Billie Silvey
Deborah, an Early Political Leader
Deborah is a wonderful example of the power of women to influence
society for good.  Deborah was one of the judges of Israel in a
culture generally ruled by men.

The position of judge apparently meant different things depending on
the person holding it.  Deborah was not the sort of judge Samson
was, for instance, who traveled from place to place.  Deborah sat
under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of
Ephraim.  There, the Israelites would come to her for judgments on
their disputes.

Is that because she was “a mother in Israel,� and as most of
us women have been at one time or another, relatively restricted in
her movements?  I imagine her sitting under the palm tree as her
children play around her feet, listening intently as people bring their
problems to her, listening for the guidance of her own heart and
God’s word to make wise decisions.

But when the Israelites cry to God for help against their enemies the
Canaanites, with their terrifying iron chariots, Deborah sends for
Barak.  She gives him God’s message that he should lead
troops from his home tribe of Naphtali and from nearby Zebulun to
fight at Mount Tabor.  Worn down by 20 years of Canaanite
tyranny, Barak refuses to go unless Deborah will go with him.

Deborah doesn’t hesitate.  She accompanies the troops into
battle and orders the attack, assuring the soldiers that the Lord has
gone ahead of them.  Deborah’s trust in God enables the
Israelites to succeed against overwhelming opposition.

According to
John Bernbaum, founder and president of Russian-
American Christian University in Moscow, “Deborah was not
driven by personal ambition, nor was she seeking an expanded
leadership role in Israel.  She was simply being faithful to the God
she served, accepting the responsibilities given to her by others who
sought her counsel, and trusting God as she took on the challenge of
military leadership, for which she had not been trained.  Deborah did
what she knew was right in God’s eyes, confident that the Lord
would honor her actions.�

After the battle, Deborah praised God in song.  We can help others
by listening to our hearts, to God’s Word, and to the cries of
those around us.  We can work with others to be an influence for
good.  And we can praise God when we are able to work with him
to make our neighborhoods better places.
September 2005
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