Summary: Deborah was a hero for Israel when a it was a time when women were not respected as leaders. She models for us an acute understanding of respect for herself and others.

Heroes of the OT:


Judges 4:1-10

March 15, 2009

I want to start with a question—Is respect given or earned? Should respect just be automatically given or does respect need to be earned? I tend to think that it is both. Although our culture tends to withhold respect until it is earned, sometimes it is a matter of trust and faith to give a certain amount of respect before it is earned.

Here is another dilemma that I’ve been thinking about—Can respect be bought? Is it really respect if it is bought then? Can you pay somebody to be respectful of you?

I got to thinking about this on our cruise. Here we have hundreds of people who are literally there to wait hand and foot on us passengers. Many of these were from other countries. Yet, it was strange to have so many people who worked on the ship warmly greet you. Many would have the biggest smile for you.

Our room steward, Denny, was so nice and seemed to genuinely show concern and respect to our family. It was amazing. So as I thought about this issue of respect, which we are going to talk about today, I also began to wonder if respect can be bought.

How many of you have been on a cruise? This was our first and it was only because of my parents that we were able to go. And they do everything for you. It was kind of weird. Our room stewards at least three times a day came in and clean up our room. They made the beds and not just in the morning but in the afternoon if you had come back and sat on the bed and pillows, they straightened it up again. Constantly coming in including turning the bed down so it was ready for us. One time I got up at three in the morning to visit the closet called that we called a bathroom (that’s another story) and I swear that when I came back, someone had come and made the bed. Kind of freaky… who, what? And the thing was that Kendra was still in it! Really weird…

Kendra and I were kind of lost the first couple of nights back home. We kept looking to see if someone had made our bed and then put chocolates on our beds before we went to sleep. I tried to talk Kendra into taking over where Denny had left off but she gave me the death look so I know that is not happening. As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, “No respect.”

Ever feel like someone wasn’t giving you any respect? We all have. And I’m sure that today’s hero, Deborah, felt that way. Deborah was a woman when it definitely was not a beneficial to being a woman. Yet, somehow in a world dominated by men where women were subjugated and often treated as little more than property, she achieved an amazing status.

The Scriptures tells that she was a mother that became a mother to all of Israel. She was a prophetess. She heard from God and relayed those messages to the people. And the people respected her. They respected her wisdom and her insight. She brought forth the Word of the Lord and they came to her to settle disputes just like they had done with Moses and would do with Solomon.

But things weren’t well in Israel. This was a period of history when Israel would often stray from their faithful worship of the Lord and worship everything else. When that would happen, God would raise up someone, a judge, to get them back on the right track. Then they would do well for a little while and get off track again. This happened again and again. Deborah was one of the people that God chose to help lead Israel back to faithfulness.

Well, because of Israel’s lack of faith, God had allowed them to follow their own desires and this led to them being dominated by King Jabin who had a guy named Sisera that commanded 900 chariots. This was pretty powerful. One chariot equaled about 15 foot solders depending on terrain and battle conditions. Israel was oppressed. They asked God to help them and God did by raising up a woman, Deborah.

God directed Deborah to enlist the help of Barack who gathered ten thousand foot soldiers. Deborah told Barack how to attack, when to attack, and where. She said God would lead Sisera to a place, Kishon River, where the chariots would not be such an advantage. There God would help the Israelites defeat Sisera. Barack would be a hero.

One little problem. Barack wasn’t quite sure of this. Which is understandable since Deborah was a woman. Barack wanted Deborah to come along as he probably saw her as some sort of good luck charm. The Scripture tells us that Barack didn’t quite have enough faith to believe what God had said. So God gave the honor of slaying the enemy commander to another woman.

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