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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Good and Bad Women in the Bible

Good and Bad Women in the Bible


Recently we have gone to two movies: ,Nebraska and August/Osage County and both movies have something in common: In both movies the grand matriarch or the older mother in the show never quits criticizing her husband, her grown children, and her friends and relatives too.  She never stops making fun of her husband and never stops talking about sex.  Relatives who reach out to her in love are rejected.  And everywhere she goes a dark cloud of negative feelings, broken relationships and ill will follows. 


The older woman in the Nebraska movie keeps reminding her aging husband of the burden he is on her.  She is going to put him away since he is useless and crazy.  This angry woman’s grown son wants his Dad to have some relief from her insults, so he drives his father to Nebraska to check out a lottery ticket.


 But alas the nagging mother follows after her husband and son meeting up with them in Nebraska and continuing the dirty talk and the hurtful remarks.  Her grown son slumps over and hangs his head as his mother jokes about how dumb he is.  And one wonders if the son can somehow escape his mother’s negative influences or if his life will be forever scarred by this on-going foul talk?


The other movie, August/Osage County, starts out with the matriarch or the older mother criticizing and making fun of her aging husband while he pours one alcoholic beverage after another.  One wonders if this man drinks too much because his wife is so verbally abusive to him.  He leaves home probably to get away from his angry wife and soon after he dies in a boating accident.  


The mother keeps herself permanently doped up on narcotics and pain pills and when her husband doesn’t come home she frantically calls her three grown daughters insisting they come take care of her. The husband’s body is found and the relatives come to town for the funeral.  But the mother never stops criticizing her daughters and the relatives too while making sexual innuendos.  Are there really women like this in real life?  It was painful watching the family around the dinner table insulting one another and putting one another down. After an hour of this depressing movie we walked out.


Scripture mentions the woman who continually criticizes her family.  “A wise woman builds her house up but the foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands.”  (Proverbs 14:1) . And: “The continual dripping on a dreary rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”  (Proverbs 27:15) “It is better to live in the corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a large house.”  (Proverbs 21:9b)  And: “It is better to live in the wilderness than with a contentious, angry woman.”  (Proverbs: 21:19)   


Scripture describes another type of dangerous woman – the woman who enjoys seducing married men and breaking up families!  The adulterous woman is described this way in the Bible:  “I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets and her hands as bands.  The man who pleases God will escape from her: but the sinner shall be taken in by her.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:26)  And also Scripture warns to stay away from:: “…silly women laden with sins, who are led away with many lusts…  (2 Tim. 3:6a) 


 Scripture never ever gives the “other” woman – the adulterous woman (or the man she seduces) an understanding nod.  Of course a man can be the seducer too.  The seventh commandment of the Ten Commandments forbids God’s people to commit adultery.  God puts us together in families and His desire is that we be faithful to those in our family and provide for their welfare.  Scripture warns that “Anyone who does not provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”  (1 Timothy 5:8)  That person who is not there for the family can be a woman as well as a man. 


In the Bible there is a long list of “bad” women.  One that comes to mind is the sexy temptress, Delilah.  This babe comes along seducing Samson, with her sexual favors and pretending to love him.  Samson was a man of God, but he falls for her lies.  She tricks him into letting down his guard and giving her information that she will use against him.  While they are in bed together she betrays him and calls in his enemies, the Philistines, who capture him, put his eyes out and enslave him.


 Another “bad” woman from the pages of Scripture is the evil Queen Jezebel.  She influences her husband King Ahab to lead Israel away from God and into idol worship.  And she urges him to murder the prophets and others too. (1 Kings 18)  Jezebel and Ahab even sacrifice (burn) one of their children on the altar to their idol, Baal.  Women have a lot of power and we can use it for good or for evil.


And of course the Bible also has a long list of “good” women.  Deborah was a judge and a warrior and God saved Israel from their enemies through her.  (Judges 5)  Phillip’s daughters and Miriam were prophets speaking God’s Word to the people. (Acts 21:9)(Ex.15:21) Mary was the mother of Jesus, the Son of God and Esther saved her people from death in Persia.  And of course there are many more.


And then there is a famous description of the “good” or noble woman in the Bible.  It reads in part: “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still dark: and provides food for her family and portions for her employees.  She considers a field and buys it: Out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  ……She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.  When it snows, she has no fear for her household:….She is clothed with strength and dignity and she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  …Her children rise up and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her.  …Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised…”  (Proverbs 31:10-30)   


The “good” woman here is not a helpless clinging vine letting her husband take care of everything.  Instead “she is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar.”  “She considers a field and she buys it.”  “She provides food for her family and portions for her employees”   


This is a strong woman – a wise woman and a good woman.  Scripture says: “When it snows she has no fear for her household:”.  In other words I think that means that she watches out for the safety of her family and she anticipates problems that may arise and prepares for them ahead of time.  She spins, weaves and sews warm protective clothing for cold weather-for the snow so they will be prepared..  And she reaches out and gives to the poor and the needy.  Her family and her town can rely on her – she is maternal – caring – protective –a safe house to run to.  If you tell your troubles to her she will protect and understand and care.  She makes her world a better place.


The description in Scripture of a “good” woman ends with: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised…”  So now we know!  That is her secret!  This good woman fears or respects the Lord!  That is where she gets her strength, her wisdom and her charity!  God gives her all of these things! She can do all things through Christ who strengthens her.(Philippians4:13)   And she knows that because she “fears the Lord”.


Scripture says: “She can laugh at the days to come.”  She doesn’t have to be anxious about her life or her future.  She can laugh and travel light because her life is in God’s Hands.  Because she “fears the Lord” she can be strong and wise and not be afraid of those scary things in life!  God has got her covered.  She can live the good life.  And we can all live this good life too!  God is holding out His Hand to us offering it!  We just need to “fear(trust) the Lord!”      




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