Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Meanwhile, Sisera, running for his life, headed for the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jabin, king of Hazor, and Heber the Kenite were on good terms with one another. Jael stepped out to meet Sisera and said, ‘Come in, sir. Stay here with me. Don’t be afraid.’”
Judges 4: 17, 18
The Message Bible
“Who Is Your Real Friend?”
“True friendship is seen through the heart not through the eyes.”
When I think of my friends, who do I include in my list of “true friends?”
Have I ever had a friend who turned out to be a person who did not have my best interest at heart?
“Bad company is like a nail driven into a post, which, after the first or second blow, may be drawn out with a little difficulty; but being once driven up to the head of the nail, the pincers cannot take hold to draw it out, but which can only be done by the destruction of the wood.”
“(She) who lies with dogs, shall rise with fleas.”
There’s a saying here in the United States, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” This remark is especially made during political campaigns when so-called friends often turn into enemies and enemies can become friends.
I’ll never forget when I started high school, my dad gave me one of those heart-to-heart talks and it was about the qualities of a “real” friend. As he shared with me, not everyone who acts like a friend is really a friend. All through history, people have used each other to gain financial, social and political advantage.
When I first read William Shakespeare’s well-known play, Julius Caesar,I remember how shocked I was to find out that none other than his trusted friend Marcus Brutus, in the end joined with the conspirators who murdered Julius Caesar. In fact, it was Brutus who was the last to plunge the knife into his “friend’s” body while Caesar cried out, “Et tu Brute?” (And you, Brutus? You, too?)
Possibly you are wondering what friendship has to do with Jael and her invitation to Sisera to come into her tent. Well, I want to offer a perspective I have not found anywhere else in my studies about Jael, but one I believe is supported by the Biblical record.
Let’s look at the facts of this story. Facts which are contained in the Bible:
1. Heber, the Kenite, “severed” ties with his ancestors and took his family to live in Kedesh, separate from the tribe they called their relatives. (Judges 4: 11).
2. Heber called King Jabin and Sisera his friends. (Judges 4: 17)
3. Sisera felt safe enough and “friendly” enough with Heber to seek refuge in his home. (Judges 4: 17).
Obviously, Heber, King Jabin and Sisera were knit together, possibly by business ties and maybe even through social relationships. Theirs was the old boy network at work in Canaan.
Now, let’s take a look at Jael. She also moved away from family, friends and close ties. For what reason we don’t know. It may have been at her husband’s insistence. But as we continue to study about this woman, one thing for certain, she was no dummy. I sincerely doubt you could pull anything over on Jael. And I have a feeling she watched carefully the relationship develop between her husband and King Jabin and Sisera. We women do this!
We watch out for our husbands and children. We are protective! We don’t want people using or taking advantage of those we love. And I have a woman’s intuition about Jael. As she sat back and watched and listened, she figured things out – on her own. She knew King Jabin and Sisera were up to no good. Their abuse of the Israelites did not go unnoticed by Jael. As she watched their despicable treatment of others, she began to make some decisions on her own. Even if her husband, Heber, thought these creeps were his friends, Jael knew better. It could very likely have been that Jabin and Sisera were using Heber for his skills as a metal-worker. However, what history does tell us, is that many of these Canaanite tribes, at times of war, would band together to fight their common enemy, but once the battle was over, they went back home without any concern for each other. They were “fair weather friends” or “for the war friends.” Their concern for each other was as shallow as a wading pool. Theirs was not a strong bond and I believe Jael recognized this fact.
She knew all too well that someday and somewhere, when King Jabin and Sisera had used her husband and didn’t need him anymore, they would be more than ready to dump him overboard or worse – for their history had proved they had no respect for the lives of others.
So the thoughtful Jael, with sweetness on her lips, invited Sisera, who showed up at her door uninvited, into her tent. And without thinking, Sisera jumped at the offer, not because he cared for Jael or her family, but because he wanted to save his own neck. As one person noted, true friendship is built on “caring, sharing, and trust.” And these are qualities Sisera knew nothing about.
It was the great Spanish playwright and poet Cervantes, who authored Don Quixotewho so astutely observed, “Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you what you are.” This truth applied to Heber, for we know a lot about his character from the choice he made to have “peace” with the enemies of God. But we are also enlightened as to the character of Jael who chose, in the face of internal and external opposition, to stand on the side of friendship with the God of the Universe.
“Insomuch as any one pushes you nearer to God, he or she is your friend.”
The A – Z of Friendship
(A)ccepts you as you are
(B)elieves in you
(C)alls you just to say “Hi”
(D)oesn’t give up on you
(E)nvisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts)
(F)orgives your mistakes
(I)nvites you over
(J)ust to “be” with you
(K)eeps you close at heart
(L)oves you for who you are
(M)akes a difference in your life
(P)icks you up
(Q)uiets your fears
(R)aises your spirits
(S)ays nice things about you
(T)ells you the truth when you need to hear it
(W)alks beside you
(X)-plaines things you don’t understand
(Y)ells when you won’t listen and
(Z)aps you back to reality.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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