Three women attained the status of prophet in the Old Testament: Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14). God chooses every true prophet, sometimes against the wishes of the one chosen. Deborah was also a judge in the historical period when judges ruled Israel.
The conquest of Canaan was a slow progression covering centuries. Joshua got them settled in the land, but only in the mountains. The Canaanites possessed the hi-tech iron chariots, the WMD of the day. They were deadly on flat ground but of no use in the mountains.
When the people trusted God and followed His commands they succeeded in moving into the plains. When they took up with the false gods, mostly Baal and his queen Astarte, they fell on hard times. Once the people moved into the lowlands, they needed to exist on farming. Since they were nomads and knew little of farming, it seemed wise to them to worship the god and goddess of fertility.
God disagreed. He allowed the Canaanites to conquer the people for twenty years until he called Deborah to return his people to their rightful place. God also called Barak to be his military commander and to assemble 10,000 men (or perhaps 10 units, the Hebrew is not clear) on Mount Tabor.
Barak agreed but wanted reassurance, so asked Deborah to go along, perhaps to relay God’s word more quickly, perhaps just to calm his nerves. Whatever, it was a sign that he did not have complete faith in God, so he lost the credit for God’s victory.
Jesus spoke of that loss of faith in his Parable of the Talents. The first two men had faith and took a chance at doing what the master would have done. The master was pleased not with the money but that they followed in his footsteps. God has never wanted humans to do anything but believe in Him. As Jesus said in another setting, God is pleased with the widow’s mite because of her faith that God could put it to proper use and because she gave of herself, not of her wealth.
We live in a country obsessed with personal strength. We reward intelligence, beauty, skill, strength and wealth. We malign weakness. Our heroes are taller, stronger and smarter than most of us. In short, we are not interested in trusting God.
What would America be like if we followed Judge Deborah and returned to the Truth of God? Would we spend 20% of our national budget on the military but only 2% on education or 3.5% on the needs of all those soldiers damaged in the military? Would we allow 600,000 people to sleep on the streets at night? Would we allow 14.5% of Americans to live below the poverty line? Even if half of them work part-time jobs totaling 60 hours a week?
God demands love and justice, not strength.
Be righteous and do good.