March on, my soul; be strong!
Deborah was a wife to Lappidoth, of whom we don’t know anything about, as he is not found elsewhere in the Bible. She was appointed by God as a prophetess and judge for the Israelites, to speak the word of the Lord and help to settle disputes and decisions being made among people. She made her place of work under a palm tree (not a bad decision for a workplace) and people came to her for her counsel.
What’s unique to me is that she wasn’t known because of her husband or because of the place she was from. She was known because God had raised her up. By his sovereign choice, she had become a prominent figure to the Israelite people.
As we look at chapters 4 and 5 of the book of Judges, we are introduced to Deborah and learn a few significant things about her.
She heard from God and spoke on his behalf – v. 6
The prophetic gift is a very unique gifting as it takes sensitivity and great discipline.
Deborah did not allow her own thoughts and ideas to creep into her communication of God’s plan. She simply and clearly spoke for God in accuracy. Every detail that the Lord told her, she communicated, and she didn’t add to it any extra details.
She was willing to go to battle – v. 9
For whatever reason, Barak was not willing to go through with this plan without Deborah going along. An interesting request, since Deborah was clearly a prophetess and judge, not a leader in battle.
A unique side lesson can be learned from the life of Barak. God specifically tells Barak that he will give him victory over Sisera. [“There I will give you victory over him.” v. 7] But when Barak puts conditions on God’s Word to him, God repositions the honor and blessing to another person.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once quipped, “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
Nonetheless, Deborah was willing to go to battle on behalf of the word of the Lord. She was committed to seeing the word of the Lord prevail, even if that meant God wanted her to go to battle as well.
She was forthright with people – v. 9
What is significant about this moment is not that Deborah was saying, “I will go, but I will also get the credit.” No, she was simply helping Barak to realize that this wasn’t on the shoulders of any human, but in the hands of God. Again, she was operating in the prophetic gift, not in her own opinions. She never said that she would bring the victory over Sisera, and later in the story we see that the prophecy comes true as Sisera was delivered into the hands of a different woman, Jael.
She recognized the day of the Lord’s victory – v. 14
A display of patience in battle is also a display of trust. God’s timing is key to victory in the midst of battles. Deborah waited and watched for the Lord to move ahead of them before she would give orders to fight.
She worshipped God and praised the people around her – ch. 5
When the Lord gives victory, the proper response is to acknowledge and praise him. It is also appropriate to celebrate those who were involved and used by God to accomplish the task at hand. Deborah sang her song of praise, and in that song, she also praised those around her involved in this battle. She knew that there were people who had been fighting against this army for 20 years. This is a great reminder that our battles are not won by ourselves. It is with the help of those who have prayed, fought, and lived with us and for us.
So what can we apply to our own lives from the example of Deborah?
- Recognize the place of influence God has given to you
Deborah was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time (v. 4)
She was already operating in her career. She didn’t try to create a new opportunity for herself. She didn’t feel pressure about getting a different job. She just recognized where God had already placed her and realized the possibilities within that.
Evaluate the job, family, church, and community that God has placed you in. He has already given you more influence than you realize. Don’t allow yourself to think that those things are just ordinary, routine parts of your life.
- Be ready when the time comes for God to use you
She never forced her hand in leadership, but she patiently took her place as God opened the door to use her. Sometimes people feel the urge to push their way into a situation and take over or give input, when God may have never granted the favor or blessing to do so. Other times, there are people who will spend their whole life wondering because their hearts aren’t ready to be used when the door opens.
When God gives you a voice, use it. When God asks you to serve or lead, do it. God can and will use you in the place he has put you, if you will just be faithful and listen to him. When he leads you, act in obedience.
- Speak encouragement to your own soul
Oh how easy it is to get discouraged in this world. So quick to critique or question the leaders. So quick to want to judge those around us for the decisions they are making. So quick to let fear, insecurity, doubt, and lies flood our minds and hearts.
Every person, regardless of how young or old, man or woman, is faced with the constant attack of discouragement. The enemy longs to discourage people. Just like Deborah did in her praise to God, we should also work to do in our life. Speak to your soul.
The voice that is the loudest in your life is your own voice. The quickest way for a person to become discouraged is by hearing his or her own negativity. We don’t even need others around us to tell us because often we have already discouraged ourselves.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
- What are the gifts God has given to you? If you don’t know, take a spiritual gifts assessment?
- Where is the place God has put you and given you influence?
- How are you working to constantly encourage your own soul?
Some of the content credit goes to Ron Heitman, Lead Pastor of Evangel Church.