Yep, that is the name I chose as my baptismal name.
I didn’t have to choose a name. I did my baptism in my parents church and they don’t make it mandatory for you to choose a biblical name. But I felt like, so I did. And I chose Deborah.
There are actually 2 Deborahs mentioned in the Bible.
The first one is Rebekah’s nurse and she is only mentioned once – “Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping” – Gen 35:8
I’m sure she was a good person but I definitely didn’t choose that name because of her.
The other Deborah who inspired my name is the famous Deborah we all know so well. The one in Judges 4 and 5. And this verse right here is why:
Now Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time – Judges 4:4.
Prophetess aka voice of God, meaning she had a personal relationship with God. And in those days, prophets and prophetesses were not self made, they were exclusively chosen by God! First and most important tick!
She was a wife. The reason this matters to me is because of the society we are in which seeks to limit a wife to just that – being a wife. As if that should be the sum total of who we are – Wife, The End! Deborah proves to me that we have purpose outside our marriage. And being married is no reason or excuse not to be who you are created to be. Double tick!
Queen/President/Prime Minister – She led Isreal! That deeply partriachial society. She. Led. Them. And they followed. They followed so much that even a God appointed General refused to go into war if she didn’t go with him. And she did.
This tells me:
- She didn’t lead from the sidelines, sending people to do what she cannot do. She was a true leader
- She commanded respect and inspired confidence. Her presence was what made a general ride into war
- She wasn’t seen as ‘the weaker sex’. Very far from it. Women definitely didn’t go to war in that era but not Deborah. She was a woman of valour.
- She was the DON. One Bible translation says – ‘she summoned Barak’, another says ‘she sent for Barak’. Commander-in-Chief, hehehe.
- She didn’t suffer fools lightly, nor cowards. When Barak chose to hide behind her in his fear, asking her to go with him to war, she didn’t hesitate to tell him, the glory of the war will go to another because of that. Instant judgment!
- She lives what she preaches. She didn’t hesitate to go boldly to war because she believed her own prophecy. To her, it was – God said it, I believe it, that settles it! How many of us actually live up to the faith we profess in God?
The verse immediately after that says: “She would sit under the Date Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the Ephraimite hill country. The Israelites would come up to her to have their disputes settled” – Judges 4:5
So, she was wise, fair and just. I think we can all agree that to be able to judge a whole nation requires a huge dose of patience, tolerance and love. What an amazing woman!
Then this verse here says how she was viewed in Isreal: “Warriors were scarce, they were scarce in Israel, until you arose, Deborah, until you arose as a motherly protector in Israel” – Judges 5:7
How amazing! This tells me she was able to successfully combine her femaleness with her duties. None was suppressed for the other. The people she led acknowledged her strength and her tenderness (warrior and mother) Plus she didn’t make slaves of her people. Instead she built warriors, raised men and women of strength so much so that they testified that Israel had no warriors till she came. The role of a leader has always been to raise other leaders. She did that. What a life!
Her autobiography ends with these words: “And the land had rest for forty years” – Judges 5:31.
This means she was such a successful leader that she kept the nation safe, secure, prosperous and thriving. For Forty Years!
And we all know in those days that God didn’t deal patiently with them like he does with us. They sin, he strikes gbam. So which translates to – she kept them obedient and faithful to God.
I don’t know about you, but this woman set quite a standard for me. And I don’t bear her name lightly. When I think of this name Deborah, I feel that burden of responsibility to live up to it. Not become her clone, but to be the woman God created me to be, to fulfill my calling and live as an example to generations behind.
So help me, God