Written by Steven Liechty
"Deborah sang, ‘Blessed be Jael among women! Sisera asked for water and she gave milk. She put her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the hammer and crushed Sisera's head.'" - Judges 5:24-26
Who doesn't love a story about a big-shot enemy commander getting nixed by a country girl with a tent peg?
The Book of Judges documents a lawless "Wild West" time in Israel when a simple argument could quickly escalate into a duel. But Barak, the Israelite general, wasn't interested in dueling with Sisera and his 900 iron chariots even after God assured him of victory. Barak's name means "lightening" so you'd think he would strike fast. Turns out he was all hat and no cattle.
After the deed is done by Jael, Deborah sings "Blessed be Jael among women." Sound familiar? Only one other woman in the Bible receives the accolade, "Blessed are you among women." Mary. As a Hebrew girl living in difficult times, Mary had no doubt heard the story of Jael and her trusty tent spike, again and again.
Then Mary offered a battle cry of her own: "God has flexed [God's] arm and scattered the proud! God has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the humble!" (Luke 1:51-52). These words have since been put to lovely music but I like to picture Mary belting it out like a brash teenager talking smack about the other team.
We all face battles. Battles where you don't need to reach for a sharp object. There's the battle to raise well-adjusted kids in a maladjusted world, to support a dying loved one, to forgive, to lose weight, to end racism and poverty, to save the environment.
Pick your battle. Go with God.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.