“A valiant wife who can find? Her price is far beyond corals.” Proverbs 31:10 (Waltke)
I so wish I could read Your Word, Lord, in its original languages. Because by not being able to, I miss out on things, things that could help me understand Your heart more deeply. But thankfully, You give me others that understand and can help me. But to be able to see that for myself, would be so precious.
Here I am today, finding out about some things in Your Word that aren’t just lovely sayings but are really poetry. But I wouldn’t have known that without being told. And maybe some people say it doesn’t make a difference, we can still read and learn. And that’s true to a point, but we may miss something in the “lack of translation.” Like the verse above. It’s not a romantic poem, a ballad, or a chorus. It’s a heroic poem. Imagine that, a heroic poem about a woman.
That matters to me. It matters to some Godly men too. How did I even get here. Well, Deborah brought me here. Deborah was one of those heroic women. She wasn’t the only one. And they’re not just a thing of the past. And they’re not an anomoly that only occurs when a man doesn’t step up. These valiant ones are there when the men are standing and when the men refuse to stand. You see, being valiant in the eyes of God is not gender sensitive.
Now, I had to do a little research here, Biblical research, because I don’t want to promote anything false. But if I go back to Judges 2:16 I find out who was responsible for appointing the judges over Israel in the time after Joshua. Guess who? Here are Your words, Lord, straight from Scripture, “Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them [the Israelites] out of the hand of those that spoiled them.” So it was You and You alone that decided who was a judge and that placed each judge in position to deliver Your people. Now, whether the people honored You through Your judge was up to them. Whether I honor You and receive the subsequent blessing, or whether I dishonor and disobey You and miss the blessing is still my choice today, just as it was then.
How do I know that You, Lord, were the One with the judge? How do I know that Your hand went beyond just their appointment? You tell me in verse 18. “And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge…” That with is a little word, “im,” but it means a lot to me. It means You were “equally with” the judge. Sounds like if someone wanted to know Your thoughts or Your actions, all they needed to do was come to the judge because the judge would be living out life Your way.
So, what kind of people did God choose as judges? Do you know, we aren’t told about their character or job or status beforehand. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t matter. Maybe all that matters is that You chose them, You equipped them, You chose them for a specific time and purpose, and I’m pretty certain that they were chosen before any of the stuff they were chosen for was even a worry in anyone’s head. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that You have chosen us in You before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before You in love. Isaiah doesn’t go back quite so far but he says in chapter 49, verse 5 that the Lord formed him from the womb to be His servant. Well, if that’s the case, then God has already designed our purpose. And my purpose in Him and for Him does not happen due to someone else’s failure to rise up and obey, but simply due to the fact that it’s what He created me for.
Othniel, the first judge over Israel, was raised up to be the first judge over Israel. You created him to deliver them specifically from Chushanrishathaim and even more specifically to lead them back to You. Next, You raised up the left-handed Ehud, to specifically defeat Eglon and more specifically to lead the people back to You. He wasn’t left-handed by accident. You did that in his mother’s womb because You knew his purpose. You didn’t choose a lefty because there wasn’t a sufficient righty. You knew before the foundation of time. Next was Shamgar who delivered with an ox goad. So who was next?
Deborah. Yes, next came a woman judge. But how did she come? She came like all the other judges. The Lord raised her up and the Lord was with her just like the other judges. Understand that. The Lord raised up Deborah specifically to be HIS JUDGE at that time for that purpose. The Lord did not fail by appointing a man that did not show up for his calling. No man skipped out on his job here. This is a tough one, but You, LORD, gave Deborah specifically this job, this calling, because she was the one You fitted for the position. If You had wanted a man in this position at this time, You would have put him there. But for whatever Your reason was, and because Your ways are higher than my ways, You know who the right person for the job is, whether they should be male or female, because You alone are the Equipper.
We know as much about Deborah as we do about the other judges. Maybe slightly more. I know she was also a prophetess. I read somewhere that being a prophetess meant she was a wife of a prophet. I wonder if that’s a cultural mis-idea? I mean, there’s overwhelming evidence of female prophets in Your word. Why wouldn’t she be a prophetess if that’s what Your word labels her as? And she was either married to Lapidoth or from that area/family. I also know that she helped people make godly decisions under the palm tree of Deborah. She was a wise, godly woman. People knew that. People knew that if they wanted to know Your desire, Lord, in a situation, they could come to her.
Not only did the people respect her in that way, but You shared Your plans with her. And she sent for Barak. See, she was a judge, and in this case, not a warrior. But You were calling Barak to stand as Your warrior and deliver the people from their oppressor. She told Barak that You were going to hand the battle over to him. But what was Barak’s reply to You? And I ask that because he would have known that he was listening to the words of God being spoken through Deborah. What did Barak do with Your words, Lord? He told God by telling Deborah, “I won’t go unless You go with me, Deborah.” Ohhhh, that hurts. “God, Your word is not enough for me. I need a surety.” Do I have a tendency to do that? How sure is Your word to my heart and life?
Did Deborah punish Barak’s decision, his actions? Or was she just stating how You, Lord, respond to that kind of response from us? When I don’t respond fully to Your request, to Your word, can I expect a full blessing from You? Deborah answered, “I’ll go with you. If you need my encouragement, I’ll accompany you. But realize that You won’t recieve the full honor because You didn’t fully rely on God. He’s going to give that honor into the hands of a woman.” (my condensed version)
Now, this time, because a person who happened to be a man did not fully obey, You raised up a woman in the right tent at the right time to drive the peg home. But if I really stop to think about it, it’s still not gender specific; it’s situation specific; it’s follower specific. You cater Your response to the response of Your followers at hand in the situation that You have already designed.
Well, someone can tell me until they’re blue in the face that You raised up Deborah because their wasn’t a man available. But I’m not gonna turn blue in the face. I know what Scripture says. Scripture says that You, Lord, control my destiny, not the success or failure of any other man or woman. You raise up and You tear down. You give life and You take life away. I am successful just as any man is successful solely based on one truth, how I respond to You. Women aren’t mistakes. We’re not God’s backup plan. You don’t have a backup plan, Lord. Your ways are always right and true, they’ve been predesigned, what Scripture calls predestinated.
See, every woman is called to be valiant in the Lord, just as every man is called to be valiant in the Lord. And we can’t do that by knowledge alone. We do it by our obedient service to what the Lord has called us. A valiant woman or a valiant man, honors God above all. They esteem others as more valuable then themselves. They sacrifice. They live out the love of God in their lives. They care for the needy, they deliver the oppressed. They don’t just pray and preach, they live it out in every aspect of their lives. God, You are calling us all to be valiant. It’s not gender specific. It’s God specific and only You can make us truly valiant as we learn to obediently rely on You in utter dependence.
Thank You, Lord, for raising up Deborah, and Huldah, and Miriam, and Anna, and Phillip’s daughters, and the women at Corinth, and others I don’t know about. Thank You that You choose by Your love and power and compassion to use women to heroicly exalt You in this world. Thank You for both the heroic women of faith and action that You have placed in Your word and in my life. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank You for choosing by Your love and power and compassion to also use men to heroicly exalt You in this world. And I thank You for the heroic men of faith and action that You have place in Your word and in my life. Lord, thank You so much, for being a hero maker! No one could do it on their own.