Most of us have seen or heard of fortified foods like cereals or milk or bread—foods that have nutrients and vitamins added to them for our optimum health. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Many of us love those medieval tales of castles and moats and knights and epic battles—the kind that inspired ambitious backyard forts and wooden sword fights when we were children. But that’s not really my topic either.
I’ve found another kind of fortification: one that does involve a sort of castle and a sort of damsel in distress.
Judges 9:50-55 “Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.”
So basically here’s a power-hungry, vengeful man named Abimelech who is on a rampage to punish all the cities that didn’t want him to be their king. He’s sweeping over the land pillaging everything in his path, and he comes against the city Thebez and conquers it—mostly. The only thing in his way is a tower and some townspeople holed up inside it, determined to outlast his attack.
And within that tower is a certain woman—unnamed, never mentioned again. She decides to help out the fight against Abimelech with the only weapon she had—an essential household implement called a millstone, which women used to grind grain into flour to make their family’s bread. She lifts a piece of that millstone and drops it on the invader’s head! Could we please just take a moment to applaud both her physical strength and marvelous aim?? Anyway, she breaks his skull and he dies and his allies disband when they see their leader is dead.
I love this story—because it can still apply to us Christian young ladies today. We can often feel cornered, attacked, galled by so many factors…the world, the flesh, the devil; even our friends or family or coworkers. And if you’re a girl, you know how prone we are to reacting emotionally. The she-bear comes out in us and we gallop off on a warpath. But maybe our natural reaction isn’t a Biblical one.
Proverbs 25:28 “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
So allowing our bitterness / aggravation / disgust / exhaustion / vanity to drive us towards lashing out at our “enemy” would be equivalent to that woman in the tower forsaking the protection of those walls, rushing out the gate with a battleaxe and a wild warrior call. I’m sure you can imagine the result had the woman chosen that option. She would not have made much progress before being slain herself. Compare this ending with the one in our Bible account above. One woman rescued her city and many others by this simple act of using her God-given role to help in the battle instead of abandoning her place in the heat of the moment. She chose to accept fortification rather than feminism.
Fortify: strengthen a place with defensive works so as to protect it against attack; strengthen or invigorate someone mentally or physically; to furnish with a means of resisting force or standing stain or wear; to increase the effectiveness of, as by additional ingredients
Fort: a strong or fortified place occupied by troops and usually surrounded by walls, ditches, and other defensive works; a fortress; a fortification
Fortis: Latin root for ‘strong’
We need to be fortified young ladies, building walls around our emotions to protect both our roles as women and the people around us. We don’t want to be broken cities without walls, unworthy of our future husband’s trust. We don’t want to be liabilities to our families, but assets.
Proverbs 31:11-12 “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
Nobody trusts a broken wall, a vulnerable city, a woman who falls apart at the first panic or aggravation.
We as women do not need to leave or compromise our fort (our Biblical role) to be able to do things for God or bring justice or put people in their place. The woman who killed Abimelech stayed in her tower, in her place, and just dropped a piece of millstone on his head! She didn’t have to throw off her fortifications. She didn’t have to lose her temper or discretion or place. She didn’t have to turn into a nag or sharp tongued railer or whiner. She could maintain her role, preserve her discretion, and eliminate the advance of the real enemy (in our case, the devil). Don’t let Satan and his army win. Fight this spiritual battle with spiritual weapons.
Ephesians 6:12-13 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”