Sunday, July 31, 2016

Judges and Ruth: lessons in leadership, trust, and loyalty

Today, I’m going to cover two books of the Bible: Judges and Ruth. Maybe people may think that the Bible is filled with stories of men and how women are lesser than them. However, within these two books are three stories of women. Two of these women are examples of courage and loyalty. While another woman is an example of what happens when greed blinds you. These women are: Deborah, Delilah and Ruth.

Deborah was the fourth and only female of the pre-monarchical Israel. Her story is told in Judges 4-5. She was a prophetess of God and the wife of Lapidoth. Many Israelites came to her for counsel. After 20 years of oppression by King Jabin and his commander, Sisera, the Israelites called out to God for help. He speaks to Deborah who sends for Barak, son of Abinoam. She tell him that God commands him to take 10,000 men and lead the way to Mount Tabor. At Mount Tabor, the Lord would deliver Sisera into his hands. But, Barak is reluctant to do so without Deborah. Deborah agrees but says the victory will belong to a woman. The battle goes as the Lord says and Deborah successfully counterattacked the forces of King Jabin and Sisera. She would rule Israel peacefully for 40 years. What lesson can be learn from Deborah’s example? Wise leaders choose good helpers. Deborah was a good strategist and in Barak, she had a commander who could carry it out. Therefore, a wise person would know when to ask for help.

Delilah is a famous person from the Bible whose story is told in Judges 16. Everyone seems to know the story of Samson and Delilah. She was a woman from the Valley of Sorek and Samson fell deeply in love with her. Samson consistently bested the Philistines and they were looking for a way to finally defeat him. They approach Delilah and ask her to discover the secret to Samson’s strength. She asks Samson twice and each time he tells her a lie about the source of his strength. Delilah asks for a third and final time and he tells her the truth. It’s his hair and while he was asleep, she cut his long locks off. When the Philistines came to overpower him, he did not have the strength to fight them off. What lesson can be learn from Delilah’s story?  She was persistent when faced with obstacles but she valued money more than relationships. She betrayed a man who trusted her, leading to his capture and eventual death. Therefore, we must be careful who we place out trust.

Ruth has a book entirely to her story. As a widower of Naomi’s son, she had the chance to return to her family as Naomi was going to return home to Judah. But she decided to stay with Naomi. When they reach Judah, Ruth begins to pick from the fields of Boaz and catches his eye. It turns out Boaz is one of the kinsmen-redeemers. A kinsmen redeemer is a relative who volunteers to take responsibility for the extended. The law states in Deuteronomy 25-5-10, a widow can marry her late husband’s brother but since both Naomi’s son were died, the nearest relative could marry the widow. Boaz takes this responsibility and marries Ruth. Ruth soon gives birth to a son named Obed, who is the grandfather of the future king of Israel, David. What lesson can be learn from Ruth’s story? When God is at the center of a relationship, differences can be overcome leading to peace, love and harmony.

In conclusion, women play important role in the Bible for good and for bad. Deborah, Delilah and Ruth are just a few examples of how God uses women for His purpose. Deborah is an example of how God choices leaders by His standards, not ours and that wise leaders seek help. Delilah is an example of how greed and misplaced trust can be catastrophic and Ruth is an example of how love and loyalty can change your life forever when you trust God to be a part of your relationship.