The earliest female leader about whom I ever learned was Deborah. She was appointed Israel’s judge and led the people of Israel from approximately 1209-1169 BC (that’s way before women’s lib was a thing). Deborah had the same role as another judge you may recall. His name was Samson (of Samson and Delilah fame). Samson led Israel nearly 100 years after Deborah. He was known for his physical strength. She was known for her spiritual strength.
Deborah was just the leader Israel needed at this time. Once again, they had wondered away from God and this time found themselves held captive by the king of Canaan. Sisera was the Canaanite army commander who cruelly oppressed the people of Israel for 20 years (Deborah 4:3). When Israel finally cried out to the Lord for help, God had just the right person to use to set Israel free from their captors. When you read the entire story of Deborah’s time as Israel’s judge, you will see she was a woman of confidence, courage and candor.
She had these qualities, because she completely trusted in God. Even her army commander, Barak, lacked the certainty that was needed to lead the people of Israel into battle against Sisera. He refused to gather up his army and go into battle without her. I do tend to think who wouldn’t want someone as fabulous as Deborah around when you are being told to do something incredibly difficult? She didn’t waste time arguing with him. She agreed to go with him, but warned him that the glory of the victory would not go to him. It would go to a woman. You may think she meant herself, but she does not. The death of Sisera came at the hands of a woman named Jael. Let’s just say his death involved a tent stake. For the gruesome details, read Judges 4:17-22.
On paper, the battle against Sisera’s army looked unwinnable. Sisera had a huge army that included 900 iron chariots. The odds against Israel’s puny army were overwhelming – except for one very important thing. Israel had God on their side; and Deborah knew it. Knowing that God was going ahead of them, she commands Barak to lead his army into battle against Sisera. “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you (Judges 4:14)?” Now, that’s confidence! There’s no need to be timid, no reason to walk in fear when you know you have God going before you while at the same time He walks beside you! Sure enough, the troops of Sisera all fell by the hand of God through the unlikely victorious army of Israel.
The story of Deborah is a great reminder that God is quite willing to do great things through you. When you fully trust in Him, He simply requires you to show up. God will handle the rest. Make today the day you show up.