction by criticizing and gossiping.
c. Godís Cause needs women to offer service! (5:7b, 9).
Women must be involved in the local congregation because their
efforts actually ďhelpĒ the Lord! (5:23b).
Copyright 1999 by John
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