Judges 4 contains the story of the only female judge. Deborah is interesting for several reasons. The two I found most interesting in this read through were:
- As both prophetess and judge, she is the only woman known to fulfill both roles in the Israelite Theocracy at the same time. In fact, the next person to fulfill two or more roles is Samuel. She is preceded by Moses. That speaks to the strength of her faith.
- She is comfortable enough in her gender to allow Barak to lead the army. At this point in history, women did not lead military campaigns. This is interesting to me because Barak doesn’t even want to lead the army without her. Barak contrasts against Deborah’s comfortability with his own unease. Barak is unwilling to “man-up” perhaps wisely but he gets chastised for it pretty hard. (Judges 4:9)
I think we can apply these observations from the story of Deborah to our own lives. The first is that God is not gender exclusive. He loves men and women equally. God is not afraid to use women or men to call His people. This is evident beyond just gender. God will use anyone that will heed His call regardless of human classification, as seen by other Biblical characters.
The second thing we need to understand is that we all have a role to play. It would’ve been out of Deborah’s role to lead the army in Barak’s place. It was not Barak’s role to prophesy or judge. Either usurping the other would’ve been overthrowing God in an act of pride.
An example from my life is this: my wife is the CFO (chief financial officer) of our family. She makes and maintains the budget. For me to get in her budget would be me overstepping my role as COO (chief operating officer). I make sure the family operates in a way that is acceptable to God, our CEO (chief executive officer). When my wife gets into the weeds of our daily schedule, things go awry in a similar way to when I get too into our budget. Certainly, I know the budget, and she knows the schedule. It isn’t our role though to be the final decision maker in those areas that we don’t lead and oversee every day. In this way, we attempt to live in the roles God has provided for us.