A Note on God’s Compassion

In this story we will see that God has great compassion for His children. Bathsheba is one of many women in the Scriptures that have been misunderstood or portrayed badly by scholars. We have already seen how the Jewish leaders have portrayed Tamar as a prostitute even though she was not one. Later we will see the same slur against Mary of Magdala’s reputation. That is why it is so important to read the Bible and see what God really says about these women.

Hollywood likes to portray Bathsheba as a temptress. It sells more movies, but their version is not the same as the Bible’s. I believe that Bathsheba had no choice when King David had his men bring her to the palace. As a vassal and a woman she was not allowed to refuse the king. Some commentators want to cast Bathsheba as a seductress and blame her for David’s sin. But the Bible does not describe Bathsheba that way.

Historians and Hollywood have often tried to say that the adultery was all Bathsheba’s fault. But Bathsheba was violated physically, then widowed, and bereaved of a child.

God is compassionate. Bathsheba was comforted in her mourning. And then, miraculously God raised Bathsheba from the depths of sorrow to the heights of joy as He gave her another son. Her son would be the next king of Israel.

Let’s turn to the story of this very blessed woman – Bathsheba.

 Turn to 2 Samuel 11:1:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Normally, King David would have been with his troops. We are not told why he remained in Jerusalem. Perhaps his generals were doing an adequate job. The Israelite army was successful in destroying their enemies. Perhaps there was no need for David to endanger his life any more by leading the battles.

Continuing at verse 2-5:

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Those who blame Bathsheba for David’s sin often try to say that she was bathing on her roof on purpose where the king could see her. That is not very likely.

In the first place the Bible doesn’t say Bathsheba was on her roof; we are told that it was King David who was on the roof. That is the point to the story. He was standing where he could look down into the courtyard of Uriah and Bathsheba’s home. He should have wandered off and looked at something else and not violated Bathsheba’s privacy. It got him in trouble.

Secondly, when David got up from bed it was night. How late was it? How dark was it? Bathsheba had every right to expect that she was bathing in the privacy of her own home at a time of the evening when she could expect to be alone.

It was very unlikely that she was on her roof. Who would haul heavy water jars up there? Actually Bible historians tell us that bathing went on in people’s courtyards. Her maids would bring her water and attend to her behind a screen. She had every reason to believe she was having a private bath. The reason David could see her even behind a privacy screen was that he was on his rooftop looking down at her.

David stood there and watched as this beautiful woman bathed. David could have looked away and respected Bathsheba’s privacy. Even if David had not looked away but indulged his lust by watching Bathsheba, he still could have turned and gone back to bed and forgotten about the whole thing. Instead he took steps to satisfy his lust. David sent a messenger to find out who she was.

Who was Bathsheba? Let’s pause here and talk about Bathsheba. We know very little about her early life. Bathsheba’s father was Eliam, also known as Ammiel.

Ammiel was ranked as one of David’s thirty-seven “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:4). As such, Eliam or Ammiel would have been a frequent guest at David’s palace.

Originally her father named her Bath-shua, which means “daughter of my prosperity”. Her later name, Bathsheba means “daughter of an oath” signifying the oath-bound covenant made with Abraham.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah as a young woman. Uriah, a Hittite, was an officer in David’s army; in fact, he is listed with the 37 top-ranking heroes – one of David’s mighty men – (in 2 Samuel 23:39). Perhaps as one of the mighty men, Uriah met Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba in a gathering and asked for her hand in marriage. In any event, he was an important man.

The fact that Uriah had a house in Jerusalem very near King David’s palace suggests that when the Israelites were not at war, Uriah’s peace time job may have been as one of the palace guards or even one of David’s personal body guards. It was the proximity of Uriah’s house that unfortunately made it possible for David to be tempted when he looked down into their courtyard while Bathsheba was bathing.

David sent messengers to get Bathsheba. When David’s men told him that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah, he would have known that Uriah (one of his chief men, remember) was away at the battle. He knew that Bathsheba was alone and helpless. Bathsheba could not refuse the king and David knew it. At this point David could still have let the matter drop, but he didn’t.

When Bathsheba came, David lay with her. The Bible is clear – David lay with Bathsheba. He is the one who controlled the situation from first to last. Frankly, David sinned against Bathsheba. The Bible makes it clear that she was a victim.

Bathsheba soon found that she was pregnant. This was a terrible situation for her. She told King David about her predicament. David knew he had to do something.

Let’s return to our story picking up at 2 Samuel 11: 6-9:

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

David decided to deal with the problem of Bathsheba’s pregnancy by getting Uriah home as quickly as possible. David thought that Uriah would naturally sleep with his wife upon returning home. Then the child would be presumed to be Uriah’s.

But Uriah was a dedicated, disciplined soldier and refused the comforts of home while the other soldiers were staying in temporary shelters. Even Joab was camping in the open field. Uriah asked, “Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.” (2 Samuel 11:11)

David tried several times to get Uriah to go home, but Uriah would not think of his own comforts ahead of his duty.

David then tried desperately to cover his sin. He sent a letter to his general Joab, in the hands of Uriah himself, to put Uriah in the fiercest place of a battle knowing Uriah would be killed. David added murder to adultery.

Think for a minute of how far David went to cover up his sin. He had one of his best men killed. He involved his general, Joab, in participating with him in an unjust murder.

Continuing with verse 26, 27:

When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of the mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Bathsheba mourned for her husband Uriah when she learned of his death. David had not only violated her physically, but now he also caused her to be a widow.

Not only that but the laws in Israel were plain – a woman found pregnant out of wedlock was to be put to death. David raped her, made her a widow, and then put her in danger of her life. How lonely and helpless Bathsheba must have felt.

God was displeased with David and sent Nathan the prophet to speak to him. Nathan’s words are significant.

Turn to chapter 12:1-3:

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

Nathan told David a story about a rich man with many flocks of sheep and a poor man with only one ewe lamb. The rich man needed to prepare a meal for a visitor and instead of using one of his own many sheep he took the poor man’s ewe lamb.

David grew angry and said that the rich man deserved to die for his evil deed and should make restitution.

Turn to 2 Samuel 12:7-10:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”

Let’s look carefully at Nathan’s story. The metaphor he used is not an accident. The sheep in the story are adult animals. The ewe lamb is a baby. The lamb is vulnerable and depends on its owner for protection.

Bathsheba was depending on her husband for protection, but he was away at war. Normally Bathsheba could rely on her strong husband, one of David’s mighty men, to defend her. Uriah would never have let anyone through the door to harm his wife.

David knew Uriah was away and he took advantage of the situation to take Uriah’s one ewe lamb. If David needed to have some physical comforting, he had plenty of wives for that. At this time in his life, we know that there were eight named wives for David and many concubines. He did not need to find another woman.

David understood what Nathan was telling him. He responded, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan told him that God had forgiven him since he repented.

 But sins have consequences even if God has forgiven them. The child that was conceived by this unlawful union died. Bathsheba must have mourned greatly over the death of her first child.

David comforted Bathsheba after the death of this child. Bathsheba conceived again and bore a son and they named him Solomon.

David loved Bathsheba until the end of his life. God gave Bathsheba four sons, one of which was the future king, Solomon. (I Chronicles 3:5)

Bathsheba must have forgiven David. It must have meant a lot to Bathsheba when David repented publicly. This exonerated her. As a child of God she would have known that repentance and forgiveness are important. And as a godly wife it was important to her that her husband be right with God. Bathsheba could love, honor, and obey a man who turned from his sin and did what was right.

In the next post we will see how Bathsheba reigned with her son Solomon to the end of her life.











A Note About Obeying God Rather Than Men:

It may seem obvious that we should obey God rather than men when there is a conflict between those two authorities. But it is not always so easy when worldly authorities have the power to command our obedience and to punish us if we disobey them.

A familiar New Testament story involves the apostles Peter and John. The Jewish priests and Sadducees were angry when the apostles were preaching about Jesus and threw the disciples into prison. The next day when the rulers met they questioned Peter and John. It was apparent that the rulers could not keep them in prison so they let them go but admonished them to stop preaching in Jesus’s name. Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you or to him? You be the judges!” (Acts 4:19).

The Jewish leaders saw themselves as the authorities in Israel. But the apostles said that God is a higher authority.

Peter and John were not the first to disregard earthly authority. When the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt, Pharaoh instructed the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all of the male babies. “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do: they let the boys live.” God blessed the midwives with families of their own for obeying Him.

There is another in the Old Testament of someone who believed that it is better to obey God rather than men. This was a woman named Abigail.

Her husband Nabal was her authority. Nabal acted foolishly and his faithful wife tried to rescue the situation and save his life. The way that Abigail took things into her own hands would have made her husband angry. If Nabal would have known what Abigail was going to do he would have forbidden it. Abigail risked severe punishment, but she feared God more than her husband.

Let’s turn to I Samuel 25 and read this story of a wise woman – Abigail.


Abigail – Wise Counselor

 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran.

A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings – he was a Calebite.

While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask you own servants and they will tell you. Therefore, be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’

When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited. (I Samuel 25:1-9)

At the time our story takes place, Saul is the king of Israel. You may remember that the Israelites were at war with the Philistines during these times. When David was a lad, he fought the champion of the Philistines, the giant Goliath. After that he went to work at the palace for Saul. As Saul grew older, he became jealous of David. He even threatened to kill him, so David had to go away and hide from Saul. He was on the run.

He had a large following of men who stayed with him, living in the wilderness of Paran. There he was not only safe from Saul, but he was able to be of real service to his countrymen by protecting the large flocks which pastured far and wide from the predatory raids of the wild tribes of the desert.

One of the people that David protected was Nabal, a wealthy land owner. Nabal had many flocks of sheep. A special time for sheep farmers was when they did the shearing. It was a time of rejoicing, for when the fleeces were sold, there would be much money and a big celebration. Nabal had sold his wool and was throwing a huge party. Because David and his men had protected Nabal’s sheep, they felt that they should be invited to the celebration. David sent a delegation of ten men to greet Nabal and ask for something in return for his service.

Nabal answered David’s men roughly and sent them away empty handed. He had insulted them by acting as if he didn’t even know who they were. They went back to tell David about Nabal’s rejection, and when David heard this, he was very angry. He had four hundred men put on their swords and follow him back to Nabal’s place. Two hundred men stayed behind with the supplies.

Continue with I Samuel 25:14-17:

One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”

In the meantime, one of Nabal’s servants had heard how Nabal mistreated David’s emissaries. This servant knew that it would be no good to try and reason with his master who was “such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.” He ran and told Abigail, Nabal’s wife. Abigail was a wise woman and could be trusted to know what to do. The servant told her all about how David and his men had protected them all those months that they tended the sheep. Abigail immediately resolved to take action.

Abigail was not only beautiful, but intelligent. She knew what needed to be done, and that it had to be done quickly. She had the servants load up some food and beverages and put them on donkeys. She told them to go on ahead of her to meet David. She herself followed on her donkey as soon as she could. “But she did not tell her husband Nabal” (I Samuel 25:19).

Imagine what courage Abigail must have had. She had heard that David and four hundred armed soldiers were coming after her husband. She had no way of knowing what the outcome would be. She did not know if David was so angry that he would punish everyone before she had a chance to talk to him. She knew that she had to hurry and meet David before he reached her house.

Continuing at verse 20:

As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, “It’s been useless – all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”

Abigail may have been trembling when she saw David, but she met him bravely. She got down off of her donkey and bowed to the ground and begged him to listen to her.

Continuing at Verse 24:

She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 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 now my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

This is a pretty amazing speech. Abigail is speaking disrespectfully of her husband. But there is a good reason for this; Abigail wants David to know that Nabal’s reputation is terrible with everyone. He’s just a fool, and not worth David’s time. In contrast to Nabal’s wickedness, Abigail praises David, calling him “lord”. She appeals to his honor as a man who wants justice. She reminds him that God has stopped him from avenging himself with his own hands. Abigail is the one who prevented David from committing bloodshed, but she tactfully gives him the credit for not continuing to pursue revenge.

Instead, Abigail asked him to put all of the blame on her. She told him to treat her as his maidservant. She apologized for not knowing sooner about the young men that David had sent to see Nabal.  She begged him to accept the gift of food that she had brought.

Abigail continues with a prophecy for David. Turn to verse 28:

Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Abigail shows foresight and wisdom in this speech. She continues to build David up as a man of God who would not really want to do something that would stay on his conscience forever. She gave David a chance to save his face. By then David had cooled off. Abigail appealed to his character as a man of God. David repented and admitted to Abigail that she was right.

Continuing with verse 32:

David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

David accepted Abigail’s gift with thanks. He then told her to go home in peace.

When Abigail went to Nabal he was holding a great banquet. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she decided not to speak to him until the next morning.

In the morning Abigail told Nabal all that had happened the day before. Nabal’s heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he knew for certain that God had upheld his cause against Nabal for treating him with contempt. God had also kept him from doing wrong by avenging himself on Nabal.

God rewarded the faithfulness and courage of Abigail. Turn to verse 39:

Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.” She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

Abigail was now under David’s protection as one of his wives. David was getting a wife that would be his spiritual equal as a good companion and counselor.

We don’t know any more about Abigail than what we read in I Samuel 25. We can be encouraged from what we do know that God cares for His children. How exciting it will be to hear about the rest of her life when we get to Heaven!










A Note About Courage:

When we think of brave heroes in the Bible we usually think of the stories of men. As a young boy, David was certainly courageous to go up against the giant Goliath. Though Gideon needed a lot of encouragement from God, he eventually went up against the whole Midianite army with only three hundred men.

But there were many courageous women in the Bible, too. Most often we think of how brave they were as wives such as Sarah and Rebekah who left their homes to share life with their husbands in strange lands. But God sometimes asked more of His daughters.

It takes two chapters in the Bible to tell the story about two women who served in uncommonly courageous ways – Judges, chapters 4 & 5.

As a judge in Israel, Deborah was called on to lead the people in time of war. She relied on Barak as the military commander. Though not a coward, Barak was not trusting of God enough to go to battle without Deborah by his side. Because of Barak’s weak decision, God gave the honor of the battle to an incredibly courageous woman – Jael.

These two women had extreme courage because they had strong faith in God. They knew that whatever God had said would come to pass. They could follow their calling courageously while trusting in Him.

These are two of the more colorful and exciting stories in the Bible. Let’s turn now to Judges 4:4.

Deborah – Judge and Mother in Israel and Jael, Most Blessed of Women

 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”


When the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land after the Exodus, they were supposed to rid the land of the Canaanites. They succeeded to a large extent. However, many pagan nations did not get driven out and these became a snare to the children of Israel.

Over the next few centuries the Israelites would fall to the temptation to serve the false gods of the Canaanites. God would send persecution at the hands of one of these nations and the Israelites would have to serve these pagans. Eventually the people would repent and ask God to forgive them and save them from their oppressors. This “cycle” in the book of Judges would be repeated over and over again. The people would sin with idolatry, God would send oppressors against them, the Israelites would cry out to God, God would forgive them and send a judge to lead them out of their bondage, the people would have rest for a few years, while at ease they would fall back into idolatry, and the whole cycle would start over.

Deborah was the fourth judge in Israel. The oppressor that God sent against the Israelites this time was a king of Hazor – Jabin. Jabin had a very strong army that included 900 chariots of iron. The commander of his army was the formidable Sisera. The Israelites did not master the craft of ironworking until much later during David’s time. So these Canaanite oppressors were able to take over the Israelites and dominate them completely with their superior advantage of iron weaponry and chariots.

Deborah sat under a special palm tree where anyone who wanted to come to her for advice or for adjudication could find her. Though she was a married woman, this was the job God called her to do. We know that her husband’s name was Lappidoth but the Bible says nothing more about him. In those days the husband’s family name identified the household. It is important to see that though Deborah was the one called to be a judge, and not her husband, she in no way was going against the traditional roles for women as wives. Because of her godly example, both she and her husband were honored. This amazing woman found time to be a wife, a judge, and a prophet.

There were two ways in which Deborah was different from the other judges in Israel. First, she was a prophet. Other than Samuel who was a judge, priest, and a prophet, none of the other judges were prophets. If you look at the lives of some of the other judges, there is a clear difference in the godly way Deborah lived. Just look at Samson’s behavior with Delilah for example. Gideon showed less than stellar trust as well. Deborah’s life showed her complete trust in God, and the Israelites recognized her as a spiritual leader. They honored her recognizing that Deborah’s other special calling besides judge was as prophet.

Secondly, Deborah was not a military leader. Some writers assume that she was because all of the other judges were. Yes, she went with Barak to war, but notice that Barak was the military commander, not Deborah. Her place in God’s plan was as the spiritual leader to appointed Barak at the command of God. When Barak showed less than perfect faith in God, Deborah the prophet foretold that the victory over the leader of the Canaanites, Sisera, would go to another woman – Jael.

In Deborah’s song, which we will read in chapter 5, she gives us a picture of just how dire things were under the cruel oppression of King Jabin. Deborah said that the “highways were deserted, and travelers went by in roundabout ways” (Judges 5:6). The Israelites had no matching weapons with which to fight Sisera’s army. The people were hiding out in fear avoiding the main roads that were full of soldiers.

The Lord heard their cry and was merciful again. Judge Deborah selected an Israelite commander, Barak, and went with him to battle against Sisera and his 900 iron chariots. Deborah told Barak to place himself on the high ground of Mount Tabor and wait for Sisera’s army to come to him. Barak chose 10,000 men to go with him. Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go” (Judges 4:8).

Many people think that Barak said this because he was a coward. But note that 10,000 men from only two tribes, Zebulun and Naphtali were willing to go with him. Barak would not have gotten this following if he had the reputation of a coward. A mere 10,000 men against the formidable army of Sisera would never have followed a weakling. They had faith in the Lord and in Barak. Barak was willing to go and fight as long as he had some assurance.

Barak was merely seeking to have Deborah, God’s spokesperson with him in the battle. Deborah was not only the judge, but also recognized as a prophetess. All Israelites honored Deborah as the one who spoke for God. Barak’s faith in his own strength was weaker than Deborah’s, but he was no coward. Nevertheless, for his weak faith in God, Deborah told him that he would not get the glory of killing the leader, Sisera. That honor would go to a woman.

The Israelites went to battle and they were successful with a lot of help from God. The battle took place near the Kishon River. God sent heavy rains that made the ground soft and muddy, causing the heavy iron chariots to sink. The frustrated Canaanite soldiers lost their advantage.

Deborah told Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the Lord has gone out before you” (Judges 4:14). Barak realized that the Canaanites were struggling in the mud and took advantage of that to go down with his 10,000 men and fight with them. All of the Canaanites were killed except for their commander, Sisera.

Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Heber the Kenite. Heber was away but his wife Jael was there. Jael bravely killed Sisera. Indeed, as predicted by Deborah the victory of the conquest over the leader of the enemy would go to a woman – Jael.

Jael showed incredible courage when her time came to do her part in the war between the Israelites and King Jabin. If you have never heard the story before, hold onto your seat. It’s gruesome but was part of God’s plan to save His people. Deborah will sing the praises of Jael in her song after the defeat of Sisera.

Turn to Judges 4:17:

Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. “I’m thirsty” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’” But Jael, Heber’s wife, 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. Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet hm. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple – dead.

God had defeated Israel’s enemies by delivering their leader into the hand of a woman as Deborah the prophetess had foretold.

God used a courageous woman to help to defeat Israel’s enemy. Why did He choose this particular woman? What was so special about her and her act of bravery?

Some say that what she did was not courageous. They say that she heard from someone passing by that King Jabin’s army had been defeated and that Sisera was on the run. they assert that She just wanted to join the winning side and thought she could be the heroine if she betrayed Sisera. They say that she used a cowardly trick to dispatch him from this life. The Scriptures tell us otherwise.

In reality, Jael knew she would face approbation from her husband and her husband’s family for her treatment of Sisera. She knew that she had violated the very strict laws of hospitality that were followed in those days. She also knew that she could face the possibility of being put to death for assassination. The Kenites were supposed to be neutral in this war. Her act would have been seen as betrayal by her people. And, she took a very real risk of having to defend herself against a mighty warrior if he should awaken before she was able to complete his execution.

And so I believe that she was courageous and she feared God rather than men. There was a line that she would not cross. Her life was in danger, but she chose to do what was right. The Scriptures tell us that she was blessed for what she did. Deborah made a song of that great victory over God’s enemies and proclaimed, “Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.’ (Judges 5:24).

Jael had faith in God, and this is why she chose to follow Him no matter what. It is my prayer that this story of strength and courage from God displayed in Jael will enable you to follow Him when you have hard choices to make.

After God had given the victory to the Israelites, Deborah and Barak sand a song of praise to God. In this song Barak is praised for his part in leading only 10,000 men against the mighty Sisera. Barak was the military leader that led Israel to victory with God’s help. This is further proof that God did not choose Deborah because Barak was a coward. He chose a woman because He wanted to. Deborah and Barak get equal praise for their parts in following God.

After this victory Israel had peace for forty years. We do not know how much longer Deborah lived but eventually she died. And, unfortunately the Israelites would do evil in the sight of the Lord again. The next judge would be the famous Gideon.

Deborah was with Barak to witness the victory over their enemies. She could not help but burst into song to praise God as the One Who really brought the victory.

Even today Deborah’s song is considered second only to the song of Moses. In the first part of the song, Deborah tells of God’s might from the time of the Exodus and Israel’s wanderings in the desert. God gave them the law at Mount Sinai and brought them to the Promised Land. Deborah recounts how much the Israelites have suffered since being in the land. Of course we know that their suffering was due to their disobedience to God, especially when they turned to the idols of the surrounding pagan people.

Deborah tells how beginning with the days after Shamgar, the judge who immediately preceded her, the Israelites were under such oppression that they could not even walk on public roads safely. “Travelers went by roundabout ways” (Judges 5:6). The people had no weapons with which to defend themselves. The people seemed to be helpless.

Then God chose Deborah, a mother to her people in Israel. Deborah appointed Barak to lead the Israelites in battle against the Canaanites. Men from the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, and Issachar came to fight in the war (Judges 5:14,15).

In poetic fashion, Deborah then describes the battle and gives the victory to the Lord.
“The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera” (Judges 5:20). This is obviously a metaphor for the Lord. She goes on to describe the miraculous way in which the Lord defeated Jabin’s mighty army. “The torrent of Kishon swept them away” (verse 21). Once again God delivered His people in a miraculous way by sending the flood that bogged down their chariots.

Her song goes on to praise Jael, the woman to whom God chose to give the honor of the defeat of Sisera. The story is gruesome but true.
Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite;
Most blessed is she of women in the tent.
He asked for water and she gave him milk;
In a magnificent bowl she brought him curds.
She reached out her hand for the tent peg,
And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer.
Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head;
And she shattered and pierced his temple.
Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay;
Between her feet he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell dead. (Judges 5:24-27)

Truly these two women showed unusual strength as they followed God.





A Note About God’s Sovereignty:

Our story this week demonstrates God’s great sovereignty over history. The writers of the Old Testament, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were giving us not only the details of the history of Israel but also of God’s larger plan of redemption.

God sovereignly chose the women who would be the ancestresses of His Son, including– Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.

Several of these women would seem to be most unlikely for God to choose to bless in such a tremendous way. Rahab was a harlot. Bathsheba has been called a temptress. Ruth was a Gentile. Rachel was Jacob’s favored wife, not Leah. But God is the One in charge and He chose the women He wanted for His plan of redemption.

Tamar has been accused by historians of being a prostitute because of the means that she used to get Judah to obey the Levirate law. But we will see in our story that Tamar was not a practicing harlot. She was just a human sinner like all of us. Tamar simply trusted and obeyed God. Truly if God is going to work through people to accomplish His purposes, He only has sinful people to use. We should be encouraged that our sovereign God is merciful and wise as He works in the lives of His children.

Tamar –Ancestress of the Lord Jesus Christ

Tamar could not possibly have known that she would become an important part of history as ancestress of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This current series began with an introduction to women in the Bible (January 9, 2018). Since then we have talked about Eve, the first woman in creation (January 23, 2018), and Sarah, the mother of all of the descendants of Abraham. We saw that God promised a Savior after Adam and Eve sinned. Later, we learned that God promised Abraham that “all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). This meant, among other things, that the Lord Jesus would come through the line of Abraham.

Abraham’s son, Isaac was the next patriarch and Rebekah his wife was the next mother in the line of patriarchs. Their son Jacob and his wife Leah would be the parents of Judah who was chosen by God to carry on the ancestry of Christ. Of course, none of these people knew that they were ancestors of Christ. They just lived their lives in the land of Canaan as ordinary people.

Now let’s take a quick tour through the rest of the book of Genesis. It is very important to get the context for the story of Tamar.

We begin the story at Genesis 37:1,2 – “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line.”

Most Christians are very familiar with Joseph’s story and he is regarded as a great man of God. Joseph’s story is one of courage and faith even under trying circumstances. The rest of the book of Genesis, from chapters 37 through 50 take up Joseph’s story.

Jacob, now called Israel, loved his son Joseph more than the other sons. He showed Joseph many favors. The other brothers were jealous and thought they would kill him but instead they sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites from Gilead. Eventually the traders took Joseph to Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard. Meanwhile the brothers took Joseph’s tunic and smeared goat’s blood on it. They had decided to tell their father Israel that a wild animal had killed Joseph.

So, at the end of Genesis 37, we have Israel at home, grieving because he thinks that Joseph is dead. The brothers are just living out their lives, happy that the hated Joseph is no longer there to annoy them with his dreams.

Meanwhile in Egypt, Joseph is working in Potiphar’s household. We know from reading ahead in chapter 39 and following that he would get falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of trying to assault her and be thrown into prison. God helped Joseph get out of prison when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph was given leadership in Egypt, wisely guiding that country through seven years of tremendous harvests and then seven years of famine.

The famine was in Canaan too. When Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt he sent his sons there to purchase some grain. The brothers visit several times. Joseph invited the whole family to come and live in Egypt so they can have food to eat. And eventually all of the Israelites would end up in Egypt.

At the end of the book of Genesis we have the account of Joseph’s death and his extraction of a promise from his family to take his bones back to Canaan when they return. Of course they don’t get to the Promised Land for four hundred years, but we will save that part of the story for when we get to Rahab.

Genesis 38 is a “time out” in the story of Joseph and Egypt and how the Israelites eventually went there during the time of the famine.

Why do we have a whole chapter, chapter 38, in the middle of the story of the Israelites in Canaan and Egypt? What is the Bible doing suddenly taking time out for the story of just two people, Judah and Tamar? Judah is not the first born, so why aren’t we talking about the person we would expect to carry on the line of the patriarchs from Abraham forward?

It is because the writers of the Old Testament, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were giving us not only the details of the history of Israel but also of God’s larger plan of redemption. For we find out that Tamar is an ancestress of King David and then of Jesus.

So, the story in Genesis 38 gives us the background to how Judah and Tamar came to be the great, great, ever-so-great grandparents of Jesus. It is important for us to see how God was faithful to His covenant promises.

Let’s look at this amazing story. Turn to Genesis 38:1-11:

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she conceived again and became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

Tamar was married into Judah’s family. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. Isaac was his grandfather and Abraham was his great-grandfather, so she married into the family of the Patriarchs.

First, Tamar had married Judah’s eldest son, Er. Er had displeased God in some way, so God took his life. Then Judah asked Onan to do the duty of a brother-in-law and raise up a child for his older brother. Later this practice will be codified in the Levirate Law which is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. A brother could try and give a child to the widowed sister-in law so that his dead brother would have an heir. In the book of Ruth, we will see that it can extend to a near kinsman.

Onan, Er’s brother, married Tamar but “wasted his seed” instead of giving Tamar a child. He was disobeying God’s law by doing this and so God took his life too. Why did he do this? Because his inheritance would be substantially less if he had to share it with Tamar’s son. In fact, since Er was the firstborn the birthright inheritance, which was usually double, would go to Tamar’s son.

Apparently Shelah was not quite old enough to marry, so Judah sent Tamar home to her father. Judah was afraid to give Tamar to his third son, Shelah, after watching the first two sons die. We’re not sure if Judah understood at this time that God took their lives or if they died of natural causes. Perhaps he even thought Tamar was some kind of a curse for them. He sent Tamar away. Tamar remained with her family wearing her widow’s garments until she had an opportune moment to talk to Judah again.

Time went by and Judah’s wife died, after which he observed a period of mourning. Then he went back to work caring for his sheep. Someone told Tamar that Judah was going to be nearby soon for the shearing of his sheep. Tamar decided on a plan. She would deceive Judah into thinking she was a prostitute and thereby get the child by him that she had been promised.

Let’s see what she did. Turn to Genesis 38:14:

She took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

It is hard to put ourselves into Tamar’s shoes and think about why she would take such a drastic measure to get what she saw was justice for herself. Wasn’t she taking things into her own hands? Why didn’t she just trust God? What did she think would come of this? This story reminds us of Sarah, who gave her maid to Abraham, and Rebekah, who tricked Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing.

Let’s discuss the meaning of sex in the Old Testament compared to now. We have the examples of Abraham and Jacob to show that love or lust need not have been the only motive for sex. We have seen how important it is for men to get an heir. Abraham listened to Sarah and went into her maid in order to get an heir. It apparently seemed ok for Jacob to have 4 wives to get heirs. No one suggests that there was any sin involved.

So what shall we say about Tamar? Tamar chose this method to get an heir for her first husband as promised in the Levirate Law. Tamar did not think of it as incest with her father-in-law. A father-in-law may not sleep with his daughter-in-law (Lev 18:15), just as a brother-in-law may not sleep with his sister-in-law (Lev 18:16), but in-law incest rules are suspended for the purpose of the levirate law. The levir is, after all, only a surrogate for the dead husband. So here we have a surrogate husband instead of a surrogate wife like Hagar.

Back to the story. So Judah came along and saw a women that he mistook for a shrine prostitute sitting in a place on the road that signals that she is available and decided to take advantage of the situation.

Apparently Judah did not have the money to pay for her services. He offered instead to send Tamar a goat from his flock. In the meantime, he left his tribal leader’s staff and his personal seal and cord as a pledge. The seal, cord and staff had a person’s emblem carved on them, and were items of great personal worth.  Judah said he would send a payment later. Tamar was wise enough to get his seal and cord and staff as a pledge for payment. She also surmised that she would need proofs later when and if she got pregnant. She was so right.

So Judah took Tamar and slept with her. He sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back. The Adullamite could not find her. In fact, we see now further proof that Tamar was not a harlot.

Turn to Genesis 38:21,22:

The Adullamite “asked the men who live there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the rad at Enaim?” “There hasn’t’ been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. So he went back to Judah and said, I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”

Note that the men who lived there said that there were no prostitutes in their area. If Tamar had been going out and sitting in a prominent place by the side of the road, everyone would have noticed. Tamar only made this desperate move once and she managed to keep it a secret from everyone until she couldn’t any longer.

Sure enough it was discovered that Tamar was pregnant a few months later. Since Tamar was a widow and unmarried, everyone assumed she had acted immorally. When Judah heard about her his judgment was severe and to the point: “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” (38:24).

Judah was told that Tamar was pregnant by harlotry and he believed their story. After all, Tamar was an unmarried widow. But, Tamar was also his daughter-in- law and he needed to uphold the family honor, so Judah demanded that she be brought out and punished according to the law at that time – she was to be burned.

While they were bringing Tamar out, Tamar sent word to her father-in-law that she was pregnant by the man who owned the seal and cord and staff that she possessed. Judah recognized them and was humbled. He said, “She is more righteous than I since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” (Genesis 38:26)

Judah had no more relations with Tamar. He had unwittingly fulfilled the levirate law himself and there was no need. Judah himself had produced the heir that would continue his line.

God blessed Tamar with not one but two sons. She had twins, Perez and Zerah. In fact, the name of Perez became great in Israel and was later used as an example of blessing in the book of Ruth: “And all the people who were in the gate, and the elders, said, … ‘let thy house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore unto Judah’” (Ruth 4:11-12). It was through the line of Perez that Jesus would come.

What can we learn from Tamar’s life? A woman in her place and time had very few options. We cannot just dismiss her as a terrible sinner. Judah did not. He said that she was more righteous than he was. He knew that his sin in not giving her to Shelah as he had promised led her into desperate means. If not for Tamar, Judah’s line would not continue. It was his responsibility and he neglected it.

Tamar, like Ruth was deeply loyal to the family she married into. Both women would preserve the line of ancestry for Christ by firmly obeying God’s calling on their lives.

Another lesson for us is the incredible love and mercy of God. God did not reject Tamar either. He made her an ancestress of the Savior, His Son. God works out good even from our mistakes (Romans 8:28).

But this does not mean that we can presume on God.  We must always strive to obey Him without sinning. While the method that Tamar used seems wrong, we live in a sinful world and we should not judge her too harshly. Tamar was truly one of the exceptional women in Patriarchal times. God blessed her even as He does all of us sinners!!













Jesus Christ is central to the Scriptures. The stories in the Old Testament show us how God dealt with His covenant people leading up to the coming of the promised Savior. The genealogy of Christ’s ancestry includes the patriarchs including Terah, Abram, Isaac, and Jacob.

Genesis 11: 26-32 – After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran…. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai … Now Sarai was childless because she as not able to conceive. … Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter –in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

Terah was a great and wealthy patriarch. In this passage of the Scriptures we are told that he had three sons. We do not learn that Terah had a daughter until later when Abram reveals why he lied to Abimelek about his wife, Sarah.

Terah named his daughter “Sarai” which means “princess”. Sarai truly was a princess as the daughter of the patriarch. Sarai grew up in privileged surroundings and then married her half-brother, Abram. Terah’s family grew and expanded and they traveled to the land of Canaan. But this was a time of sadness for Sarai because she was barren.

Like other women in Sarai’s day her main desire was to give her husband a male heir. We need to understand how important that was for women in patriarchal times or else we won’t understand why Sarai went to such great lengths to give Abram a son.

Let’s continue reading from Genesis 12:1, 4:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. … So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

Imagine living all of your life with your family and friends in one place and having to pack up everything and move when you are over sixty years old. Yes, Abram was seventy-five. That means Sarai was over sixty years old! God told Abram to leave the city and his family and move to a place that was totally unknown to him. As a woman, Sarai must have had many anxieties about this, but she left her familiar surroundings to follow her husband in obedience to God.

That may not seem so bad in our day, but sixty was considered really old in 2100 BC. God must have been blessing Sarai with very good health, because she followed her husband Abram around for most of the rest of her life as he wandered from place to place. We don’t have any record that Sarai complained every time Abram decided to move on.

Many people are surprised when they realize how old Sarai was. That is because we know the story of how Abraham lied, twice, about her relationship to him when they traveled to other places. Sarai was so beautiful that Abram was afraid that the leaders in the countries that they traveled to would kill him so that they could take Sarai for a wife. The first time was when they traveled to Egypt.

Let’s turn to Genesis 12:10-13:

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

Imagine at age sixty-five, Sarai was still one of the most beautiful women in the world! She would still be so beautiful at age ninety that Abraham would lie again, that time to King Abimelech. To this day, Sarai’s beauty is legendary.

But I wonder if during this incident Sarai saw her beauty as a curse instead of a blessing. After all, her husband was asking her to take the risk that Pharaoh would put her in his harem, which meant sleeping with her. Still Sarai trusted Abram, calling him lord, and obeying him in his every command. God saved Sarai by inflicting disease on the Egyptians. When Pharaoh realized the cause of the sickness of his people he called Abram to him and rebuked him for lying to him. He sent Abram and Sarai away.

Through all of these years of wandering Sarai desired one thing above everything else. She wanted to have children. She also knew about God’s promise to Abram. She knew that they would be the founders of many nations. God had promised her and her husband that they would have as many descendants as there were stars in the sky. Sarai must have been wondering when God would help them start their family.

The story of how Sarai took things into her own hands and asked Abram to give her a child by using her maid, Hagar, is well known. It is a sad and tragic story. Mostly what is sad about it is that Sarai’s faith wavered here. She concluded that God Himself was restraining her from having children and maybe He wanted her to get children another way.

Look on ahead to Genesis 16:1,2.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

By this time Sarai was seventy-six years old. She must have been feeling desperate. Abram listened to her and slept with Hagar. Hagar conceived a child. Immediately, Sarai’s relationship with her maid changed. Hagar now despised Sarai. Sarai began to treat Hagar harshly. Hagar even ran away for a time. An angel of the Lord met Hagar and told her to return home and submit herself to Sarai’s authority. Hagar did so and bore Abram a son. Abram called him Ishmael. Hagar and Ishmael lived with Abraham and Sarai.

For over thirteen years Sarai would see the daily reminder of her own childlessness. What agony she must have been in. The pain and humiliation of seeing her husband’s child by another woman must have been unbearable. But I think that Sarai must have also suffered much agony wondering why the Lord would seem to be forgetting her. It was painful enough to think that she had not fulfilled her husband’s desire, but how much worse is the thought that she must have been displeasing God.

But finally the day came when God would demonstrate His faithfulness to His covenant with His people in His own way.

Turn to Genesis 17:1; 15-19:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham – father of many nations. Then God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah – mother of many nations.

 … God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

 At this point, Abraham responded in a way that Sarah did later; he laughed. He thought that surely he and Sarah were too old. Abraham suggested that maybe God could just bless him through Ishmael. But God told Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son and that he should call his name Isaac. Isaac would be the heir that God would establish His covenant with.

Then one day three visitors came to speak with Abraham.

We will read this interesting story in Genesis 18:1-15:

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

Abraham invited the men to stay. He asked Sarah to help him get a meal ready for them. Abraham stood near them while they ate.

Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There in the tent,” he said.

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”  But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

I don’t think we should be too hard on Sarah. She was way past the age of childbearing. And don’t forget, even her husband laughed when God promised them a son in their old age. It is easy for us looking back to criticize Sarah for not trusting God. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to go on year after year for so many years before she bore Isaac. It must have been torture for her. She knew that her long years of childlessness meant that God’s promise that she and her husband would be the father and mother of countless descendants was, humanly speaking, becoming less and less likely as she passed the childbearing age. God knows we are weak as humans. He had patience with Sarah even as He did with her husband when he laughed.

In spite of the fact that Abraham was about 100 years old and Sarah was ninety, they moved again. They traveled to Gerar where the people were pagan and Abraham feared for his life. Sarah was still a very beautiful woman and Abraham decided to lie about her again to protect himself.
Let’s continue with this story in Genesis 20:1- 18:

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.  

Imagine at age ninety, Sarah is still such an astonishingly beautiful woman that Abimelech would take her to be in his harem!

But once again God rescued Sarah. God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him the truth. Abimelech remonstrated with Abraham for lying to him and asked for an explanation.

Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.”

 Abimelek sent Abraham away as a wealthy man. He also gave Sarah’s “brother” a thousand shekels of silver. This was to cover any offense Abimelek made and to vindicate Sarah before everyone.

After this, God fulfilled His promise to Sarah.  Turn to Genesis 21:1-6

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.  

When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Now Sarah’s laughter is the laughter of joy! She had to wait a long time, but she finally came to know that truly nothing is impossible with God!

God granted Sarah about thirty-seven more years. She was able to watch her son Isaac grow up. However, she died before seeing him get married.

Abraham wanted a special place to bury Sarah. He bought a field in Machpelah near Mamre that had a cave in it. This cave would be the special burying place for Sarah. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Leah were all buried there.


God, in His love not only for Abraham and Sarah, but for the whole world planned the events in the way that He did. He had a purpose for calling Abram and Sarai and making a covenant with them. It was all part of His plan for the redemption of His people. Salvation in Jesus Christ would come through Isaac’s line. A tender, loving heavenly Father cared about Sarah and her anguish in waiting for the promise, but in His wisdom, He waited to give her a son until it would glorify Him as the only wise, eternal giver of life.

As sinners ourselves, we can identify with Sarah. Sometimes when we pray for something for a long time and don’t see an answer, we wonder if God is going to answer at all. Sarah’s mistake should be a lesson to us to wait for God to answer.

There really is a God and He really cares about His children. He really loved Sarah and she knew it all along, even though in her humanness she got impatient and made a big mistake. She overcame that and lived the rest of her days in joy and peace with her husband and son. She remains a great example of a courageous, faithful woman for us today. She was beautiful outwardly, but even more inwardly. Modeling ourselves after her, we too can have, “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (I Peter 3:4).

God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He answers “yes”. Sometimes He answers “no”. And many times He says, “Yes, but in My time.” Sarah had to wait a really long time before God granted her a child. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to go on year after year for probably seventy years before she bore Isaac. I don’t know if I have that much patience.

We now know why God had her wait so long. We know that God intended for Sarah and Abraham to see that nothing was too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14).  God waited until Abraham was nearly one hundred years old, and Sarah nearly ninety. God did this on purpose. They were so old that people were probably laughing, just as they did themselves, when they were told about the promise of God. God wanted everyone to see that this child was very special because it was all of His doing; there was no mistake about it. Only God could perform the miracle of a baby being born to a woman who was past the age of childbearing.

Truly with God, nothing is impossible.





Imagine a perfect world where everyone is kind to one another and you never hear any negative words. Imagine being able to pluck your dinner from a tree without having to labor for it. Imagine ladies what it would have been like to be able to have your babies in ease and comfort.

Perhaps the scenario would go something like this:

Eve: “Adam, it’s time for our child to be born. I think I’ll just go over to that nice spot we picked out and wait.”

Adam: “Ok, Eve. You go on over and get ready. I’ll go pick us some extra fruit while you deliver that baby.”

The Lord, who is walking in the garden, comes along and says, “Well, done, good and faithful servants. You are doing a fine job as My vice-regents taking care of the earth. The animals are all happy. Oh, I see that you are about to procreate. That is exciting!

You will be blessed with many children. There is enough food for everyone in this beautiful garden.”

A short time later:

Eve: “Wow! It’s a girl child. What shall we name her?”

Adam: “Honey, you are the mother of all living. You name her.”

Does this scene look too fanciful? Is it out of the bounds of possibility?

We really don’t know what life may have been like for Adam and Eve if they would not have eaten the forbidden fruit. The Scriptures do not tell us.

Many people think that this whole story is just a myth but as Christians we believe that it happened exactly as the Bible says it did. So let’s look at what the Bible says.

Genesis 1:26-31

       Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.

 On the sixth day of creation God created mankind. God created humans equally in His image. They were to procreate and fill the earth. They were given the authority to rule over everything on earth together. God said that this was very good.

At the beginning of Genesis, chapter 2 we read that God finished His creation by the end of the sixth day and then rested on the seventh day.

Then beginning in Genesis 2:4, we circle back a bit and get more details of God’s creation of mankind.  This marvelous picture of the formation of Adam from the ground and Eve from Adam’s side actually takes place in the middle of the sixth day. It is important to remember that this story enlarges on what we were already told in chapter 1 – that God created mankind, male and female, in His image.

Genesis 2:7, 8, 15-20

      The the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.

… The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Let’s pause for a second. In chapter 1 God said that everything was very good. Here we see that He says something is not good – it is not good for the man to be alone. Why might God say that it was not good for Adam to be alone? Well, for openers, he can’t procreate by himself can he?

Here might be a good spot for Eve’s appearance, but instead God brings the animals to Adam for their naming. The Bible does not tell us why this is the order of things. Let’s just keep reading.

Turn back to Genesis 2:19 and 20.

     Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

This last part of verse 20, “But for Adam no suitable helper was found” is the center of much of the controversy surrounding women’s place in God’s creation. People who believe that God created mankind with a hierarchy say that “helper” means “subordinate”. They insist that right from the beginning women were created only to serve human men. But there is nothing in the Genesis account of creation to substantiate a claim that women were not created equally with men. Eve’s boss was God, not Adam.

What would a “suitable helper” look like?

Does “helper” mean “subordinate”? Let’s examine the correct translation of the original Hebrew word for “helper” – “ezer”.

The original Hebrew words for “suitable helper” are “ezer k’negdo”.

  1. “ezer k’negdo” – A “suitable” helper. literally “in front of him”; Not a subordinate.

2. “ezer” – A strong helper. “

“Ezer” appears 21 times in the Old Testament. 16 times this word is used for God. (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7, 26, 29; Psalms 20:2; 33:20; 70:5: 89:19; 115:9, 10, 11; 121:1-2; 124:8; 146:5; Hosea 13:9).


Psalm 33:20 – “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help (our “ezer”) and our shield.”

Psalm 121:1-2 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help (my “ezer”) comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

We would never say that God is a subordinate would we? No, God is our helper because He is actually stronger than we are and able to give help. Our brothers who insist on a hierarchy in relationships miss this important point.

Not only is Eve a very strong helper, one that Adam can’t live without, but the other aspects of her creation equally demonstrate a relationship of mutuality not hierarchy.

Please turn to Genesis 2:21-25.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

 Here again we need to pause and note: The Bible does not say that this is when Adam gives his wife the name “Eve”. Eve doesn’t get her name until they are sent out of the garden in chapter 3, verse 20. By calling his wife “woman”, Adam was giving his wife a description – “bone of my bones” not a name. Why is this important?

God showed Adam that Eve was part of him, not the rest of creation. Now Adam can be confident in all that God intended him to be since he has his suitable helper. Adam and Eve were made to tend the garden together, enjoying all of the fruits of their labor, working as one in mind and heart, freely worshipping God Whom they have complete fellowship with.

Note several other important things. In Genesis 1, God said He created mankind. Mankind contained Adam and Eve together in some mysterious way. Then we get the picture of the woman being pulled from the man’s side in chapter 2. They are two beings, but God says that when they come together as man and wife they are one flesh. What a beautiful picture of marriage – man and wife are so close that they are one in body and heart and mind!

And there is something else very interesting. To become this “one flesh” the man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Is that how we do it today? Does the man leave his family? No, today women leave their families and join themselves to the man taking his name. The children she bears him will also take the name of his family.

Eve’s husband Adam joined himself to her – note the order here. God did not put Eve underneath her husband; Adam joined himself to Eve.

Back to the story. Right after her creation Eve was happily tending the garden with her husband. Eve was ruling over everything with Adam as God commanded. There were no weeds. Eve would be able to bear children with no pain. Adam and Eve were enjoying perfect fellowship with God and each other. There is no sin yet, but that is about to change.

Let’s go back to the story. Please turn to Genesis 3:1-7.

     Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

     The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

      “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Many of us are already familiar with this story. The serpent (who we really know was the devil, Revelation 12:9) came along and tempted Eve to eat from a tree that had been forbidden to her and Adam. We could all wish that she wouldn’t have done it, but she did. Adam was with her and he ate some too.

Then they were ashamed and tried to hide from God. Thankfully, the Lord came looking for them and called out to Adam. We all know what happened. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. God made pronouncements about what the future would be like. He cursed the serpent. In the midst of this curse, He also promised the Savior Who would come and defeat Satan.

In the meantime, we see here that the relationship between husband and wife has changed. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were equal partners. Eve could make her own decisions because they would be right and good. After all, she had God right there and she would know what to do because of her intimacy with Him. When she made the autonomous decision to eat the fruit, she was disobeying God. Adam also ate and now all human beings would be sinful creatures. Now, because of their fallen sin nature, Adam and Eve would desire to get their own way. Relationships between men and women have been terribly distorted since the Fall.

Now after the fall, Eve and Adam will not have an easy life. Adam will struggle with weeds as he tries to provide for his family. Eve will have pain in childbirth. Adam and Eve had to leave the beautiful garden with a fulfilling life and complete fellowship with God. We can only imagine how heart rending this must have been for Eve. How tragic to have known the sweet peace and fellowship with God in the garden and now have to go out and struggle in a pain-filled world.

But let’s don’t forget that God promised a Savior. Eve would have the knowledge that her sins were forgiven and fellowship was restored with God, but not like she had in the garden.

The Scriptures don’t tell us a lot more about Eve and Adam. We know that they lived over nine hundred years and had many children. I believe that Eve had repented and put her faith and trust in God. When Cain was born she said, “I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:1). Clearly she was rejoicing in God’s grace, compassion, forgiveness, and promises.

It seems that Eve was a faithful mother teaching her children to honor God as best as she could in this now sinful world. There was sadness as sin showed just how ugly it could be when Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, killed his brother, Abel. But God blessed Eve with another son, Seth.

We are told that some years later, “men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26). Where would these descendants of Eve have gotten the knowledge of God unless it was from their mother and father? And of course, Adam and Eve would have had the best knowledge of God since it was first hand. What a shame that they lost that close fellowship and had to live in a world of sin.

How different Eve’s original experience was from ours. We are born in sin and do not know the complete joy and peace of the communion with God that we will have in glory. We will have to wait for that.




Dear Readers,

I am currently in the middle of the second year of pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Over a year ago I posted that I would like to write a book about women in ministry using some of the over 200 stories that are on my blog. I have recently changed my mind and will be writing a curriculum on women in the Bible and history. Some day I might write a whole book but for now I believe I need to write Bible stories.

The reason: I sent a survey on women in the Bible to many churches and received very disappointing results. For one thing, very few men said that the speak about women from the pulpit. There were many reasons, but I am concerned that this is NOT encouraging to women. At the very least it makes us feel unnecessary.

More importantly, the stories are in God’s Word. God included the stories of women for our benefit. When we skip over them we lose out on what God would teach us. That includes all of the inspiring stories of women that God has used in Kingdom work.

An important reason for writing a curriculum is to show that God does indeed use women in ministry. But equally important is a list of resources for women to use. I have been blessed by each and every book or article I have read. An important part of the curriculum will be a bibliography containing a list of the many books available. Other women will be blessed too as they read these inspiring stories.

So, for the next few weeks we will be looking at the stories of women in the Bible. Most of these women will be very familiar to you, but we will examine them more closely than you may have had opportunity to in the past.

The first and foremost attention will be paid to what the Bible has to say about the women. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can be cleared up by just looking at what the Bible actually says.

For example – what would most people say the occupation of Mary of Magdala was? It might surprise you to learn that the Bible does not say that Mary was a prostitute. This idea originated with Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century and it has stuck to this day. Hollywood has helped to cement the idea in place by castigating Mary as a loose woman. I don’t expect anything better than that from a group that uses lurid details to sell movies whether they are accurate or not. But I would like a chance to set the record straight for Christians by telling the story from the Bible.

And so, that will be the format of all of these lessons. We will begin by reading the Scriptures. Next, I will bring in some background material from well-respected Christian historians. Why are these stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them? How do they fit in with God’s overall plan of Redemption?

The Bible is really a story with the Lord Jesus Christ as the central character. The stories of the men and the women in the Bible are interesting and important in themselves, but they all point to God’s plan of salvation. By studying the stories of these women in their context, we can see how they fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Jesus asked the Church to take the Gospel to all of the nations. That is a big job. It will take all Christians, men and women working together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Are we looking forward to Christ’s appearing? There is only one place in the Scriptures that gives us an indication of when Christ will return. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now with technology, GPS, easy travel, more cooperation between some countries, and the many new Mission Organizations I believe that we can reach every nation. This is exciting for all of us who look for and love His appearing.

And so please study and enjoy the stories of God’s kingdom women. You are a kingdom woman! How will God use you to bless others while you serve Him?