Women of the Bible – Delilah

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Delilah

Delilah – her name means “delicate or dainty one”

Her story is found in Judges 16

Have you ever been betrayed? Have you ever known that feeling, an emptiness in the deepest part of your soul, when you realized the one you loved & trusted has been unfaithful to you or shared your secrets with your enemy? Samson knew that feeling. He was betrayed by the woman he loved. He was betrayed by Delilah.

Not many people call their daughters Delilah – a name that has become synonymous with a femme fatale who will ultimately bring disaster to any man who becomes involved with her. The strongest man who ever lived, Samson, and the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, were both brought down by bad women. Perhaps Solomon was thinking of Delilah when he wrote Proverbs 5 and the following verse in Ecclesiastes 7:26:

And I discovered that [of all irrational sins none has been so destructive in beguiling one away from God as immoral women for] more bitter than death is the woman whose heart is [composed of] snares and nets, and whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God will escape from her, but the sinner will be taken captive by her [evil].  – AMP

A Woman Named Delilah

The Bible says: Samson WANTED his wife, he HAD SEX with a prostitute, but he LOVED Delilah.

“Some time later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah who lived in the valley of Sorek.” Judges 16:5

Delilah’s nationality is a mystery. Jewish rabbis and Josephus think she was a Philistine but the Bible does not say one way or another. I, personally, think she may have been a Jewess who betrayed her own country’s spiritual leader for money. (Delilah is a Hebrew name, she lives in the territory of the tribe of Dan, calls out “The Philistines are upon you” to Samson and then there’s the Micah’s mother thing – see below.)

Most commentaries call her a harlot – citing her actions as those of a loose woman (sleeping with a man for money) – but the Bible does NOT call her a prostitute nor does it explicitly state that she had illicit sexual relations with Samson. In fact, some scholars think she and Samson were married. More likely he went from wanting a wife, to visiting a prostitute, to becoming a live-in lover.

The Study Bible for Women says, “ironically the one time Samson appeared to love and trust someone, she proved to be as callous and uncaring to him as he had been to others.” Philistine rulers came in secret and offered Delilah a boatload of silver to betray her strongman. She accepts and the game is afoot.

And Samson loves to play games. He fooled his parents by giving them honey out of a dead lion. A riddle with his groomsmen destroyed his relationship with his now-deceased wife and her family members. He burned the Philistines crops by tying torches to the tails of foxes, killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey and after visiting a prostitute carried the gates of Gaza several miles away at midnight to show the city their security system was a joke. Now he’ll try and brush off Delilah’s persistence with a series of jokes.

Delilah starts the game with flattery – batting her eyes, squeezing his big bicep and saying, “Please tell me why you’re so strong and no one can ever capture you.” When that failed, she worked on his character then his feelings. “You are lying to me. You don’t really love me.” Then she turns on the waterworks – using the same technique as Samson’s dearly departed wife who wept the whole seven days of her wedding feast. Delilah nagged Samson day after day and pleaded with him until she wore him out – one Bible version says until “he was annoyed to death” – then he gave in and told her the whole truth.

“While you were sleeping”

I used to think the euphemism for having sex with someone you’re not married to – sleeping together – was kind of weak. Sleep is such a benign term. The biblical words fornication and adultery pack way more punch. But a recent phenomenon on social media changed my mind – sleeping around someone else involves trust. Father’s Day 2016. A new father decides babies are kind of boring so he sees how many Cheerios he can stack on his sleeping infant’s face. The pictures go viral and spark copycat behavior. The first time I saw the images, I slammed my Ipad shut and had to walk away. I was mortified that a parent would betray their trusting infant in such a trivial way.

Sleeping all night in the same bed with someone you don’t know (and can’t trust) is almost as foolhardy as having sex with a total stranger. All of us, every one of us, are completely vulnerable when we are asleep. Samson trusted Delilah. She didn’t deserve it but he trusted her. It was while he was sleeping that she betrayed him – four times. Instead of running for his life after the first attempt, invincible Samson kept on playing Delilah’s dangerous game. Josephus believed the phrase “she made him sleep upon her knee” means that she drugged him that final night. The men who were paying her for the information on how to defeat Samson hid in the room next door, watching for their moment to pounce.

Delilah’s End

The Bible does not tell us what happened to Delilah after she betrays Samson. Did you she have any remorse?  Was she present when the lords of the Philistines brutally gouged out her lover’s eyes – those wandering eyes that had gotten him in so much trouble? Was beautiful Delilah counting her stacks of silver the last thing Samson saw on this earth?

Some say Delilah was probably in attendance at the great celebration giving glory to Dagon, the Philistine’s grain god. Blind Samson was brought out for entertainment and tied up between a couple of pillars. Did Delilah mock him and gloat over her victory? Was she alarmed when she noticed that his hair had grown out? The Bible indicates that we will, surprisingly, see Samson in heaven. Hebrews 11 lists him as a man of faith. At this, his weakest moment, he cries out to God. True to form – he asks amiss but he still asks – he seeks revenge for the loss of his two eyes rather than the glory of God. But God, who is rich in mercy, gives Samson the strength for one last task – to quite literally bring down house. (Isn’t that the goal of every good entertainer?) Samson killed more of God’s enemies that day than he did in his whole life. Was one of the victims Delilah?

John Milton wrote the tragedy Samson Agonistes where a repentant Delilah visits Samson asking for forgiveness and begging to touch his hand. She “apologizes” but blames him for telling her his secret in the first place. She’s just a weak woman, prone to gossip so it’s really all his fault anyway. Samson doesn’t buy it saying: “How cunningly the sorceress displays her own transgressions to upbraid me mine.” Some things never change.

Then there’s a third possibility. A wild possibility. When studying the Bible, they say “context is king.” Well, tacked right on to the story of Samson’s death is the tale of Micah’s Mother (Judges 17), a woman who has placed a curse on whoever has stolen her 1100 pieces of silver. Hmmm. Sounds very familiar.

Wycliffe Bible commentary says:  “The fact that the amount was eleven hundred shekels of silver has led some commentators to identify Micah’s mother with Delilah.”

Could it be that a Jewish Delilah was so unpopular with her own people that she had to move to Ephraim? Could it be that she had a son named Micah who stole her money and then confessed it? Could it be that she finally spends 200 pieces of the blood money she earned betraying Samson on making an silver idol that becomes the downfall of the tribe of Dan, the very tribe that Samson came from?

How is Jesus Involved in the Story of Delilah?

Herbert Lockyer says: “Delilah was a woman who used her personal charm to lure a man to his spiritual and physical destruction and she stands out as one the lowest, meanest women of the Bible – the female Judas of the Old Testament.”

Samson’s actions were not anything like those of our Savior Jesus but he was a judge sent to deliver his people – a type of Christ in the Old Testament. Sinful, flawed Samson was betrayed for 1100 pieces of silver – a king’s ransom equivalent to hundreds of pounds of silver or approximately 550 years of a laborer’s daily wage. The perfect son of God – Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – however, was betrayed for the paltry sum of 30 pieces of silver – the price paid to a master when his slave was killed accidentally.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Why is Delilah’s sordid story included in the Bible?
  2. Why would God use a man like Samson to accomplish His Will?
  3. Perhaps Samson’s mom witnessed the disaster her turbulent son made of his life. Do you have a rebellious child like Samson? Where do you turn for help?

Prayer:

Lord, I confess my need to control things in my life. I, right here, right now confess that you are sovereign and more than able to untangle the mess I’ve made of my life. I confess that I manipulate things to get what I want all the time. Please forgive me. Help me to surrender to Your Will and to live my life Your Way. Help me to extricate myself from unhealthy relationships that do not honor You. Please give me a passion for purity.  Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Delilah: You can’t put a price on your integrity.

Originally posted August 2, 2016


Women of the Bible – Manoah’s Wife & Samson’s Bride

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Manoah's Wife

Manoah’s Wife and Samson’s Bride

The stories of Samson’s Mom and Bride are found in Judges 13-14 and the first part of 15

If the Bible has a super hero, it’s probably Samson. God gave him super-human strength – strength enough to kill a lion with his bare hands, to tear a city’s gates clean off and walk away with them and strength to kill Philistines whenever and wherever he wanted even if his only weapon was the jawbone of a donkey.  He had strength in every area except when it came to beautiful women. Samson had a weakness for bad women – whining, crying, nagging women. He is most famous for falling for the wiles of Delilah but before we get to her, let’s take a look at a couple of other women in Samson’s life.

Samson’s Mom – Manoah’s Wife

Children are free moral agents and at some point in life they will choose on their own how they are going to live. Even a good woman like Samson’s mom can end up with a selfish, rebellious son. I love reading her story in the Bible because she shows women how to respond when surrounded by crazy men. First off is her husband, Manoah…

“There was a certain man…whose name was Manoah…The Angel of the Lord appeared to (his wife) and said to her, “It is true that you are unable to conceive and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now please be careful not to drink wine or beer, or to eat anything unclean…You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.” Judges 13:2-5

Simple. Straightforward prophecy and directions. No problem, right? Wrong. Manoah’s Wife goes straight home to tell him that an Angel of God appeared to her. Here is the first mom in history to receive a training manual along with her child and her hubbie doesn’t believe it. So he prays to God that the messenger would come again and explain how to raise the boy.

He prays, but he doesn’t seem to believe God will answer his prayer. If I was Manoah, I would’ve been following my wife around waiting for God to show up. But no, he stays in the house playing video games* and lets her go out alone to the fields (*They didn’t actually have video games in those days but it never ceases to amaze me that she was out in the field (again) and he was sitting around in the house when the angel comes back.) The Angel of God appears to the woman alone. Again. She runs to fetch her husband who has to get up to go see God.

The Angel of the Lord patiently waits but when Manoah arrives he proves to be the first “bait and switch” artist on record. He prayed to learn how to raise the boy but when the angel reappears, he asks to know the child’s future saying: “What will the boy’s responsibilities and mission be?”

The Angel of the Lord doesn’t answer this request but says: (Like I already said…) “Your wife needs to do everything I told her.” But Manoah still isn’t satisfied. He wants more proof. He wants to know this man’s name. He wants to present this being with an offering and see what happens. When the Angel of God goes up to heaven in the flames of the offering, Manoah then proves to be a Drama King with a capital D. Herbert Lockyer says Manoah’s Wife has “sanctified common sense.” She’s so practical. She’s brilliant. She certainly knows how to handle a classic case of over-reaction.

“We’re going to die,” he said to his wife, “because we have seen God!” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had intended to kill us, He wouldn’t have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us, and He would not have shown us all these things or spoken to us now like this.”

So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson (which means Man/Strength of the Sun). The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him.

Samson’s Bride

Her husband was not the only aggravating male in Manoah’s Wife’s life. Her gift from God, the answer to her prayers, Samson, is all grown up now and he wants a bride. Does he allow his parents to pick a godly woman for him? Of course not. He breaks his mother’s heart and wanders into enemy territory choosing a Philistine woman based on her appearance alone. Never a good idea. He tells mom and dad, “Get her for me. She pleases me. I want her.” Not I love her. Just I want her. They try and talk him out of it, “Can’t you marry a nice Jewish girl?” but he is adamant. And so the arrangements are made.

Samson’s bride is only the first of three bad choices Samson makes regarding women. She reveals her character – or lack thereof – very quickly. At the wedding celebration Samson tells a riddle to his groomsmen and makes a bet they can’t figure it out. Unable to solve the riddle, they threaten the bride (nice bunch of people, those wedding guests.) This is how she responds.

So Samson’s wife came to him, weeping, and said, “You hate me and don’t love me! You told my people (obviously more important to her than her husband) the riddle, but haven’t explained it to me.”

“Look,” he said,“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother, so why should I explain it to you?” (woah – that should give her a hint as to where she ranks.)

She wept the whole seven days (nice wedding party!) of the feast, and at last, on the seventh day, he explained it to her, because she had nagged him so much. Then she explained it to her people.

Samson’s wife betrays her newly acquired husband to save her own neck (which actually ends up backfiring on her.) Samson leaves in a rage, kills 30 men, steals their robes to pay off his bet and then goes home in a huff. When he finally cools down, he goes back to consummate his relationship with his wife only to discover that dear, old dad has given her to one of his conniving groomsmen instead. Dad says, “I was sure you hated her,” and offers Samson his other daughter. Yikes!

In a rage, Samson gets his revenge by burning the fields of the Philistines. He ties torches to the tails of foxes and lets them go. The Philistines are angry. They kill Samson’s bride and her whole family as retribution. Then Samson gets REALLY mad and He “tore them limb from limb with a great slaughter.”

Samson’s Relationship #1 was a disaster.  Yet, the Bible says God was using this whole mess to cause Samson to take action against the Philistines who were ruling over Israel at that time. God can even make good out of bad choices made by disobedient men.

How is Jesus Involved in the Story of Samson’s Mom?

Once again the pre-incarnate Christ comes to visit a humble, ordinary woman. Manoah’s Wife describes her visitor like this:

“A man of God came to me. He looked like the awe-inspiring Angel of God. I didn’t ask Him where He came from, and He didn’t tell me His name.”

This Angel of the Lord allowed Manoah and his wife to worship Him. When Manoah asked his name, He said: “Why do you ask My name…since it is wonderful.” Isaiah 9:6 tells us who will be called Wonderful – “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Questions to Ponder

  1. Do you have difficult men in your life? What can you learn from Manoah’s Wife?
  2. Do you use whining, crying, and nagging to get what you want like Samson’s wife did? Do you find you get the same results as her – temporary success and then destruction?
  3. How does Jesus show up in your everyday life? What would you do if He showed up in person?

Prayer:

Lord, thank you that you can use an ordinary woman to accomplish your purposes. Thank you that You can use me. I want all that You have for me. Nothing more. Nothing less. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Manoah’s Wife and Bride – Trust God when it comes to the men in my life.

Originally posted July 14, 2016


Women of the Bible – Jael

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Jael

Jael –  her name means “Wild Mountain Goat”

Please Read: All of Judges 4 & 5

Assassin:
One who murders by surprise attack, especially one who carries out a plot to kill a prominent person.

Quick, tell me the name of a female assassin. Angelina Jolie’s character in the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith popped into my mind – Jane Smith dancing to the sultry tones of the Assassin’s Tango (danced to marvelous, controlled perfection in the YouTube video at the bottom of this post.) I definitely didn’t think of a woman in the Bible. Until I studied Jael.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord…

“The earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel.” The 900 iron chariots of General Sisera had bogged down in the mud and Barak (accompanied by Deborah) destroyed King Jabin’s army…

“Meanwhile, Sisera had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite… Jael went out to greet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord. Come in with me. Don’t be afraid.”

So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink for I am thirsty.” She opened a container of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him again. Then he said to her, “Stand at the entrance to the tent. If a man comes and asks you, ‘Is there a man here?’ say, ‘No.’”

While he was sleeping from exhaustion, Heber’s wife Jael took a tent peg, grabbed a hammer, and went silently to Sisera. She hammered the peg into his temple and drove it into the ground, and he died.

When Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to greet him and said to him,“Come and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he went in with her, and there was Sisera lying dead with a tent peg through his temple! That day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites.” Judges 4:17-24 

Those who wrote the little Bible commentary I could find on Jael didn’t seem to know what to do with her. They either lump her into Deborah’s story or they focus on how gruesome, heinous and un-ladylike her deed was. I have a different take. I think God included the story of Deborah and Jael in His Book for a very specific reason. Together they show what the men of Israel were NOT doing.

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

Every man did what was right in his own eyes. The men were not doing what was right so God chose to use women. Moses and Joshua had told the people what to do with the enemy:

  • you must destroy them totally
  • you must destroy all the peoples
  • completely destroy them

The men had not followed God’s directions. They had not killed off the evil people occupying the land but settled down, living side by side with them. Just as God warned, His Chosen People picked up the ways of the world around them. “Faithfulness to God results in His blessings while disobedience results in failure and discipline.” (The Study Bible for Women) They were now under a curse.

But Sometimes YOU Have to Take Action

Yes, the battle belongs to the Lord but sometimes YOU have to take action. In Judges 4 and 5 God raises up two women to “get ‘r done.” Deborah showed us one part of God’s will. She spoke God’s Word to the people and took action – going with a timid soldier to battle, encouraging him, telling him when to attack and watching God act on their behalf.

But God used Jael to complete the victory (and fulfill the prophecy to Barak that a woman would get the credit for the victory!) When Jael took a tent peg and hammered it through Sisera’s skull, she was using the the only weapon she had on hand. “In those days everything connected with a tent was a woman’s job and the women became expert in all the phases of making, pitching and striking tents. (Herbert Lockyer). “The opportunity to do something great for God is often preceded by everyday responsibilities faithfully performed.” (the Study Bible for Women)

In killing Sisera, Jael did what the men of Israel had not done – she obeyed God and completely destroyed the enemy. And while her act of violence makes us flinch, we know she was righteous because Deborah praises her in Judges chapter 5.

Most blessed of women be Jaelthe wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. 
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.

“Usually the man has been responsible for leadership. But in this passage, a woman was the leader. God does not always work according to a set pattern. He is looking for people who are willing to be used as instruments in any way He chooses. (Deborah & Jael) simply lived up to (their) responsibilities.” (Gien Karssen)

How is Jesus Involved in the Story of Jael?

Deborah called Jael “most blessed of women.” Just like Mary, the mother of Jesus, was called “the most blessed of women.” One was an assassin, the other the mother of our Savior.

This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
—and I am the worst of them. 1 Timothy 1:15

Jesus came to save us from our sins. Sin rapidly destroys individuals, families and nations. So what’s the problem? The problem is that we like some of our sins. We invite them in. We give them a glass of warm milk, nurture them and cover them with a rug. We pet them and coddle them instead of killing those sins dead – nailing them to the floor – nailing them to the cross. Jesus gives us the ability to NOT sin. So when we find ourselves falling prey to our flesh and the world around us, we have to get savage with our sin.

Romans 6 (HCSB) – The New Life in Christ – Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that…we too may walk in a new way of life… our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin…So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace…. 

Questions to Ponder

  1. What sins are you coddling instead of nailing to the floor?
  2. Psalm 51:3 says: “For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.” Are you aware of your sin? You don’t know what you don’t know. Are you brave enough to ask God to make you conscious of your own rebellion – to be able to see your own sin?
  3. To help you see your own sin, check out this Charles Finney Sermon. Are you willing to “break up your fallow ground?”

Prayer:

Lord, help me do the work of self examination. Help me look at my life, consider my actions, and call up the past. Help me take up my individual sins one by one, and look at them. I do not want to merely glance at my past, see that it has been full of sins, and then go to God and make a sort of general, weak, watered-down confession. That is not the path to freedom. Help me take up my sins one by one – to get a pen and paper and write them down as You bring them to my mind. My sins were committed one by one; and I need to repent of them one by one. So, Lord, I ask the Holy Spirit to show me sins and help me repent. Right here. Right now. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Jael: Sin is seductive. I need to get violent with the sin in my life.

Originally posted June 1, 2016


Women of the Bible – Deborah

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Deborah upright

Deborah – her name means”Honey Bee”

Please Read her Story in: Judges 4 & 5

“It is not the usual order of God to put woman in the place of authority: ‘Adam was first formed, then Eve.’ (1Ti 2:13.) Deborah was an exception. The children of Israel had sinned grievously against the Lord, and apparently there was no man that could serve His purpose as judge over Israel. Just as, later on, He was driven to employ the child Samuel when the high priest Eli was not equal to the occasion, so now, a woman must do the part of a man.”
Mary Elizabeth Baxter

“Anyone who believes that the only ministry a woman can have is in the nursery will need to cut these chapters out of their Bible.”
Wayne Barber, Eddie Rasnake, and Richard Shepherd
(men who wrote Life Principles from the Women of the Bible Book 1)

I took the Which Bible Heroine Are You? Quiz on Buzzfeed (no longer available) and got Deborah. What a compliment! Deborah is an amazing woman. If she had faults, they are unrecorded in scripture. Here are some of the roles she played to perfection:

Prophetess

The first title Deborah receives in Judges 4 is that of prophetess. A prophetess is a female prophet. Prophets speak God’s Word and remind people of God’s ways. There are a few good prophetesses listed in the Bible: Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Isaiah’s wife, and Anna. And a couple of bad prophetesses: Noadiah (Nehemiah) and Jezebel (Revelation). To learn more about prophets, please read this post I wrote back in 2008 when I found out prophecy was one of my spiritual gifts – A Prophet?

Wife

Deborah’s second title is “Wife of Lappidoth.” Some commentaries would lead you to believe that Lappidoth must’ve been hen-pecked and that Deborah “wore the pants in the family.” But I believe Real Men Love Strong Women.

Herbert Lockyer says: “We prefer to believe that Lappidoth admired the ability and influence of his more conspicuous wife…we can well imagine…he was the encourager of Deborah in all her activities. Deborah would never have become the dazzling figure she did, had she not had the love, sympathy, advice and encouragement of (her) husband…”

Counselor

Life Coaching is all the rage right now. Life coaches are professionals hired to help their clients achieve their personal goals, to help them get out of a rut, to help them change. Even though hers was an evil generation where “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” Deborah hung up her shingle and held office hours under a palm tree. And the people who had wandered away from God found their way to her for advice. She gave them God’s Word. Even though it wasn’t popular in her time, she discerned and declared the mind of God.

Judge

Deborah was the only woman judge among the twelve judges who ruled between the times of Joshua and Samuel. The judges were “hero-deliverers whom God raised up in order to rescue his people whenever they repented of their sins and cried out to him for help.” (Ann Spangler) They were both national and spiritual leaders. Deborah did not choose to be a judge or to be a leader of her people. Judges 2:16 says:

“But then God raised up judges who saved them from their plunderers. But they wouldn’t listen to their judges; they prostituted themselves to other gods—worshiped them! They lost no time leaving the road walked by their parents, the road of obedience to God’s commands.”

Warrior/A Woman of Action

The people are under oppression allowed by God. They finally call out for mercy and God sends a deliverer. Deborah. God orders Israel to battle. Deborah is wise enough to know she needs some help. Enter Barak. She asks him to lead the army.

Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
“I will go with you,” she said, “but you will receive no honor on the road you are about to take, because the Lord will sell Sisera into  a woman’s hand.” So Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh.
 Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; 10,000 men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.

It’s easy to be critical of Barak. He was afraid. He had a reason to be afraid. He had 10,000 men. The enemy had 100,000. They had 900 iron chariots. He had none. He needed God on his side to win this battle. Deborah represented God. He wanted her with him. It was like taking a Bible along with him. Hebrews 11 includes Barak in the hall of faith so I can’t be too hard on him.

I hesitated calling Deborah a warrior. She doesn’t actually enter the fray. She does, however, hike 90 miles at Barak’s side to the front lines. She is not armed with a spear or shield. Those were in short supply in Israel in those days. She is armed with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and with prayer – and those are the best weapons of all.

When it so happens that, in politics, in the affairs of nations, in Church matters, and in Christian work, women are found to dare things which men are not courageous enough to undertake, it is not intended to institute a new order of things, but rather to provoke men to jealousy, that they may take the first place, which God had given them. But God gave the glory neither to Jael, nor to Deborah, nor to Barak. God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.”
(Mary Elizabeth Baxter)

Poet/Writer

God sends rain. The iron chariots bog down. Barak and his men rout the army. Sisera escapes and Jael kills him. What does Deborah do next? This talented woman could not only prophesy, judge, and arouse people for a fight – she could write! Judges chapter 5 is a poem she wrote to commemorate God’s victory over the armies of Sisera. In it she gives more details of the battle, praises God, and honors the people that worked for the victory. We also find out her most important title…

Mother

Until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel. – Judges 5:7

All these titles and what does Deborah call herself? What is she most proud of?  Being a Mother in Israel.  We don’t know if she had children or not. There’s no record in the Bible. I like to think of her as an empty-nester like me. The kids are old enough to be out on their own, aging parents are taken care of – she is free to serve the Lord with her whole heart, soul, mind, and body.

Whether she had given birth to children or not, she saw herself as the caretaker of a nation. Motherhood was her most important role. If you are a mother, that is YOUR most important role. The place where you have the most influence. To show the importance of mothers, take a look at this verse:

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up
who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10

The problem – the whole cycle of sin, judgment, crying out for help, deliverance – that is repeated over and over again in the book of Judges began because mothers and fathers did not pass on their faith in God to the next generation. Now that’s something to think about.

How is Jesus involved in the story of Deborah?

Deborah had a brilliant career because her eyes were fixed on God. She served God to the best of her ability whatever He brought her way. We are to do the same: keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Is it my imagination or does this painting of Deborah by Charles Landelle look like a very handsome young man with long hair and a dress on? Do men have trouble accepting strong-minded, unique women? Can a woman be a leader AND feminine?
  2. Deborah shows what a woman can do when God is completely in control of her life. Where are you not giving God control?
  3. Which of Deborah’s characteristics would you most like to have? What would you do if you found yourself in her situation?
  4. How are you deliberately passing on your faith to your children?

Prayer:

Lord, help me be fearless like Deborah. Help me to listen to Your Spirit, read Your Word AND do what it says. Help me to take the next step that you place in front of me. Free me from lethargy and despair. Like Deborah, train me to be a woman who leads captives our of bondage – who steps up in the battle instead of retreating. May I continually point people to You, Lord. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Deborah: God chooses who He wants to use to bring Him glory.

Originally posted on May 25, 2016