Judges 4:17-24 – The Unexpected Twist

Read Judges 4:17-24

And I thought Deborah was going to be the hero of the story! In our last reading, you’ll recall a conversation between our current judge, Deborah, and her military leader recruit, Barak. When she said that God’s victory would be at the hands of a woman, didn’t you imagine she was talking about herself? Or was it just me?

Actually, I had been waiting for the story of Jael. I had forgotten where it fell in the timeline of God’s story. There is a lot we can learn from Jael. She turned fear into triumph! But she didn’t do it on her own. God had already planned it, and whether or not Deborah knew “who” the woman would be, God had shared with her ahead of time that victory would involve a woman.

As a woman, I have learned over the years that I am valuable. If you’re not a woman living in this man’s world, you don’t necessarily know how special empowerment feels. For me, having survived a traumatic first marriage where I was belittled and made to feel unworthy of pretty much anything, I am especially blessed when I see a brave woman in action.

When Jael woke up that morning, I’m sure she didn’t know that she would be making history. We are told she was the woman God intended to use for his purposes. Was Jael ever aware? What about this invitation? “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” Here is the enemy leader who was on the run after his army had been destroyed. Who should be afraid of who here?

When those words came from her mouth, did Jael have any idea he really should have been afraid of her? What happens next would appear to have been given some thought. Not much time had there been to prepare, so Jael was resourceful. I like that about her. She looked around for what she had.

Not only did Jael have the opportunity, but she found the “means,” by using something that would have been very commonplace in her way of life. What strength or determination it must have taken to do what she did to Sisera. I can’t even imagine! It’s at times like this, when it’s God’s will to give Israel victory, that watching such a grueling scene involving the woman, Jael, is understandable. That’s because it shows the power of God and the love he has for his people.

The next words we hear Jael speak are to Barak, Deborah’s warrior. “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” I have a hard time figuring out if she said that calmly, or if she was out of breath as in shock, or if she was on the verge of hysteria. The text, from what I can see, is absent of that detail. No matter. The outcome was sealed.

This event was the catalyst that led to the final destruction for this foe of God. “And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.” The happy ending this time will take more time following this military victory.

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray …
Lord, as you continue writing your story of love and redemption, I am so grateful to be included in the plot. Thank you for loving me and believing in me even when I didn’t see it in myself. May I have the resourcefulness of Jael to make things happen for you, God. I know you will inspire me to action just as you did today. May I be listening and ready to move. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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