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Sermon Bible Commentary
Judges 4



Verse 21

Judges 4:21

Jael appears to us as a hateful murderess; our feeling towards her is one of horror and indignation. Yet in the Bible she is extolled as amongst the noblest of heroes. The question is, what vindication can be offered for her conduct? If Jael received Sisera into her tent with the intention of murdering him, she must be left to the execrations of posterity.

But there are plain and straightforward reasons from which to infer that Jael had no design of killing Sisera; that she acted therefore with perfect honesty, and not with atrocious duplicity, when she offered him shelter. The action was too perilous; it required too much of more than masculine hardihood, or rather ferocity, even if there had been the strongest inducements; whereas there appears to have been no inducement at all, but rather the reverse, and we add to this, that since you have only the silence of Jael when she was asked by Sisera to tell a lie in his cause, the probability is that she had a reverence for truth; and if so she must have meant what she said when she gave the invitation and the promise, "Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not."

II. What were the motives which instigated Jael in putting to death her slumbering guest? We reckon it a satisfactory explanation of her conduct and one which removes every difficulty, that she was led by a Divine impulse or in obedience to a Divine command, to take away Sisera's life. It is true we are not told, as in the case of Abraham, that God commanded the action, but we are told that God approved the action. And since the action in itself, independent of His command, would have been a flagrant offence, we necessarily infer that what He approved He also directed.

III. There is a third question which suggests itself here. Granting that Jael acted on a Divine command, how could it be consistent with the character of God to issue such a command? Since murder is a crime which is expressly forbidden, with what propriety could He enjoin its perpetration? The answer is, that no one would have felt surprised had Sisera perished in battle. He was the oppressor of the Lord's people; what marvel, then, that he should be overtaken by vengeance?

Jael was but the executioner directed by God to slay a condemned criminal, and can we charge her with blood-guiltiness because she did not refuse to obey that direction. She had a hard task to perform, one demanding faith and dependence on God, but she performed it without flinching, and she deserves our admiration as a mighty heroine.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1677.

References: Judges 4:22.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 337. Judges 4:23.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 51. 4-5.—Parker, vol. v., p. 348. 5—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. vii., p. 133; Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 38; M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 173.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Judges 4:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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