Bible study on Deborah: What is the story of Deborah in the Bible?

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As we continue this Bible study series on Judges, we come to Chapter 4 where we learn about Deborah. She is an important judge chosen by God to lead His people in her time. And not only is she a judge, but she’s also a prophetess and so much more! This Bible study on Deborah should give us insight into God’s faithful and loving nature despite the number of times we turn our backs on Him. Deborah’s story in the Bible is not just about a great woman of God who we can learn so much from, but also about a great and merciful God who hears the pleas of His children and delivers them every time.

Characteristics of Deborah in the Bible

Many of the characteristics of Deborah are explicitly stated in the Bible. Others we can deduce from her actions or words:

  • a prophetess (Judges 4:4, 6)
  • the wife of Lapidoth (Judges 4:4)
  • a judge (Judges 4:4, 5 – “judging Israel at that time … And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.”)
  • fearless, obedient, and wise (Judges 4:9 – “I will surely go with you … Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.”)
  • spoke with authority (Judges 4:14 – “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hands.”)
  • filled with the Spirit (two reasons why we know she was filled with the Spirit: 1. Whenever God would raise a deliverer for His people, they were filled with the Spirit. (Judges 2:16, Judges 3:10, 15). And Reason 2. She was able to hear from the Lord.)

Her name means “bee” in Hebrew. A quick Google search will tell you just how fitting this meaning is for Deborah! Bees are focused, dedicated, strong, and cooperative creatures, among other things!

Bible Study on Deborah: Why was Deborah important in the Bible?

Deborah was important in the Bible. She not only helped the Israelites resolve their matters on a day to day basis as a judge, but she was also critical in delivering them from their oppressor: Jabin king of Canaan.

Who is Barak (in the Bible)? Why did Barak want Deborah to go with him?

Upon hearing from God, she called Barak, a commander in Naphtali, and told him:

"Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I [the Lord] will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I [the Lord] will deliver him into your hand." 

Judges 4:6, NKJV

Though it appears that Barak distrusted God’s Word because we read in Judges 4:8 that he wouldn’t go without Deborah, we really don’t know if who he distrusted was God or the Israelites. What we do know is that in Hebrews 11:32-34 he is counted as a hero of faith alongside David and Samuel and the prophets! And because of this, I don’t believe he distrusted God but the Israelites.

EGW states the following:

"Barak knew the scattered, disheartened, and unarmed condition of the Hebrews, and the strength and skill of their enemies. 
...he had little confidence in Israel, and feared that they would not obey his call."

So, why is Barak in the hall of faith?

We read in Hebrews 11:33-34 NKJV that he (and the other heros), through faith, “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, … escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness … [was] made strong, became valiant in battle, [and] turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

And proof of this is in Judges 4:14, 20 NKJV which states that “Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.” He chased Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, plus the army who had chariots of iron until the entire army of Sisera fell. The Bible says that “not a man was left” (v16). In v22, we read how Barak continued to pursue Sisera. He was determined, relentless and valiant in completing his mission as directed by God.

What can we learn from Barak in the Bible?

The first thing we can learn from Barak is to obey God’s command to “Go!”

Otherwise, God will send someone in your place if you refuse to “Go!”

You see, Judges 4:8 NKJV says that Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” He refused to go without Deborah.

Deborah tells Barak that (v9) “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” (Can you guess what her name is?)

When God tells us to “Go!” do we obey Him or does fear consume us? Do we stall or turn away or make up excuses? How many missed opportunities because we have doubted God’s directive to “Go!”

The next thing we can learn from him is to value the leaders God has put in place. Barak valued Deborah’s presence and he knew her instructions were from the Lord. Do we value or listen to those God has put in position of leadership? Whether it’s at church, at school, in our homes, or in our government?

Bible Study on Deborah: What lessons can we learn from Deborah in the Bible?

Here are a few lessons we can learn from Deborah:

  1. Deborah was filled with the Spirit. She heard from God and was able to judge Israel and provide the army instructions to defeat their oppressor, Jabin king of Canaan. Questions to ponder: Are you filled with the Spirit? Can you hear from God? If not, pray and stay connected to God and His Word. You’ll hear from Him in time and He will pour out His Spirit on you (see Acts 2:17-18 NKJV).
  2. Upon hearing from God on how to defeat their oppressors, she shares it with Barak, a commander, and isn’t afraid to go in battle with him. She was fearless and obedient because she knew who the victory belonged to: God! Questions to ponder: Do you know who has the victory over those things that are troubling you today? It’s not you, but God!
  3. She was a woman who spoke with authority and you see this with how she spoke to Barak. She didn’t hold back the truth from him. She commanded him to “Go!” at just the right time, reminding him that “this is the day in which Lord has delivered Sisera” into his hand (Judges 4:14 NKJV). Questions to ponder: Do we speak with authority when it comes to sharing God’s message with others? Maybe you’re fearful or hesitant, but pray to have the power of the Holy Spirit to speak with authority in sharing the Good News with others!
  4. When God gave them the victory, she praised God! The Song of Deborah is in Judges 5 where you find her and Barak praising God for delivering them from their enemies. Questions to ponder: When God gives us a blessing or a victory, do we praise God instantly or do we phone/text a loved one? Do we publicize it first instead of spending time in praise with our God?
  5. And in that song praising God, she did not take any credit! She starts and ends the song by praising God! Questions to ponder: Do we take any inch of credit for God’s victories in our lives? When we are in moments of peace or in trouble, do we praise Him often thanking Him for the peace and knowing that He will resolve all our troubles?

Bible Study on Deborah: How did Deborah die in the Bible?

I couldn’t find a verse which mentioned Deborah’s death. What we do know is that after Barak and Deborah’s victory over Jabin/Sisera, the land had rest for 40 years (Judges 5:31 NKJV).

Who was Jael in the Bible & What did Jael do in the Bible?

Jael was instrumental in Judges 4. She was the one that actually killed Sisera when he “fled away on foot” from Barak and the Israelite army (v17). Sisera came across her tent where she initially showed him great hospitality. However, it seems that when she recognized who he was, while he was sleeping in her tent, she “drove [a tent] peg into his temple” (Judges 4:21 NKJV).

Jael was used by God to accomplish God’s plans for His people. It’s not certain if she was a believer, but possibly not because Judges 4:11 NKJV says the following:

"Heber [Jael's husband] the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh."

What can we learn from Jael in the Bible?

  1. One important takeaway from her story is that God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes!
  2. We need to ‘remove’ those individuals / things from our lives that keep us from being in God’s will. Imagine if she had allowed him to live there until the end of the war. The Israelites would have continued to be oppressed. All the more to obey God’s directives.
  3. We should allow ourselves to be used by God because great things (even miracles) may happen as a result! In fact, Ananias after hearing from God was initially concerned about meeting Saul of Tarsus (who would then be called Paul). He obeyed and God used Ananias to pray over Saul and baptize him. How many wonderful things did Paul do after his conversion!

Dear friends, I hope this bible study on Deborah and Judges 4 was encouraging. Some lessons may be basic, but these lessons are intended for newly converted Christians or those who are just starting to study the Bible.

If you have any comments, suggestions or thoughts, please share them below!!

God bless you abundantly!


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Biblegateway.com)

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