The lessons from Deborah in the Bible are many. Deborah stands out as one the powerful women of faith in the Scriptures. She is the perfect Bible character to study if you find yourself in spiritual warfare. Let’s explore her life and what we can learn from her.
Who was Deborah in the Bible?
There are two women with the name Deborah in the Old Testament. The one we know the least was the nurse of Rebekah, the wife of Isaac.
The most well-known is the prophetess. Deborah is best known for being one of the few female prophetesses of the Bible and the only female judge in the book of Judges. She is also known as one of the few female warriors in Scripture.
Deborah in the Bible Verses
Deborah’s story is recorded in Judges 4 and 5.
Summary of Deborah in the book of Judges
Deborah became a judge in Israel at a time when the nation faced oppression from the Caananites. God allowed this because of their disobedience.
In fact, the oppression had gone on for 20 years. Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, was the weapon in the hands of the Canaanite king who had a terrible hold on the life of Israel. The people of Israel could not even use the major roadways in peace.
It was during this time that God revealed to Deborah that it was time to fight for the freedom of Israel.
Deborah called up Barak to move forward in battle but he told her he was not going to fight unless she joined him.
Deborah agreed. But at the same time she prophesied that because of his weak faith, God would deliver the victory of battle through a woman.
Sure enough, Jael, a woman, killed Sisera on the day of the battle. Israel won the war!
Deborah and Barak broke out in song to celebrate the victory.
Facts about Deborah in the Bible
Before we explore the characteristics and lessons from Deborah’s life, here are some fun facts about her that might make a difference to understanding her story.
There are many other nuggets throughout this post.
Meaning of Deborah in the Bible
The name Deborah means bee.
Who was Deborah’s husband in the bible
The name of Deborah’s husband was Lapidoth.
How did Deborah become a judge
There were 12 judges in the book of judges. Deborah is the only female judge. Scripture does not reveal why God chose Deborah or how she became a judge. God calls whomever he will.
How did Deborah die in the Bible?
There is no record of Deborah’s death in Scripture.
Characteristics of Deborah in the Bible
What kind of woman is Deborah in the Bible? There are a number of things which could be said of her.
We will look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of Deborah in the Bible.
Strengths of Deborah in the Bible
Deborah was trustworthy
Deborah set up her office under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel.
That’s where people visited her when they had disputes they needed help resolving.
The people of Israel had confidence in her judgements and trusted her very much.
This is important because there were so few women called to this level of leadership.
Deborah took the people’s trust seriously and she, in turn, respected them.
One of the first lessons from Deborah in the Bible we can learn is that when God calls us to serve others, we should take it seriously, especially when we know it’s an uncommon call.
Deborah was a powerful prayer warrior and spiritual leader
Deborah heard God’s voice the way she heard humans talk to her.
As a judge, she had open communication with God. Through prayer, she heard from God what to do about each case she judged.
As a prophetess, she was God’s mouthpiece to the people of Israel.
When she calls Barak to war against the Caananites, Deborah was only confirming what God had already told Barak.
It seems that God spoke to her separately and she was obedient to His voice.
Another lesson from Deborah in the Bible is that leaders who have been called by God don’t have the luxury of having a lukewarm spiritual life.
Like Deborah, such a leader needs to be on fire. They need to have a fervent prayer life.
Deborah was courageous
To go up against an army with more military strength than the army of Israel could not have been easy.
Sisera’s army had the latest technology in army equipment and they had larger numbers of men to fight.
Think about it. Israel’s army was only 10,000 strong. The Canaanite army was 100, 000 strong plus 900 chariots.
Who goes up against an army 10 times their size?!
But Deborah was not troubled by this. She was ready to move forward with Barak with such bravery.
This is one of the first leadership qualities of Deborah. Her ability to face difficult situations without flinching is definitely a hallmark of an extraordinary leader.
Deborah was a woman of faith
The reason Deborah could move forward with such courage was because of her faith in God.
Twice, she reminded Barak that God would deliver the army into their hands.
Deborah truly took God at His word. She trusted Him with her whole heart.
Every decision she made regarding this battle was because she had such great faith in God.
Deborah was a powerful encourager
Deborah was like a general in the Israelite army. As they stood in the battle field, she delivered a most powerful and encouraging speech:
Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” Judges 4:14 NIV
In those moments before the battle, Deborah reminded them that the actual battle was only a formality.
God had already set the stage, fought the battle, and won the war.
They just needed to show up so God could allow his plans to unfold in fine style.
Here too is another of the leadership qualities of Deborah. Her ability to help people in times of great anxiety and doubt certainly gave the army some wind in their sails as they faced the sea of 100, 000 fighting Canaanite men.
Deborah was a confident woman
Some people think it’s never a good thing to talk about your own accomplishments.
But Deborah teaches otherwise. She was confident enough to recognize her own role in winning the battle.
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7
Nobody could deny her that one obvious thing: if she hadn’t agreed to go with Barak, there is no telling what would have happened to Israel.
Here is yet another lesson from Deborah in the Bible: don’t play small.
It’s not ungodly to recognize and talk about your own strengths. That’s how you leverage them for God’s glory.
Deborah didn’t play small. And by not playing small, she gave others the permission and the courage to rise up and fight.
Deborah had a heart for other leaders and those who follow
In Judges 5:9, Deborah declared
My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord! (NIV)
Deborah was not only concerned about her own leadership role in Israel. She also cared about the Israelite leaders.
She made it her business to pay attention to whether or not they showed up for their people.
Not all the Israelite tribes showed up for the battle and Deborah noted that in Judges 5.
Deborah also paid attention to the fact that for those who did show up, they did so with their whole heart, willing to put everything into the fight.
Weaknesses of Deborah in the Bible
Deborah enabled spiritual dependence
Barak clearly had a relationship with God. That’s the only way he could have known for himself what God was asking him to do.
But for some reason his relationship with God didn’t fuel his faith and courage enough for him to take action.
Instead he leaned on Deborah’s spiritual strength to lead him into battle.
And she let him do that.
Here is the lesson from Deborah in the Bible: seek to empower others spiritually instead of being their power.
Deborah encouraged Barak’s spiritual dependence by going along with his demand to go with him into battle.
This robbed Barak of an opportunity to have a powerful, personal testimony with God.
Spiritual leaders can sometimes be lifted up by those they lead.
They overshadow the spiritual experience of their followers and the followers look at them as being so extraordinary that they don’t see themselves as someone whom God can also give extraordinary power.
God will give power to anyone who desires to give themselves completely over to his bidding.
What are the leadership qualities of Deborah
Deborah as a leader in the Bible is an example for women who have been called to stand in front of others in a guiding role.
There are so many leadership qualities, too many to cover in this post but here are a few characteristics of leadership as seen in Deborah’s life.
Deborah was confident in her call to leadership
Confidence begets confidence. Deborah’s confidence won the respect of those who desired to be led. As I said earlier, she did not play small. And this ignited something in the hearts of those around her.
Deborah added value to people’s lives
If you truly want to be wealthy, help people solve their problems. Deborah may not have charged for her service. We don’t know.
But what we do know is the people went to her because they knew they could count on her judgement and guidance. After the battle, there was a 40 year period of peace in Israel. And there is no amount of money that can buy peace.
Deborah was decisive
There are few things worse than a leader who cannot make up their minds. Making a decision is the first step towards moving in any direction with certainty. When Barak was vacillating about going into battle, Deborah did not.
Deborah gave credit to other leaders
Deborah was sure to point out the leaders of the tribes who stepped up to the plate. Not all the tribes participated in the war but those who did were highlighted by Deborah.
This shows that Deborah did not take all the credit for the victory. Good leaders shine light on other good leaders.
Deborah had influence
There is very little impact when a leader has no influence. You will never get people to move if they don’t accept a leader’s influence.
Deborah was able to rouse the people to enter a war in which they were outnumbered. She was able to sell the vision and convince them to fight.
Deborah was supportive
Barak was struggling in his own leadership role. Deborah stood with him in support. Sometimes the people we lead just need us to be present.
Lessons from Deborah in the Bible
Finally, some lessons from Deborah in the Bible. Here are 5 things we can learn from Deborah’s story.
Lesson 1 – Women are called by God as well
This lesson from Deborah in the Bible is very controversial in some Christian spaces.
It’s still very much a struggle in the church today. That women are only called to be wives, mothers, and hospitality managers at home.
God can, does, and will continue to raise up women to be spiritual leaders and spiritual warriors.
Because God chooses whom He will give spiritual gifts to. All gifts are spiritual and every single person receives at least one from God.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:2
Read the whole chapter for more insight on spiritual gifts.
There are other women who God called and used.
The Widow of Zarephath was called to feed Elisha.
Anna was in Luke 2:6 was a prophetess in the temple where Mary brought Jesus to be blessed.
Hulda was another prophetess in the Old Testament (2 Kings 22:14).
Jesus came to release women from the bandage of being pinned to only specific forms of spiritual service.
Lesson 2 – Faith without action is pointless
The next lesson from Deborah in the Bible is about what it means to exercise real faith.
Deborah trusted God with her everything. When God said He was going to deliver Israel from Sisera’s army, Deborah believed that word.
And because she believed God’s words, she took action. She ran into battle with Barak, head on.
Because faith without works is dead. God cannot help you win the battle if you never actually get into the fight.
If you want your faith to work for you, take action. Put some skin in the game.
Lesson 3 – Understand the role you are supposed to play in the life of others
Deborah was a leader. But she had a particular understanding of the kind of leadership she needed to provide.
Barak was the clear leader of the Israelite army. She never took that from him.
She understood that that was not what the army needed from her.
What they needed was to be encouraged and reassured that they had what it would take to work with God in winning the battle.
Lesson 4 – Don’t be afraid to celebrate when God comes through
As soon as they knew the battle had been won, Barack and Deborah burst into song.
They celebrated as if there was no tomorrow.
When God fulfills His promise to us, we should sing, praise, and worship.
The song they put together was also a testimony as they recounted the events of how God showed up for them in battle.
Lesson 5 – Leave a legacy of peace and faith
The final lesson from Deborah has to do with legacy.
After Deborah valiantly led the men of Israel into the battle which God fought for them, Israel had peace for 40 years.
People will not always remember what you did but they are way more likely to remember how you made them feel.
Deborah is remembered because of the freedom the people experienced as a result of her involvement.
Deborah lived a faith-filled, purpose-driven life. And we are benefitting from that today from studying her story.
Prayer of Deborah in the Bible
Deborah’s prayer is the very last part of what is known as Deborah’s song.
Although it is so called, it was both Deborah and Barak who sang it.
This song is also poetry. So Deborah is also a poet, song writer and singer.
In Jewish tradition, celebrating is a big deal. It is a very important part of the culture.
So when a war is won, that’s definitely a reason to celebrate. The song of Deborah and Barak is much like the song that Miriam sang after the children of Israel were victorious over Egypt.
In this song, Deborah and Barak immortalized the events of the battle and highlighted those who participated.
At the end she prays:
So may all your enemies perish, Lord! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. Judges 5:31 NIV
Conclusion on lessons from Deborah in the Bible
Deborah’s character in the Bible is amazing. To extend this post, see if you can find a Deborah bible study pdf to download and take a slow walk through it.
Deborah teaches us to be unwavering in faith, to embrace our call even if it is uncommon, to lead with conviction and courage, and celebrate the wins that God has given us.
These are some reasons why Deborah is important in the Bible. We come away with all of these wonderful lessons.