Barak's name means "blessed." But he didn't live like a very blessed man. His parents recognized blessing; what new parent doesn't feel blessed when first they hold a baby in their arms? (unfortunately some do, but not Barak's family.) Somehow that joy and positive attitude didn't get passed on their son.
As judge, Deborah calls for Barak. She tells him "It has become clear . . . that you should prepare to battle." Something about the wording suggests that Barak knew this as well as Deborah. She eases his fears as much as possible: I'll get king Sisera to you. I'll make sure you win. All you have to do is go and fight the battle.
With her words, "I'll make sure you win," Barak wiped his forehead with relief. "As long as you're coming along . . . I won't go without you."
Elsewhere in these two chapters we're told the Israelites volunteered "with abandon." (a subject I considered writing about.) NOT Barak. Even in the 21st century, women have only recently begun serving on the front lines. Imagine how strange it must have seemed back in Deborah's day.
She scolded Barak for his attitude. "With that kind of attitude, you won't gain any glory from the battle. A woman will kill Sisera."
That's what happened. The female assassin Jair alongside the female judge defeated King Sisera, the Canaanites, and their iron chariots.
A few concluding thoughts:
- Barak's name suggests his parents believed in the Lord High God. He had a good heritage.
- Barak was well known, unless God told Deborah to get in touch with a complete stranger.
- Barak's less-than-enthusiastic response didn't keep God from using him.
- It did prevent him receiving all the blessing God had for him.
- However, it doesn't appear that Barak was punished.
- God accomplished His will even when his "first choice" for the leader refused to do all of it.
- God called and used women in strong positions, as the supreme court for all Israelites and the assassin who killed Israel's greatest enemy.
- Both Deborah and Jair were married--talk about combining marriage and family with a career!