Defiant Resolve

by Carolyn Hope

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, followed by ten thousand men. At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot … to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. 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 put a covering over him. … 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. (Judges 4:14-15, 17-18, 21.)

In the book of Judges, the Israelites settled into a pattern: they would stray from the Lord, the Lord would hand them over to their enemies, the Israelites would cry out to God, and then God would send them a judge to deliver them and lead them in obedience to Him. This account is no exception. Deborah the prophetess led the Israel nation out of oppression into freedom and victory.

There is one character in this narrative that was absolutely essential to the triumph we see: Jael.

We don’t know much about Jael. She was married to a man named Heber, who was the leader of a clan and friendly with the enemy forces. Thus, when Sisera (the antagonistic commander of fortified armies) fled the battle, he sought refuge in Jael and Heber’s tent. Jael welcomed him and offered him a place to rest … and then killed him while he slept.

Jael had to have been resolved to act so boldly. Sisera was an enemy of Israel, but in helping to liberate her nation, Jael went against her husband. How would he react? What would he do? What would he do to her? She could not be half-hearted in such a move. Her resolve defied expectation and the opinions of those closest to her.

Sometimes doing what is right takes great courage, not because you’re uncertain of what you must do, but because you don’t know how those you love will receive it. There’s a unique challenge to following Jesus when doing so means going against your family’s wishes or opinions. Still, you must be true to your heart, consistent with your convictions, and faithful to the Lord’s Word. What He asks you to do is right, and His commands must take precedence over others’ preferences. You are to live at peace with everyone as much as you can (see Romans 12:18), but if you have to choose between pleasing God and pleasing man, the choice must be God first and man second (see Acts 5:29). Be bold in your obedience to your King. He will protect you and honor you for choosing Him first.

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