Deborah & Jael
Open Your Bible
Judges 4:1-5:3, Mark 13:32-37
BY Debbie Eaton
A great, epic story throws an ordinary, flawed person into extraordinary circumstances where elements of drama and suspense, honor and deception, and love and war abound. We can somehow see ourselves in our relatable hero, so we root for them as we walk around in their shoes, embracing their failures but also their integrity and determination. In the end, when all is redeemed, we envision our own world with fresh eyes.
This is the type of dramatic story we enter into today as we meet Deborah and Jael, two risk-taking women serving God with all their heart.
Our story opens to a familiar setting—a time when the Israelites had once again fallen into evil ways and were now under the control of King Jabin of Canaan. The commander of his army was Sisera, an evil leader who inflicted great oppression on the people. After 20 years of brutality, the Israelites finally cried out to the Lord for help (Judges 4:1-3).
Deborah rose to become judge and leader of the nation of Israelites. She would hold court under a palm tree settling disputes, prophesying, and speaking truth and wisdom to the people. Scripture tells us Deborah wore many hats as a wife, counselor, and arbitrator, and it seems decision-making in both her public and private life was done in submission to God, earning her favor in the eyes of God and man.
Jael was a loyal woman, her allegiance firmly with the Lord. She had watched her husband Heber the Kenite trade his loyalty from the Israelites to King Jabin and his bigger, stronger army led by Sisera. Jael, however, remained loyal to the Lord and His people.
The pace of our story quickens when Deborah summons Barak for battle. With the prophetic knowledge given her by the Lord, she knew God would conquer Sisera—in her eyes, the battle was as good as won! “Does not the Lord go out before you?” she implores Barak (Judges 4:14). And so to battle he goes, Deborah and ten thousand men at his side, pursuing Sisera and his army of chariots. Sisera’s entire army falls, but Sisera himself escapes on foot.
When God fights for His people, He works all things together—both the seen and unseen—to bring about victory. This is when Jael, our second heroine, steps onto the page.
The fleeing Sisera seeks safety at the tent of Heber the Kenite, where Jael greets him and invites him in. Given food and rest by the hospitable Jael, a relieved Sisera drifts off to sleep. Our story culminates when our tiptoeing heroine kills the enemy in his sleep… with just one tent peg and a hammer!
Deborah and Jael—both faithful to God, awake and ready to be used by Him at anytime. And they were used by Him, to bring about a significant victory for His people!
The heroines of our story indeed display strength and discernment, watchfulness and determination. More than that, Deborah and Jael illuminate the awesome power of their victorious God—the God with whom nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). The Cross of Jesus is the ultimate battle, a battle won by the God who delivers His people from bondage (Isaiah 61:1). He is a God of justice and protection, mercy and love, graciously giving wisdom to those who trust in Him! And HE is the seen-yet-unseen hero of this and every epic story.
Upon Sisera’s death, Deborah and her people celebrated by singing praise to God for His goodness and mercy. Shall we follow their lead?
Let’s worship God together today for His power and mercy. Let’s be alert in the drama of life, knowing in whom we have placed our trust.
When the crucial plot points of our own story arrive, may they find us awake and ready to take action, knowing that the Lord goes out before us.
Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming.
(Mark 13:33, HCSB)