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False Security

“And he said to her, ‘Give me a drink please — a little water because I am thirsty.’ She opened up a skin of milk to drink and covered him. And he said to her, ‘Stand at the entrance to the tent. If it should be that a man comes and asks you, saying, ‘Is there a man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’’”

(Judges 4:19-20)

As is often the case with God’s justice, it is rather ironic in nature. Up until this point, because of Sisera’s great military machine, the Israelite men had been cowering and quivering…often behind their women as did Baraq with Deborah. Now the Israelite men have risen up to fight the battle and Sisera is discovered to be cowering under the coverings in the tent of Jael. Before his death, he gets (perhaps even for the first time) to discover the same fear that the Israelite men have been living under for the past twenty years.

What is also interesting is the false sense of security that he is given. Instead of water she gives him milk. Instead of screaming a warning, she invites him in. Instead of immediately exposing him, Jael covers Sisera up. She has plans for his demise, but she does not give away her motive. How interesting it is that, as a culture, the Christian church has often fallen for the same ruse. The society around us often gives us all of the false signs of comfort while ushering the evangelical church in America underneath the coverings of the government’s “protection.” Then, when the timing is right, out comes the tent peg. Were the church to take her stand and never to compromise, how different things would be.

Into the Hand of a Woman

“And she said, ‘I surely will go with you, even so, the road which you walk will not bring you renown, for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose and walked with Baraq to Qedshah. And Baraq summoned Zebulun and Naphtaliy to Qedshah and they went up at his feet — 10,000 men. And Deborah went up with him.”

(Judges 4:9-10)

If you had never read this account before, the temptation would be to assume that the “woman’s hand” into whom Sisera was being given would be Deborah’s. We know from reading ahead that this will not be the case by any means, yet such has not yet been indicated by the text. There will indeed be a degree of ironic justice, but not in the way we would likely expect, were we reading this text with fresh eyes.

Adding credence to the notion that Judges often overlapped one another, we find Baraq calling out his forces from the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, calling them to gather in Kadesh. These two tribes are to the northern region of the tribal areas, but why he perhaps did not call from Asher or Manasseh, for example (two other northern tribes), seems to indicate (given the direct command of God to call men from these two tribes only) that Baraq and Deborah’s influence was more regional than national. This, we do not know for sure, but it seems plausible.

The key, of course, is that the men are now assembled…the 10,000 agains the multitudes that God will assemble from Sisera’s armies. The battle to come is clearly one-sided, for while the multitudes may seem to outnumber the 10,000 on the side of the people of Israel, God also fights on the side of his people, making the multitudes of the pagan nations seem puny at best. Isn’t it sad that we fear the foes we face today given that we worship the same God that defeated Sisera and Eglon and the Philistines?