Deborah: Woman's Attribute
Judges 4:4-11
And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.…

1. Amongst the women of the Bible Deborah stands out in great prominence, though we know but little of her character. She is one of those who show forth a distinctive characteristic of women — the power of contrivance and design carried out to such an extent as to make some doubt whether her acts were within the limits of religion and morality.

2. Deborah seems to have been a kind of oracle in the unsettled state of things that existed among the Jewish tribes; her advice was attended to and her voice followed by leaders and by armies with the most implicit devotion. Her parallels are many, both in Scripture and history. We are irresistibly reminded of one whose spirit once bore up the flagging energies of France in the annals of the latter, of Judith in those of the former. One circumstance strikes us as highly significant. Starting up close beside her was the kindred spirit of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Though not strictly answerable for the act of Jael, she nevertheless celebrated that act as one of her objects of gratulation in her magnificent hymn.

3. We must view her in two lights. She was of course under a heavenly inspiration, as well as under the guidance of a strong natural character. In the former capacity she is simply to be viewed as one of those instances in which God chooses to show forth His power through the weak things of this world, and to bring about great national crises through the instrumentality of the weaker sex. But placing this view of the subject aside, I will consider her in reference to her natural character and ordinary position, as a woman in the midst of vast and depressing circumstances rousing by the vigour, boldness, and freshness of her character, the flagging energies of men. We see this in many instances of life, public as well as private. How remarkable and almost miraculous it is that the wife, who shares the anxious cares of the husband, be he labourer or mechanic, is able to keep up her spirit and to hope to the end! How often would the man, who has had to contend with the waves of constant trouble, succumb to increasing difficulties; and how many a crisis of difficulty, in connection with illness, accidents, or the like, in the domestic circle, calls forth the presence of mind of the mother, when the father would shrink from the difficulty, and lend no hand to help. Nor is it only this power that is felt so beneficially in the cottage as well as in richer homes. The eye that sees a brighter day and that pierces the fast rolling clouds of present adversity, perceiving the glow of a brighter morning when "the tyranny will be overpast," is especially the eye of woman. One other attribute of woman which comes out in Deborah's story is the deep impression that her mission was Divine, and that the instincts of nature were the gifts of inspiration. There is that spirit in the weaker sex which, in the moment of high crisis and difficulty, would often justify the impression; but this spirit is the gift of God for a special purpose, and is a substitute for those bolder and more persevering qualities which belong to the stronger sex. There are many periods, both in private and in public life, which need rather light shed by a ready and present mind than the steady beam of the more enduring fire. From the lack of it we may miss the object of our life's search. It is the want felt in such conjunctures as these that woman supplies; she bears the lamp of the midnight; and sometimes when with weary watching other lamps have gone out, hers is trimmed.

4. Such is woman's prerogative, such her peculiar characteristic. For though Deborah may be an exaggeration in a remarkable crisis of the characteristics of her sex, they nevertheless exist in more or less force in every representative of it. It is seemingly paradoxical, but no less true, that women should have the power of meeting imminent danger with a calmness and perseverance often denied to man. Let them view these gifts as the direct ordering of Heaven, and, while they glory in them as their heritage, let them cultivate and improve them as the talents committed to their trust.

(E. Monro, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

WEB: Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

A Sermon for the New Year
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