August Devotion: To judge like Deborah

Reading: Judges 4:4-10


We rarely see women portrayed as prophets, military leaders, and judges in the Bible. In fact, such portrayals of women are still not typical, today. Deborah’s story is an exceptional one. She exerts both political and spiritual power. She judges and counsels the people of Israel.

Deborah’s story inspires and challenges us. Not many of us will ever be elected a judge. But look around--each of us can exercise powerful judgments that impact the lives of women, children, and men. The world needs that judgment from women in the church.

Not many of us will be publicly named a prophet. But look around--women can utilize their discernment and wisdom, both individually and collectively--at work, at home, in the congregation, and in Women of the ELCA. The world needs the God-given voices of wise, discerning women.

Deborah called the tribes to unite in order to free them from the oppressors. As Women of the ELCA, we know that walking together and supporting one another through prayer, Bible study, and action renders us stronger against our oppressors.

For most of us, oppression is much more subtle than military powers. Yet, even this subtle oppression can feel like nine hundred chariots of iron. There will always be those in power whom we must seek and persuade to free God’s people.

Inspired by Deborah, we modern prophets and judges stand beside our sisters claiming the ancient promise, “God will deliver the people,” and acting to make these words come true.


God, through your prophets you promised to deliver all your people. Through Deborah’s story, you show us what deliverance looks like. Thank you for making us stewards of this promise. Help us to see oppression, name it, and work to end it, in our congregations, our families, our neighborhoods, and the world. Amen.

This devotion is adapted from a stewardship devotion written by Barbara Lund for Women of the ELCA in 2001.

Past devotions:

June Devotion: How do you receive?

May devotion: Thanks for taking my money