Home  

Biographical Sketch Directory Index

Deborah

 

    Each frond on the palm branches above Deborah’s head rolled on the wind, resembling fingers on a piano keyboard. The gentle breeze provided a sweet accompaniment to a melody that was springing up in her heart. It was the song which she had sung with Barak when the Lord delivered Israel from the oppression of the Canaanite king, Jabin.

    "That the leaders led in Israel, that the people volunteered, bless the Lord! Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I–to the Lord, I will sing, I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel" (Judges 5:2-3).

    Deborah had great reason to sing. The Lord had rescued the Israelites and relieved them of the cruel treatment of the Canaanites. How many had died because of the evil Canaanites? How many had lost lands and property to the Canaanites’ tyrannical rule? Yet God heard the cry of the people of Israel and gave Deborah a word of hope.

    She thought about how awful the situation seemed when Barak had come to her. There had been a terrible storm that day. The waters flowed from heaven and the troops were utterly disheartened. How could they fight the 900 iron chariots? What strategy could they conceive that would break the matchless defense of the Canaanites? Barak approached Deborah, and she reported the Word of the Lord.

    "Behold, the Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand’" (Judges 4:6-7).

    Yet Barak was frightened and unwilling. He had been worn down by 20 years of Canaanite tyranny and strength. He had seen the slaughter of innocent Israelites too many times to have the faith needed to mount an attack.

   "Then Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go’" (Judges 4:8).

    So Deborah went with Barak, and the Lord led the battle against 900 iron chariots. He defeated the armies that had oppressed the children of God for two decades. If the Lord had not helped them, they would have continued to face the wickedness of the Canaanites. Had the Lord not heard their cry, they would have continued to endure terrible persecution in the land of their inheritance. Yet He had done just as He had promised, and Deborah sang His praises.

    The Bible doesn’t go into great detail about Deborah’s life other than revealing that she was a prophetess, a highly esteemed judge of Israel, and the wife of Lappidoth. We don’t know if the Bible’s description of her as "a mother in Israel" (Judges 5:7) means that she had children or that she cared for Israel as only a loving mother could care. We do not know why God chose Deborah to be the judge of Israel. In a culture that generally was ruled by men, a woman in the role of judge was indeed a strange occurrence.

    However, Deborah loved God and served Him faithfully. The people trusted her and even the commander of the army, Barak, respected Deborah’s leadership. Her example indicates that the person who serves God is not necessarily a person with a certain set of credentials. God uses the person who listens to Him and obeys. Deborah made herself available to God, and God showed her the victory.

    A person who is mighty in spirit hears God’s command and is willing to obey. Deborah was willing. She would do whatever it took to honor God’s will. God invites you to be willing as well. God may not call you to fight armies or to prophesy or even to sing. He may be calling you to be a godly parent or spouse or a conscientious and steadfast employee. He may be calling you to be still and to trust Him fully in a circumstance. Whatever the case, the question for you is this: Are you willing?

    The beautiful melody in the song of Deborah’s life was her willingness to be God’s vessel in whatever situation He chose to use her. What tune does your heart play?