Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Deborah --Git 'r Done Woman

1200 BC was not a good time for Israel, a couple generations after Joshua when the people had ‘forgotten’ their faith. Sometimes I wonder how they can have such spiritual victories and then get mediocre in their faith. Then I think. Oh. Right. Judges 2 says “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Ooops

Deborah was married and had this really unusual job “outside the home”. She would sit under her big palm tree and listen to people’s concerns or disagreements and then make a judgment. Both men and women came to her, proving her intelligence, respectability and presence. When she spoke, people listened.

I imagine Deborah spent a lot of time in prayer before she went out to hold court.

Deborah’s other job, prophetess, is even more inspiring. Before the Holy Spirit came as comforter and counselor, God used prophets to speak to His people as a nation. That’s a big responsibility. “The Lord God says . . .”


During Deborah’s time, the Hebrews are oppressed by the Canaanites. God lets them suffer their own consequences, but just like any parent, He acts with compassion, and speaks to Deborah. She calls on Barak, a young Jewish warrior: “The Lord commands you to raise up ten thousand men. I (God) will lure Sisera (leader of the massive Canaanite army) to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.” God had a plan and He has the ability, right?

Barak turns to Deborah. “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” After all, Deborah was wise, favored by God, a woman of strength and conviction. A good decision? Actually, Barak misses his chance here to be the new Joshua. I’m not sure I blame him. You want me to do what?! He needed to step out in faith and go anyway, believing God would do as He said.

“Very well," she says. "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours. The Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.”
Deborah and Barak head out, leading their army. When Sisera hears this, he laughs and gathers his army, including 900 iron chariots, to meet them.

I wonder if Deborah slept well that night or if she spent the night in prayer. I like to think she prayed with all conviction that God was in control and then settled down for a restful sleep.

The day came. The enemy is before them. “Go!” she tells Barak, “This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” Barak’s army destroys the Canaanites. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left. Well, except for Sisera who flees on foot!

Many women my age bear the Hebrew name Deborah, but it’s waned in popularity like Linda and Sharon. It means “The Bee” as in busy. It is also synonymous with Wise and Judicious. Deborah was certainly busy. A renowned judge, a prophetess and an unfailing leader when the time called for it. Deborah and Barak’s victory—the Lord’s victory—was a turning point for Israel. It wasn’t long before Israel threw off the oppression of their neighbors. Again. As in, stay tuned, peace is temporary for the stiff necked children of God.

Sometimes I can be wise, or a leader and I can be judicious. But I empathize more with Barak. I know what God is capable of and He has shown me that He keeps promises and won’t fail, but do I step out and act on that or do I want someone to “go with me, just in case . . .?” Not always. Do you?

I doubt Deborah originally felt called to be judge, prophetess and leader but she trusted God and allowed Him to work in her. He appreciates a willing heart. And we don’t have to be in such positions to serve God. Remember Deborah’s warning that Sisera would be conquered by a woman? It wasn’t Deborah, despite her chart topping “Song of Deborah”. It was Jael.

Jael was a stay-at-home mom from a neighborhood aligning itself under the Canaanites rather than the Jews. Jael is in her tent that day, cleaning, cooking, taking care of her family. Sisera asks her for shelter and to cover for him if anyone comes looking. This wasn’t just Deborah’s day. This was Jael’s day too. "Come, my lord , come right in. Don't be afraid." She makes him some warm milk and when Sisera falls asleep, Jael drives a tent peg into his temple. Whoa. Talk about Git ‘R Done.

I can’t imagine Deborah and Jael ever met and high-fived each other, but both of these women acted out of their inner strength by allowing God to use them to accomplish His purposes. Rather than doubting our abilities so much, we need to act, knowing we've been equipped for the task He has placed before us.

For those of you who always wondered . . .
There were these two Hebrews from the lost tribe of Chicago. After journeying for many long months to speak to the prophetess they'd heard so much about, they arrived in the hills of Ephraim, pausing to ask for directions to the Palm of Deborah.
"Hey, where's da Bee?"
And that's how all the Deborahs that followed got the nickname of Debbie. Thought you'd want to know.

Oh and here's Granny's girl. A suitable outfit for this post, eh?

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  1. Deborah is my favorite Bible character. Anytime men try to put women into a box and blame the Bible, there's Deborah just waiting to prove them wrong.

    Love that woman!!!

    She makes a prime appearance in my new book.


  2. Wow, you have sent me reeling backward in time travel!

    Thanks for an amazing account of two amazing women!


  3. I've always enjoyed the story of Deborah. It's so exciting. The Bible calls her a Mother in Israel, but never lists any children that she personally bore, so most scholars believe she didn't have any children of her own but claimed all of Israel as her responsibility. I love how that illustrates the principle of caring for those around us. She could have withered with the shame of being childless in that time and place. Instead she stood up and stepped out. In a way she was like the Good Samaritan in Jesus' parable.

  4. Lovely post! And another good reminder today that God calls us to be where He can use us. And that looks different for different people. I love the intricate plan God weaves using our lives to display His glory. He did it with Deborah and Jael and He still does it with us today!

  5. I appreciated Deborah more after scouting around for this post. After Lisa's comment, I started to think more about her situation if she was truly childless. Certainly would have made having the Judge job easier. Hmmm, do you suppose God had a plan?

    Her story is really interesting when you put it against the submissive role found in Paul's letters of the NT. I know it's hard to understand at times if we don't understand the context that the husband/wife roles are to emulate Christ and His church.

    Certainly, Deborah's story proves that He will use whoever, whenever for His reasons and that we can't limit Him to our understanding.

    Thanks for checking in,Inky sisters!

  6. Great history lesson, Deb. That is a great biblical story and a great lesson for all of us. Listen to what God asks of you and trust you can do it. He won't let you fail, unless you're imposing your will on what you think He's asking. I do that a lot 'cause I don't trust in myself enough to think I can do what He thinks I can do. A vicious circle, but He has more patience than I, thank goodness.

    Gracie is adorable. Looks like she kept nice and warm.

  7. Thank you for reminding me of Deborah's story...a wonderful post.

    karen k

  8. Thanks Connie! I agree 100%. I sit here writing it but not always following my own advice!

    Hi Karen! nice to see you back for a visit. We have a wide variety of historical women coming up and they couldn't be any more different.

    I'm looking forward to them all!

  9. Ah yes, following God's call... sometimes it's sooooo hard! But as y'all have put so beautifully, it's sooooooo worth it!

    Deb, I just love your writing voice! Thanks for the very cool look at a pretty amazing woman.

  10. Why, thank you, Jen!

    I'm looking forward to tomorrow's wo-man. Whoever she is...

  11. Loved your post on Deborah, Debra! I've always thought she didn't receive the honor she deserved from the people because she was female, but God knew and honored her. Loved your little grand-girl, too.

  12. Fabulous post, Deb. What an example for us. Thank you! I'm going to re-read her story tonight.

  13. Hi Deb! I read this yesterday, and I'm sorry I couldn't comment then. My computer has been misbehaving. Great post, I really enjoyed reading your take on Deborah. Very nice.

  14. My first encounter with the name Deborah was as a mother's helper when I was 13 yrs old. I worked in a Jewish home in Winnipeg, Manitoba and helped with 2 children. I didn't like the 9 yr old girl much because she was a spoiled brat as far as I could see. Wouldn't listen to me. Pulled temper tantrums. Anyway, one day I told her to do something and she yelled at me. "My name is De-BOR-ah like in the Bible. Not DEBra!" Oh, really? I never noticed the O in the name before then. Never forgot it after, either.

    Thanks, Debra. I liked your post. And the pic was very cute.


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