Focal passages: Judges 4:4-10, 12-16
About 15 years ago I started a church preschool day care ministry. It wasn’t my idea, but I was tasked with the job of designing it, staffing it and getting it up and running.
Over time this particular ministry became quite successful, a true benefit to the community, even though I was not around to personally witness that growth.
The true success of that ministry, and any ministry, is a team of willing servants who love their job(s) and get things done.
This week’s biblical story seems to defy stereotypes. Israel was a strong patriarchal society. Usually men led and women worked quietly in the background.
But here things are different. Deborah is the sitting judge over Israel, a wife, a prophetess, and a wise counselor. Barak, a man, is the commander of the Israeli army, but reluctant to take the fight to Sisera, the Canaanite army commander. For whatever reason, Barak insisted upon Deborah going to the battlefield with him. Deborah reluctantly agreed, with a warning and prophetic word that Barak would not get the satisfaction of killing the evil Sisera.
Instead, that honor would go to a woman.
In a few days the battle erupted. God threw Sisera and his powerful army into massive confusion, and all of his warriors died except himself.
Sisera slinked away to the tent of Jael and his wife, famished and exhausted (see verses 17-22). He mistakenly thought they were his allies. As he dropped into a deep slumber, the unnamed, but willing, wife of Jael slammed a tent peg through his skull. As one of my professors once remarked, “Sisera died of a splitting headache!”
For Deborah and Barak, victory came because of a team effort. Apparently Barak was able to leave his ego behind, and Deborah was willing to do something not in her job description.
And the unnamed wife was able to keep her fears in check as she did what was necessary to defeat the evil in her home. All were willing servants.