Some say that Barak of the OT was not demonstrating manly strength or faith in God when he requested that Deborah accompany him in battle. I wonder … could it be that Barak was keenly aware of Deborah’s tremendous leadership gift and prophetic insight and did not want to be without those gifts in battle? Is that so wrong to want to go into battle as well equipped as possible? All in all, I believe that this is not an account meant to describe how Barak was a wimp, but recorded for us to realize what happens when women and men lead TOGETHER!
To me, Barak was not hiding behind Deborah’s skirt, but recognized what happens when men and women go to battle together, each bringing the weapons God has equipped them with. After all, in the beginning when God created man and woman, He commanded them, both Adam and Eve to rule the earth and subdue it. He appointed them to put their heads together and with the power of the Spirit see that the results could be spectacular, and spectacular they were. Judges 4:23 says, “So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. AND THE HAND OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL GREW STRONGER AND STRONGER … until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.” Where in the OT do you read of this happening to the people of Israel?
In response to this great victory, Judges 5:1 says that Deborah worshiped the Lord, singing, “When LEADERS LEAD in Israel, when THE PEOPLE willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord.” In the face of victory, Deborah sang in praise of God. She did not trump up the victory on account of her role in it, but sang about what happens when men and women offer themselves in service together as God ordained it – victory happens! BLESS THE LORD!
In my reading of this passage, I also can’t help but notice the strength of Jael’s courage to drive the tent peg through Jabin’s temple. This could easily have been inspired by the courage of her leader Deborah. Not only do we see the results of men and women working together and on the same playing field, but we see the side benefits of the strength of courage imparted to Jael from Deborah’s influence. That is what I call a win-win situation. If we keep the bottom line in mind which is the victory of the Kingdom of God, what will matter most is that God gets the glory.
Love, grace and peace,