Biblical Servant Leadership Fall 2013 – Dry. Martin Deborah – From Judges, Chapters 4 and 5 I don’t often think about leaders in the Bible, but when I do, I often think of the only woman Judge mentioned In scripture – Deborah. She Is one to admire. This woman of God provides a picture of leadership quite out of the ordinary in the society of her time. Very few women in of that day rose to positions of Judge. There were powerful queens, but to be a Judge… For a woman it could only mean God had ordained her to this position.
Deborah stands out equally for her civic leadership, as for her spiritual dervish; exemplifying qualities we all should possess to lead today. In Deborah day, Israel had no king, no central leader to whom Israel looked. Judges describes these perilous times as “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted” During this time Israel found itself oppressed by Cabin, the Canniest king, and Sellers, the general of his army.
Japan’s army was formidable. He had oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for nearly twenty years. This is the situation in which Deborah found herself.
The narrative of Deborah in scripture calls how she led the Israelites against these fearsome Canniest. She received specific and distinct Instructions and directions from God so that He could deliver the Canniest into their hands. Guided by God, Deborah stood with Bark, urging and encouraging him to lead the armies of Israel to Mount Tabor in a full on assault of these cruel Canniest.
Israel obediently followed Deborah as she followed God’s leadership and defeated Easier, the commander of the Canniest; enjoying an extended period of peace. Deborah might rightly be viewed as a true heroine of history.
She was a multi-tasked working as a wife and mother, a prophetess and judge, a poet and singer, as well as a political and military leader. As prophetess, Deborah was In exclusive company. Only two other women In the Old Testament (Miriam, Exodus 15:20 and Hula, 2 Kings share this designation. As a judge, God gave her the authority to render civil court decisions with wisdom, prudence, and equity. As prophetess, God used her to deliver His messages to His people; she was careful not to voice her own words, but only God’s – as she yielded herself to Him.
My vision, as I imagine her, is not one of a cranky, sarcastic ‘Judge Judy type’. No, I see her as an honored mediator dispensing advice and counsel in the Spirit of the Lord. The discernment and assurance God gave to Deborah positioned her as one of the outstanding female leaders In history. Her wisdom and judgment were sought after. Judges says that “At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lapidated, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Raman and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for Judgment. From this vantage point of power and position, she knew that there were storms of battle constantly churning In the valley below. There was chaos and confusion. From that muck and mess, God caused a woman to rise up and lead this nation to the victory God would show her. She recruited the reluctant battle, she stepped up. Her answer was unhesitant and confidently assertive and forthright – “l will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Easier into the hand of a woman. ” wish I could say that I am her namesake, but sadly – no.
However far from my mother’s hopes in a name it may have been, the Lord has seen to it that I would share some attributes with Deborah. I feel a kinship with her and if I were a contemporary of Deborah, I would have wanted to hang out with her. She demonstrated such strength of faith and leadership. In many of the ways illustrated below she represents an ideal leader. I believe we can learn much from her by observing her leadership qualities. In verse 5, the people of Israel came to her. Daily she took her seat of Judgment, mediation and prophecy in the shade off palm tree.
The people knew where to find her because she made herself available and approachable. From her station under the palm trees, her countenance shone with confidence in the Lord ND a sure word. She did not think herself to be above them, but created an atmosphere of welcome to all. Since leaders are most effective when they are servants, cultivating an environment where others can find counsel and guidance is important. It begins in the heart and is lived out via the value placed on those who would seek direction. Judges 4:6 confirms that Deborah knew God and spent time with Him.
Deborah knew God’s word and held tightly to the confidence in Him to deliver it. This confidence, however, did not breed pride. Deborah remained humble, delivering God’s words, and not her own. Even before Pall’s admonishment that we must decrease but ‘He must increase’, she was wisely aware that any significance in her was really of the Lord. When the people of Israel grew too accustom to their neighbors and their gods, becoming too comfortable with the godless unrestrained living of the Canniest then Israel began to adjust to their culture, becoming prey to those who would seek to dominate them.
Deborah, however, chose to listen to the true and living God; bending her will to His to redeem the Israelites from the hands of slavery. She was available to be used by Him and ailing to stand in rejection of the foolishness of false gods and worship of self. How would God not select her to lead Israel into victory? It was her confident trust in God that would encourage the troops to battle. It was Deborah resolute and unshakable confidence that drove the Israelites to snatch the victory of the Lord from the godless Canniest. She was brave and steadfast, even in battle.
Is it any wonder, then, in verses 8-10 that as Deborah shared with Bark the battle plan and the command to ‘Go’ he insisted he would not go unless she went with him? Her story is truly a lesson f God conferring success upon those who allow themselves to be led by Him; giving Him all the credit. Deborah took action and led the leaders at a critical time, but with humility, a servant’s heart and great love and confidence in the Lord. We can learn from Deborah leadership style by putting aside any personal agenda, listening for God’s clear direction, and letting others know who is really running the show.
She could have given herself a nice little pat on the back, but she knew the boundaries of the Lord. While Bark was the general and a leader in his own right, she was infinite enough that she could lead him when the need arose. Leaders always rise to the top in crisis. Leaders will even lead leaders, if the outcome demands it. She victory and ultimately she led him into battle – 4:14-for this is the day which the Lord delivered Easier into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you? A modern day Deborah, Margaret Thatcher, once quipped – “In politics, if you want anything, as a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman. Her daring leadership brought the victory to a downtrodden people and brought peace for decades. So confident were hey in her courage to lead in the face of fierce enemies and her passion for God that they were willing to fight for the cause no matter the number or odds against them. She stood firm in a time of fear. She even took the helm in luring the enemy into the hands of her soldiers. So sure was she in Lord’s promise of ordained victory that even the fact she was living and Judging in a patriarchal society, where men seemed to dominate everything around her, did not sway or hinder her in leading men into the battle.
Deborah demonstrated wisdom by standing for Godly wisdom in a time of escalating deadliness, fraught with humanism and polytheism; when “every man did what was right in his own eyes. ” Her wise influence is evidenced in that all of Israel CAME to her for counsel, Judgment and advice on matters great and small. Deborah offered Godly counsel. Surely, she was seen as a person who was a thinker and equitable judge; dispensing individual Judgment, she prudently led people back to the truth and to God.
Deborah used her tongue to speak God’s truth and encouragement to free themselves from oppression, verse 6. Verse 14 recounts her shouts of encouragement… ‘Does not the Lord go out before you? Her later song (5:31) recalling the supernatural victory says that her love for God is ‘like the sun, when it comes in full strength’. She wise to understand that positive words of victory were like a 812 shot to the troops as they faced the enemy, verse 14; she lifted their spirits to fight and secure the win Israel’s God has promised them.
Oh, that there were men and women of wisdom like Deborah in our modern age; people who would challenge the people of God to restore their loyalties and fidelity’s to God. But, sadly, wise leaders are very rare. Deborah also understood her leadership role in history – it was only by he grace of God and the obedience of the people to submit to God, 5:2. Though she was the conduit to deliver the message of victory, she did not manipulate, she did not manhandle or demean those she led.
She led with the knowledge that she held a place in history only by the choice and blessing of God. She did not dilute the message by sending the Israeli UN to negotiate – she knew the will of God for the people of the Lord. This knowledge brought confidence and an unshakable perseverance to convince Israel that the battle was the Lord’s, if they would but submit to His will. The adversary, the adversity, the position as a woman in a man’s world, prosperity, and flattery – none could sway her because she knew this was of the Lord.
Deborah, because of strength of character and love for God and His word, gave herself completely to the call, God made her capable for the task and she exuded the confidence to get the Job done. Deborah had placed a love for God’s people deep in her being. Her heart, she said in 5:9, was with the rulers. As one version puts it, her heart was “with the willing volunteers among the people” Her acute and instinctive sense of discernment told he could see the impact of this waywardness on her own family and the families of her community.
She did not argue with God over that fact for she had sat in the gate of Judgment and knew the people were selfish and defying God. She was a prophetess, God’s hand was on her, and her heart was for the people. Though human nature often demands that we take our due, take a bow, get the recognition – Deborah refused to proclaim her good deeds, but rather the goodness of the Lord in the battle won. She gives God praise, in chapter 5 and verse will sing to the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel”.
She also praised the leaders and that faithful destroyer, Jail, who sealed the deal and killed the wicked Canniest king, Easier calling her “most blessed of tent-dwelling women” Judges 5:24). Deborah had seen as she Judged she had seen the selfish, self-centered, self-seeking Israelites demand their own way. It did not look good on them and would not look good on her. Deborah was wise to make it clear who sat as the definitive commander in chief: “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you”, Judges 4:6) and who would gain the praise, Judges 5:3). The life she lived should spur us on.
It is a pattern to allow for leaders: Deborah life challenges us in several ways. To seek the wisdom of the Lord as we lead, to retain humility as we lead, to be available to those we lead, give credit to those to whom it is due, be courageous, stand strong in the Lord and in His love and have confidence that this is what he has ordained for you. There is no limit to what can be done when we let Him lead and give Him all the credit when His plan works out. Deborah convened her court under a palm tree over three millennia ago. The “Song of Deborah” is one of the oldest of these missives in song recorded in he Bible.
It states that the stars strayed from their courses and the river washed Sierra’s armies away in a massive flood. All the Army of Easier fell by the sword; no one was left. Deborah delivered defeat with total destruction. Because of her persistence, because of her presence, because of this utter destruction, peace prevailed. From the first word to the last punctuation, God ordained this woman to lead. She could not and did not deny her giftedness as a leader. Her word for today is her word found in Judges 5:21 – “March on, my soul; be strong! “