The “Mother of Israel”
By John and Patti Chadwick
Deborah was a prophetess whom God gifted and used in many different ways to help out her people, Israel. She is often compared to a bee. Deborah had a fatal sting for her enemies as the Canaanites and other foes came to experience. As the bee ranks the highest in intelligence in the animal kingdom, so it is written that Deborah stands out as among the wisest of all Old Testament women (Lockyer, All the Women of the Bible 40). It is not known if she had any children nor is there a genealogy record on this female warrior and writer.
There were very few palm trees in the land of Palestine at this time, but Deborah had one where she sat and ruled under. In honor of her works, it became know as “The Palm of Deborah (Judges 4:5). Often referred to as a “Mother in Israel”, she was gifted with superior spiritual, mental, and physical powers, which left her mark in Israel. Deborah, whom God raised up for a special purpose, was endowed with a remarkable personality and varied gifts for the deliverance of His distressed and defeated people. A woman of exceptional achievements, she carved out a niche for herself.
She was married and her husband, Lapdoth, was thought to be meek, but by no means weak. He stayed behind the scenes and supported his wife, encouraging her in all her activities. It is usually said that behind every great man there is a great wife. In this situation it seems that behind this great woman was a great husband. Apparently he gave her his love, sympathy, support, and encouragement not minding if he rode “second chariot” to her (Herbert Lockyer, Herbert, All the Women of the Bible 40).
Deborah was endowed with the gift of prophecy in which she had the ability to discern the mind and purpose of God and state it to others. Deborah sat under her palm tree looking very stately in person with her dark, penetrating prophetic eyes as she poured out wisdom and instruction of the counsel of God. She was able to stir up the public with her views and produce change. She stirred up Israel’s concern about its sad spiritual condition. The land was debauched and well near ruin under the rule of the Canaanites and their liberty had been lost. Her people were dejected and afraid. Their spirits had been broken and there was no hope of deliverance from their present state.
Deborah did more than prophesy, she aroused a nation in the depths of despair through her fearless and unsolicited devotion to the freeing of her people. She awoke in them a driving desire to free themselves from their bondage and degradation. Her call and challenge to them was to seek God’s help in delivering them from their enemy.
Day after day she excited and challenged the people of Israel. All who listened to her words of divine wisdom felt the certainty of their deliverance from a heathen people if only they would arise to action and, with the help of God, free themselves from fear and folly and go out and fight. All of Israel was under her jurisdiction, from which she dispensed righteousness, justice, and mercy.
After having fought the enemy with words and prayer, now God told her to fight in battle. Being led of God she sent for Barak, saying it was God’s will that he should lead the army and deliver Israel from the hand of the enemy. He agreed to lead the army with the condition that Deborah, the brave-hearted and dauntless ruler, go with him. Barak felt he could face the enemy only if his ruler was at hand. So out they went to do battle with the Canaanite army with great odds against them. Even in the heat of the battle, the dauntless spirit of Deborah did not waver. God was her ally and she rested in that fact. God sent a hail and rainstorm during that battle which helped lead the Israelites to victory. Thus Deborah gained underlying fame as the female warrior who rescued her people from their cruel foe.
After the victory over national foes, Deborah ruled with equity and the nation of Israel had rest from war and captivity for forty years. Deborah loved her God, her people, and her country and stood firm in her convictions. She had excellent speaking abilities and a knack to motivate and encourage people to get closer to God, instilling in them a confidence to trust God and believe that He would act on their behalf.