Wise home builders — Deborah

This has been a fun series and we’re only just getting started.  So far we’ve looked at God’s purpose for women (Wonder Woman) and 3 wise home builders… Eve, Sarah, and Rebecca.  Now let’s look at Deborah.   This post will probably be a bit long.. because there is just so much about her! This woman broke traditional, male female role barriers.  What an inspiration for us as women….

This woman, called by God, broke traditional male female role barriers.  What an inspiration for us as women…. that we can be all that God has called us to be and our being a woman is a strength and an asset.  God didn’t use Deborah because He couldn’t find a man who would fill the position!

He chose Deborah to lead Israel because she was the person He anointed and appointed for the position!  Deborah was in a class of her own; her leadership role was unprecedented and unparalleled! She was a woman who led a nation to victory against all odds.  She was the 4th judge out of a total of 15… and the only woman who judged.

She was a born leader.  She was an intercessor, a judge, and a prophetess.  She was a deliverer and a military strategist! She was also a mother to Israel.  She possessed wisdom, strength, and compassion.  While she was judge, the land had peace for forty years.  She held the highest executive office in the land!  She led a nation to victory against all odds!!

I love Deborah!  I love the inspiration she gives us as wives and mothers.  Especially as mothers.  My ceiling is my children’s floor… so I am constantly raising that ceiling.  Breaking boundaries.  Pushing limits.  And showing my kids… especially my daughters…. that you can continue to go higher and that there isn’t anything you can’t do with God.  I’m a wife, a mom, a homeschool teacher, a business owner with my husband, I also run a second business with my mom and a couple of friends, I teach Bible study, and I write.  I want my ceiling to be as high as it can be so that their jumping off point is from a great height.  I want them to follow me as I follow Christ and go higher than I ever will!

Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed.  Each line of Proverbs 31 begins with a Hebrew letter from the aleph bet (alphabet).  Verse 28 is the letter “kuf.”  Kuf is a picture of the back of a man’s head.  The idea is following after or behind.  Her children arise.  Arise is “kum” in Hebrew which means to rise up, to go higher spiritually.  And they bless her.  Bless is “ashar” which is not the typical word for bless but rather means guide, advance, lead.  Put it all together and it shows us that her children are following after her lead… after her advances…. she is guiding them and they are going higher spiritually because of it!  This is what a wise home builder looks like.

Although there is no evidence that Deborah had children, she was a mother of Israel.  She led her “children” to go higher spiritually.  Deborah broke outside of her culture, but she wasn’t in rebellion.  She wasn’t a feminist,  she was in obedience to her God.   As a result she was used radically to set her people free, and the people loved her.  Her life is a wonderful story of faith in God.

She spoke life and released what God was saying NOW!

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. ~ Judges 4:4

This is our first introduction to Deborah….. she is a prophet, she is Lappidoth’s wife, and she is leading Israel.  The first description we have is her name.  Names often have profound prophetic meanings.  Names reveal the character of the person, unusual circumstances at birth, or prophetic destiny.  Names are so important that at times God changed the person’s name to reflect what He said of them.

Deborah’name means bee (devorah).  Bee comes from a word that means “word” (davar)  and can also be translated thing or matter.  The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. The fact that God said she was a prophetess tells us that she was saying what she heard from Heaven restoring or arranging order in Israel.  She was one who would set things in order and release honey….. a time of plenty, a time of peace in the land designed to flow with milk and honey!

Deborah operated in a heavenly dimension of a spirit of wisdom and revelation. She spoke life and released what God was saying to Israel right now thereby restoring order in the land.  And the result was 40 years of peace for Israel.  40 years represents a generation….. like David would one day do, she served her generation well.

But that’s not all we know about her… that’s just the first thing


She was a prophet.  There were seers (ro’eh and chozeh) and prophets (nabi).  1 Samuel 9:9 says tells us that prophets were once called seers.  In Judges 4:4 Deborah is called a nabi… a prophet… but she must’ve at one time been called a seer.   Samuel was the only other person who was both a prophet and a judge.

2 Peter 1:21 tells us that prophets were holy “men” who spoke under the power of Holy Spirit.  They were anointed by God to call the people to repentance and to reveal the will of God for Israel.  Numbers 12:6 says that if a person was a prophet then God made Himself known to them in visions and spoke to them in dreams.

The prophets are called by various names including: “Man of God,” “Servant of Jehovah (LORD),” “Messenger of Jehovah,” “Interpreter,” “Sentinel,” “The Man of the Spirit.”  I like the last one… man (or in this case woman!) of the Spirit.  The Old Testament only mentions 4 women prophets…. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3).  And 1 woman prophet who attempted to stop God’s will for Israel….. Noahadia (Numbers 22-24).  

She was a holy woman…. a woman of the spirit.  God spoke to her in dreams and visions. And she boldly spoke under the power of Holy Spirit the will of God for Israel.

She burned for God

In addition to being a woman who restored order to Israel and a prophet who spoke with divine authority, she is referred to as the “wife of Lapidoth.”   His name means flame or torches.  According to rabbinic tradition, she was a keeper of the oil and the lighter of the lamps.  I’m not sure about that because Exodus 30:7-8 and Leviticus 24:3 tell us it was the priest’s (Aaron’s) job to do that.  She wasn’t a priest.  Of course, it may be saying “woman of fire/torches” instead of the wife of Lapidoth.  Either way, whether she was a woman of

Either way, whether she was a woman of lapidot or Lapidoth’s wife, she was a woman who burned for God.  She was a keeper of oil… of Holy Spirit.  She obviously valued and guarded her relationship with Him.  And she was a light given to Israel to deliver them from darkness.

She judged righteously

She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.

She held court under the Palm of Deborah.  She would judge under a palm tree.  This was her court.  Palm tree means righteousness. Psalm 92 reveals that palm trees represent a life of righteousness that flourishes in God.  Her court would be a reminder to the people that a life of righteousness is what would cause them to flourish.  This would be a refreshing prophetic reminder to them after so many years of cruel oppression….. a wonderful encouragement.  Palm branches also represented victory…. through this woman’s leadership they would achieve victory over their enemies.  

She had Holy Spirit revelation and employed divine wisdom and strategies to influence her world.  John 7:24 tell us to not judge by appearances but to judge all things righteously.  We are to judge things the way God judges them….. His righteous judgments are always founded on restoration and reconciliation. Reconciliation to Him.

We judge righteously by applying 2 Cor 5:20-21 to our life “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 

From the palm tree bearing her name, and elsewhere, called “the sanctuary of the palm,” she dispensed righteousness, justice, and mercy.  She was God’s answer to the Israelites, who cried out for help to the LORD, who had been cruelly oppressed for the last 20 years by Jabin, king of Canaan.

 She was abundantly fruitful 

She dwelled under the palm tree (righteousness) between Ramah and Bethel in the valley of Ephraim, which means doubly fruitful.  The one city was Ramah, which means “high place or the seat of idolatry.”   Bethel was known as the house of the Lord with open heavens….. this is where Jacob had his ladder experience in Genesis 28.  Bethel housed the ark of the covenant (Judges 20:27).

From this place, she judged.  From this place that she abided …..victory and righteousness (under the Palm), Deborah was abundantly fruitful.  She turned the Israelites hearts back to God.  Back to a desire for His Presence.  And away from idolatry.  And it stayed this way for 40 years.  Double (Ephraim is double fruitfulness) the time of their oppression.

She would hear from God and release Heaven on earth.  He led, she followed. She led, Israel followed.

She loved well

Of all the things that we learned about Deborah…. a prophet, a judge, a leader of Israel, a military strategist, a warrior, one who burned for God, there were, however, a couple of things she said about herself.  And both of these things are about how she loved…. first God and then out of that, others.

  1. In Deborahs Song, her love for the Lord is described as “like the sun, when it comes in full strength” (Judges 5:31).
  2. She called herself the Mother of Israel.

Deborah was a lover above all things.  She loved well!  She loved God fully — like the sun in full strength.  Hot and bright.  There was no dimness or coolness in her love for Him.  It was a wholehearted love…. one that could pour out to those around her.

She loved Israel. She prayed, interceded and judged them as only a mother can…. tenderly, lovingly… always with a heart of restitution and reconciliation to God.  And she was obviously loved by the people…..the eleven other dispersed tribes of Israel walked for miles and literally risked their lives on the dangerous highways as they pushed through to hear from God, through Deborah’s voice.  They must’ve felt her mother’s love for them.  She felt the ache in their hearts for God. She knew they had come so far, how could they leave empty-handed?  Deborah could hear the groans of the Israelites who were oppressed for 20 years and feel the pounding pain in God’s heart over His peoples sin and oppression. I believe that it was her ability to hear His heartbeat that allowed her to save a nation in a day.

Deborah could hear the groans of the Israelites who were cruelly oppressed for 20 years and feel the love in God’s heart for His people…. a love that wouldn’t give up on them.   It was her ability to hear His heartbeat that allowed her to turn a nation back to Him.  Deborah ruled with the sword of a prophet but with the heart of a mother.  She led well because she loved well.

In “Matthew Henry’s Commentary,” he writes  “…..She was totally devoted to Israel. After Jehovah, Israel was her first love.”

Will you be like a Deborah?  Hearing God’s heartbeat and expressing His love for those who are oppressed?  Judging them in righteousness and victory?  Waging war on an (already defeated) enemy by declaring them free IN CHRIST?

~ Robin