Deborah [Part 1]

Are you ready for some good news?

The Word of God goes with you wherever you go.

Today’s Text: “Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Judges 4:8–9, ESV)

Deborah, a powerful prophetess, governed as a judge in Israel during the days before Israel’s monarchy. The Lord gave Deborah a al vitword for Barak, the commander of Israel’s army: God would give Barak victory over the Canaanite commander, Sisera.

At first glance, Barak’s response seems cowardly to the point of comedy. “If you will go with me,” Barak pleads with Deborah, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” What? Does the commander of Israel’s army need a woman by his side? Has Barak no courage of his own?

Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews does not scorn Barak for cowardice but, instead, highlights Barak in the faith hall of fame. “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms…, put foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:32–34, ESV)

If Barak is to be condemned for cowardice, why does the scripture elevate him alongside of Samson and David?

God wasn’t displeased with Barak’s request for Deborah to accompany him to the battlefield; the Lord was glad. Barak wanted Deborah to travel with him because Deborah was the mouthpiece of God. Barak didn’t want to fight anyone without constant access to the heart and will of God in all matters.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Barak is listed as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11 because he relied on the Word of the Lord to guide him in a confusing, pluralistic world.

Likewise, we have a foe to face and, indeed, the battle belongs to the Lord. But we need not fight it – we must not fight it – without the mind of Christ. You don’t need to take a Deborah with you into battle; you have the Spirit of truth abiding in you all the time. And that’s the Gospel!

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