Deborah the Warrior in the Bible

December 19, 2023

Written byAdelekan Bolanle

Originally posted on July 6, 2023 @ 12:26 pm

The Bible contains stories of exceptional women; these women are trailblazers who wrote their names in the sands of time because of their impact. One such example is Deborah, the warrior woman judge of Israel. In this article, we’ll explore Deborah’s character, achievements, and lessons from her life.

 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit [to hear and decide disputes] under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. 

Judges 4:4-5

The Story of Deborah and Balak in the Bible (Judges 4)

The Israelites were a nation loved and helped by God. Whenever the Israelites sinned against God, he would leave them and allow their enemies to rule them. After Ehud died and the Israelites sinned against God, he left them in the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan, and the leader of his army was Sisera. During this period, Deborah was the judge and leader of Israel at that time.

One day, Deborah sent for Barak and told him to take ten thousand men from the tribe of Zebulun and Naphtali to fight in a battle with Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army. Barak agreed to go into battle only if Deborah would go with him. Deborah agreed to go with him, but she told him that the victory would be accorded to a woman because he wasn’t truly confident in the word of God.

Barak, Deborah and the ten thousand men went to battle. The Lord made the Canaanites flee before the Israelites. While fleeing, Sisera met Jael, who invited him into her tent. She covered him in a cloth and gave him milk to drink. While Sisera was fast asleep, she drove a tent peg through his temple, killing him. After that victory, the Israelites grew stronger until they subdued Jabin, the king of Canaan (Judges 4:24).

Deborah in the bible: Jael uses tent peg to kill Sisera
Jael uses tent peg to kill Sisera. Image Credit: Freebibleimages

The Characteristics and Qualities of Deborah in the Bible

Deborah is a woman who was well complimented and praised for being exceptional in the scripture. We can deduce some of her qualities and characteristics from the Bible.

  • Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth. Judges 4:4
  • She was a woman who had faith and confidence in God and what he could do. judges 4:6-9
  • She was a fair and loved judge who was well-respected by everyone. Judges 4:5
  • She was a woman who understood and was considerate enough to follow Balak into battle. Judges 4:9
  • Deborah was a strong woman who did not cower in battle.

Achievements of Deborah

From the story about her life, some remarkable things stand out as achievements for me. Some of these include the following.

  • She was the only Woman Judge of Israel. In the number of years that the Israelites were under the rule of the judges, Deborah was the only woman judge of Israel. She was the only woman to hold the position of Prophetess and Judge of Israel simultaneously.
  • Robbin Gallaher (2021) estimated that her leadership lasted 60 years as a judge of Israel. That is a very long time for a woman to be in power in a place like Israel.
  • Deborah was a woman in the helms of power, a wife and influential as a religious leader.
  • The Lord used her to deliver the Israelites from oppression.

10 Lessons from Deborah in the Bible

Deborah’s story is full of lessons women and the church can learn from. Her story is not only an inspiration, but it is also a reality we should live in. Let me share some lessons I learned from her that are helpful.

  1. God sees women and men as equals. He is never in the business of favouring one more than the other.
  2. Deborah was a woman who understood how to balance work, family and spiritual life. She would never have been accepted or respected by the nation if she had been a bad wife or mother. She had a relationship with God and excelled in these three areas. She proves that we can excel in these three areas if we are willing.
  3. Leadership is not gender biased; we only need leaders willing to serve the nation according to the dictates and guidance of God. Her story proves that God wants women in leadership and positions of authority.
  4. We must learn to show gratitude to God for what he does for us. Gratitude is very important for a believer. It doesn’t matter if you are happy; gratitude should be a lifestyle.
  5. God can sometimes give us instructions that are not necessarily easy for us to follow to be restored and gain our freedom.
  6. Have confidence in God and the word spoken by his genuine prophet. Confidence in God is key to accessing his supernatural help and blessings. Balak was not confident in God; he was rather more confident in the presence of Deborah. It cost him the accolade for the victory of the battle. We must learn to trust God’s words wholeheartedly.
  7. When God gives you an instruction, and you refuse to follow, he will raise someone else to do the task, like in the case of Balak and Jael. He may even use someone deemed unworthy, like in the case of Jael, who never needed a sword to win the battle.
  8. God’s presence is greater than gender or age; when he is ready to move, he uses the available person.
  9. Another lesson learned from Sisera and Jael is to take refuge in God alone. We are often tempted to take refuge and draw our strength from people, but human beings can never truly be understood. Resting in God and drawing strength from him alone is always better. Psalm 118:9
  10. Knowing God and having a good relationship with God is important, but it doesn’t replace good character. Deborah would have only become a judge in Israel if she had good character.

Finally, Deborah shows us how to be a warrior by standing with her people, even in death. She went into battle confidently in the word she heard from the Lord. She shows God can use us irrespective of what people think about us; God is looking for men and women ready to take up responsibilities for his kingdom.

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