Are There Mighty WOMEN of God in the Bible? #206 (5 Mighty Women of God in the Bible)
Hello friends and happy Tuesday to you! When I was a kid, I went to a large Christian school in Birmingham, Alabama called Briarwood Christian. That school has been around for a long time, but I still hold the all time record for most paddlings in a year, which was set during my fourth grade sojourn at Briarwood -a year that will live in infamy. I understand they still have a small statue of me in the office there, as well as a bronzed paddle that is engraved “In memory of the Roger Maris of paddlings.” (This was before Mcgwire and Sosa broke the record in 1998. And, I probably should admit here that I made the statue thing up, but the rest is true)
I’m thinking about my days at Briarwood now not because my backside is still sore from all those paddlings, but because we used to have a sports coach there – Coach Young – who always called the guys “young man of God,” “Mighty man of God.” If you’ve grown up in a Christian household, you’ve probably heard somebody say the phrase, “mighty man of God,” but I doubt you’ve heard ‘mighty woman of God’ quite as much. Googling each phrase shows that people have written about mighty men of God 10 times more than they have written about mighty women of God. Well today – that changes. We are going to single-handedly make a difference on Google by using ‘mighty women of God,’ as often as possible. Our big Bible question of the day is, “are there mighty women of God in the Bible? ” Let’s go read Judges 4 and let’s see if you can spot a couple of them:
Boom! We’ve already found two: Sisera and Deborah are most certainly mighty women of God. I suppose before we go much further, that it would be helpful to define ‘mighty.’ By that word, I am not particularly referring to brute physical strength, or war-like prowess. That is certainly a normative use of ‘mighty,’ but in this case, we are looking at something deeper and more spiritual. I’m thinking of the word in its Ephesians 6:10 sense: “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” A mighty man of God is not somebody who can curl over 50 pounds per arm, and do 10 reps of 200 pounds on the bench press. Likewise, a mighty woman of God is not somebody known for her weight lifting prowess, or javelin throwing ability, etc. A Mighty woman of God is strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. She is brave, courageous and bold in a Joshua 1:7 sense, “Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. ” So, in seeking out some mighty women of God in Scripture, we are looking for brave and bold ladies who exhibit great faith and bravery in their following of the Lord. Let’s begin with:
- Jael: Jael/Yael is one of my favorite minor characters in the Bible. In fact, I came within an inch of naming our second daughter (Kayleigh Abigail) Jael instead. Jael would be the perfect name for her too – we recently had a peeping tom/prowler come to our house and break into the fenced backyard several times late at night. Rather than cringe in fear, Jael, er, Abbey, got her knives ready (she has a lot of them) and was prepared to tent-peg the guy.
The Jael in the Bible is the one in Judges 4 who casually pounds a tent-peg through the head of Sisera, the commander of the armies of King Jabin of Canaan. Sisera was no small potatoes either – he commanded a vast army that had 900 iron chariots at its disposal – a terrifying technological edge during the age of the Judges 1200-1300 years before the birth of Jesus. Jael sees Sisera coming by her tent and slyly/shrewdly calls him in, ““Come in, my lord. Come in with me. Don’t be afraid.”” and then she does the daring deed, “While he was sleeping from exhaustion, Heber’s wife, Jael, took a tent peg, grabbed a hammer, and went silently to Sisera. She hammered the peg into his temple and drove it into the ground, and he died.” Wow! Deborah, our next mighty woman of God, memorializes Jael’s brave actions in a most visceral song in Judges 5:
Most blessed of women is Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite;
she is most blessed among tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water; she gave him milk.
She brought him cream in a majestic bowl.
26 She reached for a tent peg,
her right hand, for a workman’s hammer.
Then she hammered Sisera—
she crushed his head;
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 He collapsed, he fell, he lay down between her feet;
he collapsed, he fell between her feet;
where he collapsed, there he fell—dead.28 Sisera’s mother looked through the window; she peered through the lattice, crying out:“Why is his chariot so long in coming?Why don’t I hear the hoofbeats of his horses?”
2. Deborah: Deborah was a judge and leader of Israel first mentioned in Judges 4. She was apparently a women of great wisdom, because for years she settled disputes among the Israelites in much the same way as Moses did – acting as a judge and arbiter between her people. One day she summoned the mighty warrior Barak to go and lead the armies of Israel against King Jabin and the Canaanites. Barak refused to go unless Deborah came too, and she agreed to that, but warned Barak that the glory for the victory would not go to him, but to a woman (see Jael, above.) Deborah was also apparently a woman of great integrity and holiness, as I can find nothing negative that is ever said about her in Scripture – a rarity among leaders of Israel.
3. Jehosheba: Athaliah, mother of King Ahaziah, was not a mighty woman of God. Shortly after her son Ahaziah was killed, she oversaw the killing of every other potential heir to the throne, and made herself queen in a coup d’etat. She was going to kill Joash/Jehoash a boy under the age of 7, but he was rescued by the brave and righteous actions of his aunt Jehosheba, as we see in 2nd Kings 11:
When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs. 2 Jehosheba, who was King Jehoram’s daughter and Ahaziah’s sister, secretly rescued Joash son of Ahaziah from among the king’s sons who were being killed and put him and the one who nursed him in a bedroom. So he was hidden from Athaliah and was not killed. 3 Joash was in hiding with her in the Lord’s temple six years while Athaliah reigned over the land.
2 Kings 11:1-3
4. The Syrophoenician woman. We don’t know her name, but this woman was amazing. Her daughter was tormented by a demon, and she knew that Jesus was her only hope, but she was having difficulty with getting that help because Jesus rightly said that He was sent by His Father to the Israelites. (He would send His disciples to the whole world upon His death.) Undeterred and unperturbed, this woman of great faith did not take offense to what Jesus said, nor did she complain, but she bravely pushed forward and kept seeking help for her daughter. In return, Jesus was so impressed by her faith and persistence that He healed her daughter on the spot. She, and the Roman Centurion with the sick servant, were the only two people in the Bible that Jesus commended as having, “great faith.”
5. Ruth the Moabitess. Another non-Hebrew woman of God. Naomi was a Hebrew woman who, along with her two sons and husband, settled in the land of Moabites. Both her sons married Moabite women, Orpah (Oprah Winfrey’s namesake) and Ruth. Sadly, Naomi’s husband AND her two sons died, leaving all three women widows. As such, Naomi packed up to head back to Israel to stay with her family, and prepared to say good-bye to her daughter in laws, who would have been expected to stay in Moab, their home-country. Ruth, however, displayed an incredible amount of loyalty to her mother in law:
10 They said to her, “We insist on returning with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, 13 would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” 14 Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Follow your sister-in-law.”16 But Ruth replied:Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me. 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped talking to her.
Ruth’s loyalty and love for Naomi was rewarded with her finding a wonderful husband among Naomi’s family in Israel, and, in marrying Boaz, ultimately became the great-grandmother of King David and part of the bloodline of Jesus, the King of Kings.
Praise God for these mighty women of God – and we’ve just scratched the surface – there are many more in the Bible: Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, Miriam, Priscilla, Mary the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth, Esther, Shiphrah and Puah, Tamar, Rahab, Hannah, Huldah, Lydia, Phoebe, Achsah and many more.