Part 4 is a continuation of a series on what scripture has to say about a woman’s worth and role.
Let’s consider Abigail from I Samuel 25. We’ll study her a bit more because we are talking about angry, controlling, abusive men and Abagail was married to one. Nabal was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy. His refusal to feed David’s men; as was the custom; especially since David’s men protected him, prompted David to set out to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to him. On his way, David met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day. If Abigail would have done what any good, culturally correct woman should have and asked her husband’s permission, think of what could have unfolded. Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse? Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous. David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions. Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.
The 5 Daughters of Zelophead: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah stood fearless and firm and as a result reformed the culture of their day. Because they spoke up they reversed precedent and claimed possession of their father’s inheritance. Numbers 27 & 36, Josh 17.
Rahab made a business deal with spies and saved her family. She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Joshua 2 & 6.
Ruth the Moabite boldly presented herself to Boas for protection and marriage. She was used mightily of the Lord as the great grandmother of King David and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth 3.
Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram, whose motherly instinct took over fled danger to protect her son from death. She helped preserve the future of Israel. 2 Kings 11.
Esther was a world changer. She could have stayed quiet and lived a cushy life as queen but instead risked her life. She went before her husband, the King, uninvited and unannounced which in her culture meant it was probable she would be put to death. She was strong, courageous, humble, wise, and respectful. She was a leader and she was a history maker who helped save all Jews from being destroyed, killed and annihilated.
Mary was a young woman of tremendous strength. She placed her joy in the Lord over submission to her betrothed husband. Jesus could’ve come a thousand different ways but God chose to send Him through a young woman. Mary surrendered her life and her reputation to the purposes of God. At a wedding feast Jesus submitted to His mother, Mary; although not immediately, and his obedience to her led to His first public miracle and ministry on earth.
Jesus sought out the Samaritan woman at the well whom men shouldn’t have been speaking to because of cultural racism and sexism. Jesus had no political or cultural leanings; He simply came to do the will of His Father. Jesus cared about the woman’s deep hurt and told her of her past sins; not to shame her but to heal her. Her testimony of Jesus led many to become believers. John 4.
Priscilla, Lydia, and Nympha were all women who had churches in their homes.
Priscilla helped explain the way of God more adequately to Apollos. Acts 18:26. She was an effective mentor. Paul highly esteemed women he co-labored with for Christ. Paul sometimes wrote Priscilla’s name first; a rarity for his culture. Some theologians believe she may have been the better, or more frequent, teacher rather than Aquilla.
Mary and Martha: in a culture where women were expected to be busy running the house and serving meals; Jesus told Martha, in a round-about way, that He didn’t hold them to the same expectation. Luke 10:40-41
When the woman “caught in the act of adultery” was thrown at Jesus’ feet by men calling for justice (stoning for her but not the man she was caught with), Jesus doodled in the sand, calling the men out on their double standard. They all promptly left. Jesus advocated for an injustice against a woman. Jesus dealt with sexism- double standards for men and women, as well as violence towards women. John 8. Nope, Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to any of it!
A sinful woman rushes in at a private dinner and falls at Jesus’ feet weeping. She wets his dirty feet with her tears and pours expensive perfume (her life’s savings) on His feet and dries His feet with her hair. Talk about some angry and controlling religious leaders! How dare she! That money could have been better used; likely in their pockets. Jesus defended her in front of all the leaders while rebuking them…in front of the woman. Luke 7:36-50
The four single, young daughters of Philip the Evangelist had the gift of prophecy and their ministry is mentioned in the Book of Acts. They represent boldness, courage and a willingness to step out for the Lord no matter age, gender, or cultural traditions.
Next time we will look at the Proverbs 31 woman.
Read Part 1 here…