The Israelites, because of their sin, had been oppressed by the king of Canaan for twenty years. They cry out to the Lord. He speaks to the judge, Deborah, who either confirms or passes on God’s command to Barak to lead out 10,000 men to battle, saying that the Lord will give them into his hands. Barak is not confident. He’s lacking faith. He’s willing to trust Deborah’s relationship with God but not his own. He will go, but only if she goes with him.
It is reminiscent of Moses not feeling up to the task. They’re not trusting God working through them. In a way it can feel like humility to think you can’t do it, but it’s really not trusting God. Who made man’s mouth anyway?
Barak maybe thinks God would do it for Deborah, but he’s not sure He would do it for him. Barak is not trusting his relationship with God. Now granted, it may have been very lacking. He may be very aware of his sin, but when it comes down to it, God is the one responsible for our relationship. We just choose Him. We surrender and give our lives over to Him to do as He pleases. We can allow Him to work in us according to His good pleasure to do the good works He’s prepared for us, and to teach us and guide us in all our ways, just as His word promises.
They couldn’t have defeated Jabin King of Canaan before this day, because the Lord hadn’t chosen those days. They couldn’t do it on their own. Barak was right that he couldn’t do it. But today, they could. Today the Lord was going with them, going before them. Today the Lord said the word, Go. They just had to obey and go. As soon as they did, it was a done deal.
Even though Barak hesitates and is fearful to go, God doesn’t change His plan. He heard the Israelites calling for help and took pity. He was coming to rescue them. He was going to accomplish His purpose.
Barak loses the glory for the day. He relies on a woman to help him, so a woman gets the glory for the victory. Not that we should ever be after the glory, but if we want God to raise us up, enlarge our territory, entrust us with future battles of His, we have to trust and obey.