Read about Deborah here: Judges 4-5
some background information
At this point in its history, the people of Israel are in a vicious cycle of rebelling against God, God sending a judge to call them to repentance, the people repenting and worshipping God, and then rebelling again. That’s what the book of Judges is all about. God’s relentless love for His people expressed through Him sending leaders and prophets to call Israel back to the presence of God, where it’s people are always meant to reside. Enter Deborah. She’s a powerful prophetess and judge of Israel who is known for hearing people’s pleas beneath a palm tree. Sounds pretty hip and cool to me.
But she was more than that - she was willing to be used by God for His glory. In Judges 4 Israel had rebelled against God which led them to be under the oppressive rule of Jabin king of Canaan. This king had a commander of his army known as Sisera and he did most of the king’s oppressing for him using his military might. After twenty years of this oppression Deborah received a prophecy from God telling Barak, the military commander of the Israelites, to lead 10,000 men in battle against Jabin’s army so that God may deliver them into the Israelites hand (that’s God speak for “I will help you win this battle”). That was God’s promise. He guaranteed victory and freedom from oppression for Israel. And what does Barak say to Deborah? “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” (4:8) His response was one of cowardice and a lack of faith in God. But God’s plans were far from being stopped.
the glory belongs to god
Deborah’s response in 4:9 is what I want you to pay attention to here. “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Fast forward to 4:21 after God had empowered Deborah and Barak to defeat Jabin’s army and you read that “Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple...So he died.” You see, the plan was never for Deborah to accompany Barak on his conquest, but Deborah understood that the glory didn’t belong to Barak. She also understood that it didn’t belong to her because Sisera was delivered into the hands of an entirely different woman. This woman who ultimately killed Sisera had no involvement in any of the lead-up to the battle, and I would go so far as to argue that she received very little if any recognition for ultimately killing the bad guy. Deborah understood that the glory always has and always will belong to God. She was totally fine with letting Barak go off and fight the battle, but when he balked, she stepped in because she understood that the only thing that mattered was fulfilling God’s plan. Not seeking her own glory.
And how does it all end? Judges 4:24 reads: "And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the King of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan." I think we can all agree that Deborah was nothing less than a heroine and lived out a true adventure. Somewhere within us I believe that we all want that in some way. So where do you start? By seeking God’s Kingdom and His purposes first. It’s then that you will find your purpose within His glory and understand that you were always meant to fit into the story that He’s been writing for eternity.