Scripture Union taught me the discipline of daily Bible reading..."John Stott,
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
If ever a chapter needed not to be read as a method to follow, it’s this one. Tent pegs have a different role in the church’s relations with the world today. Deborah and Jael both act with what God has given them: Deborah uses her influence and acts with the shrewdness to compromise her plan, and the integrity not to compromise God’s word of prophecy. Jael acts with wisdom, alert to the opportunity that God made.
Deborah is full of what the Bible means by wisdom: God-fearing savvy. She knows how people work, how society gathers around the powerful; she understands the egos of the men of Israel. She can flex when she hears Barak’s conditions, though they conflict with her own scheme. She is unyielding when she has to deliver a prophecy from God, though it means rebuking the man of power. To the one she listens with obedience; to all others she both listens and speaks as a consequence of listening to the first. The first task of the Christian leader is to know who to listen to.
Jael uses her wits, seizing the moment and, thus, the hammer. Sisera is a tired fugitive, alone in a hot and hostile land, who happens upon a friendly face. He wouldn’t have suspected Heber, much less his wife whom he figured he could order around a bit. He wouldn’t even have known what was happening. Jael is quick-thinking, brave and demonstrates a deeper loyalty to the Lord’s people than to the friendship with Jabin of her husband’s clan. No wonder the next chapter prays "Most blessed of women be Jael" (Judg. 5:24). Her wisdom is not the ponderous and hesitant apology for wisdom that we often display: fear dressed up as caution and falsely labeled virtue. She acts fast because the moment demands it.
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