First Reading (Semi-continuous) Judges 4:1–7
The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. So theLORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years. At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.'”
I must confess. I love this bible story. How cool would it have been if we could have read this story in Sunday School or at least Confirmation. I probably would have read more of the bible way back when I was a kid.
So my guilty confession is I love the ladies “takin’ names and kickin’ (I don’t need to finish that statement.) I know there’s more to the story, but that’s what I like. Deborah is a prophet, a leader, a judge, a poet, and singer. It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination for Deborah to be a “fiery” woman as Old Testament scholar Ralph Klein notes may be an alternate understanding of the Hebrew words behind “wife of Lappidoth”. Of course the other woman in the story (but not in our lectionary passage) is Jael. When the enemy general Sisera demands to be hidden in her tent, she puts him at ease and then proceeds to pull a Buffy (staking him in the skull with a tent spike).
This is my confession. I believe violence is wrong, but I am a big fan of shows like Buffy, Firefly, Kim Possible, and yes even bible stories like these, and there are all sorts of other great stories in the Bible. So if hearing this story really told in worship, in confirmation, or even read on the internet gets folks to read the Bible then it is a good thing. In my professional and personal feeling a lot of folks who claim to be “Bible believing Christians” haven’t really read and immersed themselves in the Scriptures. Being a Christian is not about being nice and following rules. And, that’s good news to me, to men, to women, and even the church.