By Randy Dillon
Judges Chapters 4 and 5
There are many non-Christians as well as some professing Christians who find difficulty with scripture in regard to the treatment of women. Too often the term used to describe this objection is the word “misogynist” meaning hatred of women. But an objective analysis of scripture reveals a very different picture. The above account of Deborah is exemplary.
Following the conquest of most of the Promised Land, the nation of Israel fell into constant conflict with the nations and tribes which they failed to conquer. Over the next 325 or so years and in six different eras there were 12 “Judges” who led Israel from out of foreign bondage. The pattern repeated itself over and over. Israel failed to honor and worship God slipping into idolatry and sexual immorality. When they fell under bondage to another nation, they remembered God and called on Him to send deliverance. God was merciful and sent them a deliverer to judge Israel and relieve them of their oppressor. After some time of peace (often 40 years) Israel fell again into rebellion and sin only to be subjugated once more.
It was in the third period of the Judges that God sent a prophetess, Deborah, as the 4th Judge of Israel. At that time Israel was oppressed for 20 years by Jabin, King of Canaan, and his general, Sisera. Deborah called on an Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali named Barak to muster 10,000 men of war from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun to battle Jabin and Sisera. Barak would not take on this effort unless Deborah accompanied the troops. Deborah agreed.
This duo was outnumbered and had little equipment compared to the Canaanites. Yet they routed the enemy in a battle at the river Kishon. Deborah had prophesied that Sisera would be defeated and he was. In fact, scripture indicates that he fled to the tent of a woman named Jael who hid him, but later drove a tent stake through his temple killing him. Upon their victory Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise to the Lord.
Deborah is an Old Testament example of how God uses those who desire to serve Him and give to Him alone the glory. Deborah took no credit for victory, instead giving all the glory to God. At the same time she remained a faithful wife and a powerful leader in the culture. She also demonstrated wise judgement in selecting Barak to lead in battle, excellent decision-making skill in delegating the operation of the warriors to Barak, and strong ability as a mentor to Barak. In spite of her personal accomplishments, she was ready to acknowledge the victory with Barak in her song while always giving all the glory to God as the ultimate savior. Her ability to plan and direct 10,000 men into battle stands as a testament to her leadership which was surely needed in the crisis. And yet in her humility she never sought to elevate herself to any other station or office other than that of prophetess and judge.
Deborah stands to us as a great woman, an humble leader, a wise mediator and counselor, as well as one who refused to diminish the glory of God Almighty. She should serve as a role model for women today in her devotion to God and her desire to please only Him. Likewise, she should be a clear example that while men and women may differ in their spiritual and earthly roles, they are no different in their importance as instruments of God’s purpose.