I remember distinctly the first time I was made aware of the death of Sisera the commander of the armies of the Canaanite king, Jabin of Hazor. My husband is a numismatist, a coin enthusiast, and he had bought a set of coins from the Franklin Mint collectively called the Thomason Medallic Bible. One of the coins depicts Sisera lying by Jael’s tent with a tent peg through his temples. I had never heard that story. This morning when I read the Bible to my husband at breakfast, today’s reading included Judges 4:1-24, the battle of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at the Kishon River against King Jabin’s armies headed by Sisera.
What was in my mind as I began to read this passage was the image of the tent peg through Sisera’s temples, but something else in this passage grabbed my attention today. There was Sisera with 900 chariots and all of his warriors. I imagine they were quite a sight as they marched toward the two tribes of Israel who did not own a single chariot. The prophetess Deborah, then judge over these tribes, said to Barack, their army commander,
“Get ready! Today the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.”
Verse 15 says, “When Barack attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic. Then Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot.”
I was having lunch with my sister last week and she had just come from her counselor. She has had some devastating things happen in her life and has gone for some help to be able to cope. She was telling me that they have asked her to describe what it feels like when she is having a panic attack. She says she can’t describe it unless she is in the middle of one. She says the intensity and feelings of desperation cannot be brought back when one is not in the midst of one. Anything that you thought happened to you during the panic attack is not half what you really experienced because you cannot take it all in when it is hitting you. Each and every nuance of the attack comes together in full force to give you an overwhelming sense of fear, foreboding and dread, but you cannot identify a source.
So, each and every charioteer and foot soldier in the Canaanite army of King Jabin under the leadership of Sisera fell into a panic. The battle ended up being a chase and all Sisera’s warriors were killed fleeing the scene of battle. Sisera, however, thought he found asylum in the tent of Heber and Jael, who were on friendly terms with King Jabin. Heber, however, was a descendent of Moses’ brother-in-law Hobab. (In this case, the old adage “Blood is thicker than water.” bore out.) Jael, the wife of Heber, hammered a tent peg through Sisera’s skull while he was sleeping. When Barack came by to find him, he was dead.
I have had a panic attack or two in my lifetime. They are horrible. The scene that day with thousands of warriors in panic must have been quite something. You just never know how God will move. He is wholly unpredictable in actions, but we can always depend on His love. And, if you’re being torn up with disappointment, suffering and loss, He IS there and He does care. What is happening to us is not the issue. The issue is what we do with what is happening to us.
May we be found faithful,