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The Most Interesting Mom in the World
Judges 4-5
Skip Heitzig

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Judges 4 (NKJV™)
1 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD.
2 So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim.
3 And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed the children of Israel.
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, 'Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun;
7 'and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand'?"
8 And 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!"
9 So she said, "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." Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.
10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber 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.
12 And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.
13 So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?" So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.
15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.
16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.
17 However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear." And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.
19 Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.
20 And he said to her, "Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, 'Is there any man here?' you shall say, 'No.'"
21 Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
22 And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, "Come, I will show you the man whom you seek." And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.
23 So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel.
24 And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
Judges 5 (NKJV™)
1 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
2 "When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!
3 "Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
4 "LORD, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth trembled and the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water;
5 The mountains gushed before the LORD, This Sinai, before the LORD God of Israel.
6 "In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, In the days of Jael, The highways were deserted, And the travelers walked along the byways.
7 Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; Then there was war in the gates; Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
9 My heart is with the rulers of Israel Who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the LORD!
10 "Speak, you who ride on white donkeys, Who sit in judges' attire, And who walk along the road.
11 Far from the noise of the archers, among the watering places, There they shall recount the righteous acts of the LORD, The righteous acts for His villagers in Israel; Then the people of the LORD shall go down to the gates.
12 "Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away, O son of Abinoam!
13 "Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles; The LORD came down for me against the mighty.
14 From Ephraim were those whose roots were in Amalek. After you, Benjamin, with your peoples, From Machir rulers came down, And from Zebulun those who bear the recruiter's staff.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As Issachar, so was Barak Sent into the valley under his command; Among the divisions of Reuben There were great resolves of heart.
16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the pipings for the flocks? The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan, And why did Dan remain on ships? Asher continued at the seashore, And stayed by his inlets.
18 Zebulun is a people who jeopardized their lives to the point of death, Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield.
19 "The kings came and fought, Then the kings of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; They took no spoils of silver.
20 They fought from the heavens; The stars from their courses fought against Sisera.
21 The torrent of Kishon swept them away, That ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon. O my soul, march on in strength!
22 Then the horses' hooves pounded, The galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23 'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the LORD, 'Curse its inhabitants bitterly, Because they did not come to the help of the LORD, To the help of the LORD against the mighty.'
24 "Most blessed among women is Jael, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Blessed is she among women in tents.
25 He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.
26 She stretched her hand to the tent peg, Her right hand to the workmen's hammer; She pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, She split and struck through his temple.
27 At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; At her feet he sank, he fell; Where he sank, there he fell dead.
28 "The mother of Sisera looked through the window, And cried out through the lattice, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarries the clatter of his chariots?'
29 Her wisest ladies answered her, Yes, she answered herself,
30 'Are they not finding and dividing the spoil: To every man a girl or two; For Sisera, plunder of dyed garments, Plunder of garments embroidered and dyed, Two pieces of dyed embroidery for the neck of the looter?'
31 "Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun When it comes out in full strength." So the land had rest for forty years.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Mother's Day Messages

First celebrated in a church in 1908, Mother’s Day quickly became a national observance. On this day we give honor to those unique women we call our mothers. But perhaps the most unusual mom ever was one from the pages of the Old Testament named Deborah. Her interesting blend of personality and giftedness not only impacted her own family but her nation as well. Notice five characteristics of this most interesting mom in the world.

A mother's love is an example of God's great and sacrificing love for us. For many people, moms shaped their lives and brought them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This collection of messages focuses on these important women, who hold a special place in the heart of God.


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  1. She Was a Prophetess (Judges 4:4)

  2. She Was a Wife (Judges 4:4)

  3. She Was a Leader (Judges 4:5)

  4. She Was a Mother (Judges 5:7)

  5. She Was a Warrior (Judges 4:6-10)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: May 13, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Most Interesting Mom in the World"
Text: Judges 4-5


First celebrated in a church in 1908, Mother's Day quickly became a national observance. On this day we give honor to those unique women we call our mothers. But perhaps the most unusual mom ever was one from the pages of the Old Testament named Deborah. Her interesting blend of personality and giftedness not only impacted her own family but her nation as well. Notice five characteristics of this most interesting mom in the world.
  1. She Was a Prophetess (Judges 4:4)
  2. She Was a Wife (Judges 4:4)
  3. She Was a Leader (Judges 4:5)
  4. She Was a Mother (Judges 5:7)
  5. She Was a Warrior (Judges 4:6-10)

She Was a Prophetess (Judges 4:4)
  • Deborah was the only woman in Scripture who was a national leader in Israel.
  • She was among a distinguished and limited number of prophetesses, including Miriam, Moses' sister (see Exodus 16), Huldah (see 2 Kings 22), Isaiah's wife (see Isaiah 8:3), Anna (see Luke 2), and Phillip's four daughters (see Acts 21).
  • The role of a prophet was to hear from God, then speak for God. Priests represented people to God; Prophets represented God to the people. Prophets were vital in getting God's message to the people.
  • A prophet's message could be predictive (foretelling the future) or declarative (forth-telling or speaking God's will now).
  • Deborah was a spiritual woman with a spiritual influence. She heard from God and spoke for God.
  • Probe: God used prophets throughout history. "If God were to speak through a person today, it would be in 100% complete agreement with what God has already said in the Bible."1 Rather than looking for new prophetic revelations from God, we should go back to His Word and look at the prophecies that He has already given. Discuss a New Testament understanding of a prophet. Look up 1 Corinthians 12:10, Romans 12:6, and Ephesians 4:11.
She Was a Wife (Judges 4:4)
  • Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth before she became a leader in Israel.
  • Deborah was a prominent hero. As such, her name eclipsed her husband's, but she honored God by honoring the covenant she made with Lapidoth.
  • For today's mothers, you may have a career and be very competent, but don't let that usurp the home. What you model to your children in marriage will stay with them for life, including how you speak to your husband, your attitude, and your commitment. The two greatest gifts women can give to their kids are to love God and love their spouses.
  • Probe: What are the key characteristics of a godly wife? Read Proverbs 31:10-31. One source proposes these ten virtues: faith, marriage, mothering, health, service, finances, industry, homemaking, time, and beauty.2 Do you agree? What might you add or delete?
She Was a Leader (Judges 4:4-5)
  • Deborah was a judge, not in the legal sense of adjudicating the rule of law, nor in terms of having a critical spirit. The Hebrew word for judge is shaphat. A judge governed, ruled, lead, avenged, defended, and delivered.
  • God appointed judges to help Israel get out of the cycle of sin (see Judges 2:16-19)—rebellion, retribution, repentance, restoration.
  • Other than Samuel, Deborah was the only person in Scripture who was both a judge and prophet.
  • Probe: Discuss the characteristics of a godly leader. See Proverbs 16.3 John Stott said, "The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve."4 Do you agree?
She Was a Mother (Judges 5:6-7)
  • Scholars are unsure if Deborah was literally a mother or figuratively a mother to the nation of Israel (a matriarch, a female leader). Her husband is mentioned in Scripture, but not children.
  • Either way, a family and a nation need to experience love. A Jewish proverb states, "God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers." A Scottish proverb says, "An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy."
  • Probe: Share some favorite memories of your mother. How did her influence shape you either for good or for ill?
She was a Warrior (Judges 4:6-10)
  • Terror had reigned for twenty years; the Canaanites were continually attacking Israel. Deborah told Barak to obey God and fight and he responded, "If you will go with me, then I will go" (v.8). And she did. Deborah was a strong, brave woman committed to God's glory.
  • Golda Meir said, "No nation is greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of men." Deborah made Barak into a man.
  • Probe: Some see a conflict between being a woman and a warrior, though Deborah is both. What characteristic do you define in a woman-warrior?

Connect Up: The Lord is largely described using male characteristics, but He has female qualities as well. Discuss these verses: Genesis 1:27, Numbers 11:12, Psalm 131:2, Isaiah 42:14 and 49:15, Hosea 11:3-4 and 13:8, Matthew 23:37, John 16:21-22.

Connect In: God has used prophets in the church, but we must be on guard against false prophets. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1, NIV). 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 reminds us, "Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good." How is the church to test the words of people who claim to speak for God?

Connect Out: Pray for women—mothers, wives, and singles—as well as for women who are unbelievers.

1"Are there prophets in the church today?," Got Questions Ministries,, accessed 05/13/18.
2Melissa Ringstaff, "The Ten Virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman", 2001,, accessed 05/13/18.
3Brent Rinehart, "Nine Essential Qualities of a Godly Leader," May 14, 2015,, accessed 05/13/18.
4John R. W. Stott, "Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today," Fleming H Revell Co, February 1, 1996.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. One mom in Scripture, Deborah, is the most interesting mom in the world
    2. The only woman in the Bible who became a national leader of Israel
    3. Her profile stands out as heroic in one of the saddest but also most hopeful books in the Bible—Judges
  2. She Was a Prophetess (Judges 4:4)
    1. Deborah introduced as a prophetess
      1. Very few women in the Bible called prophetesses:
        1. Miriam, Moses' sister (see Exodus 15:20)
        2. Huldah (see 2 Kings 22:14)
        3. Isaiah's wife (see Isaiah 8:3)
        4. Anna (see Luke 2:36)
        5. Philip's four daughters (see Acts 21:9)
        6. Deborah
      2. Role of prophet was to hear from God (ears) and speak for God (mouths)
        1. Two spiritual roles in OId Testament: priests and prophets
        2. Priests represented the people to God; prophets represented God to the people
        3. Prophets were vital (see Hebrews 1:1; Amos 3:7)
    2. If you have a mother who loves Jesus, thank God for her and thank her in the presence of God
    3. Moms, you can't pass on what you don't have; you have to walk with Him
  3. She Was a Wife (Judges 4:4)
    1. Deborah was Lapidoth's wife
    2. Before she became a leader in Israel, she married a man in Israel
    3. Her fame eclipsed any notoriety her husband had, but she honored God by honoring the covenant with her husband (see Ephesians 5:33)
    4. Women may have a career, but that cannot usurp the priority of the home
      1. The most important quality of a godly mother is not her relationship to her children but her relationship to her husband
      2. Whatever you model to your kids in marriage will stay with them for life: words, attitudes, commitment
      3. Two greatest gifts to your children: love your spouse and love your God
  4. She Was a Leader (Judges 4:5)
    1. Deborah was the only female judge of the twelve judges
      1. To judge does not mean to be judgmental, nor does it mean to adjudicate a legal case
      2. The Hebrew word shaphat can mean to render judgment in a legal case, but it also means to govern, to lead, to avenge, to contend, to deliver
      3. Israel's sin cycle: started with rebellion, followed by retribution, then repentance, and finally restoration (see Judges 2:16-19)
      4. Judges were warriors/deliverers/defenders who helped move the Israelites from rebellion and retribution to repentance and restoration
    2. Deborah's courtroom was under a palm tree named after her
  5. She Was a Mother (Judges 5:7)
    1. Between Judges 4 and 5 a battle happened and Deborah wrote a song
    2. Deborah described herself as "a mother in Israel"
      1. Scholars are unsure if "mother" is a literal or figurative (maternal/matriarch/feminine leader) term
      2. Her children are not specifically mentioned
    3. Take your role of mother seriously, especially at younger ages
  6. She Was a Warrior (Judges 4:6-10)
    1. A military general, Barak, refused to go into battle without Deborah
    2. It's possible that military leadership was very weak during Deborah's time
    3. Terror/terrorism had reigned for twenty years in Israel
    4. Deborah was bravely and courageously committed to God's glory
  1. Closing
    1. Proverbs 31 closes with these words: "Her children rise up and call her blessed" (v. 28)
    2. We honor mothers today and we thank God for their influence and steady hand in our lives
Figures referenced: Dr. John Bowlby, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Golda Meir

Hebrew words: shaphat

Cross references: Exodus 15:20; Judges 2:16-19; 2 Kings 22:14; Proverbs 31:28; Isaiah 8:3; Amos 3:7; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9; Ephesians 5:33; Hebrews 1:1


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The Most Interesting Mom in the World - Judges 4-5 - Skip Heitzig


Happy Mother's Day, moms. We're glad you're with us. Glad to see you here at church. Would you turn in your Bibles, please, in the Old Testament to the Book of Judges, chapter 4? Judges chapter 4, easy to find-- after the first five books of Moses, Joshua, followed by Judges, Judges chapter 4.

We're here today obviously to worship God, but we're also here today to honor our mothers. And first of all, we are commanded to do so. It's one of God's top 10, honor your father and your mother. But also, in the words of Paul the Apostle, I believe it is our reasonable service to do so because our moms did so much for us, especially in our younger years with their guiding hand and their words of wisdom. In fact, we depended on our moms for absolutely everything at one time.

There was a 15-year-old boy who came home from school, found his mother lying in her bed, and got worried, and said, Mom, are you OK? She said, well, I'm feeling a little sick. And so the boy just stiffened up his back, and he said, don't worry about dinner, Mom. I'll be happy to carry you down to the stove.


Great guy, that guy. Now, I have fond memories of my mother. She's no longer with us, so that's my loss. But I have great memories of a gal who was very short woman, all of about 5 feet tall, slender, happy, always laughed, most always smiled, but she was tough. And she was able to raise and handle four rowdy boys with or without Dad in the room. I mean, she got that point across at a very young age. I won't tell you how she did it with me, but I learned to respect her very, very quickly.

Think of all the things that our moms taught us. Do you remember the saying, still? Do they bounce around in your heads from time to time? Your mom said that, and you think that. One man does. He said, my mother taught me to appreciate a job well done when she said, if you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.


My mother taught me about religion when she said, you better pray that will come out of the carpet. My mother taught me about time travel. If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week.


My mother taught me logic. Because I said so. That's why. My mother taught me foresight. Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.


My mother taught me about stamina. You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone. My mother taught me the circle of life. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.


My mother taught me about justice. One day, you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.


On Mother's Day, we can't say enough good things about our moms, but there's one mother in particular. She is called that, at least, in our text, named Deborah. Deborah, one of the judges found in the Old Testament Book of Judges. I'm calling her the most interesting mom in the world for a couple of reasons.

Number one, she is the only woman in the Bible to become a national leader in the nation of Israel. When I was reading about Deborah this week, the first person that came to my mind was somebody from the modern era, also a prime minister of Israel by the name of Golda Meir. Some of you won't remember her. Some of you do. She became prime minister of Israel in 1969.

She was the fourth and the only female prime minister of that nation, the modern nation of Israel. She was born in Russia, raised in America, immigrated to Israel. She was a mother, a wife, but she became a very strong leader for a number of years until 1974 in that nation.

So Deborah, the most interesting mom in the world because she is that leader, but also because of her profile that we're going to look a little more carefully at in the verses of Judges chapter 4. Now, the Book of Judges, if you know your Bibles, is one of the saddest books in the Bible. It is all about the recurrent failure of the nation who turns away from God to do their own thing.

The phrase that sums it up is this phrase from the book. "And every man did what was right in his own eyes." It was pure, individual moral relativism. Forget any national standard. Forget any divine standard. We do what we want to when we do it. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. It's a very sad book because they keep blowing it over and over again.

But it's one of the most hopeful books because out of that darkness emerged heroes called judges and, in this case, a heroine named Deborah. So we're going to look at traits of her. I'm going to draw you to Judges chapter 4 verse 1, where it says "When Ehud was dead"-- that was one of the previous judges-- "the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, the King of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheeth Hagoyim.

And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, for Jabin had 900 chariots of iron. For 20 years, he harshly oppressed the children of Israel. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."

Notice in verse 4, when it introduces this gal, she is first called a prophetess. Now, a prophetess is the feminine of a prophet. A prophetess, her being one puts her in a club that is very unique because very few women in the whole Bible, Old and New Testament, were ever called prophetesses. Miriam was one of them, the sister of Moses, in Exodus chapter 16. Huldah was called a prophetess. She was in Jerusalem under King Josiah in the Book of 2 Kings, chapter 22.

Interestingly, Isaiah's wife was a prophetess. So you've got a prophet married to a prophetess. We don't know her name, but we know her role. Anna, in the New Testament, the gal who was old and she was in the temple and she was praying and waiting for the messiah when Jesus showed up in the temple, was called, in Luke 2, a prophetess. Phillip's four daughters, Acts 21, they're called the four daughters who prophesied.

Other than that, that's it. Those are the women in the Bible who were called prophetesses. Now, the role of a prophet was basically to hear from God, and then to speak for God. So they were like ears and then mouths. They were like Old Testament radios. They received, and then they transmitted the message from God.

In the Old Testament, there were basically two roles in the spiritual community, the role of a priest and the role of a prophet. The priest's job was to represent the people before God. The role of the prophet was to represent God to the people. So the priest would make sacrifices, make prayers on behalf of the people to God. A prophet was the voice of God, spoke for God. God revealed his will in the Old Testament through the throats of prophets or, in this case, a prophetess.

In fact, the role is so vital to God working that the Book of Hebrews begins by saying this. God who, at various times and in various ways, spoke to our fathers by the prophets-- that's how God spoke. God spoke through prophets. They were so vital that Amos, the prophet, in chapter 3 verse 7 of his prophecies, said, "Surely, the Lord God does nothing unless he reveals his secrets to his servants, the prophets." By the way, 21 times, that's how God refers to them-- my servants, the prophets.

So all of that to say we're dealing with a gal who's a spiritual woman. She hears from God, and she speaks for God. I remember a hymn, growing up, some of you may recall, called "Faith of our Fathers," "Faith of our Fathers, Living Still." But in reading this, I want to ask, what about the faith of our mothers? They deserve some credit. Certainly, this one does.

There were a group of scholars who were arguing about which translation of the Bible is the best. By the way, people still argue that. And this group of scholars were together, and the old guy in the group said, the King Bible, there's something majestic about the old King James. If it's good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me.

And a younger scholar said, well, I like the New Living Translation better. It's fresh. It's contemporary. Language is dynamic. It changes. And I think this captures the spirit of the original text.

A third guy said, well, I like the ESV. The English Standard Version I think is a good combination between the old and the new. It strikes the balance. A fourth guy said, no, the NASB, the New American Standard, that's so accurate, and it captures the word for word intent of the Greek language.

Well, there was a fifth guy kind of in the background who said, I like my mother's translation the best. And they laughed and said, your mother's translation? He said, yes, my mother's translation. She translated it. She translated every page of the Bible into her life, and it has been the most convincing translation I've ever seen. She lived it out.

If you have a mom who loved Jesus or loves Jesus, thank God for her, and then thank her in the presence of God. Our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, said, "I remember my mother's prayers, and they have always followed me. They've clung to me all my life." And in one of the classic sayings of Abraham Lincoln, he said, "No one is poor who has a godly mother." "No one is poor who has a godly mother."

Well, ladies, you can't pass on what you don't have. So to pass that on to your children, to be a spokesman to your children, to have them hear the voice of God, you yourself have to walk with Him. So that's first in Deborah's case. She was a prophetess.

Notice also in verse 4 that she was a wife. The description is now "Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth." Now, I know that's a weird name for a dude, right? Some of you are thinking, Lapidoth? The Hebrew pronunciation is "La-pi-dot," not that that helps any. But that was his name.

But here's the point. Before Deborah ever became a leader in Israel, she was married to a man in Israel. The Bible never says that Lapidoth was the husband of Deborah, but rather that Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth. Is that significant? It sure is. Because by the time this was written, everybody had heard of Deborah. She was a household name. The fame that she had certainly eclipsed any notoriety her husband may have had. And yet, she is honoring God by honoring the covenant that she has with her husband.

And wives are told to honor their husbands. Ephesians 5:33 counsels both husband and wife. Paul says to the husband that he is to love his own wife as himself. Second part of the verse, and let the wife see that she respects her husband or honors her husband. He goes on, "as the church submits to Christ, so wives must submit to their husbands in everything." Now, I know those are fighting words these days. .

But when I was first married to Lenya, our bibles were pretty frayed at the time. We decided, let's start life out with matching bibles-- same leather. They're new. So I got her one. I got me one. I put my name on it. Those are the days they had, in Bible bookstores, those little machines that put gold at the bottom and your name on it. I don't even know if they still have those. You can't do that to an iPad, so I don't know.

But I put my name, Skip Heitzig, on the bottom of the Bible. She brought her Bible in to get engraved as well. And I looked at it, and it said, Mrs. Skip. I said, why did you do that? She goes, because I'm identifying with you now. And she said, it is my joy to do so. So that's Mrs. Skip.

She was a wife. Now, you may have a career, women. We applaud you for that. We encourage you in that. You may be very competent at that career. We thank God for that, and we encourage you in that. However, I just think it's important to say that you cannot let whatever that is as an occupation ever usurp the priority of the home.

And contrary to popular opinion, the most important quality of a godly mom is not her relationship to her children, but rather, her relationship to her husband. And here's why. Because those children are watching. That's why. Whatever you model to your kids in your marriage is going to stay with them for life. Whatever attitudes you bring into the marriage, whatever words you say to your husband, whatever commitment you show, all of those are seeds that are planted in the hearts of your children that are going to blossom and bring forth some kind of fruit.

One teenager wrote this. "I wish my parents would have known that unless marriage partners truly love one another, there is little that they can teach their own children about the love of God or Christian living." It makes sense, insightful teenager. It sounds like that teen had parents who wanted to tell them about God, but they didn't want to show any godly love to one another in the home.

I remember when my son was quite young, he loved to see us love each other. He loved when we'd kiss or hold hands, and he'd get that funny smirk and laugh. And we'd be in public, and he'd say, come on, Dad. Kiss her. He'd nudge me. Kiss her. Kiss her. I said, you want me to do it. I got no problem with that. And I'd do it, and then he'd get all embarrassed, like no, no, no.

But he loved to see the love because that brought him some stability. It gave him underpinnings, security that mom and dad love each other. It's the greatest two gifts you can give to your children, to love your spouse and to love God. Give that to them.

So she was a prophet as she was a wife. The description continues in verse 4. She was a leader as well. Now, Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel came to her for judgment.

She's a judge. She is called a judge. This is the Book of Judges. There are 12 judges in the book. She's one of them, the only female judge, a prophetess and a judge. Now, what does that mean? What is the role of a judge during this period of Israel's history?

Well, first of all, let me tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean she sat in the corner, being very judgmental and saying, I can't believe she's wearing that dress, or I can't believe he said that. It's not that kind of a person. She's not a hyper-judgemental person. It doesn't mean that.

Also, it doesn't refer strictly to a judge in a legal sense, like a judge would adjudicate a case in a courtroom. The word "judge" or "judging" is the Hebrew word "shaphat." And though it can mean to render sentence in a case-- and by the way, in ancient times, you know where they held court? In the gates of the city out in public. As people would come and go into the city, there were little enclosures. So the judges would sit around the gates of the city and help people out as they would come and go.

It can mean that she had that kind of a role. It seems to imply that, as she's sitting under the palm tree up in the mountains north of Jerusalem, that people came to her to hear what she had to say. But the term judge, shaphat, means to govern, to rule, to lead, to avenge, to contend, to defend, and to deliver. And all of those descriptions are found in the Book of Judges by those who were called judges.

Now, go back two chapters. Go back to chapter 2 just for a moment. I want you to see for yourself what it says about their role so you'll get a better understanding of what I just told you. Judges chapter 2 verse 16-- "Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them." So they're sort of like liberators, defenders, freedom fighters.

"Yet, they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord. They did not do so. And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge, for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them.

And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn ways."

So we were introduced to what is known as the sin cycle. During this period of the judges, I said everybody's doing whatever they want to do, what's right in their own eyes. And so they go through this cycle that they repeat over and over and over again. It comes in four distinct stages.

Stage number one, rebellion-- this is where they say, I don't want anything to do with God or his laws. I want to live my life my way. So they turned from God, turned from the covenant God made with them, rebellion, followed by stage number two, retribution. They're saying, we want to do our own thing, and we like those other countries and those other gods. So God says, fine, you like them that much they'll be your masters. You'll be their slaves.

So he let others dominate them, which brings us to the third stage, repentance. This where they go God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I mean it. Please, bring me back, which brought them to the fourth stage, restoration. God listened to their prayer, brought them back. And that cycle gets repeated over and over and over again.

So these judges were these warrior, deliverer, defender, adjudicators, who helped do that. By the way, Deborah is the only other person in all of the Bible given both titles as judge and prophet. Samuel and Deborah are the two people in the Bible given the title of judge and prophet.

Now, notice that her courtroom was not at the gate of the city but under a palm tree, a woman after my own heart. I've always thought that the palm tree is God's favorite tree. You say, really? Yeah, because it says in Psalm 92, "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree." And God chose a palm tree to show as an analogy of those who lived righteously because a palm tree-- I've done a study, and I won't bore you with it.

So she's under a palm tree, but not just any palm tree. She's under her-- there's a palm tree named after her. Did you notice that? She is under the palm tree of Deborah. So don't go by that palm tree. That's Debbie's palm tree. Leave that one alone. That's hers.

So her profile is this. She's a prophetess. She's a wife. She's a leader of a nation. Just those qualities alone show that she had the kind of influence that people would look up to. Her own children, if she had them, would look up to them. The children of the children of Israel would see her as a role model.

Winston Churchill, one of the prime ministers of England, when he was on the job, one of the editors of a local London newspaper wanted to place in the newspaper the teachers in Churchill's life that influenced him, the greatest teachers in his life. So the editor comprised a list, gave it to Churchill to approve. Churchill looked it over and threw the paper back at the editor and said, you left out the most important teacher of my life, my mother. And he wanted people to know, my mother influenced me. She was a role model that got me on the right road. So Deborah, all of these things.

Fourth, she was a mother. Now, it does not say that in our text, but I want you to go ahead to chapter 5 for just a moment. Just flip the page or look down the page to the next chapter. Now, I've got to fill this in for you. Between what we just read in chapter 4 and what we're about to read in chapter 5, a battle happens. I'll get back to that.

A battle happens. Israel wins. Deborah writes a song or a poem, and then she sings it. I'm not going to try to sing it for you. But I'm just going to take you to two stanzas in it. Go down to verse 6 of chapter 5. This is Deborah speaking. She says, "In the days of Shamgar"-- one of the previous judges-- "the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted. The travelers walked along the byways." Towns were deserted because of the oppression.

Verse 7, "Village life ceased. It ceased in Israel until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel." So by her own admission, she is a mother. Now, I got to be fair. We are unsure whether this term is to be taken literally or figuratively. Some people think it's a figurative sense, that she was the matriarch of the nation. She didn't have her own real children, but she was a feminine leader, thus a mother to the nation of Israel.

And they say that because her kids aren't mentioned. Her husband is, but her kids aren't mentioned. I would rebut that by saying her kids aren't mentioned because it's not germane to this particular story. So she may or may not have been a literal mother. But I read this as she's saying, of all the people, God, that you could choose to use, you picked me, just an ordinary mom in Israel.

Whichever she was, whether this is figurative or literal, she is what I call the most interesting mom in the world, just by her profile so far. If you have children, I hope and I pray that that role of a mother to your children is taken seriously, especially at the younger ages. One British psychiatrist named John Bowlby said, the first five years of a child's life are the most crucial because they're the most impressionable. Says Dr. Bowlby, "The young child's hunger for his mother's love and presence is as great as his hunger for food itself. Her absence inevitably generates a powerful sense of loss and anger."

The Jews had a proverb to stress the importance of mothers in their culture. They said, God couldn't be everywhere, so he created mothers. Now, they're not denying the omnipresence of God as much as saying, we believe that God has a unique place in our culture in the role of a mother, which can filter the presence of God into their child. It's a good saying.

But the Scots have a better saying. They said, (IMITATING SCOTTISH ACCENT) an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.


I like that. You can preach, and you can teach them in Sunday school. But what a mom can do is inestimably more. So she is a prophetess, a wife. She is a leader. She was a mother. And finally, she was a warrior. Now, back to chapter 4, we left off at verse 5. She was judging Israel.

But look at this. It's fascinating. I love this. In Judges chapter 4 verse 6, "Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kadesh in Naphtali, and said to him, 'Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, "Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor and take with you 10,000 men of the sons of Naphtali and the sons of Zebulun?"'" So you've just gt a picture. She's sitting under Debbie's palm tree. People are coming to her.

And maybe there's like a lull in the traffic, and she thinks, hey, wait a minute. God gave a command. I know it, and the commander of my army knows it, but he's not doing anything about it. So she gets his attention that, hey, didn't God say where to go fight this guy?

Verse 7, "'"And against you, I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots, his multitude at the River Kishon. And I will deliver him into your hand?"'" So God said this. He even told you the battle plan and who's going to be involved.

Now watch this. "And Barak--" now, he's a general. This military guy says to her, (HIGH-PITCHED VOICE) "If you go with me, then I will go." Wimp. "But if you will not go with me, I will not go." Double wimp.

And "so she said, I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, there will be no glory for you in the journey that you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." And to a military guy, that's a punch in the gut. I'll go, but ah, you're not going to get the glory for this. They're all going to say God gave victory to a woman.

And so "Deborah arose and went with to Barak to Kadesh." Terror had reigned for 20 years in Israel. On their borders and within their borders, terrorism reigned. Deborah knew it. God spoke about it. She reminds him of it. Go out and fight. And he goes, (HIGH-PITCHED VOICE) I will if you come. She goes, I'll go.

Deborah is no retiring female wimp. She bravely and courageously is committed to God's glory. I told you at the beginning of this message that she reminded me of Golda Meir.

Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of the modern nation of Israel, the only female, she said, I never wanted this. This was not an aspiration for me. I never sought this office. She said, "I reluctantly accepted the position that my party thrust upon me." And I think Deborah reluctantly took the position thrust upon her by very weak leadership in the military at that time. And she said, OK, I'll get the job done.

Someone once said, "No nation is greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of men." In the very least, this mother in Israel named Deborah made a man out of Barak by going to battle with him. And others have influenced children-- Hannah, the mother of Samuel, great mother to channel spirituality and leadership into her son. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, is another.

Eunice, the mother of Timothy; Lois, the mother of Eunice, the mother of Timothy; Jochebed, the mother of Moses; Mary, the mother of Jesus-- we could go on. The Bible tells the tale of moms who were leaders and influenced their children greatly. And that's why we honor them.

Let me close with this. It touched me as I read it. I hope it does to you as well. "The young mother set her foot on the path of life. 'Is the way long,' she asked. And her guide said, 'yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.'

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them with the clear streams. And the sun shone on them, and life was good. And the mother cried, 'Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.'

And then night came, and the storm, and the path was dark. And the children shook with fear and cold. And the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle. And the children said, 'oh, Mother, we're not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.' And the mother said, 'this is better than the brightest of day, for I have taught my children courage.'

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead. And the children climbed and grew weary. And the mother was weary, but all the times she said to her children, 'a little patience, and we'll be there.' And so the children climbed.

And when they reached the top, they said, 'we could not have done it without you, Mother.' And the mother, when she laid down that night, looked up at the stars and said, 'this is a better day than the last, for my children have learned strength in the face of hardness. Yesterday, I gave them courage. Today I have given them strength.'

And the next day came strange clouds, which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil. And the children groped and stumbled. And mother said, 'look up. Lift your eyes to the light.' And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them and brought them beyond the darkness.

And that night, mother talked to Jesus and said, 'this is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.' And the days went on, and the weeks, and the months, and the years. And the mother grew old. And she was little and bent, but the children were tall and strong. And they walked with faith and courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather.

And at last, they came to a hill. And beyond the hill, they could see a shining road, and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said, 'I have reached the end of my journey, and now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone for they walk with God.'

And the children said, 'you will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates to the Savior.' And they stood, and they watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed behind her. And they said, 'we cannot see her, but she is still with us, for a mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.'"

The Book of Proverbs closes with verses about mothers. In particular, it's a wife who was a virtuous woman, called so by her husband. But it closes off that chapter and that book by saying, her children will rise up, and they will call her blessed.

And this is the day that we do that. We honor mothers as a church. We want you to feel special and honored. That's why we did a special message on it. That's why we do those things outside before and afterwards, because we thank God for your influence and your steady hand in our lives.

Father, we bring that as a prayer before you, and we do bless them in your name. We thank you for these gals. I'm even thinking of women that are among us who have faced infertility and the pain of an unfulfilled longing.

But Lord, I pray that you will not only strengthen them, but you would bring fulfillment in their lives through their influence, through their walk, through their example, through their love, that you wired them to not only have but to share. In Jesus' name, amen.


We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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A Mother's Prayer
Luke 1:39-56
Skip Heitzig
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A Mother's Prayer - Luke 1:39-56 from our study Mother's Day Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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A Hero In Your Own Home!
Proverbs 31:10-31
Skip Heitzig
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This summer portends to be the year of the Super-Hero: Spiderman, The Transformers and the Fantastic Four all are making their reappearance to save the day! But there's another hero we honor today (or should we say heroine). In fact she probably already cooked you breakfast this morning! It’s the woman of the home—Mom! Today we pay tribute to this unique individual who helped to transform our lives.
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How Moms Can Change the World
2 Timothy 1:3-7
Skip Heitzig
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Timothy demonstrated genuine faith and loyalty to the Lord, and Paul the apostle credited these traits to how Timothy was raised by his mom and grandmother. As we examine Paul's second letter to Timothy, we discover three important ways that moms can invest in their children so they will fear the Lord and desire to serve Him with their lives.
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Marks of a Great Mother
1 Samuel 1
Skip Heitzig
Message Summary
Today we pay a special tribute to those unique individuals we call our mothers. They have given us life on this earth, and their influence has transformed our lives. We will consider a woman from the Old Testament who became the mother of the prophet Samuel. Her name is Hannah and her name means favor or grace. Despite difficult circumstances, Hannah was shown favor by God. Let’s glean some insight from this wonderful woman as we honor our own moms today.
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Jesus and His Mother
Matthew 12:46-49
Skip Heitzig
Message Summary
This is a very special day but in a very unique time. As we gather together in our cars or online, we consider the relationship that Jesus had with His own mother, Mary. Though the New Testament gives sparing information about the upbringing of Jesus, we can conclude that there were at least three ways to describe the relationship of Christ to Mary.
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There are 5 additional messages in this series.
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