She took him into her home. She fed him. She offered him a place to rest, a place he felt safe. Then, when he was sound asleep, she knelt next to him and pounded a tent pin through his temple.
Many times I have heard Jael, the wife of Heber, described as a sneaky, devious, blood-thirsty woman. We in our civilized, politically correct, white collar world decry any ancient blood-letting as barbaric, even though people of our own era commit atrocities, from the mega-massacres of Stalin and Hitler to the mob mentality that runs rampant in both the inner cities and suburbia at the lowest flashpoint, be it outrage or fear. So, in our blindness to our own hidden savagery, we read the account in Judges 4 with a jaundiced and arrogant eye. If we had spent any time at all on the song of Deborah in Judges 5, we would have avoided contradicting divinely inspired opinion about Jael’s actions. Blessed above women shall Jael be, v 24.
Certainly that should settle the matter. Just for the added emphasis of common sense, though, let’s ponder this question: What was this nomadic shepherd woman, alone at home, supposed to do? Should we require that she meet a trained warrior, the captain of a mighty army, in a fair fight? Indeed, I read that the customs of the day said for a man to force his way into another man’s tent, or to merely enter that same tent when the man was not at home, was an action worthy of death.
But how do we reconcile this type of behavior with Jesus’ teaching. I say unto you, love your enemies, do good to them who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who despitefully use you. To him who smites you on the one cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak, withhold not your coat also. Give to everyone who asks and from him who takes away your goods, ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do also unto them likewise, Luke 6:27-31. Some would say, “Jael was under the old law. Things are different now.” While that is so, it only skims the surface of the matter.
Old Testament Israel was a physical kingdom with a physical king sitting on a physical throne. They fought physical wars using physical weapons. Isaiah prophesies a coming kingdom where they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more, 2:4; a kingdom that would have no physical boundaries, but would encompass the whole world, one into which all nations shall flow, 2:2. Jesus established that kingdom, the church, his throne not on this earth but in Heaven.
Yet we still fight battles. Paul spent a good amount of time detailing our armor (Eph 6), our weapons and battle tactics (2 Cor 10), and the characteristics of a faithful soldier (2 Tim 2).
Every time we overcome temptation, we win a battle; every time we speak of our faith to others, we take an enemy captive; every time a Christian leaves this world, having been faithful to the end, we pound a tent pin into the temple of Satan. If we are too politically correct to fight a battle, if we are too finicky for hand-to-hand combat, if we are too “civilized” to pick up a sword and slash our way through the enemy forces, we don’t have what it takes to be a follower of Christ.
Make no mistake about it. You are going to war today. Be prepared to fight in it.
Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ, for no soldier on service entangles himself in the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier, 2 Tim 2:3,4.