Deborah was the name of two Old
Testament women – one was Rebekah’s nurse the other a prophetess. The word in Hebrew means “honeybee”
Deborah was also a prophetess and judge (Judges 4-5). Deborah’s position as a prophetess shows that her message
was from God. That was not unique in the Bible, but it was unusual. Deborah, known as a “mother in Israel” (Judges
5:7), remained in one location and the people came to her for guidance. Evidently over two hundred years later, when the book
of Judges was compiled, a giant palm tree still marked the spot. Though she lived within the boundary of Benjamin (4:5; compare
Joshua 16:2; 18:13), Deborah was probably from the tribe of Ephraim. That was the most prominent tribe of northern Israel.
Some feel she came from the tribe of Issachar (Judges 5:14-15).
Under Deborah’s inspired leadership, the poorly equipped Israelites
defeated the Canaanites in the plain of Esdraelon (Judges 4:15). The flooding of the Kishon River evidently interfered with
the enemy’s impressive chariots (5:21-22). The Canaanites retreated to the north, perhaps to Taanach near Megiddo (5:19).
They never reappeared as an enemy within Israel. The Song of Deborah (chapter 5) is a poetic version of the account recorded
in Judges 4.
Deborah was not a person to sit quietly and wait for someone else to get things done. As a
judge of God's people, she knew how to listen to the Lord's instructions and was quick to follow them. When it was
necessary to go to battle, she obeyed the Lord by appointing Barak as the military commander. When he hesitated to carry out
her instructions, she herself went with him to battle. Deborah was determined to follow the Lord at any cost and inspired
others to do the same. Her encouragement and example spurred Barak on to victory, and it is possible that she was also a model
for Jael, the brave woman who killed the commander of the enemy forces. But the accomplishments of Deborah's military
leadership were equally matched by the impact of her spiritual leadership. When the battle against King Jabin had been won,
Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise to the God of Israel because they knew that he alone deserved the glory for their
LEARNING FROM DEBORAH
Our relationship to God affects those
around us. If we exhibit trust in God's ability to help and promptly obey whatever he requires, others will be encouraged
to follow our model.
successful leaders recognize that worship and praise to God is the right response to their accomplishments. The more we see
God's hand in our endeavours, the more we will want to fall before him in wonder and praise for his incomparable works
FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE
is no shortcut to knowing God and being able to hear his voice. Knowing him requires that we spend time speaking and listening
to him. One way we can listen to him today is by reading Scripture. Try systematically reading the Bible from beginning to
end. In this way you will not be tempted to concentrate only on your favourite passages but will receive a more complete picture
of God's character and of the ways he has related to his people throughout the ages. Also, thank God openly and quickly
for every good thing he gives his people.