Women of the Bible Podcast

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Deborah - Week 2: The Power of Valor

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Laura Booz: When I was eight years old, I wanted to join the swim team! I went to the first day of practice. I jumped in . . . and I sank to the bottom of the pool! The coach didn’t want me, but my mom spoke up for me and said, “Well, what if I help her?” 

Every morning she came to the pool with me. She helped me get from the wall to the first ladder, and then from the wall to the second ladder. Then, sooner or later, I was swimming all the way across the pool!

By the end of the year I was swimming in the meets, and she was cheering for me from the stands. And at the end of the season, the coach gave me a trophy for being the Most Improved. The trophy had my name on it, but I knew it was because of my mom. Haven’t we all been inspired by the power of nurturing mothers?

Hi, I’m Laura Booz. Welcome to the Women of the Bible podcast. In this season, my friend Erin Davis is leading us in a study of Deborah, a woman who inspired an entire nation simply by being a mother. In Judges chapter 5, Deborah says: “I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel” (v. 7).

She could have described herself as a judge, a prophetess, a leader, but instead, she described herself as a mother. As you get to know Deborah more in your study this week, I hope you’re inspired by the world-changing power of tenderness and valor.

Let’s grab our Bibles, open to the book of Judges, and join Erin as we get to know Deborah: A Woman of Valor.

Erin Davis: Alright, let’s list our favorite Bible characters, rapid fire. I’m going to go first (ha ha): Jesus!

Women, including Erin, speak out names: Boaz, Deborah, Mary, David, Joshua, Rahab, Eve, Martha, Caleb, Moses, John, Peter, Paul, Mary.

Erin: We hit a lot of the big ones, I think. We’re going to be talking about a Bible hero in this episode; we mentioned her. But first, we want to talk about why we love those heroes of the Bible so much. Before we go all the way down that rabbit trail, you need to introduce yourselves.

In this second episode of the Women of the Bible podcast, we have two Lauras. So Laura B., who would you say is your favorite—other than Jesus—Bible character?

Laura B.: My favorite Bible character is usually Boaz.

Erin: Why?

Laura B.: I love him. I think that he’s noble. I love how he teaches us so much about the heart of God--to redeem us and to go after us and love us and receive us.

Erin: He is likable.

Laura B.: Oh, you know what? My last name is Booz, and there is some historical string that says originally it was “Boaz.”

Erin: Do you think you’re related!? (laughter)

Laura B.: I don’t think I’m related, but I feel like that is just such a beautiful connection!

Erin: Very cool! Okay, Laura G., tell us your name and your favorite Bible character (if you had to pick one).

Laura Gonzalez: My name is Laura Gonzalez, and I work with Aviva Nuestros Corazones, the Spanish outreach of Revive Our Hearts. I think my favorite one is Joseph. I love the way that the Lord worked through his life, and the way that he could have become a victim, but yet he was a victor in the end. I love how he forgave his brothers, and all that the Lord did through his life.

Just seeing the Lord’s providence in his life and how it all turned out for good, I love that.

Erin: Well, I’m the non-Laura in the group, I’m Erin. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d pick Paul. Paul was amazing! He was a writer, first of all, which I love. He was a man of action, a man of truth, a man of fortitude. He’d have to be my top guy.

Why is it that we love the stories of people in the Bible so much? I think I could go to endless Bible studies on the men of the Bible, the women of the Bible, the families of the Bible, the heroes of the Bible. I just never get tired of hearing the stories of those people. Why do you think it is that they connect with us so deeply?

Laura G: I think we can relate to their struggles and their weaknesses. We see ourselves in some of them, and we see ourselves in some of their struggles and their histories. It connects us. We can see the Lord and how He worked in their lives.

Laura B.: We can see God interwoven, and our hearts long for that, so we read their stories and learn more about our Savior through it. We learn more about our lives, what it looks like to walk this pilgrim road. It’s very dear.

Erin: Yes, and I think we can see ourselves in most of them. I have almost nothing in common with Paul! Not geographically. He was a man; I’m a woman. We have different careers. We have different family situations. But when I read about Paul I think, “Oooh! I think I’m a little bit like that!” or ”I think he’s a little bit like me!” So it can speak into our lives.

Laura G: I love to see that they were not perfect, but then you can see the greatness of God in their lives.

Erin: Right, not a one of them is perfect. Other than Jesus, all of them were rascals, down to the last one! 

Well, this is Episode 2 of the Deborah season of the Women of the Bible podcast. There might be somebody listening who didn’t listen to Episode 1. So let’s catch her up very quickly. There is no book of Deborah, so where does she turn to if she was to catch up with us?

Laura B.: The book of Judges.

Erin: She wants to be in the book of Judges, which is in the Old Testament. Just to make it super easy, in the last episode we talked about this Four D Cycle. Now, that phrase doesn’t come from Scripture, but it’s certainly something we see over and over and over in Scripture.

The first step of the cycle God’s people did was what?

Laura G: Disobedience.

Erin: Disobedience—over and over and over! What is the second step, Laura?

Laura B.: Discipline. 

Erin: Under the Lord’s discipline, God’s people eventually would come to the place of Desperation. (In the case of Judges 4 and 5, where we are, it would eventually take them twenty years.)

Desperation gets us to the fourth step in the Four D cycle which is what, Laura?

Laura G: Deliverance.

Erin: Alright, good. There’s one more “D” to add today: Deborah. (laughter) She’s not the fifth step in the cycle, but we’re going to focus on her because she’s one of the judges that God used for that step of Deliverance, in delivering His people.

We’re going to love Deborah; we’re going to want to be just like her. We’re going to think we can be Deborahs. So, let’s do a little bit of a heart check before we jump in. Why do we read the Bible? Is it just to find a bunch of people that we want to emulate? Laura?

Laura G: No. It is to conclude that Jesus is the Hero . . . and Deborah would want us to conclude that.

Erin: I think you’re totally right. In fact, as I was thinking about it, people have heard me say that a million times. I’ve told myself that a million times, and I still tend to look at them as profiles of somebody that I need to be.

As I was thinking about that, I was thinking, That’s kind of a worldly approach to Scripture. That’s what celebrities are in our culture. We look at them as somebody we want to be, somebody we want to emulate. That’s the power of advertising. You know, just get a celebrity to hold up your can of Spam, and you’ll sell a lot more.

So we open our Bibles—not to have profiles, celebrities we emulate—you’re right. It’s to see God as the Hero. I hope our listeners don’t listen to this season of the Women of the Bible podcast series and hear us say we’re all supposed to be Deborahs—we’re all supposed to do what Deborah did and say what Deborah said and think like Deborah thought and lived where Deborah lived (she lived in the desert, so I’m already not down with it). But that we are looking for ways to see God in her story. I know that you both know that. I have such confidence in your love of Scripture, in your approach to Scripture, but it takes training.

Laura G, how do you practically train yourself when you open your Bible to look for Jesus, to look for the gospel? Here we are in the Old Testament. How do you teach yourself to look at it rightly?

Laura G: Well, the good thing is that we are on this side of the Old Testament, so we know the end of the story. It is easy when you’re reading the Old Testament to know that there is Someone that this is pointing to, and so you’re always trying to look for that Person that is going to come eventually, and that all this is preparing for Him. [Erin: Yes it is.]

Laura B.: As you said that, I just realized, in Old Testament times they too were seeing things through the lens of looking for the Messiah, just on the other side. They were seeing the red cord through it, and we just see the other side of it.

Laura G: That’s right, exactly!

Erin: Aren’t we fortunate, being on this side? They were always looking ahead, and we are looking at it like, “Oh, there He is! There he is!” That has been the thing that has most kept my passion for Scripture alive, is that treasure hunt: “Oh, there’s Jesus and there’s Jesus. There’s the gospel, and there’s the gospel!” It makes me want to read the Bible more and more.

Well, let’s meet our girl. Let’s talk about Deborah. Laura B., could you read us Judges chapter 4, verses 4–6?

Laura B.:

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, "Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, 'Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun’”

Erin: Yes, so just a couple of verses here, but I feel like we’ve learned a lot about Deborah. If this was like her introduction to you at a party or your first glance into the life of Deborah, what are your first impressions of her as you read that?

Laura G: I think she’s wise. I mean, she was speaking for God and people were coming to see her and talk to her and ask her things for judgment.

Laura B.: Honestly, when I picture Deborah sitting under the palm tree, I just think it’s an atmosphere of peace and faithfulness. She’s at peace with God, and she was reliable. Yes, just that picture of her, sitting under this palm and serving the Lord, serving the people of God.

Erin: Yes, that palm strikes me, too. The passage tells us that she would sit at the palm, and that the tree was named after her, so she left her mark on the geography of her land

Laura B.: She was reliable.

Erin: She must have been a good judge, because the people keep coming.

You girls know I have four sons, and I feel like this is what I do all day, every day! I don’t sit under the palm, but I’m constantly judging disputes of some sort, and part of that really resonates with me about her.

We don’t know who wrote the book of Judges (most scholars think it was likely the prophet, Samuel), but the writer’s description of Deborah here is from the outside looking in, and he describes her in two ways. What are they?

Laura G: Prophetess and wife and judge.

Erin: Okay, maybe there’s three! Prophetess and wife and judge. If we’ve been reading our Bibles very long at all, we’ve heard that term “prophet.” We have an idea of what a judge is; we know what a wife is. But I want to let Scripture give us the definition for those roles, so we really know what the text is saying when it tells us that Deborah was a prophet.

So Laura Gonzalez, will you read us Deuteronomy 18:18–19. This is how the Bible defines the role of prophet.

Laura G:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

Erin: Okay, so if that’s the job description for a prophet, what does a prophet do?

Laura G: Speak for God.

Erin: That’s right. So that is what Deborah was doing as a prophetess. Okay, when you think of “judge,” Laura B., what do you think of? What’s your image of a judge?

Laura B.: I guess I picture them behind the bench in a courtroom scene, gavel . . . 

Erin: Me, too . . . black robe, gavel. That’s kind of our modern version of a judge. Let’s see how the Bible defines the role of judge. It’s in Deuteronomy 16:18–19.

Laura B.: Okay. 

You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.

Erin: You know the statue of Lady Justice. She’s got that band around her eyes; that comes straight from Scripture. So if you were to give “judge” a succinct job description, what did God say judges were supposed to do?

Laura B.: Uphold justice.

Erin: And how did they know what was just?

Laura B.: According to His Word.

Erin: According to God’s law. So, these are not just arbitrary terms; God is infused in both of these roles. So what are Deborah’s God-given responsibilities to the people of God according to these two titles? She has a couple of jobs. She’s supposed to . . .

Laura G: Speak for God. 

Laura B.: And she’s supposed to judge amongst the people without partiality and according to God’s law.

Erin: That’s right! So, I could decide right now, “I am Erin, prophetess and judge of Missouri” I could sit under my oak tree. But that’s not what happened here. Deborah did not decide that she was going to be a prophetess in the nation of Israel. She did not decide that she was going to be a judge to the nation of Israel. 

How do I know that? Well, we’ve got to go back a little bit to Judges chapter 2. Let me read to us Judges 2:16 and 18. And if you’re a write-in-the-Bible kind of girl (which I hope you are; I certainly am), a good thing to do here is to circle the word “Lord” every time it appears, because it happens pretty often.

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. . . . Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.

This is an important point: Deborah was not self-appointed. Who decided Deborah was going to be a prophetess and judge?

Laura B.: The Lord.

Erin: The Lord. It tells us that over and over. I want to know (the Lord has not appointed me prophetess and judge) has there ever been a time when the Lord asked you to fill a specific role for a specific season, in the way we see Him doing with Deborah here?

Laura B.: What comes to mind first of all is being a wife to my husband, being a mother to my children; those are long-term appointments. Recently I helped to restart a women’s ministry at our church, and I really could feel that energy of the Holy Spirit. (I think Paul writes about that, we work with the energy of the Holy Spirit).

I could feel His anointing and grace and help in doing that work. It was a span of three years and then, when my work there was done I really—I don’t know, I don’t want to base it all on how I felt, but—I felt Him say like, “Okay, that’s good, and it’s time to move on to the next thing.”

Erin: Well, Esther, she was appointed “for such a time as this,” that idea of it being for a season. I love that example. I have something similar in my own church. I knew, in my own church, that I was to be the architect of our women’s ministry. And I knew the whole time that I was just the architect. I knew I wasn’t the maintainer, and that is exactly how it unfolded. It was me a season, and then the season was over.

Okay, Laura G, you lead Aviva Nuestros Corazones, which means what in English? 

Laura G: Revive Our Hearts.

Erin: You and I both work for Revive Our Hearts, and Revive Our Hearts is a ministry to women. We call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. But we did it in English for a long time, and then you and a group of women attended a Revive Our Hearts conference. Tell us how you go from attending a conference for a ministry to women. . .

Laura G: . . . in English!

Erin: It’s a daily audio teaching in English . . . to leading the Spanish arm of that ministry!

Laura G: Well, it’s a long story, but to make it short . . . We knew about Revive Our Hearts where we lived in the Dominican Republic. We heard about this conference in 2008. We went to the conference; we attended the conference. 

Erin: You brought a large group of women, if I remember right. 

Laura G: Yes, a hundred women came. 

Erin: A hundred women from Latin America!

Laura G: From the Dominican Republic. 

Erin: Oh, all from the Dominican Republic, okay.

Laura G: Yes, from two churches. So we came, and we just felt, “This is something we want to take back home.” We thought for our church. We were faithful and available. And so the Lord just told us, “Translate this for the church,” and we did.

And then, “Oh, there’s a little radio ministry in this church; let's do it for the Dominican Republic,” and we did that. And so, little by little, we ended up having an outreach in Spanish. I was chosen to lead it, but it was not something I appointed myself for. It was the Lord’s appointment.

Erin: I want to write down those two words: “faithful” and “available.” It started out so seemingly small, but it’s not small anymore. Give us an idea of the scope of the ministry.

Laura G: Well, now it’s all over Latin America. We have millions and millions of downloads of the radio podcast every month. We have had conferences in Latin America where 6,000 women come. We cannot believe it! We can see it was the Lord—from the beginning to end!

Erin: Yes. I think if we were telling your story, if we said, “Laura Gonzalez, Director of Aviva Nuestros Corazones” like Deborah, “I didn’t pick myself as the Director of Aviva Nuestros Corazones.” The Lord appointed you.

Laura G: That’s right. I think we just respond to the Lord, and we are just available, that’s it. He does the rest. 

Erin: He does. There’s so much we don’t know about Deborah. I want to ask her questions; I want to know: “What did you think?” and “How did you feel?” and “How did that go?” and “How did you know the Lord appointed you as a judge and a prophetess?” 

Is there anything in the text, Laura, that gives you clues about how you think Deborah responded when she sensed the Lord was appointing her for these big jobs?

Laura B.: Yes, I think that she knew what it was like for the Lord to command her, and for her to awake and obey. Because when she talks to Barak, she says, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you . . .” so on and so forth. (see Judges 4:6)

You can’t speak that into somebody else’s life unless you’ve walked that road yourself, and you know the wrestling, and you know the listening, and you know the discerning and time with the Lord. So, yes, I think she knew it, and I think she was obeying.

Erin: Yes, I think so, too. I always like to try and picture the story, as much as I can. You know: What were the smells? What were the sights? What was it like? What were the other people like? So as we picture under the palm tree as a judge in Israel, what kinds of things do you think people brought to her, seeking her wisdom, seeking her judgment? What kinds of disputes?

Laura G: Well, for one thing, they had been oppressed for twenty years. So I can imagine all the things that were going on in those lives, conflicts, just oppression of all types. She had to give some wisdom and encouragement.

Erin: Don’t you know the stress of that was coming out in their relationships with each other? That’s a long time to be under oppression. And when we are feeling that level of stress, it comes out in our disputes with our neighbor, with our spouse, with our children. She probably heard a lot of interpersonal disputes.

What do you think? You’ve got a great imagination, Laura B. What do you imagine she heard from under that palm tree? 

Laura B.: Hmm, I imagine she heard a lot of complaining! I almost picture that transition between verse 5 and verse 6, where Scripture talks about her sitting under there judging the people of Israel “coming to her.” She’s not seeking them out and saying, “Tell me your problems.”

They’re coming to her needing resolution, needing some kind of guidance. Then I almost hear the desperation in her (Judges 4:6): “She sent and summoned Barak.” I mean, like, “C’mon, let’s get this thing going!”

Erin: “Let’s do something about this!” Yes. We all bear the image of Christ and that is one way that I see Jesus in Deborah, long before Him. Jesus had people coming to Him day in, day out, seeking resolution for their disputes, seeking to be justified, seeking all manner of things. And that was literally Deborah’s day in and day out, too. So she’s a lot like her Savior in that way.

Laura G: I’m also thinking that it was the days where everybody was doing whatever they thought was right in their own eyes (see Judges 21:25). So now she has to say, “What does the Lord say about this?” Then she has to bring up the justice.

Laura B.: Yes, thank you for saying that! That’s right! 

Erin: So the writer of Judges defines her as a wife and a prophetess and a judge. How did Deborah define herself? I think it’s really telling! Let’s look at Judges 5:7. She’s describing herself here. Now, we’re fast forwarding a little bit in the story, so if you don’t like spoilers, sorry, you’re going to get a little one.

But this is important to know, how Deborah sees herself. Laura B., can you read us Deborah’s description of herself from Judges 5:7?

Laura B.:

The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.

Erin: So how does Deborah define herself?

Laura B.: As a mother.

Erin: And I read that, and I think, That’s such a female thing to do! We define ourselves by our relationships, and that’s how Deborah does it here. We don’t know if she has physical children; Scripture doesn’t tell us. I’m going to make the assumption that she does, but it could be a bad assumption. Other than having children, what defines mothers?

Laura G: Nurturers.

Laura B.: Life givers. I think about Deuteronomy 6, where God instructs parents for His Word to be on their hearts, and then for them to be nurturing their children with the Word of God all the time, day and night, no matter what they’re doing, wherever they go.

Laura G: Disciplers.

Erin: All moms are teachers, all moms are disciplers, yes. Moms are compassionate; we move towards our children with compassion. I see in Deborah, as we’re going to jump into the story, mama bear instincts for the people of God.

I’ve got some mama bear stories, where I jumped into action to protect my cubs. I’m curious, can you think of a mama bear story, where those instincts as a mother to protect kicked in, in force?

Laura G: I can think of one. When my daughter was like seven, she went to the neighbor’s pool to swim. I went with her, and I thought she was drowning! I literally just jumped into the pool with clothes on and saved her! She says she was fine, but I thought she was drowning! 

Erin: That’s mama bear! That’s what mama bears do; we jump in the fray. As I read this story and Deborah describes herself as a mother, I see Mama Bear. I see her jumping in, clothes on, to rescue. What did she need to rescue? 

Well, let me read us Judges 5:6–7, and we’ll get a little bit of a picture of what the culture is like. We just read 7, but I’m going to widen the lens a little bit. 

In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose. I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.

Some of that feels like strange cultural language, but do you get any sense for what the culture was like in Deborah’s day?

Laura G: They were fearful. 

Erin: They were isolated. They were not going about their normal rhythms, because, of course, they were under oppressive rule. Deborah steps in to protect, she steps in to nurture, she steps in to guide, “as a mother in Israel.”

I want to be a “mother in Missouri,” a mother in America who is attentive, compassionate, jumps in to help God’s people as we need it. I want to know, who do you know who is a mother in her sphere right now?

She doesn’t have to be a physical mother, but you think, “Man, she is a mother in her church,” or “She is a mother in her community,” or “She is a mother in her country.” As you think of Deborah’s description of herself, does anybody come to mind?

Laura B.: My oldest daughter does; she’s just going to be sixteen in May. I have six children, and the way she loves and nurtures all of her younger siblings inspires me! At the end of each day when she’s saying goodnight to them, she’ll bring out something from their day where she saw the Lord at work, or she saw something in their character that she wants to cheer on.

To the little ones, she always says like, “And remember, you’re God’s little treasure!” So I see, already in her, a mother’s heart, and it’s a great blessing!

Erin: Now, I’m all choked up! Laura, does anybody come to mind, especially as you think about what God is doing in Latin America? Is there anybody you think, “Man, this woman is a mother in her nation!”

Laura G: Yes, I remember there was one older lady in the congregation we used to be in, in the Dominican Republic. She was the sweetest lady that would come behind you and hug you and pray for you. She would just know if you were going through something, she could just tell.

And she would bring a word in due season (see Prov. 15:23), or she would have people in her home. If she saw you were struggling, she would invite you over and just sit with you and pray with you and encourage you. So every time I think about a motherly figure, I think about her.

Erin: I have one of those; her name is Kathy. It’s fascinating, because her physical children are prodigal right now, walking away from the Lord. But man, she is a mother in our church! It has happened to me many times, that I will be in the grocery store, and I will encounter Kathy. Kathy will say, “Erin! I’ve a word from the Lord for you!” 

It’s always straight Scripture. She’s just praying for me; she’s just edifying me; she’s speaking the truth to me. But it’s not just a Kathy/Erin thing. She’s doing that over and over and over in grocery stores and at the bank and wherever she encounters us. She really is a mother to the people of Greentree.

When we read Deborah’s description, “I Deborah arose as a mother in Israel,” she’s not saying, “I was just a mom.” What she was saying was, “I’m just a judge; I’m just a prophet; I’m just a wife, but I’m a mother in Israel!”

And there are probably women listening who don’t have children—they might want children and they can’t have them or they’re not in that season—and they’re just going, “Oh, great! Now this is the motherhood episode of the Women of the Bible podcast.” 

But what can the woman listening who has no children—who may never have any children—learn about Deborah, about what motherhood means beyond bearing children? Do you have any thoughts, Laura?

Laura G: I like what Laura said about life givers. We can always be life givers. Like your daughter, if you’re encouraging others, if you’re praying for others, if you’re serving others, nurturing others, discipling others, you’re doing that role. You don’t have to be a physical mother.

Erin: Right, I love that.

Laura B.: Maybe we’ll get into this a little bit further along in the lessons, but I was taking notes from Deborah about how to be a mother to my children and to others. I notice that she appeals to Barak to obey God’s Word. She doesn't manipulate him or guilt him into it. It’s not that he needs to please her.

I think that’s such a good quality of a mother! Any woman who is nurturing others, to always be pointing them to please God and not themselves, pointing them to Him.

Erin: Yes, we will get into it, but I don’t know that we can talk about it too often. You know, a mother whose primary role is to convince her children to please her is an oppressive kind of motherhood.

You could take that in any sphere of womanhood: a boss, an employee, a friend who is demanding that you “please me.” That’s not life giving; that’s life draining. And so, you’re right. We can learn a lot about Deborah from that.

Alright, I want to head back to Judges chapter 4. Good news, we were just in Judges chapter 5, so it’s just a page turn. Laura B., would you read us Judges 4:7?

Laura B.:

And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand.

Erin: Okay, here’s an interesting question, and this is why context is important. If we just extracted that verse, we might have a different answer. But, is the “I” . . . (“I” is in there twice.) Is the “I” in this verse referring to Deborah? It’s Deborah talking.

Laura G: No. It’s God. 

Erin: It’s God! How do you know that Laura? 

Laura G: Because she’s says in Judges 4:6, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you?” She’s says what He was saying, “Go gather your men,” the instructions the Lord was giving Barak.

Erin: Right, she’s passing on the Lord’s words, to your point, Laura. And we know that because we know what a prophetess is, you already told us. A prophet’s job is to speak God’s Word. 

Laura G: Right, yes.

Erin: So there’s a softness here in Deborah’s words. Those don’t sound like really soft words initially. They sound like, “Go! Take care of business!” Right? But there’s a softness that we might miss upon first glance, because Deborah, to your point again, is not telling Barak what to do; she’s not giving him an ultimatum.

She’s relaying God’s words, and then she’s leaving it to Him to respond. I’m thinking about my own pattern with other people, with men in particular, and wondering what I can glean from the way that Deborah communicated here.

So what did Deborah not do that maybe you tend to do? I’ll go first. She did not repeat herself. Man, can I be verbose! I can watch it on my sons’ faces! “That’s the thirty-seventh time she’s said that exact same thing! So I could just repeat, repeat, repeat.

She didn’t do that. What are some other things that maybe you see in your own patterns that you don’t see in her pattern? 

Laura B.: She did not end her sentence with an exclamation mark or a period but with a question mark. She just presented it respectfully: “Didn’t God command you to do this?”

Laura G: She didn’t give him an order, or she didn’t say, “How come you haven’t done this!?” You know, like, “You’re a coward!” or something like that. 

Erin: Right, no name calling. Here’s another thing I tend to do: she didn’t manipulate. There’s a way she could have worded this that would have been much more manipulative. I don’t know what it is off the top of my head, although I could probably come up with something if I had the time.

But she’s not trying to manipulate him into doing it. She’s not promising to send something if he does or if he doesn’t. But man, I can be a master manipulator! Anything else she doesn’t do, that jumps out at you?

Laura B.: I think she did not see him with contempt. He was not obeying the Lord, or he was delaying obedience. She just encouraged him: “Hasn’t the Lord told you?” She confirmed the Lord’s instructions to him.

Erin: She doesn’t treat him as weak or worthless. If you watch the messages about men in our culture . . . Just watch ten commercials. Don’t you feel like we position them as weak and worthless a lot of the time?

Laura G: As silly and . . .

Erin: . . . to be disregarded. There’s none of that here. There’s a softness here. Laura G., would you read us 1 Peter 3:7? I think it’s going to give us a frame of reference for this softness that we’re seeing in Deborah.

Laura G: It says, 

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Erin: How do you feel about that phrase, “weaker vessel”?

Laura G: I know that I am weaker. It’s obvious, physically. So to me it’s not a problem to know that men are stronger physically, but I know for some women it is a problem to be called “weaker.”

Erin: I’m not swapping out words; the Bible is not a thesaurus. I can’t just swap in whatever alternate word I want to put in here, but I do think there is a connection here between this verse which is telling us that we’re weaker and this softness that we see in Deborah.

Let me tell you about my brother. I am the proud big sister of Jacob, and you need to know a little bit about what Jacob is like to hear this story: he is a big guy, he rocks a big beard, he loves to hunt, he loves to fish, he loves to be outdoors.

And when his wife had their first baby girl, Ava, he calls me. He’s telling me about her, and he said, “She’s so sweet! And she’s so little. And she’s so soft!” Those were the words of my camouflaged, bearded brother: “She’s so soft!” And that, I think, is the heartbeat of how Scripture describes women.

Laura B.: I have a lot more studying to do on the topic of women as the weaker vessel; it’s certainly an area that I have studied a lot through the years, and it’s been important to me over the years. I’ve wrestled with it. I still need to learn more.

But I think it goes beyond our comparison of our physical structure, because that can be all across the board. Many women are stronger than many men, so on and so forth. So I guess what I’m picturing in that area is, if I’m thinking of vessels, maybe I picture like a glass bowl as opposed to an iron bowl. 

The Lord Himself makes them that way for purposes all His own, and they are beautiful and lovely each. I think what Peter is writing about is that the man is to regard the woman as being made differently and for a different purpose. In that purpose, there is a fragility—in the best sense of the word.

Erin: Yes, like fine china. 

Laura B.: Like fine china that must be respected and honored and held well with strong hands.

Erin: Yes, I love that! And actually, we’re going to see that in Deborah and Barak. One is made of iron and one is made of fine china, and both are used for the purposes of the Lord. There is one word I want us to end this episode on—let it be our punctuation mark here—and that is “valor.”

Let me give us the dictionary definition: “Valor is strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness or personal bravery.” Strength is not in opposition to softness; strength is not synonymous with toughness.

So Deborah is this woman of valor who is able to face what we’re going to see is grave danger and do it in a uniquely feminine way. So, I thought to end this episode, we might think of our sisters—and names are going to come to mind quickly, I don’t want to hear their names, but sisters—who are facing something right now that requires valor.

We’re going to define valor as God-given bravery in the face of danger. And just as a tribute to those sisters (I’m choking up, thinking about them), let’s just name the battles they’re in as a way of saying, “Let God give you valor! Do it in a uniquely feminine way!”

I’m thinking of a friend who, just this week, her husband is facing a life-saving surgery that he had two years ago, and she’s going back into a valley that is so dark. And she keeps saying, “It’s so hard, because I know how dark the valley is!” And so she needs to be a woman of God-given valor.

Let’s name some other women of valor. What are some of the battles they’re running into?

Laura B.: I have a friend who is facing a long-time addiction to pornography. She is walking with the Lord, and He is surrounding her with all she needs to take one victorious step after another. But it takes so much courage to walk out of an addiction like that.

Laura G: I have many mentorees that are moms, young moms, with a lot in their hands—many little ones—and it’s tough, it’s draining. They need valor, they need courage to run that race and believe the promises and just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other.

Laura B.: I’m thinking about a friend who has struggled with a debilitating illness for many, many years. Now she’s in old age and she rarely ever gets out of bed. Simply to put her legs over the side of the bed and to hold on to her walker takes courage and valor to keep going for every day the Lord gives her.

Erin: I think most of us know a woman who is married to a man who doesn’t know the Lord, doesn’t have the Holy Spirit and therefore cannot love that woman with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (see Gal. 5:22–23) She needs valor!

I am picturing women all around the world rising up as Deborahs—women of valor in a dangerous world! And I’ll just end this episode by saying, “Make it so, Lord!” 

Laura B.: What does it mean to lead as a mother? That’s one of the important questions that has come up in our study of Deborah. Erin Davis, Laura Gonzalez, Stacey Rudolph, and I have been studying Deborah together using a new study called Deborah: Becoming a Woman of Valor. 

I hope you’ll get a copy by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com/WomenoftheBible. While you’re there, you can also see this conversation on video. If you want to learn more about the life of Deborah, you can also check out the in-depth teaching series from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth on the Revive Our Hearts podcast. 

Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and search for the series When Men Don’t Lead: A Look at the Life of Deborah. On our next episode, Erin will encourage you that God will be with you when you’re called to something difficult.

Erin: The psalmist is like: “Chariots? Bring ’em! Armies? Send ’em! Vicious generals? C’mon! Because the God of angel armies is on our side!” And I just think that is so strengthening and encouraging for whatever battles we’re in.

Laura B.: I’m Laura Booz, hoping you’ll join us next time for the Women of the Bible podcast. 

Women of the Bible is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ. 

And let me add, if you appreciate hearing Erin on Women of the Bible, I hope you’ll listen to the Grounded podcast. It’s a weekly dose of hope and perspective. You can catch it live every Monday at 9:00 Eastern on YouTube live or Facebook live, or subscribe to the Grounded podcast on your favorite podcast app!

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About the Panelists

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan, and their six children. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.

Laura Gonzalez de Chavez

Laura Gonzalez de Chavez

Laura's passion is to disciple women of all ages with the solid foundation of God's Word and to help them live up to the faith they have embraced. Laura is a biblical counselor and mentor to many young women. She currently directs Aviva Nuestros Corazones, the Spanish arm of the  Revive Our Hearts ministry, a task that has helped her reach the women of her generation with the message of the gospel and biblical womanhood. 

About the Host

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Women of the Bible