Aug. 5, 2019

One Woman

In ancient and modern times, women have had a profound influence. Some modern influences aren’t readily apparent until some time has passed. An impact is more accurately measured through the benefit of hindsight. One striking example is of the female atheist who successfully campaigned to have prayer banned from public schools. Although the downward spiral is clearly evident, due in part to this decision, no Herculean effort has been put forth to reverse it. It seems that despite the devastating results of disallowing God and His power in schools, we are, for the most part, content to keep Him out. The reasons are varied and seemingly valid. Some have determined that they can provide as much spiritual guidance as their children need through weekly organized worship gatherings. Others depend on home studies and rituals to bolster spiritual nutrition. Many feel no obligation for the spiritual development of any young folks outside of their home or family. There seems to be a consensus that each household is only responsible for their own inhabitants and no more. The parental schedules are tight and there just isn’t time or energy to pursue such a daunting task for the entire school district, city, state or nation. Hence the protection and persuasion that once prevailed through prayer is no longer there.

There are many women mentioned in the bible who were instrumental in the outcomes of various critical circumstances.  Judges 4 details one such instance. In this chapter there are actually two women featured. Deborah, who is a prophetess and judge of Israel and Jael who is the wife of a man named Heber, a man of some prominence.

During Deborah’s tenure as judge, Israel was greatly oppressed by Jabin, king of Canaan. (Judges 4:3). The children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the affliction. In response, God gave a battle plan to Deborah. Deborah delivers the Lord’s instructions to Barak who appears to be the commander of the troops. Barak hears the battle plan and agrees to implement it only if Deborah goes with him. (Judges 4:8-9) Deborah quickly affirms that she will accompany him but lets him know that God will use a woman to ultimately clinch the victory. Barak doesn’t flinch. He precisely follows the plan and for his faithfulness is mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:32.

As God said through Deborah, the captain of the Canaanite army wearily stumbles into the tent of Heber. Heber’s wife, Jael, offers him sanctuary from the battle that he is fleeing. He falls asleep and she kills him. (Judges 4:21) Because of the courage of both these women the bible says the enemy was defeated and Israel had rest from war for 40 years.  (Judges 5:31)

Another occasion of a woman having a significant role in wartime matters is related in II Samuel 20. At this time David is king of Israel and is establishing his kingdom. David sends Amasa on a mission. But Amasa previously rebelled against David with Absalom who was David’s son. David determines that Amasa is taking longer than necessary to complete the assignment. Since Amasa’s loyalty to David is not certain, David concludes Amasa may be negatively influenced by Sheba. Sheba was also one of the leaders of the revolt of Absalom against David. In order to squelch any further disruption of his leadership, David sends Abishai, one of his most prominent warriors, to pursue Amasa. Abishai is joined in the pursuit by his brother Joab. Joab catches up to Amasa and kills him. But Sheba is also on the run and seeks refuge in a town called Abel. Joab and all the men with him begin to attack the city walls with the intent of tearing them down and destroying the city, if necessary. But a wise resident of Abel has a conversation with Joab to determine the reason for the assault. The wise woman is told that Joab and crew are only after one man named Sheba. The bible says the woman exercised wisdom and reasons with Joab. She proposes that Joab call off the attack against the city. If he does, she will see to it that Sheba is killed and his head will be thrown over the wall to Joab. Joab agrees. The wise woman talks to the residents of the city and Sheba’s head is thrown over the wall as promised.

 

The deaths in both these accounts are rather gruesome. We don’t usually think of the average woman using a tent spike to nail a man’s head to the ground. It is not customary in our time to imagine that a sweet, wise, elderly woman would orchestrate a plan to behead a person. But these are unusual occurrences and not normal in modern times. However, these incidences do highlight the fact that one woman can make a huge difference. In our current society we are more likely to wield our power through prayer and fasting, petition and promotion or preaching and teaching.

Each of the three women mentioned had a major impact on the community. Deborah and Jael were instrumental in bringing 40 years of peace to a troubled group of people who cried out to God for help.

The unnamed woman of Abel saved a city through wise reasoning. Her prudence also helped rid David of a revolter and helped establish his kingdom.

You have influence. Don’t waste or compromise the power God has given you. Be sensitive to where and how God wants you to release your potential. Use what you have to bless those around you. Exercise your authority in ways that honor God, glorify Him and make your community a better place to live.

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