Hear, O kings, give ear, O princes, to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel. Judges 5:2 (KJV)
Our Sunday morning Connect Group lesson was on Deborah this week. Deborah was the first (and only, as far as we know) judge of Israel. One of the ladies said we didn’t talk much about Deborah in Baptist churches because it didn’t quite fit in with the Baptist doctrine of not allowing women in leadership roles in the church. What do you think? Is she right?
Because of my research for my novel, Woman of Light, I was able to give the class some background information that wasn’t in the text. First, in Hebrew, Lappidoth is a feminine plural noun, so it is not likely to be a man’s name. Even Matthew Henry agrees it’s not. Thus, wife of Lappidoth means what? The word literally means candles or torches. A few scholars have suggested it may have been the name of a city, but no such city has ever been found.
According to the Talmud, Deborah was the wife of Barak, the general. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. It explains so much about the story. Why would any upstanding Hebrew man of that day let his wife go off for months with another man? Why would the great general of the Israelite army care what a woman said in the first place? Why would he insist she join him? Maybe it’s because he knew and trusted her judgment and had seen her faith in action. Maybe he’d seen the power of God in her life. Rather than indicating a lack of leadership on his part, it may have meant he wasn’t afraid to take a back seat to her if it meant victory for Israel.
Some scholars think that Deborah was a candle maker. They believe Barak had been a poor man, but Deborah’s candles made him rich enough to become the great leader of Israel who would later become their general. A few have even suggested that she was the model for the Proverbs 31 woman.
To me, the greatest lesson of this story was the power of prayer and praise. All of Judges 5 is a song of praise sung by Deborah and Barak after the battle at Mt. Tabor. It echoes the songs of Miriam and Moses, and is a foretaste of the beautiful songs of Mary and Elizabeth that proclaim the coming of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. So many of our older folks fuss because churches don’t have hymnals nowadays, but what they don’t realize is that, relatively speaking, hymnals are a new invention. Long before hymnals, people praised the Lord in song from choruses or scripture put to simple tunes they’d memorized. These Biblical praise songs came from an overflow of emotions wrought by personally witnessing the immense power of God, and responding to it in the only way possible—praise for His Holy majesty and merciful grace.
Today, our world is in chaos. We are such a divided nation, we can’t even enjoy a football game (not that I watch football, because I don’t) without dissecting every nuance of people’s words and actions looking for something to find offensive. We need healing, and it’s going to take a miracle. We’re in a battle, and the enemy is us. We need to look up, lift our voices in prayer and sing praise to our Redeemer, for He is near, and He waits for our call.