Confidence and Freedom are two of my absolute favorite things. I’m not sure that there is anything more beautiful than a woman who is sure of who she is in Christ. Her confidence has little to do with her and everything to do with the God inside of her. She accepts God’s elaborate gifts and chooses to share them with others freely. She shows up, encourages, blesses, and celebrates. She is who she was created to be on purpose and calls out the destiny in those around her. She is a rare and amazing woman!
This is the last week of our Women of God series. We have studied amazing ladies from the Bible who have taught us to Live Loved, be Fully Surrendered, have Extravagant Worship, Feisty Focus, and live Authentically Secure. This week we will learn about Confident Freedom through the life of Deborah in Judges chapter 4. She walked in Confident Freedom herself and repeatedly gave others the opportunity to as well.
- Deborah lived in Confident Freedom.
“Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice,” (Judges 4:4-5 MSG).
Ok. I know that looks like four little, straight-forward sentences but there is SO much to that. In that day, women weren’t exactly handed out leadership roles. Either one of the roles listed here (prophet or judge) would have broken societal norms – Deborah was called to both!
Prophet – “A prophet was an individual who received a call from God to be God’s spokesperson, often connected with some crisis that was about to occur, and then announced God’s message of judgment and/or deliverance to Israel and the nations. The importance of this office can be seen in the fact that the word “prophet” occurs over 300 times in the Old Testament and almost 125 times in the New Testament. The term “prophetess” appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 2 times in the New Testament.” (Source)
Judge – “This is the name given to those rulers who presided over the affairs of the Israelites during the interval between the death of Joshua and the accession of Saul (Judges 2:18 ), a period of general anarchy and confusion.” (Source)
I don’t think that she could have held those offices unless she was full of Confident Freedom. She was God’s mouthpiece and the go-to person for resolving conflict. She was brave and strong and I would NOT have wanted to mess with her!
2. Deborah prophesied Confident Freedom over Barak.
“She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, ‘It has become clear that GOD, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I’ll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I’ll make sure you win the battle.’
Barak said, ‘If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’
She said, ‘Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. GOD will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera,'” (Judges 4:6-9 MSG).
This is incredible. Deborah got the exact battle plan from God: “Go here, take this many people, make sure that they are from these specific places.” God promised that He would put the enemy where they needed to be and that Israel would have victory. God was using Deborah to empower Barak (not to mention the whole Israelite army) and instill Confident Freedom in him. If he obeyed God’s instructions, all would be well.
But then Barak asked something extremely unexpected. He asked Deborah to be a part of the battle. This girl was already busy with roles that women didn’t normally fill and then was asked to be a warrior too. Deborah didn’t bat an eye. Her response was: “Of course I’ll go with you.” Wait- what? OF COURSE?! Talk about Confident Freedom!
“But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. GOD will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.” This whole post is about this woman’s Confident Freedom. That statement sounds like we’ve gone a little past confidence and into arrogant territory. When I first read that, I thought Deborah was telling Barak that if she went with him, she would get the credit for the victory. But watch what happens.
3. Deborah prophesied Confident Freedom over Jael.
This next passage is after the battle. If you want to see all of the details, you can read the rest of the story here. God delivered the entire Jabin army to the Israelites and they killed every single man except for Sisera.
“GOD routed Sisera—all those chariots, all those troops!—before Barak. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran. Barak chased the chariots and troops all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera’s entire fighting force was killed—not one man left.
Meanwhile Sisera, running for his life, headed for the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jabin king of Hazor and Heber the Kenite were on good terms with one another. Jael stepped out to meet Sisera and said, ‘Come in, sir. Stay here with me. Don’t be afraid.’ So he went with her into her tent. She covered him with a blanket.
He said to her, ‘Please, a little water. I’m thirsty.’ She opened a bottle of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up again. He then said, ‘Stand at the tent flap. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is there anyone here?’ tell him, ‘No, not a soul.’’ Then while he was fast asleep from exhaustion, Jael, wife of Heber, took a tent peg and hammer, tiptoed toward him, and drove the tent peg through his temple and all the way into the ground. He convulsed and died. Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to greet him. She said, ‘Come, I’ll show you the man you’re looking for.’ He went with her and there he was—Sisera, stretched out, dead, with a tent peg through his temple,” (Judges 4:4-22 MSG).
You can’t tell me the Bible is boring!
It seemed like this tent would be a safe place for Sisera to rest. He knew Jael and was exhausted from the battle. She used her gift of hospitality to lure him in, but homeboy went to the wrong tent!
Jael had already made her mind up about which side of this fight she was on. This girl was serious! Her Confidence brought Freedom to Israel. This is what Deborah was talking about when she prophesied, “GOD will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.” Deborah was talking about Jael – not herself! She didn’t need all the credit because she wasn’t insecure.
In the next chapter, Deborah sings a song of praise to God for their victory. This is what she says about Jael:
“Most blessed of all women is Jael,
wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of homemaking women.
He asked for water,
she brought milk;
In a handsome bowl,
she offered cream.
She grabbed a tent peg in her left hand,
with her right hand she seized a hammer.
She hammered Sisera, she smashed his head,
she drove a hole through his temple.
He slumped at her feet. He fell. He sprawled.
He slumped at her feet. He fell.
Slumped. Fallen. Dead,” (Judges 5:24-27 MSG).
It is a celebration of her sister. Part of the reason that I love the story of Deborah is that she didn’t diminish her awesome-ness so that Jael could shine. Deborah was a prophet, judge, and warrior. This girl had it going on! And so did Jael. We don’t have to be in competition with each other.
My favorite preacher is Charlotte Gambill. I’ve had the privilege to hear her speak several times. She preached this message at a conference I was at and it wrecked me. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing. Here is the link. She tells the story of when God first called her to ministry. She was 19 and had the opportunity to lead her first women’s Bible study at church. Three older women started stirring a few rows back. They stood up, began booing her, and walked out while she was teaching. She was a teenager who was trying to be brave and share her heart. And she was boo’ed by those who should have celebrated her. Can you even imagine how painful and humiliating that was?
I spoke at my first women’s Bible study when I was 19 too. I was fresh out of my first year at Bible college. My ladies surrounded me and celebrated my socks off. I am beyond thankful that God surrounded me with Mamas who made space for me and spoke life into me. I’ve also dealt with women who thought they know who/how I should be. And they made sure to let me know. I’m sure you have too. Let’s forgive them, walk in Confident Freedom, and commit to do better for those coming up behind us. Let’s treat the ladies in our lives the way we wish we were treated.
Freedom is the goal – it’s the whole Gospel message. We have a Savior who paid a high price for our Freedom and for us to be Confident in who He created us to be. There really is plenty of room for all of us to win! Confident and Free women give room for other women to excel and shine. They step out of the way, make space for, and celebrate their sisters.
Celebrating you today!
Here is this week’s Homework.