“Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him (Sisera), and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he (Sisera) was fast asleep and weary. So he died.”
King James Version
“A Wild Woman, A Nail, And A Mallet”
“O if once our hearts were but filled with zeal for God, and compassion to our people’s souls, we would be up and be doing, though we could but lay a brick a day, and God would be with us.”
Have I allowed “Sisera” to get comfortable in my life?
“Consecrate yourself anew this day wholly to your Master’s service. You are not your own, but bought with a price, and if you would not be like thorn-choked seeds, live while you live, with all-consuming zeal.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Consecration is not wrapping one’s self in a holy web in the sanctuary and then coming forth after prayer and twilight meditation and saying, ‘There, I am consecrated.’ Consecration is going out into the world where God Almighty is and using every power for His glory. It is taking all advantages as trust funds – as confidential debts owed to God. It is simply dedicating one’s life, in its whole flow, to God’s service.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Part of my work years ago as a nurse was in the Emergency Room where we were constantly treating critical situations that were caused by the unexpected. Car accidents. Work accidents. And sometimes, those unthinkable events, when injuries happened at the hand of another such as gunshots or stabbings.
Fortunately, I’ve never been a person who felt squeamish at the sight of blood and it was a good thing, for some injuries I witnessed, required strong internal strength.
Our story today is one of those times when strength, as well as thoughtful consideration, is needed, for I don’t believe there’s a more descriptive story in all of Scripture. To say our text for today is “gory” would be an understatement. The dictionary defines “gory” as, “full of or marked by violence and bloodshed,” both of which are present in the story of Jael’s action against Sisera.
When we started in Genesis studying the lives of all the women mentioned in the Bible, I made a promise to you. I told you we would not skip over the tough stories. I told you we wouldn’t just take on the stories of the beautiful Queen Esther or the unselfish Ruth. Instead, we’d ask God to help us find His love and His message for our lives in the stories of Rahab and Tamar and Dinah, and yes, in Jael -- the woman whom we found out was given a name that meant wild, mountain goat!
Here’s what we have learned about Jael so far. She was a woman of the desert, a wild woman who had faced the tough elements of tent living in Palestine and not only survived but thrived. Even though she was married to Heber, a man who had made a friendly alliance with King Jabin who had terrorized God’s children for 20 years, Jael decided in her own mind that cavorting with this evil king and his army chief, Sisera, had no place in her life. In the face of wickedness, Jael chose virtue.
Then one day, unexpectedly, who should show up at her tent, but Sisera who was on-the-run from the army of Israel. Thinking he had arrived at the encampment of a friend, this thug not only accepted Jael’s offer to come in and rest in her tent, but then ordered her to lie to conceal his presence from any possible enemies.
As we learned, having made up her mind long before Sisera arrived at her door that evil was not part of her life, Jael would not cave to Sisera’s demand for water. She chose, instead, to give him soothing milk. Soon the worn-out and weary Sisera was sleeping like a baby.
This is when Jael made her move. The Bible says Jael went and got a tent peg, which in those days was usually a very long, large piece of wood, and she got a “hammer” which was really a large mallet, and went in “softly” or as the Hebrew states, “silently,” to where Sisera lay sleeping. Here is the way the Bible records this event: Jael, “smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary.” And then, as though it is a post script, the Bible states: “So he (Sisera) died.” All I can say is – that should be obvious!
My question as I read this story was, “Why did Jael, who had made the tough choice to be God’s daughter when all those around her were joined with the enemies of the Most High God, including her own husband, why, oh why, was she the one who was placed in the position of taking down evil?”
Remember, Deborah, the judge of Israel had told Barak, before Jael ever came into the story, that it would be a woman who would conquer Sisera. Deborah told Barak he would not get the credit. Thankfully, Barak didn’t mind who got credit, for like all of God’s children, he only wanted release from King Jabin and Sisera.
As I studied and re-studied this story, I’d like to offer a perspective about the defeat and death of Sisera that I believe helps us understand not only what happened, but how we as God’s daughters (and sons, too!) can learn from this story how to deal with the insidious behavior of Sisera, whoever and whatever “Sisera” is in our own lives.
Lesson #1: Sisera had to be dealt with. Sisera had, with his 900 chariots of iron, terrorized God’s children for 20 years. His campaign of evil had left God’s children paralyzed by fright, unable to do what God wanted them to do. Sisera in your life and mine will do the same. He will try in every way possible to keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. This is why Sisera can’t be ignored. He must be faced and dealt with.
Lesson #2: Sisera must be destroyed forever. The operative word here is forever. Jael made it clear that Sisera was not welcome in her tent and never would be – forever! We need to do the same. Does this mean a “Sisera” won’t try to tempt us again? Unfortunately, the statement that temptations can be like tramps that when treated kindly will return bringing others with them, can certainly be true. But we can learn from Jael’s decisive action, that when we make it clear that “evil” is not welcome in our lives, that the doors of our hearts have a “Closed” sign for evil on them, Sisera will get weary of trying to get in where he’s not wanted. St. John of the Cross wrote these inspiring words: “The devil fears a soul united to God as he does God Himself.” This should give each of us the encouragement we need to know that with God’s power, Sisera’s place of rest in our hearts is forever destroyed.
Lesson #3: When Sisera came into Jael’s tent, he became her personal problem not everybody else’s problem. So often, it is easy for you and me to try to act like Jael, with a tent peg in one hand, and a mallet in the other, as we go around thinking we can eradicate evil everywhere and anywhere we see it, outside ourselves! When in fact, Sisera is resting like a baby inside the “tent” of our own lives with his precious coverlet keeping him warm and comfy while he takes a little nap and refreshes himself. If there’s anything we need to learn from Jael it is that we must take care of Sisera in our own tents before we tell everyone else how to deal with him in theirs!
One of my favorite quotations was penned by Julian of Norwich in England: “God did not say, ‘You shall not be tempted, you shall not be travailed; you shall not be afflicted,’ But God said, ‘You shall not be overcome.’”
May we like Jael make a determination in our lives, by God’s power, to deal with Sisera; destroy Sisera forever; and take care of Sisera in our own lives.
“The most important of life’s battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul.”
David O. McKay
“How shall I not give You all that I have,
When You, in Your great goodness,
Give me all that You are?
“Lord, let my life be a space in which You can work in the world, clear away my inner rubbish, and fill me with Your Spirit of healing, delight and peace, so that everything I do may be the fruit of Your life in me.”
The Book of a Thousand Prayers
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
The Man Who Loved Women
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.