While Barak is not a Judge, he is a major player in Deborah’s story and we would be remiss to not discuss him considering he does get almost 2 chapters and poor Shamgar got 1 verse. We meet Barak in verse 6 of chapter 5. Deborah summons him to lead the men against Sisera, the opposing general. The Lord gives the battle into the hands of Barak. He is successful but is not able to kill Sisera. That honor goes to Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite.
This story is a metaphor for God and His people. Barak represents the typical Hebrew of his day. He is opposed to the oppression of his people but consistently outmatched and either unable or unwilling to seek the assistance of God. Deborah is the opposite acting like God.
The metaphor incredibly interesting because in this story God sees himself as the woman. Rarely, do we see God act and identify from the feminine place, but here it is clear that the metaphor extends himself into the female role with Deborah the Judge/Prophetess. He does it not once but again with Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite. What can we glean from this story then?
First, we are Barak. The warrior, the leader, the victor in the battle against our oppressor(sin perhaps). We are also the weakling. Needing the Judge to travel with us because we don’t have enough faith to fulfil things that have already been accomplished. Our faith is so small that God has to provide workarounds to our stubborn refusal to do what He has called us to do like using Jael to kill Sisera. We lose out in our own glory because of this. I am this way but I can more easily think of stories like this with my own son. He will scream to have his way (chewing on something he ought not to chew on) when I am trying to give him a cookie or snack I know he loves.
While the lesson to us may be clear, we are weak without God, what does the story say about God? I think there are two things.
- His humility has no bounds to save his people. He is willing to even extend the glory of the victory to us and not himself. He is willing to use the (culturally) lowest of people to extend his love to us. All we have to do is ask for help and then listen for the answer because it may come from an unlikely place.
- God has always identified with women. I am certainly no feminist, but it is clear that if God is willing to identify himself with women, even in metaphor, that women are to be all the more honored and glorified. Also, as difficult as it is to do sometimes, I have to expand my view of God to look for God’s feminine qualities because if I am called to grow in godliness (2 Peter 1:5-10) then I need to grow in God’s feminine qualities just as I already seek to grow in God’s masculine qualities.