Respond Like Barak

Names are just so interesting to me. I love learning the stories behind people’s names – most of the time they’re pretty good. And then learning the meaning of people’s names just brings a whole new level of understanding; I especially love it when the meaning of the person’s name and the person’s calling or passions line up. That’s just so cool! You can read more about names and callings here.

The name Barak means “lightning” which, according to Albert Barnes’ commentary “is an appropriate name for a warrior” an assessment I’m inclined to agree with. I mean, we have a superhero named after thunder, why not have a valiant warrior named after lightning?

But when we meet Barak, he seems a little less valiant than we usually like our heroes to be.

She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” 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.” Judges 4:6-8 (ESV)

I love how Deborah begins this meeting: “Has not the Lord commanded you…?”. She was asking this question, already knowing the answer – yes, God has already commanded it. God had likely already been whispering to Barak in the secret place, but he might not have been entirely certain about it. He may have been lacking confidence in his own ability to hear God for himself. Or, possibly, he knew he couldn’t do this without her.

I had never thought about this idea of these two needing each other until I read Matthew Henry’s commentary which says:

“Some struggles, we may suppose, that brave man had made towards the shaking off of the yoke, but could not effect it till he had his commission and instructions from Deborah. He could do nothing without her head, nor she without his hands; but both together made a complete deliverer, and effected a complete deliverance. The greatest and best are not self-sufficient, but need one another.”

Deborah had something that Barak didn’t have – the authority from God to judge.
Barak had something that Deborah didn’t have – the authority to lead an army.

What if, in order to secure victory and to achieve peace for their people, they had to work together? What if Barak wasn’t lacking faith but his faith was so great that he knew he needed God’s mouthpiece with him to achieve this victory? Talk about a beautiful picture of collaboration between God’s people to achieve God’s purposes!

Whether he was scared or confident, Barak obeyed and ultimately every word that Deborah had spoken was fulfilled.

Are there any areas where you’re in need of someone’s help? Is there a battle you just can’t face on your own? I hope and pray that you find the right people to surround you and encourage you in the face of opposition and fear. May your community’s faith inspire you as you follow God!

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