1.What can we learn about the character of godly women through the portions of Scripture that record their words?
Three lengthy sections are Judges 5 (song of Deborah), 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Hannah’s prayer), and Luke 1:46-55 (song of Mary). A shorter section is Exodus 15:21 (song of Miriam). Interestingly, all four have military/political elements. Take a moment to read them (perhaps one group per poem). Report on the major themes, how much Scripture these women knew, and any in-sights into God, leadership, and faith that they demonstrate.
2.What do you think made Deborah such a good judge? Why do you think God used a woman in a role traditionally filled by a man? Scripture doesn’t explicitly say why Deborah was a good judge. But using our “sanctified imaginations,” we can suppose that she had the same qualities that would make any man a good judge: a sense of justice, knowledge of the law, compassion, courage, zeal, honesty, etc.
Also, the Scripture doesn’t say why God honored her in this role rather than having a man do it. Thus any answer we give would be speculative. We can note that it is somewhat rare for God to use women in leadership roles in the Bible. For instance, the Bible uses the masculine words prophet and prophets about 480 times, but the feminine word prophetess only 8 times (with no plural forms).
Yet the presence of women in certain leader-ship roles is not unknown. We can take note of the prophetess Anna, who stepped forward to praise God at the presentation of the baby Jesus (Luke 2:36-38). Lydia hosted Paul (and probably a church) in her home (Acts 16:11-15, 40).Priscilla, with her husband, taught Apollos privately (Acts 18:24-26). The apostle Paul notes some role restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:12.
3. How is a partnership like the one Deborah and Barak had a model for us today?
Judges 4:8-10 makes it clear that Barak would forfeit the honor of the battle if he demanded Deborah’s partnership. But Barak apparently was not a “glory hog.” He recognized that her presence would give him confidence. Not only did he trust her judgment for civil affairs, he apparently relied on her for military strategy, mutual prayer, and accountability.
Since Deborah was a prophetess, we can assume that God somehow spoke through her. This would be a great comfort to Barak. Thus the moral, godly strength of one person assisted an-other through a difficult time. Encouraging Christians to draw upon the moral strength of one another is still a good practice to emulate.
4.How are Deborah and Barak models for Christian faith? How do their stories mirror ours? Here we want to assist students in making connections between this Old Testament story and New Testament living. Remind them that Barak is unsung the heroes of the faith in He-brews 11:32.
Some students probably will make odd or un-restrained connections. Try to steer the discussion to things like the kind of enemies we face that make it seem like we’re fighting overwhelming odds; the importance of relying on the promises and faithfulness of God; the hope of a great victory, even if is brought about in surprising ways. The discussion can reveal the spiritual alertness of the class. You may also succeed in helping students read the Scriptures with a view toward practical application.
5.What problems are the leaders of our church facing right now? How can we support them in the battles they face and the service they provide to God’s people?
Leaders are under constant attack from Satan and often from church members as well. Make sure that your discussion affirms these leaders—both those who serve in official capacities and those who lead unofficially by character and reputation.
Make a list of things that will affirm your leaders: prayers, notes of encouragement, public recognition, etc. Encourage students to commit to doing one of these within the next seven days. At the close of the lesson, pray for any church leaders in attendance. (You may wish to tell them in advance that you will be doing this.)