“Certain Women”

J. T. Mawson

Some of the women whose acts and words are recorded in the Old Testament story far outshone the men in wisdom and faith and courage, and they have their place in the Record for our learning. There was Jochebed, the wife of Amram, who entrusted her child in the ark of bulrushes and placed him by the great river, evidently without fear or anxious care, for she had learnt that he was “beautiful to God,” and if so, God would take care of him. It was confidence in God that made her so wise and calm and deliberate.

And what a remarkable lassie was Miriam, the child’s sister. I gather that it was not mere curiosity that made her stand afar off to see what would happen to her brother; she knew she had a part to play in his safety and God’s plan for him, and how well she played it. Her courage and speed and shrewdness were far beyond anything that could have been expected in the child of an enslaved nation; she too was guided of the Lord.

There was Deborah who stood for God in a day of trouble, when His chosen people “chose new gods and there was war in the gates.” Leaders there were none, even Barak was faithless and afraid and would not move without her company. In her song she sang, “The villages (leaders) ceased in Israel, ceased until that I, Deborah, arose, that I arose a mother in Israel … Bless Jehovah” (Judges 5:7-9, N.T.). We can with confidence take up the closing words of her song and sing “Let all Thine enemies perish, Jehovah. But let them that love Him be as the rising sun in its might.” She was strong in the knowledge of the Lord.

There was Hannah, who teaches us how to pray when troubled and burdened. When her husband had gone about his own business she lingered alone at the sanctuary in the presence of the Lord, pouring out her grief to Him. We are told that “she spoke in her heart, only her lips moved but her voice was not heard.” And Eli, the easy-going, unspiritual priest rebuked her for drunkenness, so short-sighted was he. But she drew nigh to God, and He heard her cry, and we read, “The woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” Her faith anticipated God’s answer to her cries, and she was content and at peace; and He did more for her than ever she had asked.

There was Abigail: how wisely and with what dignity she talked to David, keeping him back from what would have been an angry and vengeful crime. Her words are moving words revealing a deep knowledge of God’s purposes in which she had complete faith. She was a queenly woman, and would have graced the throne of David. Certainly she deserved a better fate than that of being one of many wives. Though David must have disappointed her, we may be sure the Lord whose mind she knew so well did not.

There is the story of one woman whose name is not given, whose simple trust in the faithfulness of God is most refreshing. She was the nameless and barren wife of Manoah, a Danite. Judges 13 is an instructive chapter. No unbelief marred the woman’s confidence; she rose up to the word that was sent to her. But the true beauty of her faith shone out most when her husband’s failed. They realised that they had been in the presence of God and Manoah said, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”

Thus he reasoned in his ignorance of God, but not so his wife. She knew better than that, and she answered his fears by her faith. Said she, “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, He would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would He have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.” Happy woman, she could speak of an accepted sacrifice and a spoken word; and she knew that God who had accepted the one and spoken the other had thoughts of good and not of evil towards them. She must have known how the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying, “If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord … he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1). These pious Danites had brought their offering and she had no doubt that the Lord had accepted it at their hand, and had accepted them because of it according to His word. And He had spoken good words to them and would fulfil them. She was content; they would not die but live. Happy woman; and her confidence was not misplaced.

Where do we stand in this matter?

The burnt offering was a type or figure of the offering up of Christ for us upon the cross, and the fine flour offered with it was a type of His holy life on earth. We read, “Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Eph. 5:1). And again, “Through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).

That great sacrifice was an atonement for us; if we have believed we have been accepted according to the value that God sees in it, and it was accepted for us. That sacrifice is our perfect and only plea before God, and He never has and never could refuse it. Because of it we shall live and not die.

And we have the spoken word also. “By one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10); and again, “He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we can boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:6) And yet again. “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32).

Surely we are in full fellowship with the wife of Manoah who honoured God by her faith in Him in those ancient times, for we can speak of an accepted sacrifice and a spoken word, and we have the full assurance that God will deny neither. He will honour the sacrifice and fulfil His word, for both are of infinite moment to Him and to us. He is revealed in both, and having seen Him by faith thus revealed we shall not die but live, and live superior to the circumstances that threaten to crush us now; we shall live to praise Him in His glory for ever and ever.