“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C. S. Lewis
This saying is so true. Courage is grace under fire. The courageous woman takes a stand for righteousness even when others mock or persecute her. The courageous woman loves others and is not selfish.
Notice that courage is a virtue. As a virtue, it implies a willingness to accept God’s will. Women who refuse to obey God are therefore not acting virtuously or courageously. Their actions can be described as something else, perhaps “bravado” or “daring” or “brazenness”.
Bravado is arrogant behavior. This is not virtuous. A person may be daring for selfish motives; perhaps she merely wants to show off. Brazenness is certainly not a virtue. This hard attitude is displayed by one who has decided that she knows best and everyone else can just get out of her way.
The characteristic of brazenness describes Jezebel, a former queen in Israel, very well. I thought it might be interesting to show an example of the opposite of a courageous woman. Let’s take a look at her story and see why she does not fit the definition of a truly courageous woman.
– She was not obedient to God’s will. Do you remember the story? Jezebel was married to Ahab, the king in Israel at that time. Ahab coveted a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. It was right next to the palace grounds and Ahab really lusted after it. He tried to bribe Naboth into giving it to him, but Naboth refused. The land was given by God to his family as their inheritance. He could not sell it to Ahab. So Ahab returned home to his palace and went to bed and moped.
Jezebel, the queen, came into the room and taunted him for not just taking the land. “Do you now reign over Israel?” (IKings 21:7) In other words, “You’re the king; just take it! Get out of bed and get something to eat. Stop moping about. I’ll get your land for you.” The fact is, God had given certain portions of land to each family in Israel for their inheritance. Jezebel did not care about this. She did not care about what God wanted at all.
– She was daring, though a coward. Jezebel dared to plot against Naboth illegally. She found two dishonest witnesses to testify falsely that Naboth had blasphemed against God and the king. Apparently, she had enough clout with the leaders of the city to get them to have a mock trial, “find” Naboth guilty, and have him stoned to death. When she heard that Naboth was dead, Jezebel told Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” (IKings 21:15) Jezebel acted quickly and decisively to get the vineyard for her husband in the most high-handed way. When she used the authority that she knew the civic leaders would not dare to disobey, she was really showing what a coward she was.
– Jezebel was probably one of the most brazen females in the Bible. Delilah and Athaliah were two others. That these women’s actions were brazen and not courageous is simply due to the fact that they were evil. They were not doing God’s will, but only seeking to advance their own desires.
– She died a coward’s death and received a coward’s reward. After they seized the vineyard from Naboth, God sent a prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, to warn Ahab and Jezebel of their punishment for murder and theft. “Thus says the Lord, ‘In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.’” (IKings 21:19) “Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’” (verse 23).
Some years later, these prophecies were fulfilled. While her son was reigning, the now widowed Jezebel continued to try and be the power behind the throne. When God’s servant, Jehu, came to Jezreel, Jezebel “painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window.” (IIKings 9:30) She wanted to entice him, but Jehu was on God’s mission to finish the punishment He had promised her for her part in the treachery against Naboth. Two servants threw her down out of a high window, and her blood sprinkled the wall and the horses. Later, thinking that after all, she was a king’s daughter and should be given a decent burial, Jehu sent some men to do it. But, when they got there all they found was “nothing more than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.” (verse 35) And so the prophecy as given by Elijah was fulfilled, “In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, ‘This is Jezebel.’” (verses 36,37) Thanks to the devouring dogs, burial was not possible and Jezebel’s life ended in disgrace.
And so, Jezebel does not fit our definition of courage. When people use the means that are available to them to stomp all over others, they are really cowards. The truly courageous woman does what is right, no matter the personal cost. Only a truly courageous woman rises above her circumstances to obey God and serve others.