When it comes to the Bible a lot of time is spent on the major players, but sometimes it’s worth taking a deeper dive and appreciating some of the lesser known heroes who appear.
After 20 years of hardship under Canaanite rule, God heard the cries of His children and He was going to deliver them.
The reigning judge and prophetess, Deborah, gave marching orders to her army commander, Barak, and she told him that the Lord would “…sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”
Barak’s men killed all the men of his opponent, Sisera. Sisera escaped to the home of Heber and his wife, Jael. Her welcoming disposition misled him into thinking that he was safe. She gave him milk and put him to bed. When he fell into a deep sleep, she grabbed a nail from her tent and drove it into his temple. With the target neutralized, the Israelites’ 20-year reign of terror was over. Subsequently, they enjoyed forty years of peace.
King David and hundreds of followers wandered from place to place seeking refuge from the king’s son, Absalom. The king’s confidant, Hushai, returned to Jerusalem to spy on Absalom. Also acting stealthily on the king’s behalf were the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and their sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz. The priests also returned to Jerusalem, but their sons remained in Enrogel awaiting instructions.
Hushai entered the palace to give false intelligence to Absalom, and he followed those instructions. After the meeting, Hushai secretly met with the priests to advise them of what occurred and what had to be done. Knowing David’s life was in danger, they had to get an urgent message to him by Jonathan and Ahimaaz to move quickly.
The priests chose a wench or “servant” to relay the highly secretive, life-saving message to Jonathan and Ahimaaz. After receiving that message, the men hastily fled to the desert to warn David who did as he was told, thus, avoiding harm by his son.
The wench was an important link in the human chain that formed to notify King David of his son’s conspiracy. Despite the danger to herself, she proved that she could be trusted with the highest of confidential information.
(II Chronicles 22)
After the death of her son, King Ahaziah, Athaliah went on a brutal killing spree that left seventy of her grandsons dead. She decided that she was best fit to lead Israel, so, with an evil heart and a strong hand, she became Judah’s self-proclaimed Queen.
Before she could kill grandchild number seventy-one, King Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba, rescued baby Joash and hid him and his nurse in a temple chamber. There, the little baby with the big destiny was nurtured and remained until he was six years old.
Justice eventually caught up with the Queen and she befell the same fate as her 70 grandsons. After her death at the hands of an angry mob, the seven-year old who grew up in a temple chamber moved into his presidential palace as Israel’s next king.
God used Jehosheba to fulfill a promise to David, that he would always have a descendent on the throne (II Chron. 23:3). His reign did not have the fairy-tale ending such an inspirational story would anticipate. However, even though imperfect, he was in the lineage through whom our Lord Jesus would come. That is something Athaliah could not stop.
Pharaoh issued a death edict to all Israelite male babies born in Egypt. However, Moses’ mother and sister had plan to save his life: Give him to Pharaoh’s daughter.
While Pharaoh’s heart moved with indignation, hers moved with compassion. She defied her father’s orders and paid a Hebrew woman (his biological mother) to nurse the child. When he was weaned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him. She named him Moses because she “drew him out of water.”
His Egyptian mother did not just give him a good life: she gave him the best that life had to offer. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). Her immense influence on Moses’ life is clearly evident to the degree that he even looked like an Egyptian. And, that little baby went on to become one of the most influential leaders in biblical history.
The Talking Ass
The Moabite king, Balak, was afraid that the Israelites would defeat him and take over his land. So he sent elders from Moab and Midian to the Israelite prophet, Balaam, to curse the Israelites. God instructed Balaam to refrain from doing this and he sent Balak’s elders home empty handed.
Undaunted, the Moabite put more pressure on Balaam and he prayed to God again. This time, God tells him to go with the men if they ask. But, he is still bound to tell them exactly what He speaks. So when the men asked Balaam again, he obliged.
As he and his donkey journeyed toward Moab, an angel of the Lord stood in the animal’s path. Though the ass could see him, Balaam could not. Dodging the sword-bearing angel, the ass moved in several directions to avoid being injured and Balaam hit her three times.
After the third lick, she asked, “…What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” Without displaying utter shock at the talking ass, he simply answered her question.
The Lord opened Balaam’s spiritual eyes and he saw an angry angel in front of him who asked, “…Wherefore hast smitten thine ass these three times? behold I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive” (Numbers 22:32—33).
A devoted ass saved her owner’s life, sparing him the death warrant issued upon his life.