Deborah was an amazing woman of faith who served as a judge and prophetess over Israel during a crucial time in their history. She demonstrated tremendous leadership, wisdom and discernment. But she didn’t do it alone. Deborah was married to a man named Lappidoth, and together they formed a powerful husband-wife team that God used in a mighty way.
In the book of Judges, we read about a dark time in Israel’s history. The nation was stuck in a cycle of sin, oppression by their enemies, crying out to God, and then deliverance through a judge. By the time of Deborah, Israel had been oppressed by King Jabin of Canaan and his military commander Sisera for 20 years.
But God raised up Deborah to rally the people, discern God’s strategy, and spur the military commander Barak into decisive action. With God’s help, the Israelites enjoyed a great victory that day.
Behind the scenes of this famous judge stood her husband Lappidoth. We know little about this man, but a careful examination of Scripture reveals key insights into his character and partnership with Deborah.
Understanding Lappidoth and Deborah’s teamwork yields vital lessons for husbands and wives today. God desires unity in marriage and multiplication of abilities when husbands and wives work together.
Let’s explore the significant, though often overlooked, role that Lappidoth played in Israel’s deliverance.
Lappidoth: A Man of Integrity
Lappidoth appears by name only once in the Bible, in Judges 4:4:
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. (NKJV)
His name means “torches.” Some Bible scholars believe it refers to the fiery, bright character of this man. Based on Deborah’s powerful prophetic role, he was likely a man of spiritual depth and wisdom.
Deborah was leading the nation, fulfilling a role typically held by men. For Lappidoth to embrace and support this unusual situation reveals key qualities about him:
- He was humble – Lappidoth wasn’t threatened by his wife’s leadership position. He was secure enough to step back and let her giftings shine.
- He was confident – Lappidoth recognized his wife’s talents and wasn’t afraid for her to develop them. He wasn’t worried about losing status.
- He rejected gender roles – Lappidoth looked beyond cultural norms to recognize Deborah’s God-given abilities to judge and lead Israel.
- He encouraged Deborah’s growth – For his wife to thrive as a prophetess and national judge, Lappidoth must have provided an environment where she could grow spiritually and handle leadership responsibilities.
Lappidoth possessed inner strength of character that allowed his wife to flourish. This took integrity, humility, and a commitment to God’s purposes above personal ambition.
Lappidoth: A Man of Partnership
Lappidoth’s greatest distinction is that he was Deborah’s husband. He joined his life, abilities, and calling with this female prophet and leader.
Deborah was a pioneer – the only female judge in Scripture. She had to figure out how to blend her gender and giftings in a way that could be received by the people. This would not have been an easy path.
By standing with Deborah as husband, Lappidoth empowered this ground-breaking woman to lead an entire nation. He provided covering and legitimacy.
In Hebrew culture, a woman’s identity and value came from her father or husband. By marrying Deborah, Lappidoth affirmed her leadership abilities and spiritual authority.
The Song of Deborah in Judges 5 gives insight into their teamwork:
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. (Judges 5:7, NIV)
Deborah gained credibility by describing herself as a “mother in Israel.” As a married woman, this “mothering” role came through partnership with Lappidoth.
Their unique marriage arrangement emerged from their commitment to let God direct their paths:
Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam. (Judges 5:12, NIV)
As Deborah pursued her prophetic calling, Lappidoth supported and empowered her. He did not require her to conform to a “traditional” wife role.
This was true mutuality – each using their full abilities to work together as God led. Lappidoth and Deborah demonstrate that God can anoint spouses in complementary ways to accomplish His purposes.
Lappidoth: Behind the Scenes
Lappidoth never directly enters the story in Judges 4. He is seemingly “behind the scenes.”
In fact, some scholars believe “Lappidoth” in verse 4 should translated as “woman of Lappidoth.” This would mean the verse describes Deborah’s prominent role, not her obscure husband.
Either way, Lappidoth remained in the background while Deborah took center stage. He did not compete with his gifted wife, but instead supported her public leadership:
She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor.’” (Judges 4:6, NIV)
This demonstrates remarkable security. Lappidoth was confident in who God made him to be. The fact that his wife was chosen to lead Israel’s army did not undermine his worth or standing with God.
An insecure man would have interfered with Deborah’s authority and asserted himself. But Lappidoth operated in partnership, not competition, with his wife.
When you know your identity is rooted in Christ, you are content in any role God assigns you. Lappidoth’s deference to his wife came from deep inner confidence.
Lappidoth: A Contrast to Barak
The commander Barak provides an interesting contrast to Lappidoth:
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you do not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:8, NKJV)
Unlike Lappidoth who empowered his wife, Barak was dependent on Deborah’s presence in battle. He lacked the confidence to follow God’s orders without her by his side.
This reluctance earned Barak a rebuke from Deborah:
And she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:9, NKJV)
Barak failed to demonstrate the humble leadership that Lappidoth embodied. His example shows how easy it is for men, even leaders like Barak, to feel threatened by strong women.
Lappidoth’s secure partnership with Deborah stands out even more clearly when contrasted with Barak’s hesitancy. He provides an exemplary model of how godly men can encourage women to exercise their spiritual gifts.
Lessons from Lappidoth and Deborah’s Partnership
The powerful teamwork between Lappidoth and Deborah provides meaningful lessons for husbands and wives today:
1. Marriage should be mutually empowering
Lappidoth empowered Deborah to lead Israel. She gained credibility and influence from their marriage. They each used their spiritual gifts to uplift the other.
Likewise, husbands and wives should champion each other’s abilities and leadership gifts, not compete. Marriage should be a locker room, not a tug-of-war.
2. Flexibility in roles can affirm gifts
Lappidoth embraced a non-traditional marital arrangement, allowing Deborah to lead Israel while he supported her calling. When necessary, spouses should flex marital roles to help each other fulfill God’s purposes.
3. Confidence comes from identity in Christ
Lappidoth’s security with Deborah’s leadership stemmed from confidence in his identity in God. He was able to step back because his worth wasn’t dependent on his wife’s role.
Likewise, believers today gain confidence from their identity and status as children of God. This removes comparisons and envy.
4. Partnership requires sacrifice
By remaining behind the scenes, Lappidoth sacrificed personal recognition to empower Deborah. Spouses must be willing to sacrifice self-interest for the sake of their partner.
5. Shared calling brings unity
The shared sense of God’s purpose unified Lappidoth and Deborah’s diverse roles. When couples align around God’s calling, it powerfully knits their hearts together.
Lappidoth and Deborah demonstrate that marriage is a sacred, spiritual partnership that transcends social norms. When husbands and wives mutually champion each other’s giftedness, they reflect the heart of God and multiply their effectiveness for His Kingdom.
Lappidoth is an unsung hero of the Old Testament. Though largely unknown, he played a vital role by supporting his wife Deborah’s groundbreaking leadership over Israel.
Their powerful partnership, flowing from shared devotion to God’s call, provides an outstanding model for husbands and wives today. Marriage works best as a locker room, not a tug-of-war – encouraging each other’s spiritual gifts and callings.
My prayer is that more Christian couples would embrace the teamwork displayed by Lappidoth and Deborah. As each spouse champions the other’s abilities, they gain confidence in their identity in Christ and multiply their Kingdom impact.
The world desperately needs more Lappidoths and Deborahs! May God raise up Spirit-filled couples operating in revolutionary unity and partnership.
- Lappidoth empowered his wife Deborah’s leadership gifts as a judge and prophetess over Israel
- He was humble, confident in his identity, and committed to God’s purposes over gender roles
- Lappidoth provided spiritual covering and legitimacy for Deborah’s pioneering leadership position
- Their complementary partnership demonstrates the multiplying power of mutuality in marriage
- Lappidoth’s support offers an exemplary model of how men can encourage women’s spiritual gifts
- Husbands and wives today should emulate their teamwork and confidence rooted in Christ
- Marriages thrive when spouses mutually empower each other’s abilities and leadership giftings
- Flexibility in marital roles may be needed to help each partner fulfill God’s calling
- The shared sense of God’s purpose brings powerful unity in marriage