I am always fascinated by the creative and innovative nature of our God in choosing leaders. I think it’s exciting that God can’t be pinned down in how He is going to work and act.
In the annals of Biblical history, Deborah is unique. In the time of the Judges, one of the darkest times in Israel’s history, God raised up a multi-gifted wife, mother, and prophetess to judge Israel.
You can read about Deborah’s exploits in Judges 4 and 5. But here’s the bottom line—Deborah is raised up by God to lead Israel, tantamount to being like a kind of medieval bishop—a spiritual and political leader. And God uses her to lead Israel to victory over the evil king, Jabin.
The Character Traits of Deborah
Deborah is an astounding woman of God. I am classifying her as a “woman for all seasons,” due to the character traits we observe in Judges 4 and 5. I want to highlight a few that I notice:
- “Now Deborah, a prophetess.” (4:4) First of note is that Deborah was a woman who spent time with God, heard His voice, and subsequently could speak for God. God raised up Deborah in a dark time because she was one of the few who was seeking God. Because of her track record of a prophetess, she had been elevated to judgeship.
- “The wife of Lapidoth…mother in Israel.” (4:4; 5:7) Deborah was a faithful wife and mother. Deborah had learned to discern the voice of the Lord as a wife and mother. It was through her faithfulness to Lapidoth, that she evidently was first noticed as a prophetess.
- “Go and deploy troops…I will deliver [Sisera] into your hand.” (4:6-7) Deborah was an intentional, focused, and fired up leader. In Judges 5:2, she begins her song with these words, “When leaders lead…” Deborah understood the weight and responsibility of leadership in following God’s commands and used her position to mobilize the other leaders in Israel to fight and attain freedom from their oppressors.
- “Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.” (4:3) With no significant weaponry in Israel (see 5:8), she won against the heavily-armed artillery and chariots of Jabin. Deborah knew her God. She knew that He does not need the resources of this world to win His battles. He only needs people who will trust Him. She arouses faith in others.
- Deborah is courageous! This is the character trait I love the most about this stunning woman. This wife, mother, judge, and prophetess was a courageous outlier! With great risk to her life, with the odds of success logically minimal, and with no apparent resources, she stepped out with confidence and obeyed God.
Winston Churchill once said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” What we need today in our homes, schools, churches, and in all areas of culture, is a new breed of courageous leaders like Deborah. She is a woman for all seasons.