Jael was the hero in Judges 4, not Barak, because she acted in simple obedience out of her faith. Barak got hung up by a false view of God--he believed, idolatrously, that God's presence was available to him in the person of Deborah. And it cost him.
In this sermon, I identified four false views of God we have today:
1. The "Santa Claus" god who exists to give us everything we want. This god hangs us up because if we don't get what we think we deserve, we start to question his goodness.
2. The "he-didn't-really-mean-what-he-said-he-just-wants-to-know-if-you-are-willing" god. This god offers hard teachings but doesn't really mean them. This god usually is behind the biblical teaching about money. When Jesus told a rich guy to go sell everything he had and then come follow him, he didn't really mean it, he just wanted to know if the man would be willing to do so. This view of god hangs up because it removes the hard questions of discipleship from our lives.
3. The "we're-right-and-no-one-else-is" god. This god allows us to feel prideful that we've read the bible correctly and no one else has. This view of god also hangs us up because it gives us a false assurance that our faith is about knowledge of spiritual things, and the church building, and the correct worship, rather than Jesus.
4. The god of tradition. This view of god is deadly because it keeps us rooted in the past rather than looking at how we should serve God in the present and in the future.
This is why Jesus contrasted tradition (and all false views of god) with true faith in the living God in Mark 7. He showed us that faith is internal belief and simple action that is driven by that faith.
This was exemplified by Jael, who knew what she needed to do for God and did it.
Sermon: Actionable Faith (Judges 4)