Deborah – superhero of Israel ∙
In those days, there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25
18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.
19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Superheroes possess abilities beyond those of ordinary folks. They typically use their powers to help people in times of danger.
The antecedents of modern fanciful superheroes are found in real history, myth, and legend. Superheroes perform feats of incredible strength, fighting prowess, and cunning. Think of the tales of Hercules, Jason, Achilles, or the Amazon warriors. Among the superheroes of the Old Testament are Samson, Deborah, and David.
When difficult challenges arise and others freeze and shrink back, superheroes move forward and face them. Superheroes plow ahead despite the danger. The same is true of real-life heroes. They rise to the occasion and perform heroic acts. Many live lives of lifelong heroism. Consider firemen and other first-time responders.
Medical personnel such as nurses who regularly comfort the sick and dying are heroes. Their selfless response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates this fact. It was evidenced by the ubiquitous signs, “Real heroes work here!” Nurses share personality traits or qualities that set them apart from non-heroes. They possess a strong moral code and personal values. They are empathic and nurturing. They live by their values and are willing to take the personal risks those values require.
The book of Judges was written circa 1045 BC. It covers the period from just after the Conquest of Canaan, circa 1300 BC, to the time of Solomon, circa 1000 BC (1 Kings 6:1). The book of Judges chronicles the tragic story of Israel’s cycle of disobedience, rebellion, and idolatry. Repeatedly the people of Israel went from short periods of righteous living to failure and sin. When things became unbearable, they would repent and call upon the Father for help.
The Father honored His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Father would send a leader, a judge to save His people from their oppressors.
During these horrid circumstances, the Father raised up the prophet Deborah. Deborah was a “force of nature” to contend with. She was neither Wonder Woman nor a WWF female superstar. Rather than being mighty in stature, she was a mom and housewife. She was not a soldier.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
Picture her as a tiny, petite woman, perhaps only 5’ 2” or so. Her strength came from within, her character and integrity. She was powerful, resourceful, and resilient. She was taken seriously and had great personal resolve, courage, and influence. Deborah was steadfast and devoted to the Father and His Word. She was one of His servants. She inspired the army of Israel to confident victory. She encouraged them to faith and to live righteously.
In addition to her natural strengths, Deborah was also a prophet. She heard from the Father directly (Judges 4:6-7). The Father would give her the battle strategy to defeat the enemies of Israel. She would, in turn, pass it on to Barak, leader of Israel’s army. When Barak carried out her instructions, victory was inevitable. The Father’s intervention and battle plan brought success.
REFLECT & PRAY
Proverbs 21:31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
Father in so many ways we are ordinary people like Deborah. Encourage us to seek to have the spirit of Deborah.
The Father has two criteria for service: availability and willingness. Only one person measured up to the task at hand, Deborah. No man was willing or able to do the job. Further, Barak would not go to war against the enemy without Deborah in the lead.
Ancient armies were not coed. The leaders were most often strong, dominant male warriors. Consider Agamemnon, Alexander, Caesar, or Hannibal. The fact that Israel’s all-male army would not go to war without Deborah was a slap in the face to them. There was no honor for these men. Deborah sought no honor for herself. Ultimately the praise and glory belonged to the Father. He was the unseen leader of Israel’s army. She was only doing the task assigned to her by the Father.
8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.”
When it comes to battles, the honor and glory of the victory go to the victorious commander. Barak forfeits the honor of being the commanding general. Deborah accepts the leadership position. Deborah’s words in the original Hebrew could well be rendered, “into the hand of a woman the Lord will sell” the opposition. The emphasis here is that Not only will Barak lose the honor and accolades of victory, but he will also lose them to a woman.
In their male-dominated society, it wasn’t very comfortable for the men of Israel to follow a housewife and mom. It was totally counter-cultural. With Deborah in the lead, the men are assured that the Father is present with them and will provide victory. The logic is simple, wherever the Lord sends His prophet, He is with the prophet. The men had only two choices: follow a woman into battle and have success, or go it alone and face inevitable defeat.
“When God wants to glorify Himself through His people, He always has a perfect plan for us to follow. God chose the leader of His army, the place for the battle, and the plan for His army to follow. God also guaranteed the victory.” (Wiersbe)!
Is it possible to have the spirit of Deborah today? Can we be full of faith and courage, and energized by zeal for the Father? Yes, absolutely, yes!
Each child of the King has their calling, abilities, and gifts. Each child of the King can hear from the Father, take Him at His Word, trust, commit, and take action. Each of us can have the spirit of Deborah.
For most of us in the 21st century, our war is frequently not with flesh and blood enemies. Instead, our enemies are internal: fear of failure, a sense of inferiority, concerns over what others think, poor self-image, and often even stubborn unwillingness. The Father wants to free us from our internal nemeses!
Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
There is a somewhat humorous back story, an oddity of science. For many years, despite the apparent evidence to the contrary, it was thought that bumblebees should not be able to fly because of their short and stubby wings. Their bodies are body too heavy for their wings. In the 1930s, French entomologist August Magnan concluded that the insect’s flight was impossible, a notion that has stuck in popular consciousness since then.
Thus, the bumblebee flight was considered a violation of the law of aerodynamics. Apparently, bumblebees skipped their science, mechanics, and physics classes and were not encumbered by this information.
The enigma of bumblebee flight was solved in 2005 by Dr. Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington. He used high-speed photography to capture the wing movement of flying bees.
It turns out that bumblebees do not flap their wings up and down. This is a common misconception. Instead, they flap their wings back and forth. This has been dubbed a “bug flap.” Such movements provide sufficient lift to allow the bumblebees to fly. Who would have guessed? Perhaps while skipping class, they were outside watching hummingbirds, dragonflies, or even helicopters.
“Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway” (Mary Kay Ash).
What is the connection? The name Deborah means bumblebee. Perhaps, Deborah simply did not know that men would not follow women’s leadership. So she led them anyway.
Deborah’s supernatural influence and power demonstrate that the impossible can certainly come to pass. The spirit of Deborah, a spirit of vibrant faith and trust, is available to every child of the King. As the Father exposes what needs to be done in our lives, we should not shrink back from these internal enemies. Instead, we are to plow ahead depending upon the Holy Spirit Who is at work in us.
Mark 10:27 “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
It is past time to stop doubting our faith and believing our doubts. Rather doubt our doubts and believe our faith.