There are three people named Deborah in my life. The first is my dear daughter Deborah. The second is Deborah at the Each One Touch One Orphanage in Nairobi. I first met Deborah in 2009 and was touched by her plight as a true orphan with no family. That's why we are helping her attend a boarding school to enhance her education. The third is the Deborah of the Bible about whom I want to write this week.
Deborah is identified as both a prophetess and a judge, someone to whom Israel came when they wanted to settle a dispute. She was married, but still had a position of authority, even though those were not common for women at that time. During her tenure, Israel was oppressed by an army commander named Sisera. God spoke to Deborah, after which she summoned a man named Barak and delivered a "word" from the Lord that he was to attack Sisera and deliver Israel.
When he agreed but only on the condition that Deborah accompany him, Deborah promised Barak victory but predicted that the victory would come at the hands of a woman due to his hesitancy, thus depriving Barak the full honor due for his courage and actions. (You can read this for yourself in Judges 4.)
What can we learn from this account that would help you and me on our PurposeQuest today? Here is what I see:
- Deborah was a woman. It seems that gender was not an issue for God. Should it be for you?
- Deborah was a leader. Israel willingly responded to her leadership. When you are a leader, God gives you followers. You don't have to work to find them.
- Deborah was a woman under authority. You seldom have to be a renegade or rebel to accomplish your purpose. You can work within the confines of the authority in your church, company or nation. You simply have to accept the "call" that is on your life.
- Deborah was brave. She shared her word from the Lord at a time when Israel was oppressed. She agreed to go to the battle with Barak to encourage him in the work that God gave him to do through her word. Like her fellow prophets, David and Jeremiah, she was not aloof but went with the people of God where they went. Are you involved with those you lead and follow?
- Deborah had faith. Deborah shared her "word" even though it seemed that the enemies of Israel were stronger and more numerous. She was confident that, if Barak followed her command, he would have success.
- Deborah's faith was contagious. Because she had faith, Barak had faith too, as reported by the writer of Hebrews: "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets" (Hebrews 11:32). Do people catch faith from you as you speak and act?
What can you learn from Deborah's example to help you in your PurposeQuest this coming week? Do you see any other points or lessons from this account that I am missing? If so, please take the time to post them on my site for others to see. Next week, we will look at Judges 5 and the song that Deborah sang after Barak and his army were victorious. Until then, may the Spirit of Deborah be with you and yours as we seek to obey the word of the Lord as it comes to our lives and work. Have a great week!