This week in the feminine leadership series we are looking at Deborah, who appears in the book of Judges.
We are introduced to Deborah and her many roles- wife, prophetess and judge. She was faithful in all her roles to the Lord but none more so than her role as a leader- leading the people to battle, but ultimately leading them back to the Lord.
It was a turbulent time in Israel, caught up in a cycle of sin, followed by periods of obedience, followed by more sin. Can you relate? I think we all can. Israel here serves as a metaphor for our own lives. We obey, then we slip back into our old ways!
Deborah played a key role in breaking this cycle.
Deborah Summons Barak
“She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. 7 And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” 8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him”
Deborah steps up here- I mean, really steps up!
She, without hesitation, says she will accompany Balak into battle!
What would you have said?
I would definitely have hesitated, and tried to come up with an excuse so as not to go!
Not Deborah though.
She steps up to the plate, knowing what is on the line, and fulfils her role as a leader. She clearly demonstrates Godly wisdom and insight. She prophesised that God would deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman-a scandalous thing to say at the time! She didn’t doubt herself- she trusted in God and declared it with incredible confidence. Not her own, but that of the Lord. How often do you speak with the confidence of the Lord?
The Battle Is Won
Once the battle is over, we see the song of Deborah. The entire song is incredibly long (but amazing and worth reading!) so I’ll just include a portion of it here:
“That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
that the people offered themselves willingly,
bless the Lord!
3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the Lord I will sing;
I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4 “Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled
and the heavens dropped,
yes, the clouds dropped water.
5 The mountains quaked before the Lord,
even Sinai before the Lord,[a] the God of Israel.
6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
and travelers kept to the byways.
7 The villagers ceased in Israel;
they ceased to be until I arose;
I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
8 When new gods were chosen,
then war was in the gates.
Was shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the Lord.
Deborah gives all the glory to God- another sure fire indication of her wisdom as a leader.
As leaders its incredibly easy to become self-obsessed, that is to think that everything we do and achieve comes from ourselves. But we must remember that everything we do comes from God and we must give praise to him- for apart from him, we can do nothing!
As a result, the hearts of the people of Israel were turned back to God. How many of us can say that our leadership leads people to God, and not to ourselves? We can all learn from Deborah- to do what God instructs us to do, and to give him glory for the outcome. This is the mark of a true leader.
Finally, Deborah teaches us that God can use anyone of us in a position of leadership, even when it seems we are an unlikely choice. Yes, Deborah was a judge but she was also a woman. A woman going into battle was unheard of let alone a woman prophesising the outcome of it!
So if you’re sat reading this, thinking that you aren’t called to be a leader, think again! God may well call you when you least expect it.
Will you answer the call?