I do a lot of freelance writing, and lately I have been writing lessons on women in the Bible for a curriculum directed toward children in India. Many of these kids come from very difficult situations — they are orphans and have experienced abuse and suffering. These children have also grown up in a culture that is very male-centric and does not honor women in any way. So, we wanted to focus a few lessons on how God has honored women and used them for His purposes in His story.
So far I’ve written about Rahab (Joshua 2), Deborah and Jael (Judges 4-5), and right now I’m working on a lesson about Abigail (1 Samuel 25). The Ancient Near Eastern culture was also very male-centric, so it is really cool to see how God used these women for His purposes in a way that was quite unexpected. These are stories I’ve read for years, but now that I’m studying them in depth, they’re standing out to me in a new way.
Rahab was a prostitute, yet she feared God. She chose to help the Israelite spies, and because of this, she saved her entire family — men and women. She ended up being the great-great grandmother of King David, and is honored in the lineage of Jesus.
Deborah is the most clear example of a woman leader; she was a judge and prophetess in Israel, which means that people came to her for advice and help in making decisions. God spoke through her. When Barak refused to lead Israel into battle, she went with him, and just as she had warned, God gave the victory over the Canaanite general to a woman named Jael.
Abigail was married to a cruel man, but the Bible says that she was intelligent and beautiful. Although her husband refused to help David, she basically took it upon herself to diffuse a situation in which David planned to commit murder. She spoke to David with extreme wisdom, and because of her good judgment, David was kept from bloodshed.
It has been encouraging to read these stories and see how God used women in a time and a place when it was difficult for women to be noticed or honored. God’s law provided protection and rights for women in a way that was not common in the Ancient Near East. And while today no one in our society would argue that women are not created in God’s image or equally valuable to Him, during the time in which the Bible was written, this was not necessarily a common belief. That is why it it is powerful that God includes these strong women in the great story of His redemption.
These lessons have reminded me that God uses all of us — men and women — wherever He has placed us. He calls us to great and sometimes frightening things. He can use anyone — prostitutes (Rahab), hot-tempered men (David), prophets (Deborah, Isaiah, Jeremiah), fearful people (Moses), etc.
Who are some women in the Bible who stand out to you?