Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”
Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
“Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him.
How did Deborah command such respect? She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that, she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. The Bible records several women who held important leadership positions, and Deborah was an exceptional woman. Obviously she was the best person for the job, and God chose her to lead Israel. She drew people together, encouraged them to obey God, and commanded the respect of even Barak, a military general.
Was Barak cowardly or just in need of support? We don’t know Barak’s character, but we see the character of a great leader in Deborah, who took charge as God directed. Deborah told Barak that God would be with him in battle, but that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak’s request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God’s promise.
The life of faith is a life of confidence. Deborah’s faith in God made her confident to lead God’s people. She made decisive choices that brought clarity and direction to Israel. Barak’s lack of faith left him fearful and uncertain, wanting Deborah’s presence to assure him along the way.
Are there areas of your life where you lack confidence or feel uncertain? Often God’s power shines through our own weaknesses. Your uncertainties may be the clearest opportunity for you to take steps of faith and to trust God. As you do, you’ll see what he can do, and you may find yourself more confident for the next thing that comes your way—not because you’re so skilled but because God is so good.