Deborah taught us that a woman can do just about anything when she puts her mind to it. Jael completes the lesson and the story as she fulfills God’s word and promise to Barak.
Most women in the Bible get a side note as someone’s wife, but not Jael. In fact, her husband takes that pleasure. Poor Heber the Kenite, we never would know you if not for your wife.
We do not learn a great deal about the family of Heber, other than they lived awful close to where this battle between Barak’s army and Sisera’s army took place. Talk about some bad luck in picking out that cherry spot. People want to complain about the effect of the war in the Middle East on home prices in America? Just imagine the plummeting home values for Heber and Jael. Good thing they lived in a tent that could just as easily be picked up and moved as anything else!
Another interesting tidbit informs us that the household of Heber formed a treaty with Jabin, the king of Hazor. Sisera was captain of Jabin’s army, so coming across Jael while running in fear from Barak should give Sisera a feeling of relief. Boy, was he wrong. I’m thinking Jael was not so keen on her husband making peace with a person that dissed on the cousins. Blood is thicker than water and as we soon learn, all is fair in love and war.
Jael seemingly welcomes Sisera into her tent. She gives him refreshment and a place to lay his head to rest. Then, when he lets his guard down, she nails him. No, literally, she nails him with a tent peg to the temple. Now that is how you get a job done.
Her actions lead to the end of tyranny and brings 40 years of peace to the land. Children grew up and raised their own children while peace reigned. Her actions did not bring any swift arm of the law down upon her head, either. In fact the judge, Deborah, wrote a song glorifying Jael’s deed.
Go Where the Lord Wants
Like many young adults, I left home to go away to college. I could not wait to get out of my home town and on my “own”. I felt the only choice I had before me was to travel. While at college, I joined the choir. I learned one of my favourite hymns in that choir:
Here I am, Lord
It is I, Lord
I have heard you, calling in the night.
I will go Lord,
Where you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
-Here I am, Lord by Dan Schutte
Another of my favourite hymns, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”, has a chorus that goes like this:
I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what you want me to say, Dear Lord,
I’ll be what you want me to be.
We need to prepare ourselves to answer the Lord’s call. No matter how late at night or how far He asks us to go, we need to answer the phone and hop in our car. No trek is too long or too hard when the Lord is by our side.
When asked, are we willing to jump up and say, “Here I am”? Do we hear him calling in the night? Will we say, “Sure, I’ll go, but only if”? Where do we end up when the Lord’s call comes?
I think, sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that in order to do God’s work, we must pack our bags and go… somewhere… anywhere. That we cannot do the work here in our own homes. You hear about people going on missions in far away places. What about the missions right here in our own backyard?
The first few lines of the previous hymn speaks of something altogether different than traveling to far off places.
It may not be on a mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be on the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
Jael did not need to climb a mountain, cross stormy seas, or even head to the front line of the battle. Instead, Sisera came to her doorstep. God did not need her to go anywhere but her own front yard.
Someone may travel to a distant land, teach hundreds, and baptize ten to make an impact on lives. It is far easier to see that impact from our actions on the lives of others when we are out of our natural element focusing so strongly on God’s work. In our normal, boring lives, we do not notice the good work we do on a daily basis. The best place to start doing God’s will is in our family. We can branch out from there.
Jael did not teach the Gospel, she did not prophesy, she did not judge over a nation. That did not stop her actions from blessing the lives of an entire nation for a generation. We should never discount the work we can do each day for the Lord, and we should never shy away.
As a woman faced with a decision of great consequence, I doubt Jael killed Sisera on a whim. Murder carried a serious charge and there was no escape. She could not claim self defense as he slept peacefully in her tent. She could not claim insanity, though most courts today might accept it on the grounds of a “It was God’s will” argument. Yet, she knew she must. Was she afraid? Did she doubt her ability? Did she wonder if God really did want her to do this deed? A tent peg to the head, what if she slipped?
Murder ranks at six on the Lord’s top ten list we call the Commandments. Sometimes the Lord has need of this deed to escape the bonds of unrighteous dominion. I always wonder, though, just how hard is it to kill someone, even knowing that God gave it His seal of approval. Are people tempted to argue with the promptings they have?
How much torment does one go over after killing someone? Knowing the victim was wicked beyond belief, tortured and persecuted an entire people? That might sound like a justification but does it make the act easier to bear?
Hopefully, none of us will find ourselves called to such an extreme act. Are we prepared, though, for anything the Lord asks? We must prepare ourselves to do the Lord’s will, even when it is not our own. It is far too easy for us to put off the things God would have us do. “I won’t go to Church this Sunday, I’m too tired.” “I am real busy today, so I’ll let my Scripture study slide.” “I feel like our family needs to move to Wisconsin, but I have no job and it is cold there.”
Sometimes the Lord asks us to do something so easy and we bristle. How hard is it for us to pick up the Scriptures and read for even five minutes? Other times the Lord asks us things that are far more difficult such as moving or sharing the Gospel with a friend we do not want to offend. Can we not be like Jael and just do the things asked of us?
After the Call
Once we answer the call, what do we do next? Hopefully the answer is to do what is asked! Yet, once that is done… then what? How do we go return to our lives once all is said and done? Have our actions changed us?
What do you think life was like for Jael, after Sisera’s death?
Let’s start off with the paparazzi. Everyone knew her. People pointing fingers and whispering, “There goes Jael. She killed Sisera!” I can imagine the treaty between her family and the Jabin dissolved faster than you can say “tent peg”. Her husband may not be keen on that thought, but if he were wise, the thoughts remained in his head. Otherwise a tent peg might be joining the thoughts!
How do you think Heber reacted to the news of his wife’s actions? Anger that she bloodied up the rung in the tent? Jealousy that she allowed another man into her tent? How about plain old fear that his wife could so easily kill a man whilst he slumbered. If that thought does not make him want to sleep with one eye open, he gets what he deserves.
If we answer the Lord’s call, do we hope that someone will come along and write a song about us like Deborah did for Jael? We should follow the promptings of the Lord and act in His name because we want to serve Him. The eternal rewards should be far more than enough. We have no need of temporal recognition.
If we don’t get fame or fortune in this life, what do we get? Jael received peace in the land and freedom from an evil man. Likewise, we earn peace as we grow closer to the Lord. Peace in doing the things that we know are right. Peace in living a life in accordance with God. We also find ourselves free from the Tempter’s grasp. Free from the bonds of sin as we seek shelter in the great Redeemer.
Following the Lord and answering His call brings us joy. He bathes us in His love and light. We see things in the world with a new perspective, an eternal perspective, His perspective. Oh how things change when you see them as God sees them!
When we serve God, we find ourselves serving others, and in the end serving ourselves. Service to anyone brings a greater love. We learn to love our neighbour and our God. Somewhere along the way we learn to love ourselves.
God Can Call Anyone
The resounding message of this story is the way that God can call upon and use anyone. How often do we overlook the humble and the meek? How easy to disregard a housewife? Oh she just hangs out barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. What can she possibly do?
Apparently she can drive a nail home. Or in this case, a tent peg.
Housewives are so much more than slaves to their husbands. They manage the house, the finances, the laundry, the kitchen, the cleaning, the children, the mail, the phone, the education, need I really go on? Housewives may hold the picture of women eating bonbons while lounging on the sofa watching Oprah, but that is hardly the case. Morning to dusk, she works hard for the family. She never rests, she is always on call, she is always working.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking so little of ourselves. We think we can in no way help another, let alone the Lord. Maybe it is because we are trapped in a cycle of sin where we feel no escape is ever possible. Perhaps we think there are no talents we could possibly use to help others. We blame the distance we live away from everyone, it can bring us down just as much as our economic situation.
The truth surprises us. We all have things we can do. We all are able to serve the Lord. That phone call to someone today could save someone spiritually or emotionally. The lesson we give on Sunday might change another’s life. The possibilities are infinite, as is the Lord’s love.
The Lord does not care who we are, where we live, what we have. Sometimes He needs us to do something small. Other times He needs something big. If we are living our lives that we might meet His needs, our own needs will find themselves fulfilled. You do not need to be mighty in words. You do not need affluence. You do not even need to even be the most knowledgeable in Scriptural things.
You only need to listen to God and He will make sure you have your very own tent peg and hammer ready to accomplish His will.