Tune in to most 6:00 evening news reports and - if you're like me - within 20 minutes of the latest world happenings, what could have been a great night turns into solemnity with a dash of anxiety thrown in for good measure. As Snoopy (the dog character of the famed Peanuts gang) says "We are living in a crooked and perverse world." Amen to that!
When I think of great women of the Bible who understood their mission in life and fulfilled it in spite of difficult times, Deborah tops my list. She makes me thankful I am on the Lord's side! A strong-minded prophet and military leader, she left her mark in Old Testament history by her courage resulting in a vital part in the history of Israel.
I wrote Deborah's story in Book 1, A Woman's Unlimited Potential: Bible Studies for Today's Pentecostal Woman.
Judges 4 and 5
Barak was not surprised when a messenger brought word from Deborah to come quickly. As commander of Israel's army, he knew what that meant. Deborah received direct orders from God. And in matters of national security and warfare, high-ranking officials depended on her wise counsel.
A warm breeze blew in the morning air as Deborah rested beneath the palm tree. Looking across the distance to the faces of the people approaching, she breathed deeply and whispered, "I trust You, God." A long line formed, snaking across the desert. Men and women throughout the region came for answers, justice, and wisdom. As God's prophet, Deborah spent most of her time meeting those needs. Faith speaks boldly and unlike many of her friends, she had ample faith.
"This way," the messenger said as he directed Barak to the front of the line. Barak followed the servant obediently, expectantly. Court was in session. Deborah, the only female judge of the 12 who guided Israel, was about to speak. She said to him, "It has become clear that God, the god of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take 10 companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I'll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin's army to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I'll make sure you win the battle."
Barak said, "If you go with me, I'll go. But if you don't go with me, I won't go."
Deborah answered without hesitation. "Of course I'll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there'll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman's hand to take care of Sisera."
It didn't take her long to pack her things and accompany the army into battle. Twenty years of Canaanite oppression were at last coming to an end. Deborah paused, considering the coming battle. The Israelites cried to the Lord for help. He is about to deliver us. I do not doubt the outcome, Lord. You have spoken. We are merely to obey.
Later, she knew just the right time to command Barak, "Attack! This is the day the Lord will hand Sisera over to you." But Barak would not get the glory for winning the battle. It happened just as Deborah said. A woman, Jael, killed the mighty Sisera.
After their stunning victory, Deborah cried aloud, "Villages in Israel were deserted...until I, Deborah, took a stand...as a mother of Israel." Her courageous mission was not impossible. God spoke and she obeyed.
The next day found her writing a song with Barak, a melody of praise to God for His deliverance of Israel. Standing in the shade of the Palm of Deborah, the prophet and judge tilted back her head, lifted her eyes to God, and softly hummed the song of victory that future generations would rejoice to hear - God delivers His people!
God delivers His people! What a hope and promise that future generations will rejoice to hear! So, the next time the evening news becomes a joy robber, instead of reaching for an antacid, remember Deborah. God wants you and me to understand His heart. He is our protector, our source, our hope! He has gifted us, has a place for us, and can use us to help reach our world with the best news of all; For God so loved, He gave!