Scripture Union Resources

Of Tent Pegs and Temples

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Holy God, break through my hardheadedness, and remove the blinders from my eyes. I want to hear Your voice today.
JUDGES 4:1-24

[1] Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead. [2] So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. [3] Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help. [4] Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. [5] She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. [6] She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. [7] I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'" [8] Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." [9] "Certainly I will go with you," said Deborah. "But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. [10] There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him. [11] Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh. [12] When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, [13] Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. [14] Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. [15] At Barak's advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. [16] Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera's troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. [17] Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. [18] Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. [19] "I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. [20] "Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone in there?' say 'No.'" [21] But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. [22] Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you're looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple-dead. [23] On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. [24] And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

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.


"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might ..." (Ecc. 9:10). Tent peg aside, there are examples here of decisive action.
Think Further: 

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.

Deborah acts with shrewdness and integrity. Jael acts with wisdom. What life lessons can you learn from these women who acted with shrewdness, integrity, and success?
Lord, grant me the wisdom to use what You provide and to seize the opportunities that You create for serving You.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Ecclesiastes 8,9 / 1 Timothy 1


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