Jael was a courageous woman whose boldness and decisive action won a significant victory for Israel. Her story is a powerful testament that God loves to use the weak things of the world to shame the wise. God is raising up Jaels--courageous women willing to confront their enemies and step into the things of God.
God loves to use those who are willing to accomplish His purposes on the earth--especially the most unlikely candidates. Jael was one such unlikely candidate. To understand the significance of Jael’s story, we have to understand the unique time in Israel’s history in which she appeared and why her victory is so shocking. First off, Jael was a woman in a culture dominated by men. Second, she wasn’t an Israelite, but she played a key role in the Israelite’s victory against the Canaanites.
During this time, Israel had turned away from following God and was being oppressed by the Canaanites. So God raised up judges to bring the Israelites back to himself. One of these judges was a woman and prophetess named Deborah. On a word from God, Deborah called for Barak, Israel’s military leader, and instructed him to go to battle. She prophesied to him that God would deliver Sisera, the Canaanite military leader, and the Canaanite armies into his hands. Barak fearfully replied that he’d only go if she went with him. Deborah agreed to accompany him, however, she prophesied that God wouldn't deliver Sisera into Barak’s hands. He’d be delivered into the hands of a woman.
The day of battle arrived. Barak and his army of ten thousand rushed down from Mount Tabor and assaulted Sisera and his army of chariots. They retreated and Israel’s victory was sure. Terrified for his life, Sisera abandoned the chariots and fled the battle on foot. He sought refuge in the tent of a woman named Jael, our unlikely heroine. Jael was not an Israelite. In fact, Jael’s husband was a friend of the Canaanite king. Therefore, it made perfect sense that Sisera would seek refuge from her. She welcomed him in, assuring him to not be afraid. He enlisted Jael’s help in hiding him-instructing her to lie to anyone who sought him. Jael gave him milk to drink and encouraged him to rest. Exhausted from battle, Sisera fell fast asleep. In a bold, decisive act Jael grabbed a tent peg and a hammer, driving the tent peg through Sisera’s temple while he slept. Thus Sisera was “delivered into the hands of a woman,” and Jael secured a victory for Israel. When Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera, Jael showed him the dead man he was searching for. On that day God subdued Canaan and strengthened Israel.
To celebrate their victory, Deborah sang a song of victory for Israel. In her song, she praised Jael for killing Sisera (Judges 5.24-27) paying a high tribute to this brave woman by calling her “most blessed of women.” Jael’s story shows us that God will use those that are willing to accomplish His purposes on the earth. God selected two “unlikely” people to do His will in this story. He chose Deborah to be the only female judge mentioned in Scripture, a strong leader of God’s people. He also chose Jael, a woman not from Israel to deliver Israel. Jael’s fearless courage, resourcefulness and bold decisiveness led to a swift end for Israel’s enemy. We may feel insignificant. And day to day, our specific role may feel inconsequential, trivial or unimportant. But God loves to use those who others consider insignificant.
God is raising up Jaels, fearless women willing to drive a tent peg into their enemies. It’s time to boldly confront the lies, fears, and beliefs that would hold us back from the things of God. What is attempting to hold you back? And what is your tent peg--the truth you’re going to stand on? Take your tent peg and make a decision. Drive it into the heart of every lie that comes against you and don’t allow the enemy to steal your victory anymore. Take bold and decisive action towards what God has put in front of you and step into the fullness of your victory. It’s time.
If this story resonated with and encouraged you, share it with a bold and courageous woman you know!
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Written by Anne E. Ballard