We are introduced to Deborah in the book of Judges. She was a prophetess of God, and she was also mentioned to be the wife of Lapidoth.
She was a judge in Israel and dwelt on Mt. Ephraim under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel.
She was also a war general, not in the strict sense of the word but rather as what we would call a technical/strategic advisor.
The name Deborah is derived from the Hebrew word ‘devorah’ which means bee or swarm of bees. Amazing; right? That such a person’s name will be related to bees, but I think this has to do with her role as a technical/strategic advisor to the armies of Israel. A bee’s sting is precise and has a harrowing effect, and this was exactly what Deborah did to the enemies of the Lord.
Deborah rose up at a time when the Israelites needed deliverance desperately from their enemies. They had been under oppression for many years and needed a reprieve. The Lord in his magnanimity sent a helper to rescue them in the person of Deborah.
We can then learn the following lessons from her story:
- Sin always has an adverse effect: From Deborah’s story, we see that sin always has negative consequences. Whenever the children of Israel sinned and did evil in the eyes of the Lord, He allowed their enemies to have dominion over them (Judges 4 vs 1-2). The Lord had given them several instructions as to the kind of life he expected them to live and the things they should avoid. They were well aware of the laws. The Lord particularly warned them about the sin of idolatry – worshipping false gods and the idols of the nations he had driven out before them. He made the fearful consequences of their disobedience very clear in Deuteronomy Chapter Twenty-Eight. The Lord he is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are consequences for us as believers today when we deliberately and continuously sin against Him. We must learn to have a holy fear of the Lord that it may keep us from deliberately flouting His commandments every time.
- God will use anyone He deems fit to administer His purpose: Deborah was a woman, but that did not limit her from taking her place as a judge in Israel. The people came to her, and she settled issues amongst them. This shows us that the Lord will use anyone – male or female who will surrender his or her will to Him. There is no need for feelings of inferiority complex by a woman because the Lord looks out for the yielded human spirit. A woman must step out in boldness and take her place in Christ.
- The gifts of the Spirit are for all, irrespective of gender: Deborah was a prophetess. She operated in the office of a prophet. This dispels the age-old belief of women not being used in the prophetic ministry and ministry in general. If God could use Deborah in such a mighty office thousands of years ago, he will still do the same in this our generation. Listen, woman; God can still use you today to raise souls for Him and shepherd them into His kingdom. He can use you to instruct nations and proclaim his counsel. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. What we need to do as women is to develop and build a strong fellowship with the Lord. This isn’t achieved by being full of church “activities” or being legalistic. It is achieved by desiring an intimate relationship with the Lord, spending time in our prayer closets, studying and meditating on the word of God and living a pure and holy life.
- A woman will fulfil her God-given purpose more if her spouse supports her: Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth. Wow! I find the verse (Judges 4 vs 4) very informative. Deborah was a married woman, and this did not stop her from fulfilling her calling because Lapidoth did not stand in her way. I deduced this from Judges 4 vs 5. The Bible records that she was under the palm tree between Ramah and Bethel carrying out her God-given Lapidoth allowed her to fulfil her calling and did not hold her back. The greatest asset to a woman or man fulfilling their God-given ministry is to have a supportive spouse. The one who will release him or her to do the work of the Lord, who will not stand in the way. The one who will not feel threatened by what the Lord is using his or her partner, to do. The one who will affirm him or her and give the moral, financial and every other support needed to fulfil the call of God upon their lives.
- We need to walk the talk: Sometimes in our lives or ministry, we need to act more than talk that people may believe in the one who has called us. Barak, the commander of Israel’s army, refused to go the battlefront without Deborah. She was more of the strategist, so she did not need to be at the war front. Moreover, she was also a judge and prophetess and could have easily compelled him to step out without her. However, to prove to Barak, the commander of the army of Israel, that the Lord God almighty himself had given the command that they go to war against the enemy of Israel, Jabin king of the Canaanites and his General, Sisera, and their armies, she went along with him. In our everyday life, sometimes we need to journey to where we have spoken about to the ones looking up to us. It makes us more credible.
- We need to be worshippers of God: Deborah was a true worshipper who wrote songs to extol the glory and majesty of the Lord God Almighty. A worshipper is not just a singer. A worshipper is one who from the depths of the heart bows down and acknowledges his/her source of life and gives God all the glory and honour and praises. A worshipper recognizes that without God nothing could have been achieved. A true worshipper never takes the glory. It could have been convenient for Deborah to bask in the glory of their victory over the Canaanites, but she did not. She made sure the people of Israel gave back all the glory to the almighty God. The Lord will never share His glory with a man. It is because of pride and the hunger for vain glory that cause us sometimes not to see the mighty hand of God at work.
- The Lord on our side is guaranteed victory: When the Lord is on your side and fighting on your behalf, it doesn’t matter the arsenal at the disposal of the enemy, He will bring forth victory. We read in Judges 4: 3 that Jabin has nine hundred chariots of iron. That was mighty weaponry in those days. However, because the Lord was on the side of the Israelites, they had victory over them Judges 4: 15. Even Sisera realised that his chariot was of no use and he fled on foot! He ended up being killed by Jael in her house where he went to take cover. Secondly, it doesn’t matter how long the enemy may have kept you captive (for instance the Israelites were under Jabin’s oppressive control for twenty years), one day the Lord will turn things around. The Lord heard the Israelites cry for help one day and he came to their rescue and turned things around in a day (Judges 4: 23).
The above lessons are not exhaustive of the lessons we can learn from the story of Deborah. The Lord will reveal many more as we study the books of Judges Chapters Four and Five. May the Lord help us all, especially we women to rise as His handmaidens in Jesus name. Amen.