At first glance it seems he failed to fully step up. First impression is that he was willing to play second fiddle when, in fact, he could have conducted the entire symphony. And, to a degree, that’s true. Barak from Kadesh-naphtali had been commissioned by Deborah, judge of Israel, to deliver Israel from Canaanite oppression. What’s more, Barak the son of Abinoam had been called by Deborah, prophetess of God, to lead an army into battle. But Barak with feet of clay said, “Only if you go with me.”
[Deborah] 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 Jabins 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)
But here’s the bottom line. Barak did lead 10,000 men into battle in the name of the LORD God of Israel.
Sure, he needed a bit of encouragement at his side. True enough that he passed on the glory that could have been his from taking out the commander of the enemy’s army (4:9). But once Deborah said she was all in, he was all in. And as I noodle on that this morning, seems to me that’s the triumph of faith.
It doesn’t lie in the man, but in the God the man is willing to follow, even if reluctantly at first. Victory not sourced in natural bravado, but in supernatural belief.
Though Barak wavered at first, when all was said and done he wholeheartedly led an army of foot soldiers against the commander of a formidable force of 900 chariots of iron that had cruelly subdued an entire nation for 20 years (4:3). Not because he had a superior strategy that would offset the imbalance, but because he heeded the word of a sovereign God who said, “I will give him into your hand.” That’s the triumph of faith.
Barak of Kadesh in Naphtali would lead an army of 10,000 into battle, but it would be the God heaven who would cause the rains to fall (5:4), and the chariots to be mired down. Though Barak would be at the front of the pack as they chased down the fleeing Canaanites, it would be the God Most High who would cause the Kishon river to rise and sweep away the fleeing enemy (5:20-21).
The triumph of faith is not found in the man but in the man’s obedience. The triumph of faith is not about how quick the man is to believe, but in who the man is willing to believe in. It might not come with the most glory, but it always results in the glory that is due. It might come at potential great cost, but it eventually results in great reward.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. . . . of whom the world was not worthy . . .
(Faith’s Hall of Fame – Hebrews 11:32-34, 38a ESV)
Oh to know the triumph the faith . . . even if it’s playing second fiddle.
By His grace . . . for His glory.