Deborah: The Mother who Nurtured a Nation
Deborah the Judge is a larger-than-life biblical figure whom I admire – and not just because we share a name, at least a derivative of it with a southern flair – Debra Jo. In my adult life, I’ve found hope in her largeness and generosity of spirit, especially when feeling small and insignificant during the challenging years of raising young children.
Now that I’m an empty nester, I wonder if perhaps she was in this prime-time season too when God used her mothering skills to nurture a nation.
Scripture doesn’t tell us Deborah was a mother, and her offspring aren’t named in the Bible. But by her own admission, she is “a mother in Israel.” In her victory song, recorded in Judges 5:7 NIV, she says “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” The Hebrew word here for “mother” is ‘ēm, which is used 220 times in the Bible to refer to actual mothers and only a few instances in the figurative sense.
Deborah’s story, recorded in Judges 4 and 5, is related in chronological order, along with a series of judges (leaders) of Israel after Joshua’s death. (Joshua is the guy who took over after Moses and led Israel into the Promised Land.) What strikes me about Deborah’s story is how she was not lauded as being the first female leader of Israel or in any way highlighted as being a woman leader. Her godly leadership is shown for what it was and her heart for others is recorded. She didn’t exalt in her position over men; she worshipped God for them.
“My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord!” Judges 5:8 NIV
While Deborah describes herself as “a mother in Israel,” her leadership roles were many and varied. She gave me hope as a young mother that I could do many things during my lifetime, maybe not at the same time, but over the long haul. Deborah’s list is formidable: prophet, wife, mother, ruler of a nation, deliverer, judge, warrior, worshipper, song writer, and cheerleader.
Lessons I’ve learned from Deborah include the following:
She answered the call from God to serve in leadership. – Deborah’s call to serve isn’t recorded in Judges 4-5, but during this season in Israel’s history, Judges 2:18 NIV tells us “Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived…” This is the story of Deborah’s life. After Deborah and her army commander Barak fought the Canaanites and won, Israel had peace for forty years. (Judges 5:31)
To read about more lessons we can glean from Deborah, please click HERE. Rachael Adams is offering a free devotional about mothers in the Bible, which I HIGHLY recommend.
ART UPDATES: I started a year-long mastery program with Milan Art Institute in January 2022 and have stayed busy since retirement learning about oil painting. As a pandemic-spawned artist, I am enthralled with every aspect of painting - the colors, the way paint moves, the varied processes for laying down paint, and learning about all the art history I never explored. It's been a pleasure to pursue something totally new during this season of life. Below are a few of my newest paintings. You can follow me on Instagram HERE. You can find my art gallery HERE and my Etsy Shop HERE. I will be adding more offerings soon. Let me know if you are interested in the ones below!
"Release the Colors"
Abstract oil painting
16 x 20" on canvas
30 x 40" on gallery-wrapped canvas
Mixed media oil painting
16 x 20" canvas
8 x 10" canvas
DJ Hejtmanek is an artist and writer who has worn many hats – wife, mother, fundraising professional, “Dovie” to five granddaughters, children’s book author, JoJo’s dog trainer, licensed minister, and more. She and her husband live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Her website/art gallery/blog/Etsy shop can be found at www.djhejtmanek.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/djhejtmanek/. Her IG art account is www.instagram.com/djdovieart.