“At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment” (Judg. 4:4-5 NRSV).
Deborah was a definitely a woman in leadership, and not just over women and children. In fact, Scripture tells us that her leadership was sought out by the Israelites. It was to Deborah that the Lord spoke and through her that God instructed Barak (Judg. 4:6-7, 14). After the success of the Israelites against Canaan, Deborah’s leadership is praised. “The peasantry prospered in Israel, they grew fat on plunder, because you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel” (Judg. 5:7).
Deborah was a married woman who held a position of authority. The people of Israel recognized her leadership and followed her. It was Deborah, who God raised up to deliver the Israelites from those who were oppressing them. Would God have called Deborah to the position of a judge in Israel if God deemed it wrong for a woman to have authority over a man? It is obvious that God has equipped and raised up women for leadership, not only for Israel, but also for the church. Just as Deborah’s leadership was accepted and praised, the leadership of women in many congregations is recognized and affirmed, resulting in God being glorified and the church reaping its benefits. As God spoke to Deborah, God continues to speak to both men and women, giving them direction and guidance on how to lead the people of God.
Deborah is a reminder for women today to arise and lead. May the Deborah’s of today be a source of inspiration and a legacy for future women whom God will raise up for leadership.