Women of the Word | Leading Women, Day 4
True leaders are those who are willing to listen to God no matter what the opposition is.
Verse of the Day
The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7 ESV
Who are some examples of courageous leaders through the centuries? What made them courageous?
What are reasons that a person might resist taking on a leadership role?
After the deaths of Joshua and the generation of leaders who had seen the Lord’s great acts, a new generation of Israelites arose who did not know the Lord and did not remember His works.
They disobeyed the Lord and abandoned the covenant.
Consequently, they faced His judgment in terms of defeat and oppression by others.
But when the Israelites cried out to God for help, He sent them rescue through the judges, spiritual and political leaders who led the nation until they demanded a king.
Deborah was the fourth, and the only female, judge of Israel.
Wise leaders are rare.
They accomplish great amounts of work without direct involvement because they know how to work through other people.
They are able to see the big picture that often escapes those directly involved, so they make good mediators, advisors and planners.
Deborah had these leadership skills and a remarkable relationship with God.
The insight and confidence God gave this woman placed her in a unique position in the Old Testament.
Deborah, as an outstanding woman of history, shows that she was not power hungry, but that she wanted to serve God.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17
Read Judges 4:1-5
And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. Judges 4:1-5 ESV
What do we learn about Deborah and her leadership roles from these verses?
She is said to be the wife of Lapidoth, but some believe that it was actually the name of a place, making her a woman of Lapidoth. Others say that Lapidoth, signified by a lamp, is to be applied, making her a woman of the Light.
Deborah had the courage to serve God in a way unlike anyone else among her people.
As a prophetess, she was instructed in divine knowledge by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and had gifts of wisdom bestowed upon her. She heard the words of God and probably saw visions of the Almighty. She would then convey the words of God to the people.
Deborah used God’s influence in her life to be just and fair in all matters that came before her.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
Why did the Israelites cry out to the Lord for help?
One of the traits Deborah modeled as a leader was courage. What factors might have made Deborah’s decision to become a leader especially courageous?
Read Judges 4:6-7
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. 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’?” Judges 4:6-7 ESV
Deborah served as both a political leader and a spiritual leader. She was not only a judge but also a prophetess.
At this time those called to judge on behalf of the Israelites were considered political leaders.
She judged the people by a civil authority to correct abuses and grievances.
Knowing the LORD’s plan she advised Barak, Israel’s military leader, on how God planned to deal with the overwhelmingly stronger enemy.
What did Deborah remind Barak about? What did she command him to do? What did the Lord say He would do?
Deborah’s political power and reputation for righteous judgements allowed her to have a blunt discussion with those in the military.
God led Deborah to tell Barak to muster an army at Mount Tabor.
God planned to draw Sisera and his chariots against Barak in the low ground of the Kishon.
Then God would bring a heavy rain to flood the Wadi Kishon, causing Sisera’s chariots and horses to get stuck in the mud and become useless.
How did Deborah’s clear goals and concise directions provide an opportunity to encourage Barak?
What are some reasons why people might refuse to listen to the Lord as He tells them to do something?
Why do we sometimes need others to encourage us to listen to God?
Read Judges 4:8-10
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.” 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. And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him. Judges 4:8-10 ESV
What difference did Deborah’s presence make for Barak and the army (v. 10)? What additional insight does this give us into her leadership?
Barak needed encouragement to take on that leadership role, and Deborah didn’t hesitate in giving it by stating that she would go with him (Judges 4:9).
Even knowing that he would not receive credit for the task, Barak still wanted Deborah to go with them.
Credit going to a woman, culturally, would have been an insult but out of his respect for Deborah, Barak set the glory aside.
After coming into the promised land with Joshua, the ten tribes took up residence throughout the land. The tribe of Zebulon and Naphtali were called on to supply men for the battle that was about to occur.
Read Judges 4:11-14
Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh. When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. Judges 4:11-14 ESV
When the enemy heard that the men were coming, he readied his troops.
The Israelites, because of God’s instructions when entering the Promised Land, had nothing but crude weapons to go up against horses and chariots which had both speed and power on their side.
God, in His plan, knew that the chariots would no longer have an advantage as He would cause them to be bogged down in the mud.
It shall not be thus amongst you, but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant; and whosoever will be first among you, let him be your bondman; as indeed the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28 DBY
How do these verses imply that a leader must voluntarily or willfully serve?
How do they imply that a leader is obligated to serve?
Deborah knew that Barak was the man God wanted to lead the Israelites against their enemy.
Deborah focused on what God commanded Barak to do.
She had faith in God’s command and was willing to support His instructions in every way she could.
Read Judges 5:1-11
Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord ! “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord , the God of Israel. “ 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. The mountains quaked before the Lord , even Sinai before the Lord , the God of Israel. “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord . “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way. To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord , the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord . Judges 5:1-11
Why do you think it is important to celebrate victories God gives to you? What do we communicate to Him by doing so?
What specific things do you learn about God in Deborah and Barak’s praise?
What do these verses reveal about Deborah and Barak as leaders?
Deborah and Barak together led the people in a song of celebration and thanksgiving that focused on the Lord as the central character, while not ignoring the heroism of the human participants.
Whenever praise came her way, she gave God the credit. She didn't deny or resist her position in the culture as a woman and wife, but she never allowed herself to be hindered by it either.
Deborah highlighted the lack of leadership at this time and when Deborah stepped up things began to change.
She became a mother in Israel, a title that expresses the respect with which she was viewed as a prophetess and leader. Her story shows that God can accomplish great things through people who are willing to be led by him.
Deborah's life challenges us in several ways;
She reminds us of the need to be available both to God and to others.
She encourages us to spend our efforts on what we can do rather than on worrying about what we can't do.
She challenges us to be wise leaders.
Deborah's life demonstrates what a person can accomplish when God is in control.
What quality of Deborah’s would you most like to have?
What are some ways in your own life that courage is needed to take a stand for God?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV
How did Deborah model this passage?
Based on Romans 12:1, how are we to present our bodies to God? How can these steps become faith steps for you today? What makes following through so difficult?