Who was Deborah the Prophetess?

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 23, 2022
Who was Deborah the Prophetess?

It is important for all Christians to know about Deborah and her influence on God's people.

Deborah the Prophetess was an important individual in the Bible, but not many believers are familiar with her. Deborah was a powerful, headstrong, and wise woman who was a judge of Israel. Many people try to dispute this fact, yet the Bible tells us that Deborah, in fact, held this position: “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4). It is important for all Christians to know about Deborah and her influence on God's people.

Deborah the Prophetess

As stated, the Bible tells us that Deborah was a prophetess and a judge of Israel (Judges 4:4). Since Deborah was a prophetess, this meant that she could directly talk to God and consult with Him on various matters just like the male prophets could talk with God. Due to Deborah’s great wisdom, the people of Israel would come and consult with her on a myriad of different things. Judges 4:5 tells us, “She used to sit (to hear and decide disputes) under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment.” From this passage of Scripture, we know that Deborah was wise, intelligent, and influential to the people of Israel. 

In addition to being wise, intelligent, and influential, Deborah was also a remarkably brave warrior. When Barak the son of Abinoam was afraid of marching into battle at Mount Tabor, he told Deborah that he would not go into battle unless she came with him (Judges 4:8). Deborah agrees to go and says, “I will certainly go with you; nevertheless, the journey that you are about to take will not be for your honor and glory, because the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9a). Thus, through this decision, Deborah proved herself to be a brave and mighty warrior. 

The very fact that Deborah was a judge demonstrates that God places an equal value on both men and women. Deborah being a judge stressed the importance of women in the Bible and the importance that women too could make decisions on behalf of Israel through speaking with God. In other words, being a prophetess was extremely unique and rare for the people of Israel. In fact, prophetesses are rarely even mentioned in the Old Testament. Outside of Deborah, the only prophetesses mentioned in the Bible are Miriam, Huldah, Noadiah, and a woman mentioned as “the prophetess” in Isaiah 8:3

Despite popular beliefs within and outside Christian culture, God does have a positive view of women as He loves men and women equally. God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). The Lord loves all people equally and He administers His gifts to each of His children. As stated, not many women were prophetesses, which made them unique, but not nonexistent. Even though there are far fewer prophetesses than prophets, this doesn’t mean God places a higher value on men than women. Rather, God loves men and women equally as we are all made in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27). 

The Song of Deborah

The "Song of Deborah" is recorded in Judges 5, and it is a beautiful description of how God gave Israel victory against their enemies. The entire song is awe-inspiring and gives a detailed summary of Judges 4 in the form of a song. The last verse of the song gives praise to God, “So may all your enemies perish, Lord! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength” (Judges 5:31). Both Deborah and Barak sang this song to give glory to God and to praise Him for giving them victory over the enemies of Israel.

Through Deborah’s song, she gave praise to God alone. She didn’t credit herself or Barak for the victory. Instead, she gave all praise and worship to God because she knew the victory was only because of God’s mighty hand. The Israelites would pass down their history orally through stories and songs. It is reasonable to conclude that the people of Israel would pass down the "Song of Deborah" to their children and grandchildren. In this way, the "Song of Deborah" remained throughout the homes and hearts of the people of Israel to help them remember God’s past victories for His chosen people, Israel. 

Learning from Deborah

There is much we can learn from the life of Deborah the prophetess. She was wise, brave, caring, kind, and obediently followed God. Deborah could have been just as afraid of Israel’s enemies as Barak was, but instead, she chose to be brave. She was able to take courage because she knew God would be with His people. Deborah most likely had to step out of her comfort zone many times, but she didn’t retreat in the face of fear. She chose to trust God and follow His leading in every area of her life.

The fact that the people of Israel felt comfortable coming to her and asking her about their troubles demonstrated that they trusted her and knew she was truly talking with God (Judges 4:5). Deborah helped those around her, used her wisdom to help them make decisions, and consulted God on their behalf. She was truly a selfless human being who cared about the people of Israel. Deborah is unique in this sense because many judges did not care about the people of Israel and mistreated them, ignoring God's requirements for this role.

Deborah also teaches us the vital truth to always depend on God and to never doubt Him. In our modern-day life, it can be hard to not doubt when things go bad, yet we can follow Deborah’s example by always trusting in God and His faithful character. Deborah could have doubted God’s goodness and disobeyed Him when they were to go out in battle, but she chose to remain faithful to God and didn’t stray away from her faith in Him. Through her faith and obedience, Deborah and Barak successfully brought Israel to victory through the work of God. 

Praising God

Deborah never hesitated to give glory to God. She knew all of her successes were only because of God. The Bible never tells us Deborah becomes overconfident or prideful because of her position as a prophetess and judge. Instead, she remained grounded and humble. The "Song of Deborah" attests to this truth as she gives all praise to God (Judges 5:1-31). In our own lives, we need to keep grounded, humble, and give all praise to God. We can only be successful in what we do because of God. We cannot do anything without Him and His goodness, grace, and mercy.

We too can follow Deborah’s example of praising God by thanking Him and glorifying Him in our actions, and we could even make a song for Him like Deborah did. Even if you’re not the best singer like myself, God still loves to hear us sing for Him. Writing a song for God is actually a great way to worship Him and thank Him for everything that He has done and continues to do for us each day. Even if singing or writing songs is not your thing, you can still praise God in your own unique way.  

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SergioYoneda

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.