1. Exposition

is Barak's response to God's call through Deborah good or bad?

Judges 4:8 (ESV)

8 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.”

Barak had been assured success at the outset from the Lord (Judges 4:6–7). But this promise was not enough for him. It would have been acceptable if he had merely expressed a wish that Deborah go with him. But in making this a condition of his going to war was a sin.1 Perhaps he focused on the Lord’s description of Sisera’s army, rather than the promise…. In contrast to Othniel and Ehud, men of faith who saw a challenge and responded courageously and decisively, Barak demanded the support of a woman. Israelite male leadership had fallen on hard times; no wonder a woman had to fill the office of judge!2

For comparison, Moses in Exodus 33:15 insisted that unless the Lord goes with him he will not go. But it is one thing to plead for the Lord to go with you. It is quite another for Barak to want a woman to go with him, even if she is a prophetess.

It is not as though this is all bad; at least he wants a prophetess who represents the Lord's presence.3 But it is a step down from Othniel’s complete and immediate obedience. God’s will has been revealed to Barak, and yet he is sorely reluctant to act on that will. And it results in a woman receiving the glory instead.