Originally published Wednesday, 15 February 2012.
There are a few stories in the Bible that make me a little uncomfortable. I hurry through them and like to forget them in favor of the ones that are filled with the beautiful, flower-laden imagery of love and rescue and restoration.
Not a tent peg brutally hammered into a man’s head while he slept.
And yet, that was the story I was asked to teach on awhile ago for the women’s Sunday School class at our church: Blood, murder and a metal spike to the skull. (Not your typical Sunday School lesson, right?)
It’s the story of two women, Deborah and Jael, found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. And since I had to teach on it, I couldn’t just breeze through it like I have in the past. I had to look closely at this story, this story that, though I might not like the blood and the gore of it, is nonetheless recorded for us in the Bible.
As I cracked open my Bible and read through their story, I discovered (murder aside) it an inspiring one for us women, where victory for a nation starts with the actions, the faith of these two women.
In a nutshell, the story is that Israel has been oppressed for 20 years before they repent and start praying to God for freedom. God has appointed Deborah to be judge over the people, and one day, she sends for the leader of the Israel army and tells him that God is ready to give them victory against their enemy. He tells her that he’ll only go if she accompanies him. She agrees, but because of this—that he trusts the strength of man more than the promise of God—she tells him that the victory will come at the hands of a woman.
Cut to the battle, where God confuses the enemy and the Israelite army begins to slaughter them. The leader of the enemy army, Sisera, escapes and goes to the tent of Jael, whereby she agrees to hide him. Sisera soon falls asleep and she sees her chance: In those days, it was the woman’s job to pitch and maintain the tent. So she picks up her much-used tent peg and mallet and hammers the spike into his temple, killing him and providing the answer to an entire nation’s prayers.
As I read the story, I noticed how these two women used the positions God had given them—that as a judge, that as a woman who lived in and worked with tents—to bring salvation to his people. They were not warriors but yet God used their talents, skills and roles to bring about victory, much in the same way that David was able to take down Goliath using his well-worn slingshot instead of a heavy sword.
Compare that with the Israel army’s leader who would only go to war if Deborah went alongside him. He was presumably one of the best fighters in the land, but because he didn’t trust God’s promise, that position and strength was not enough.
Through their actions, these women lived out a strong, unwavering faith that God could do the impossible, even with their feeble, ordinary offerings. Surprising things can happen when we have the faith to trust where God has placed us…
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to read more at her blog, Life Blessons.
Related Posts from Life Blessons
Making the Psalms Your Own
A Handy Resource for Discerning God's Will for Your Life