God’s words in Genesis 3:15 were rushing to fulfillment. A Second Adam was coming to crush the head of sin and the serpent and bring eternal life (Romans 5:18). God was sending the Seed of the woman! And lowly Mary would be that woman.
For nine months, Zechariah must employ the use of a writing tablet for communication (Luke 1:63). He must have scribbled these amazing words for Elizabeth’s reading for in Luke 1:59-60, she insists on the name John for her son. Here, I wonder if Elizabeth longed for her husband’s voice in these months. Her first and second trimesters are spent in hiding (Luke 1:24). These must have been quiet months for the expectant mother. A picture, perhaps, of Israel’s own 400 years of waiting in silence for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
As Israel uncovers herself to whore with Baal for the price children and rain, the God of heaven and earth looks and declares: “no birth, no pregnancy, no conception! Even if they bring up children, I will bereave them till none is left. Woe to them when I depart from them (Hosea 9:11-12)! Yet His burning anger in Hosea is graciously weaved with the hope of His salvation. And so He beckons: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). Like a loving Husband longing for the contrition of His adulterous wife, God, through Hosea, calls His people to return (Hosea 14:1-4).
We tend to approach Proverbs 31:10-31 as a recipe to be tried and tested. And as done with most recipe books, we dog-ear and separate favorite pages from the rest. But Proverbs 31:10-31 is not a “formula” for biblical womanhood. The verses are God-breathed Scripture—profitable for our teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). For this reason, we do well to study the passage within its context. Proverbs 31:10-31 follows thirty chapters within the book of Proverbs: how do these preceding verses help us to understand this excellent wife? And how can a contextual view of the text shape our own desire for godly femininity?
The woman who struggles to take hold of God’s promise now grips the feet of God’s prophet in thanksgiving. I’m reminded here of Abraham who, when given a son through the deadness of Sarah’s womb, believed that God could raise even the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Yes, God gives His children good gifts. Yet His blessings are always meant to offer more than mere provision--they are given to reveal more of Him to us. And that is by far the greatest reward of all!
The widow had nothing but a single jar of oil. Elisha tells her to borrow many vessels from her neighbors. Her jar of oil would miraculously multiply as she poured it into each vessel. God’s means of provision for this woman sends her to many doors on that day—the more she knocked on, the more vessels she would receive. The more vessels she borrowed, the more oil she would have for her son’s freedom and for their livelihood (2 Kings 4: 2-7).
Why is Elijah sent to this widow? There is no indication of her earning God’s election and favor. She was not among the people of Israel and she herself testifies of her sins. Clearly, she doesn’t choose God but He chooses her (John 15:16). He saves her just as He has and will redeem all those He has predestined for adoption as children through Jesus Christ; this is according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His own glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-11)! Sisters, salvation is of the LORD. I will sing of the glorious grace that saves sinners like me!
Apollyon, Beelzebub, the Great Dragon, that Ancient Serpent, Satan, his names are many but his purpose remains, to wage war against the Holy One (Revelation 12:7-8). Deceit is among his weapons and—because they beloved of the LORD—he makes the church his target (John 15:18). In Revelation 2:20, Satan employs yet another “Jezebel.” This one, a supposed prophetess of the church in Thyatira. Her demonic prophesies lull and seduce the saints into sexual immorality. Sisters, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Job’s wife reminds me of myself in some ways. I am certainly not above sounding like a foolish woman when faced with frustrations, disappointments and pain. My prayer is that God’s demonstrated kindness to me—above all, the atoning death and imputed righteousness of His Son—would continuously guard me to a faith that reveals itself in perseverance and joy in trial (James 1:2-5). I want to found clinging to Christ when weighed!
Just imagine! A woman of court, once accustomed to comforts, makes a home for herself on a rock and for days, weeks, or even months, suffers the putrid stench of seven decaying men; she battles the persistence of plundering birds and beasts by day and by night; she stands sleeplessly over the bodies of her family that they might not suffer the final disgrace of being carrion for scavengers (Deuteronomy 28:26). Rizpah's brief story is packed with so many twists and grievous turns!
For some time, David appears perfectly indifferent to these shocking events (2 Samuel 12:1-23). What were Bathsheba's thoughts? How did she experience the stages of grief and change? Were there feelings of guilt and shame? Did she pray similar words as those prayed later by David in Psalm 51:1-2? “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love...Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” A washing of the soul that no one but the LORD could see.
This is a woman whose wisdom is from above, her words are not conceited but are “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). And the LORD remembers Abigail. Her foolish husband, Nabal is struck dead by the LORD ten days after this incident and David is free to request the hand of this beautiful and discerning woman (1 Samuel 25:38-42).
Surely, the LORD is good and strong! In His sovereignty, God works through Hannah’s prayers to establish His will for her and Israel. This same God has given us His own Son. What more then will He withhold from us, His children? Our Father in heaven gives good things to those who ask of him (Matthew 7:7-11). So pray Christian, for the sake of His glory and the praise of His grace, pray!
If common experience makes for good friendship, Naomi and Job would have gotten along well. Speaking of the loss of his own health, property and children, Job states: “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me” (Job 6:4). Naomi and Job knew pain well. And they knew God well, for they attribute their suffering to Him. In short, the two never deny God the honor of His sovereignty amid their pain.
In the days of the judges when everyone did what was right in his own eyes, a Moabite woman does what is right in God’s eyes (Ruth 1:1; Judges 21:25). Ruth reflects God’s own covenant love for His people in choosing to leave her familial home for the saving of another. She turns from father, mother, and country for a people she does not know and finds refuge under the wings of Israel’s God (Ruth 2:11-12).
Most parents dream great dreams for their children. It’s only natural I suppose. But what if your child comes through miraculous means? What if his birth is personally announced by God? What if that child is dedicated to the LORD from the womb and is declared a future savior of your people? What hopes does a mother cherish then? I don’t refer here to the Lord Jesus but to Samson, Israel’s Judge.
Somewhere in Jericho, a prostitute—with eyes as unseeing as her idols (Psalm 115:4-8)—is enabled to behold “the Lord, [the] God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath,” and she believes (Joshua 2:8-13). God elects to cover the naked breasts of a Canaanite prostitute with a garment of grace (Romans 9:15-18). And then—as though to display the gloriousness of His own mercy—He adopts Rahab, knitting her into the fabric of Israel as the mother of Boaz, and then Obed, then Jesse, then King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 1:5-6).
I wonder as I read: how early did Jochebed rise to prepare her basket? Were her eyes blurry with tears as she worked? Did her lips quiver in whispered prayers as she nursed her child for what may have been the last time? Did her heart pace within her as she set her son in the river? A daubed basket in the Nile was more merciful than the fatal hands of Pharaoh so Jochebed released it, trusting her baby to the water and ultimately to God. In all, she simply didn't want her child to die. It was just that simple.
These childless women who assisted others in building up their families were themselves blessed with children. “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly” (Psalm 138:6). And if we were to stretch our lenses even further, we would see the LORD Himself as the supreme figure in the drama. While Pharaoh scrambles about using enslavement, infanticide and the power of Egypt against the Hebrews, the LORD rescues His people through the simple obedience of two humble women—unlikely saviors! But isn't that how God works?
A daughter was supposed to leave her father’s house and establish life in another family. She was not to return as a childless, poor, bereaved of two husbands, and presumably cursed widow. Oh how the town must have talked about Tamar! To be sure, she was the topic of the rumor mill for weeks: the once wife of Judah’s prominent heir, now a widow in her father’s house with no prospect of a husband or child. You don’t say!