Deborah and Jael
Updated: Jan 26
If you’re looking for a little biblical girl power, Judges 4 is a good place to go. Here we see examples of women in positions of leadership and power, not common to that period of history. Let’s start with Deborah, our boss girl of the Bible. First, we see that Deborah is a respected judge. Say what?!? I didn’t think that was even allowed back then. Then we find out she was also a prophet. I believe that for her to be respected in these roles in this time, shows that she was placed in a God-ordained position. When she shares with Barak the message the Lord gave to her about going into battle against King Jabin and his commander, Sisera, he didn’t doubt that the instructions came from the Lord. He did, however, ask Deborah to accompany him. Add military leader to Deborah’s resume. Barak continued to follow Deborah’s counsel as they went into battle. Barak, Deborah and their army are victorious over Sisera’s warriors, but Sisera himself escapes.
Here is where Jael comes in. Sisera attempts to take refuge in her tent because her husband is friendly with King Jabin. God gives Jael the opportunity to defeat the enemy and she takes it. I believe the fact that she was a woman aided in the success of the mission. Sisera did not even consider her a threat. She went on to make him feel more comfortable covering him with a blanket and giving him milk. After all, we women are known to be nurturing and hospitable. If one of Barak's male soldiers was in that tent, you can bet that Sisera would not have even gone in, let alone asked to be tucked in for a little nap. Jael recognized the unique position she was in and bravely fulfilled Deborah’s prophesy, “For the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” (Judges 4:9)
In the next chapter of Judges, Deborah and Barak sing a song of praise. Deborah gives full recognition of their success to God. Her goal was not to promote herself or even show what women are capable of. She saw herself as God’s messenger, willing to be used in whatever capacity He needed her and gave all the glory to Him.
I’ve heard many people say the Bible is oppressive to women. I believe that the oppression comes more from the culture of the time period, not from God. We see several examples in the Bible where God is revolutionary, using women in ways that completely go against the social norms of that day and age. God created every person, male and female, in His likeness. God has given each of us gifts to be used for His glory. When God is prompting you to use a gift outside “the norm”, don’t let old stereotypes deter you. If God wants to use you in this manner, trust that He will bring you through it.
It is a different world today, thankfully, where women's gifts are recognized, and they are encouraged to be leaders. It is important to show young women these biblical examples where God uses women in unique ways to glorify Him and advance His kingdom.
1. What gifts do you believe God has given you to glorify His kingdom?
2. Have you ever been discouraged in using one of your gifts because of your age, gender or ethnicity?
3. Do you have the gift of leadership and if so, what are some ways that you can use it?
4. Is there a girl in your life, maybe a daughter or niece, that would be encouraged by the brave actions of Deborah and Jael? If so, make a point to share this story with them.