Judges 4

Matt Summerfield considers the importance of looking to God, rather than relying on your own strength.

Matt Summerfield
Matt Summerfield

Deborah is one of the stand-out characters in the Old Testament. An exceptional leader in a challenging, violent and godless culture. What lessons about life, faith and leadership can we learn from her?

Lesson 1: Learn to look forward and enable others to grow upward

"After Ehud's death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord's sight. So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for 20 years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help." (Judges 4:1-3)

For 20 years, God's people are brutally and violently oppressed. The Hebrew word for 'oppressed' can also be interpreted 'crushed' or 'squeezed'. They are having a terrible time and have done so for 20 years.

After 20 years they finally cry out to God. What were they doing for those 20 years?

Trying to fix it themselves

  • Putting up with it

  • Turning to other gods
  • It's amazing how sometimes we treat God as the 'God of the last resort'.

    Do you sometimes have a tendency to try to fix stuff yourself and only turn to God when you are really in trouble?

    God is just and fair. The best definition I've ever heard of God's judgement, is that God's judgment is life on your terms. God will give you what you want. If you want to fix stuff yourself then He'll step back. But if you come to Him in a place of surrender then He can step in.

    And God does step in to this story, but only after 20 years of them trying to do it themselves.

    Lesson 2: Learn to step back so God can step in

    "Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment." (Judges 4:4-5)

    God steps in to this story and raises up Deborah.

    Deborah was a prophet and she was also a judge. People travelled from all over because she was recognised for her God-given wisdom.

    This was fairly radical in a male-dominated culture. It's a very important reminder to us that He chooses people by character and gifting, and not by gender.