“Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.” Judges 4:4-5
Let me tell you about Deborah.
Israelites come to her seeking wisdom and guidance, and she considers herself a “mother of Israel.” One day she summons Barak and shares with him a command from God to “take 10,000 men” and lead the way to defeat the Canaanites. The King of Canaan (Jabin) is in a good position because he has the military leadership of a powerful commander, Sisera plus 900 iron chariots. So the Israelites had been under his thumb for a good 20 years and were, apparently, scared out of their minds. To be fair, 900 chariots was probably a pretty fabulous advantage. J But the Lord’s message to Barak, delivered clearly by Deborah, is that He will “lure Sisera…with his chariots and troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.”
This seems like a good plan, but Barak is not convinced. “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” Barak’s lack of trust can probably be explained rationally by whatever life experiences he has had. But it’s nothing to be proud of. Deborah is like, ‘fine,’ but know that “the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.”
So they go and I’m sure it was crazy and somehow they got the 10,000 men they needed together to go and face their foe. And just as God had said, he leads them (via Deborah) down the mountain to the enemy who is waiting near the Kishon River, which seems like a good idea (for Sisera) until the Lord sends a powerful storm and flood. Sisera’s men are defeated and Sisera runs off. He flees “to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite” because Heber’s clan had a good relationship with King Jabin’s clan, so he thinks he can find protection there. Instead, after allowing him in and giving him a false sense of security, Jael kills him while he sleeps. When Barak finally gets there, the party is over. Another woman to the rescue. Jabin is no longer a threat and Israel gets back “the land of milk and honey.”
Pause to let it sink in. There’s a lot going on here.
But here’s what I’d like us to take from Deborah today: Be confident about the job God has given you.
Deborah’s courage and trust is so blatant; I am intrigued by it. I want her unwavering confidence in her role and what actions should be taken. This is the role the Lord has given her, and she shows no hesitancy in carrying it out. I get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of being a mom - all the things our family has going on right now - and I have moments of despair. I wonder if I can do anything right. Some days I feel like a failure.
On the other hand, when I look at the mountains before me, I have to admit the facts facing Deborah were much more daunting. Still, she knew God had put her in this place and time – as “the mother of Israel” for a reason. He could use her there. Likewise, he’s using me and you. He chose me to be the mother of these children, wife to this man. He gave me these talents and passions so I could share them with my kids and use them for the good of my family. He fills me up with His grace and His love so I can share it with the people in my life today.
Learn from Deborah. Be confident. Hold your head up high. You are the only one who can do the job God is giving you today.
Lord thank you for the job you have given me. Give me confidence and make me brave. Show me how I can do this job to glorify your name. Thank you for the example of Deborah, and other confident mothers who have taught me so much. I will lean on you. Amen.