She Speaks: A Look at Deborah

I love the series that we are currently in at Vista, as we are taking the time to highlight some of the women we read about throughout the Scripture. There are a lot of admirable women in the Bible, ones that have taken on leadership and proven to be inspiring and powerful. One of my favorite female leads in the bible is Deborah. The more I learned about Deborah, the more I loved her and was inspired by her story, and how God chose to use her and give her influence during her time.

Deborah was defined as a prophetess in the Bible, and was the only woman who was chosen to be a judge in Israel at that time. She would handle her civil duties under the Deborah Palm Tree. More importantly, she was a leader that God chose to speak to regarding Israel and what He wanted for them. Ultimately, God used her to bring Israel back into right relationship with Him.

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
— Judges 4:8 ESV

At one point in Israel’s history, they were under a twenty-year ruthless oppression from a man named Sisera. God wanted to end this oppression, so He chose to use Deborah to help defeat the enemy. Deborah was not the one to necessarily fight the physical war, but she held the ultimate leadership in the time of crisis and communicated exactly what God said and what He would do to defeat the enemies. Per God’s instruction, she sought after a man named Barak, as he was another factor in the victory. She clearly and confidently informed Barak on what he should do, and where he should go, in order for this plan to be successful. Barak received what Deborah told him, and never questioned it, as he respected her leadership and what she heard from God. Barak actually relied so heavily on Deborah, that he said he would not go unless she would go with him into battle.

Deborah agreed to go with Barak, but reminded him in the next verse that he will not get the glory for the defeat, but rather it will actually be at the hands of another woman! As Deborah predicted, they got the victory and it started the path of Northern Israel being restored back to God. It is inspiring to me that Deborah ended up being the deciding factor of Barak’s obedience and willingness to go into the battle. Maybe he felt he was not strong enough on his own, and needed this influential woman to come alongside him. It is apparent that her presence during the battle offered him confidence.

There is a lot of good content in this story, but one of my favorite parts is that Barak had a very crucial role in the defeat, however, he would not have been successful had it not been for Deborah’s obedience to God, and her clear instruction and leadership to Barak. They were a team. He did not view himself as more powerful; I gather he viewed her role as just as important as his own, seeing that he did not want to go without her.

The villages ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a Mother in Israel
— Judges 5:7

Without a doubt, Deborah was confident in who she was and who God was to her. When God gave her this giant task, she never questioned or doubted. She accepted it, and immediately moved to action. She did not hesitate or become fearful of going to Barak and preparing him. She knew what God wanted and moved forward with conviction. But it was never for her glory, it was for God’s. I love that she was not afraid to take on leadership in crisis. She loved God and did whatever she needed to in order to fulfill His will, and was not afraid of leading other people. As far as we know, she followed through on everything that was asked of her, and it is obviously because of her unwavering loyalty and reverence towards God. Because of that, she made history and restored Gods people back to Him. Things may have looked a lot different in Israel, if it were not for Deborah's leadership. Because of what she did, Israel experienced forty years of peace, following their victory.

After Israel's victory, Deborah points their thoughts and worship to God alone. In Judges 5, she praises God for all that He has done, and worships Him for the deliverance of His people. In a situation where she could be prideful or take credit, she points everyone back to God. She is truly an incredible example of a leader.

Catch up on our She Speaks series by listening to past sermons here