I have been quiet for a few days — praying about forward movement — how, where, when, and why? “Lord, what would you have me do in this world of instant thoughts, overcrowded worries, and delirium from overstimulation of social media?” Sometimes — or often times — it is hard to know where you belong or how you should exist, or rest, and be. I do! So that is where my heart has been for days now — pondering the next and praying for holy guidance on the how.
As I pursued these thoughts, I was not remiss in going to God’s Word with my questions. I looked at many of the women God has placed there for me to study and observe as challenging witnesses to my own life. A lot of the women in the Bible seem so strong — like that wife in Proverbs 31 — or Martha as she busied about to prepare a great meal for her guests, and Jesus. I couldn’t miss Paul’s exhortations of Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila and, also Mary. He expounds on Prisca and Aquila identifying them as those, “who risked their necks for his life.” (Romans 16: 1, 3,4)
Sarah giving birth past her 90s, Ruth so loyal and steadfast to her mother-in-law — and while we are speaking of Naomi — losing her husband and both of her sons, in a foreign country, how she showed perseverance to move forward. How about Esther, who saved the Jewish race, and Abigail with all of her diplomacy, discernment, and wisdom? There are so many more, but I abruptly stopped at Deborah — a judge!
A few things caused me to pause on Deborah — her obedience and her leadership! I admire the way she judged and led the Israelites.
- She sat under a Palm Tree while she judged Israel
- The Israelites came to her for judgment (she didn’t go out to them)
- She wasn’t afraid to lead — she leads the Israelites into battle against Sisera
- She wrote an amazing praise song, after the battle, to the LORD
Why did these things draw me to her?? She understood her job! She wasn’t sitting under that Palm Tree lamenting the sin and darkness that the Israelites were experiencing…she was judging. She didn’t have to go out to judge — no, they came right up to her. This tells me that they valued and trusted her judgment. Finally, when God told her they needed to go up again to Sisera, she sent for Barak and told him to take the Israelites into battle — he said that he would if she would go with them. Deborah immediately said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” (Judges 4:9) Once Sisera had been defeated by God, Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise to the LORD. (Judges 5)
I have never been in a military battle — for that matter I’ve never even been in the military. Neither my country nor my God has called on me to defeat Sisera or Jericho or anything of that nature. Yet, here in two chapters of the Book of Judges, and the entire Bible, is a woman, sitting under a Palm Tree, giving out judgments, who then agrees to go into battle, why? That’s what a life in full surrender to God does! Chapters four and five do not mention Deborah lifting a sword — a woman named Jael put a tent-peg through the temple of Sisera and killed him. I’m as certain, as was Barak (I’m sure), that Deborah was going to subdue Sisera, but it was Jael, who killed him. God subdued Jabin the King of Canaan while the sons of Israel pushed harder and harder until they had destroyed Jabin the King of Canaan.
Whether sitting under a Palm Tree giving judgment or standing on the battlefield, Deborah understood full well Who should receive the praise and Who was worthy of it — that is the LORD! She and Barak blessed the LORD in song and praised HIM. You can read the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. If this were a modern-day story, Deborah’s song would most likely be a platinum-selling album, albeit a one-hit-wonder, as we never hear anything further of or about Deborah. And, so, how does Deborah’s example inspire us? How can her account in history parallel or even mirror what our lives are like right now?
Wisely seek the LORD — Deborah sat under that Palm Tree for 39 years as a judge. For people to come to her, as they did, she had to have been discerning and wise in her counsel. We should always seek wise counsel from the Lord.
Obediently serve the LORD — Deborah went into battle, as Israel’s judge and leader. She didn’t sit back under her Palm Tree and await a military report. She was right there in the thick of it. Those of us who serve this same God should be quick in our obedience to the Lord.
Gladly sing praises to the LORD — Deborah wrote a beautiful song of praise and blessing to the LORD for raising up and equipping the Israelites for battle. She knew Who to praise and why. She understood that the Israelites would have tragically failed had God not gone before them in battle. We should always praise the Lord for His provision and faithfulness to us.
Some days I struggle with the next step! Some days it seems as dark in my life as it was for the Israelites during the years of the Judges. I currently don’t have any clear answers, or not any new ones, in seeking Him and His will over the past few days. I do know that as long as I seek God, obey God, serve God, and praise God —- I will be on the right track.
At times it feels that I am traveling in the low country, where it is dark and difficult and defeating. I long for the high hills — to travel them with the ease of a Gazelle — but for now, I am in the low country — while here I will keep drawing closer to my Father, learn what He is teaching me, and I will keep persevering. Our souls are stretched and sanctified by those hard trials — like running a marathon — your calves burn from the exertion — but you must keep pushing forward and forward even more. Pressing into the will of the Father.
When our journey is over on this ole’ earth, we will one day stand before the Throne of God singing, “Holy is the Lord” and “Bless His Holy Name.” See you on the mountain tops!