Ever wonder where the saying “You nailed it on the head” came from? Or “She pegged me?”
I wonder about the weirdest things. Maybe you do too…
But when I did some sleuthing, I couldn’t find a clear response to the etymology of the sayings.
You may be wondering what got me to be thinking about these sayings. I have a good reason. Really. Trust me.
I was pondering the story in Judges 4:17-24. It is an awkward story- to say the least. It doesn’t fit the picture of the image of the nice religious woman we have in our minds. It doesn’t fit the profile of femininity that our twenty-first century religious preconceptions feel comfortable with.
The story makes us cringe. It repulses some of us.
It is about a woman named Jael who found herself unexpectedly hostessing an evil and oppressive army commander named Sisera. This evil man wanted to hide from the slaughter on the battlefield and the reality that his day of reckoning was at hand. He runs to a tent where he is received by the woman Jael in the appropriate cultural position of being kind and hospitable to strangers.
He went to this seemingly innocuous woman wanting her to serve, protect and hide him. His expectations of her and her position were misguided. What she did was she “picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.”
Gross! Ugh. Are you kidding me?!? How could she do this? Is this really in the Bible? Is this woman really honored and sung about as a hero? Yup!
So what can we learn from this story? Is this just about a historical military defeat and how a woman finished off the army commander? I don’t think so. I believe we can learn some valuable and applicable lessons for today.
Sometimes we are called to do things that are, well, rather unpleasant. We might be called to stand up to injustice and evil in very dynamic ways. But we come up with excuses as to why we are not the right one to do the job.
I doubt Jael considered herself a warrior, executioner, or soldier. She was “just” a woman living in a tent. But being a tent dweller was what God needed in order to bring justice to a very oppressive situation. In this nomadic culture, setting up tents was considered woman’s work. So Jael was very comfortable with the tent peg and hammer.
Have you ever had to do something that was awkward? You know- uncomfortable? Made you ill at ease? But you knew it was the right thing to do.
God didn’t ask Jael to do something he didn’t equip her for. When God calls us to a task, he also provides what we need to do the assignment. He also gives us the strength to do the things that are, well, not glorious tasks. He gives us the faith and courage to enter into situations that are dangerous and frightening, awkward, or just plain uncomfortable.
Jael used what she had to do justice in the face of evil (no pun intended), and to be merciful to those who were oppressed.
“He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
When we think of Jael we should shout out, “you nailed it!’ meaning that she absolutely got it right. When we respond to injustice we are to use what God has given us and peg it, nail it on the head…
Maybe it was Jael who coined those phrases…