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. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the River Kishon and give him into your hands.”’ Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’ ‘Certainly I will go with you,’ said Deborah. ‘But because of the course you are taking, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. Judges 4:6-9
Yesterday we looked at the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. You might be wondering how Barak made it onto that list instead of Deborah. After all, he seemed reluctant to go to battle without Deborah, lacking faith perhaps.
Barak had good reason to be afraid. The enemy had nine hundred iron chariots! The Old Testament prophets and judges, however, played a major role in battle. They mustered and inspired the troops. Barak’s request that Deborah, the prophetess, would accompany him is quite reasonable.
This still does not answer the question of why Barak is mentioned as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11 instead of Deborah. After all, Rahab, the prostitute, is mentioned, so why would Deborah, a strong woman judge and prophetess, be ignored? We don’t know for sure, but some researchers think it might have been to appeal to the original Jewish readers of Hebrews who had a somewhat different idea of what women should be doing.
But there are lessons to be learned from Barak, the hero of faith. He certainly trusted Deborah. He knew that he needed the Lord on his side, and he recognised that Deborah had the gift of prophecy. Deborah would see things with her spiritual eyes that Barak could not see. It made sense to have Deborah by his side if his army was going to face a formidable foe. When Deborah reminded Barak that the honour for this venture would go to a woman, Barak did not care. It was not about the honour. It was about doing what the Lord wanted Barak to do, and he knew he could do that better if he had Deborah at his side.
Are you lifting those around you? Are their loads lighter because you are around? There is no greater joy than building one another up and helping each other be the best we can be.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the example of Barak and Deborah. Help me to recognise the gifts of those you have brought into my life to support me, as I support others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.