By Christine Carney
I believe one of the greatest role models for today’s woman is Deborah. She is strong, gutsy and doesn’t put up with much stuff. I am intrigued by her spunk and dedication to God and His people, even though her husband did not serve the Lord. Many women feel inadequate for a leadership role in the church because of their unevenly yoked marriage. Take heart, dear Sister! Look at Deborah!
She was a prophetess, a title no other judge possessed. She was a judge; a title no other woman possessed. Deborah was not just any prophet, but she was a prophet during the time of war…
And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. Judges 4:4.
Lapidoth is introduced to us for no other reason than to identify his wife. The Bible mentions him only one time, and that as part of our introduction to the prophetess and judge, Deborah. Lapidoth: One man, one introduction, no further elucidation other than to identify a woman’s marital status.
According to Jewish custom, at the time of marriage, the husband is to give his future wife a ketubah. This is a marriage document which specifies the physical and emotional responsibilities of the husband to his wife, as well as, his financial obligations in the case of divorce. It’s an ancient pre-nuptial contract created to protect women from being kicked to the curb by their husbands, with no help or hope of an income. This liberated the wife by guaranteeing her with physical and financial stability. Deborah’s ketubah allowed her respect, income and the status needed to respond to the needs of a nation with quick decisive action.
The name, Lapidoth, gives us insight into his spiritual relationship with God and his wife, Deborah. Lapidoth is from the Hebrew word, Lappiyd:
- A torch ‘despised’
- Cast aside, because of its’ having ceased to give light
- An image for a man formerly highly esteemed, but now low and despised
I purport that Lapidoth was called to do great things for the Lord, but, stopped short, gave up and backslid. His name suggests that he held and lost an estimable position, leaving him despised by the people and cast aside by the Lord. The fact that Lapidoth is never mentioned again leads me to believe that he was ‘uninvolved and uninterested with Deborah’s spiritual life. The one notable thing he did was to marry Deborah; therefore, giving her the status, respectability and freedom to fulfill God’s calling in her life.
With Lapidoth content to be in the background, Deborah was able to get up and go when certain situations presented themselves. Had Lapidoth been a tyrant or any other man, Deborah would have perhaps had more of a struggle in her service to the Lord. In the same manner, Deborah’s name reveals much about her character: Deborah is from the Hebrew, Debowrah:
- Bee, swarm
- Orderly, unity
Debowrah is from the root word, debar:
- To speak, declare, converse
- To speak with one another
- To command, promise, warn, threaten
- Lead away, put to flight
You might be wondering about Deborah’s name meaning “bee, swarm, orderly and unity” all at the same time. It makes me want to start singing that old Sesame Street song, “One of these things do not belong here…!” Not so. Bees swarm in an orderly fashion under the leadership of one queen bee.
What is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee.
A queen bee will command a swarm only when the survival of the hive is at risk or if the current hive is overpopulated. There are days of preparation and planning before the bees will swarm to their new living arrangement. New eggs are laid, drones fill up with honey and scout bees are sent out in search of an appropriate hive location. Only then, when all preparation is complete, does the queen lead the band of bees, in unison and en masse, to their new abode.
And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Judges 4:5
This scripture reveals that Deborah spent her days away from her home, which allows us to deduce that she had already reared her children and settled into another phase of her life. I can almost hear Deborah say, “Empty nest, schmempty-nest! What can I do for the Lord?!” Her life remained focused on the Lord and Deborah served the Almighty God with robust zeal and dedication.
The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7
Deborah was also a woman of a certain age, because, according to the Scripture, she had been around long enough to watch the people leave the villages and see the nation’s leadership decay. The Lord called Deborah to arise as a mother in Israel and she responded! The people recognized Deborah as one who possessed wisdom and came to her for sound judgment and counsel that guided the erring nation of Israel back toward faithful obedience.
You and I have come to a time in our lives where God is calling us to a place that only we can fill. If you are like me and your children are grown and out of the house, then, take a moment to listen to the voice of God calling you into Him. The ministry God has chosen for us is about to be opened right before our eyes! So, let’s get our eyes off of our current earthly situation and place them on our eternal and heavenly obligation.
“And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. And thy shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor. And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.” Judges 4:6-14
God called the woman Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, to be a prophetess and war judge for the people of Israel. I have often heard it said that God only used a woman (I know what you’re thinking, but, that’s not where I’m going), because there was no man available. Now, I find it very difficult to believe that the Almighty God could not “find” one, single, solitary man capable of doing the job in twenty years time, particularly when Barak was right there. The Lord had placed a specific calling on Deborah’s life that she, alone, had the ability to fulfill.
Deborah is a superlative example of how God can, and will, use a woman married to an invisible man. She stayed faithful, dedicated and responded when called upon by the Lord! There are things that only we can do, people only we can reach and prayers only we know how to pray! Deborah’s legacy charges us to put our shoulder to shield, hand to sword, fight the battle, win the war and restore a people!
God is calling you to arms; how will you respond?
This article “Deborah: Responding to God’s Call” by Christine Carney was excerpted from the book Married With(out) Spouses. It may be used for study & research purposes only.