As we saw last time, Barak was a commander in the Israeli army at the time when Deborah was a judge. He was a hesitant and that cost him a bit of glory, but there is much we can learn from his brief appearance in the Bible.
- Hesitation = opportunity lost. Barak did not eager jump at the “opportunity” Deborah presented him. He was extremely hesitant and with good reason. The opposing army had 900 iron chariots. This provided them with the advantage of a well-armed (and probably quite large) army. Barak was not willing to risk his life and the life of his men on a potentially false prophet. Obtaining agreement from Deborah to accompany him was a way for her to prove that she wasn’t a false prophet and that this mission was indeed ordained by God. But this hesitation cost him. Deborah informed him because of his insistence that she accompany him “The Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman” (Judges 4:9). In a manly society during a time of war to have your glory of defeating an enemy usurped by a woman was a disgrace.
- We’re all pawns in God’s game. While Barak may go down in history has the military leader commanding this battle, the ultimate victor was God and the weather. Judges 5:4 states “The earth shook. The heavens poured. The clouds poured down their water.“ Yes Barak and his men took the high ground and were the ones who physically killed Sisera’s men, but it was the weather that actually incapacitated the enemy. The iron chariots were no match for the mudslide that resulted from the rain. All the Israelis had to do was be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a situation God had already set up.
- Our choices, big and small can have major impacts on the world around us. When Sisera took refuge in Jael’s tent he asked her to hide him. He said “Someone might come by and ask you, ‘Is anyone here?’ If that happens, say ‘No.‘ ” (Judges 4:20). He was asking Jael to lie for him and putting her in a compromising position. Next time we’ll exam some of the reasons why Jael decided that killing Sisera was the right course of action, but suffice it to say, she found herself at a crossroads. Her decision to kill him delivered Israel from a tyrant who “treated the people of Israel very badly for 20 years” (Judges 4:2).
- God gives us tools; we must know when and how to use them. Jael was not a soldier. She probably did not keep weapons around her tent with type of expectation that she would one day need to defend herself. When Sisera entered her tent and she decided to take action she needed a way to kill him. She used what she had…tent stakes. How many of us are reluctant to act because we don’t feel like we have the right tools for what we need to do? I challenge you with this thought…If there is something God has put on your heart to do then more than likely he has already given you the tools to make it happen. Look around to see what you have to work with.
- God can come to our rescue in ways we don’t expect. In the beginning of the story when Deborah tells Barak that Sisera will be destroyed by a woman, there is an underlying assumption that the woman would be Deborah. The unexpectedness of this is further accentuated by the fact that Jael’s husband was actually friends with Sisera. This is why Sisera felt he could take refuge in her tent; she was supposed to be on his side.
“Barak was a courageous warrior who answered God’s call, but in the end a woman, Jael, received credit for his defeat of the Canaanite army. Like many of us, Barak’s faith wavered and he struggled with doubt, yet God saw fit to list this otherwise unrecognized hero in the Bible’s Hall of Faith.” (about.com)