Leadership in the Bible Part 3 - Study Guide
Deborah & Samuel
Read Judges 4:4-5.
4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was a leader of Israel at that time. 5 She would sit under Deborah’s palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the Ephraim highlands, and the Israelites would come to her to settle disputes.
Q: What do we learn here about Deborah? Here’s a fun fact in Hebrew: the Hebrew word lapidot could be a proper noun, that is, for a man whose name was Lapidot. OR it could suggest the word lappid, which means torches! If the latter, what does that say about Deborah? Generally, from these verses, what do you fashion her leadership qualities to be?
Read Judges 4:6-10
6 She sent word to Barak, Abinoam’s son, from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, Israel’s God, issued you a command? ‘Go and assemble at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand men from the people of Naphtali and Zebulun with you.6 She sent word to Barak, Abinoam’s son, from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, Israel’s God, issued you a command? ‘Go and assemble at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand men from the people of Naphtali and Zebulun with you. 7 I’ll lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, to assemble with his chariots and troops against you at the Kishon River, and then I’ll help you overpower him.’”
8 Barak replied to her, “If you’ll go with me, I’ll go; but if not, I won’t go.”
9 Deborah answered, “I’ll definitely go with you. However, the path you’re taking won’t bring honor to you, because the Lord will hand over Sisera to a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 He summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh, and ten thousand men marched out behind him. Deborah marched out with him too.
Q: Barak offers to help Deborah but does so with this proviso. What does it mean? How is it key to leadership? Examples?
C. Read Judges 5:1, 7, 9-11, 15-18. A Song of Victory
1 At that time, Deborah and Barak, Abinoam’s son, sang:
2 When hair is long in Israel,
when people willingly offer themselves—bless the Lord!
3 Hear, kings!
I, to the Lord,
I will sing.
I will make music to the Lord,
4 Lord, when you set out from Seir,
when you marched out from Edom’s fields, the land shook,
the sky poured down,
the clouds poured down water.
5 The mountains quaked
before the Lord, the one from Sinai,
before the Lord, the God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar, Anath’s son,
in the days of Jael, caravans ceased.
Those traveling by road
kept to the backroads.
7 Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
until I, arose, a mother in Israel.
8 When they chose new gods,
then war came to the city gates.
Yet there wasn’t a shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel!
9 My heart is with Israel’s commanders,
who willingly offered themselves among the people—bless the Lord!
10 You who ride white donkeys,
who sit on saddle blankets,
who walk along the road: tell of it.
11 To the sound of instruments at the watering places,
there they repeat the Lord’s victories,
his villagers’ victories in Israel.
Then the Lord’s people marched down to the city gates.
12 “Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, sing a song!
Capture your prisoners,
13 Then those who remained marched down against royalty;
the Lord’s people marched down against warriors.
14 From Ephraim they set out[f] into the valley,
after you, Benjamin, with your people!
From Machir commanders marched down,
and from Zebulun those carrying the official’s staff.
15 The leaders of Issachar came along with Deborah;
Issachar was attached to Barak,
and was sent into the valley behind him.
Among the clans of Reuben
there was deep soul-searching.
16 “Why did you stay back among the sheep pens,
listening to the music for the flocks?”
For the clans of Reuben
there was deep soul-searching.
17 Gilead stayed on the other side of the Jordan,
and Dan, why did he remain with the ships?
Asher stayed by the seacoast,
camping at his harbors.
18 Zebulun is a people that readily risked death;
Naphtali too in the high countryside.
Q1. What is it about songs in such situations that make them so powerful?
Q2. Is Deborah showing a healthy or unhealthy dose of ego? Explain.
Q3. Why does Deborah bless the princes (lawgivers)?
Q4. What do you make of the truth (and political wisdom) of the observations in verses 10-11?
Q5. Notice her criticism of certain tribes and the praise of others in 15-18. What’s going on here?
III. Brief Discussion of Years between Deborah and Samuel
Introduction - Discussion of Hannah
Read 1 Samuel 1:21-22.
21 When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and keep his solemn promise, 22 Hannah didn’t go. “I’ll bring the boy when he is weaned,” she told her husband, “so he can be presented to the Lord and stay there permanently."
Q: What do we make of the deep commitment of a mother to having a child and dedicating him/her to service to God? Is this done? Should it be done? Examples?
Q: When Hannah dedicates Samuel and says where he will live, where is that? Meaning?
C. Read 1 Samuel 2:11.
11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the Lord under Eli the priest.
Q: What’s the importance of the fact that Samuel served before God under Eli the Priest?
D. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-3.
3 Now the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under Eli. The Lord’s word was rare at that time, and visions weren’t widely known. 2 One day Eli, whose eyes had grown so weak he was unable to see, was lying down in his room. 3 God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s chest was.
Q: What do you make of the times discussed here? What do you make of the many references to weak vision?
E. Read 1 Samuel 3:19-20.
19 So Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not allowing any of his words to fail. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was trustworthy as the Lord’s prophet.
Q: What do these words about God’s being with Samuel mean?
F. Read 1 Samuel 7:1-5.
1 So the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took the Lord’s chest. They brought it to Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Then they dedicated Eleazar, Abinadab’s son, to care for the Lord’s chest.
2 Now a long time passed—a total of twenty years—after the chest came to stay in Kiriath-jearim, and the whole house of Israel yearned for the Lord.
3 Then Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are turning to the Lordwith all your heart, then get rid of all the foreign gods and the Astartes you have. Set your heart on the Lord! Worship him only! Then he will deliver you from the Philistines’ power.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of the Baals and the Astartes and worshipped the Lord only.
5 Next Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah. I will pray to the Lord for you.”
I’ll tell a little story. Then let’s discuss the significance of what Samuel is accomplishing here.
G. Read 1 Samuel 7:15-17.
15 Samuel served as Israel’s judge his whole life. 16 Each year he traveled between Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, serving as Israel’s judge in each of those locations.17 Then he would return to Ramah because that’s where his home was. In Ramah too he served as Israel’s judge, and that is also where he built an altar to the Lord.
Q: What do we learn about Samuel’s special qualities in these verses?
H. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22 (or portions thereof)
1 Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel’s judges. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. 3 But Samuel’s sons didn’t follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice.
4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6 It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the Lord.
7 The Lord answered Samuel, “Comply with the people’s request—everything they ask of you—because they haven’t rejected you. No, they’ve rejected me as king over them. 8 They are doing to you only what they’ve been doing to me from the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9 So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.”
10 Then Samuel explained everything the Lord had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11 “This is how the king will rule over you,” Samuel said:
“He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 12 He will use them as his commanders of troops of one thousand and troops of fifty, or to do his plowing and his harvesting, or to make his weapons or parts for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, or bakers. 14 He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattle and donkeys, and make them do his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the Lord won’t answer you.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20 so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”
21 Samuel listened to everything the people said and repeated it directly to the Lord. 22 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Comply with their request. Give them a king.” Samuel then told the Israelite people, “Go back, each of you, to your own hometown.”
Q: Why do the people want a king? Why do Samuel and God oppose it? Why does God acquiesce?
I. I will teach some important lessons about Samuel’s service to and through the rein of Saul in Chapters 9, 10, and 11.
J. Read 1 Samuel 12:1-5. Samuel describes the problems with a king and the problems with their straying. Then he recites the plea of the prophet: read 1 Samuel 12:20-25.
12 Samuel said to all Israel: “Listen: I have done everything you asked of me and have placed a king over you. 2 The king will lead you now. I am old and gray, though my sons are still with you, and I’ve been your leader since I was young until now. 3 So I’m here: Tell the truth about me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Have I ever stolen someone’s ox? Have I ever taken someone’s donkey? Have I ever oppressed or mistreated anyone? Have I ever taken bribes from someone and looked the other way about something? Tell me the truth.[a] I will make it right.”
4 “You haven’t oppressed or mistreated us, and you’ve never taken anything from anyone,” the people answered.
5 Samuel replied, “The Lord and his anointed one are witnesses against you today that you haven’t found anything in my possession.”
20 But Samuel answered the people, “Don’t be afraid. Yes, you’ve done all this evil; just don’t turn back from following the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart.21 Don’t turn aside to follow useless idols that can’t help you or save you. They’re absolutely useless! 22 For the sake of his reputation, the Lord won’t abandon his people, because the Lord has decided to make you his very own people. 23 But me? I would never sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. I will teach you what is good and right. 24 Just fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Look at what great things he has done for you! 25 But if you continue to do evil, then both you and your king will be destroyed.”
Q: What do we learn in these verses about the elements of the prophet’s service to God and the importance of Samuel’s leadership?
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