“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25
So often it can feel like the men get all the spotlight and clout in the Bible, but the Good Book has its share of incredible women as well! These women are strong, dignified, and brave, and most importantly, they display an unwavering trust in God. This trust gave them the strength to overcome obstacles, defeat their enemies, and even rule kingdoms. In honor of International Women’s Day this month, let’s glean some encouragement from the lives of 3 of the most inspiring women of the Bible.
Hannah passionately prayed for years for God to give her a child. In ancient Jewish society, it was a great shame to be childless. And, to make the situation worse, Hannah was made fun of for not being able to bear children. Can you imagine the pain she must have felt?
Finally, God answered her prayer and she gave birth to a son, Samuel. Hannah told her husband that she intended to dedicate Samuel to the service of the Lord and that as soon as he was weaned, he would live away from home and learn how to serve God faithfully in the temple.
On the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but can you imagine giving up a child you spent years praying for? Hannah knew that Samuel didn’t belong to her but was a gift from God. She was so grateful to God for his goodness to her, that she wanted to give something precious back to him. She also knew that the safest place for her son to be was in the center of God’s will, and she trusted that God would use his life in miraculous ways. Talk about faith!
Deborah was a great prophetess and ruler in ancient Israel. The Bible tells us that all the people of Israel came to her if they had a dispute so she could make judgments on their behalf. They trusted that God was with her and would help her make wise decisions.
During her time as ruler, the Canaanites were mercilessly attacking and persecuting the people of Israel. Deborah rode with her army and generals to the field of battle where God delivered the Canaanites into the hands of the Israelites. How incredibly brave!
It’s rare to see women ruling in ancient times, so it’s extra inspiring to see one reigning so wisely and even bravely riding to battle with her soldiers! Sometimes I wonder if some of the great women rulers of history like Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I found their inspiration in the courageous deeds of Deborah.
When I think of the quintessential Biblical heroine, I can’t help but think of Esther. Through her courage and bravery, she saved her people from total annihilation, and she put her own life on the line to do it.
Esther was a poor, Jewish girl who was chosen from among all the women in her kingdom to marry King Xerxes, the ruler of the Medo-Persian empire. Through her position, she discovered that one of the king's right-hand men was planning on killing all of the Jews because of a grudge he was holding against Esther’s uncle.
Esther knew that she was the only thing standing in the way of the Jews and complete destruction. She bravely confronted King Xerxes and pleaded with him to spare her the lives of people. That may not seem like much, but in that time, if you sought an audience with the king without being invited, there was a good chance you would be put to death!)
Esther was filled with courage because she knew God was with her and had allowed her to become queen specifically for this moment. In turn, God filled Xerxes’ heart with compassion, and he immediately put a stop to the plan to destroy the Jews.
As women, we may feel like God doesn’t have any big, exciting plans for our lives, but these stories show that is absolutely not the case! We may never rule a kingdom or save an entire nation from destruction, but the influence we have in our families, workplaces, communities, and churches cannot be underestimated. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this month, may you be inspired to walk in faith like Hannah, fight your battles like Abigail, and stand up for those who have no voice like Esther! As the saying goes: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world!”