Ladies

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Purpose Statement:
This column will examine God's
Word and His plans and purposes for ladies as women, wives, homemakers and mothers.

Email Celeste
 

Women of the Bible

Jump directly to:  Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, Jochebed, Deborah, Miriam,
Delilah, Naomi, Hannah, Michal, Bathsheba, Queen of Sheba,
Widow of Zarephath, The Widow and Her Pot of Oil,
The Woman of Shunem (Part I), The Woman of Shunem (Part II)

Dear Friends, I have been considering which direction to take on our monthly web pages. For many years I have loved studying the lives of Bible women. They had the same problems and experiences that we have. I have many books concerning them and a lot of what I will give you will be due to my research rather than my own thoughts and ingenuity. These authors say it better than I could!

My very favorite book on the subject is The Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. He uses this quote from Dr. Harrington Lees "The lives of en and women who speak to us from the pages of Scripture may be a veritable gold-mine of experience to us if we can remember the fact that they lived similar lives and triumphed by faith,...or if they entered not into their land of promise, failed through disobedience or unbelief. All good biography is fruitful but Scripture biography is singularly so." And I agree.

Dr. Lockyer gives some suggestions as to how to go about studying Bible characters. First of all, gather all the references to the person studied. You can find them in a good concordance. Dr. Lockyer does it for us in his book. This will give you all the pertinent facts about the person.

Secondly, with all the passages before you "check elements of power or weakness, success or failure, privileges or limited advantages, mistakes made and perils to be avoided, as well as help and pardon obtained from God." Character and conduct are set forth in no uncertain terms.

Thirdly, the gaps must be covered as well as the wealth of detail given. It will be seen that some lives are more fully described than others. Where facts are meager, imagination or history and culture of the times can provide expansion.

Fourthly, characters may be studied in a variety of ways. You can take them consecutively as they appear in the Bible or alphabetically. Lockyer lists the named ones alphabetically and then he gives all the unnamed women as they appear chronologically.

This is just preparatory. I hope you will be motivated to do some study on your own. I probably will go chronologically taking the better known women as they appear on the scene. We have already dealt pretty extensively with Eve. The next woman of note is Sarah. See what you can find out about her. We are told to do "even as Sarah".

Women of the Bible - Sarah

We told you that we would start on Bible women this month. The trouble is trying to condense the material into a short article. I have so much material on Sarah. So I will just try to hit the high spots. I will give you all the places she is mentioned and perhaps you will be motivated to do a little study on your own. Things mean so much more to you when you discover them for yourself.

References: Genesis 11:29-31; 12:5-17; 16:1-8; 17:15-21; 18; 20:2-18; 21:1-12; 23:1-19; 24:36:37; 49:31. Isaiah 51:2; Rom. 4:19-20; 9:7-9; Gal. 4:22-31; Heb. 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6.

According to Herbert Lockyer, Abraham, the first Hebrew (immigrant, one who crossed over) was a Gentile. Sarah became the first Hebrew woman or Jewess.  Note in the story the change of their names: Sarai - contentious to Sarah -chieftainess, the source of nations and kings. Abram to Abraham. We don't know how they came to know the Lord but God spoke to him and commanded him to go to Canaan, a land he did not know but he was obedient and went.

Sarah is depicted in 1 Peter 3 as the submissive wife. Read all these references and see that twice Abraham said she was his sister (a half-truth, his half-sister), in order to protect himself. Can you imagine how beautiful she must have been even in her 80's? She wound up in two other men's harems, but God protected her. He has promised us a way of escape also in 1 Cor. 10:13.

She is held up as an example of a godly, submissive wife and we are encouraged to be "even as Sarah". God had promised Abraham a son and many offspring. When Sarah got to be about 75. Like some of us, she tried to help God fulfill his promise. She suggested to Abraham that he take her maid servant and have an heir by her. This was perfectly legal in that culture and society. Abraham took her suggestion and Ishmael was born as a result. But God's promise was that Sarah would have a child. When Abraham heard this from the angel, he laughed, a laugh of faith. When Sarah overheard it, she laughed a laugh of doubt. Sarah bore a son when she was 90 years old and named him Isaac - "Laughter".

After the Lord asked her "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" she was convicted and convinced and believed him. A fitting epitaph for her would be what God said in Heb. 11:11, "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. She was the first one to have a regular tomb. Abraham had bought the Cave of Macpelah for a burial ground for his family. You may be surprised later when you find out just who eventually was buried in that tomb.

I hope you get motivated the check the entire story out. You can do it by reading the passages above. These women of the Bible are just like us and we can learn so much from them.

Women of the Bible - Rebekah

To get the full story of Rebekah, read all these scriptures relating to her: Gen. 22:23; 24; 25:20-28; 26:6-35; 27; 28:5; 29:12; 35:8; 49:31; Rom. 9:9-16

Rebekah was the 20 year old beautiful great niece of Abraham, granddaughter of his brother Nahor. When Isaac was 40 and unmarried, his father wanted to secure a wife for him from among his relatives. He sent his trusted servant Eliezer to find her. On the way Eliezer prayed that the Lord would lead him to the right woman and asked that she would offer to give water to his camels. When Rebekah was keeping her father's sheep and he appeared, she did just that. When she told her father about the man, he told her to invite him to their home.

Eliezer refused to accept their hospitality and offer of food and lodging until he had made his errand known to them. He explained his mission and who his master was and it was evident that the hand of the Lord was upon the whole affair. Without hesitation Rebekah agreed to go with him. As they approached Isaac at the end of their journey, she veiled her face according the the custom of the day. The scripture says, "she became his wife and he loved her".

Rebekah later had Esau and Jacob. Esau, the first born, was a favorite of his father and was an outdoors man, while Jacob was Rebekah's favorite and more of a homebody.

Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive his father and covered him with a sheepskin so he would feel hairy like Esau since Isaac was old now and blind. He felt and smelled of earth like Esau but his voice was Jacob's. Isaac was persuaded to give him the birthright and the blessing reserved for the eldest son. Esau was so angry Jacob had to flee the country and never saw his parents again and was estranged from Esau for many years. The parental favoritism was a source of all their problems for many years to come.

Let that be a lesson to all of us as parents - not to show favoritism to one of our children. God had already chosen Jacob and would have worked out His will. He did not need Rebekah's help. He is sovereign and knows what He is doing. It's up to us to trust Him.

Women of the Bible - Rachel and Leah

We can hardly speak of one of these sisters apart from the other for their lives were so deeply entwined. While there is much more written about Rachel, if we read closely we will see that Leah is the more important one in God's scheme of things.

When Jacob fled from the wrath of his twin brother Esau after stealing his birthright and his blessing, we went to his mother's brother, Laban. He fell in love with Rachel and was willing to work for her father for seven years in order to marry her. When the time came however, he was deceived into marrying her older sister Leah. Rachel was beautiful while Leah is described as "tender eyed" some defect no doubt, weak eyed, maybe cross eyed. Laban promised him Rachel also. Leah loved Jacob from the beginning, but his heart belonged to Rachel. There is no evidence that Rachel really loved Jacob.

The Lord blessed Leah with six sons, one of whom was Judah, through whom the Messiah would come. The Lord had closed up Rachel's womb because of Leah not being loved. Eventually though she had two sons, but died during the birth of the second son, Benjamin. She was buried in a tomb beside the road to Jerusalem. We have seen that tomb.

I think Jacob came to really appreciate Leah and loved her after Rachel's death and to confirm that she was really God's choice for him when she died Jacob had her placed in the family burial plot, the cave of Macpelah along with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah . He said "and there I buried Leah". He later was buried beside her. God is in control and he works everything out in his own way.

References: Rachel: Gen. 29; 30; 31; 33: 1, 2, 7; 35:16-26; 46:19, 22, 25; 48:7;
Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam. 10:2; Jer. 31:15; Mt. 2:18. Leah: Gen. 29; 30; 49:31; Ruth 4:11

Women of the Bible - Jochebed
Ex. 1; 2:1-11; 6:20; Num. 26:59; Heb 11:23

We come to a very outstanding mother in history - Jochebed, the mother of Moses. Dr. Henry Sell calls Jochebed and Miriam "resolute and resourceful women. We will talk about Miriam next month.

Jochebed's name implies "glory of Jehovah". She is the first person in Scripture to have a name compounded with Jah or Jehovah. She and her husband, Amram, were both of the tribe of Levi, in fact she married her nephew and so was both his aunt and his wife. This was common throughout the East in the days before the giving of the law.

They had three outstanding children, each of whom became renowned in their own sphere. Num. 26:59. Miriam, the gifted poetess and musician. Aaron, who became Israel's first high priest and the founder of the Aaronic priesthood. Moses, who became one of the greatest national leaders and legislators the world has ever known.

In those days the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt after a Pharaoh arose who "knew not Joseph". They were multiplying to such an extent the Egyptians were afraid they would outnumber them and take over the country. So they sent out an edict that all male babies born were to be drowned in the Nile River. Miriam was eight and Aaron was three when Moses was born. We are told three times that Jochebed "saw that he was a goodly child", the margin stating "fair to God" implying that there was something other-worldly or angelic about his features. Feeling that he had been sent from God, she determined somehow to preserve his life.

She was able to keep him hidden for three months but knew he would soon be discovered. She made a little cradle of plaited reeds which were believed to be protection against crocodiles and placed it among the rushes at the river's bank where she knew the Pharaoh' daughter came to bathe.

She set Miriam to watch the cradle to see what happened. When the child was discovered the princess was moved with compassion and realized it was an Israeli child she planned to find an Israeli woman to nurse him. Miriam had been well coached by her mother to offer her services to find a nurse for him. Only God could work out her hiring his own mother to nurse him and care for him until after he was weaned. She had opportunity to teach him who he was and later on after being raised and educated he had refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to serve the Lord.

It was Jochebed's love, faith and courage that saved her child from a cruel death and preserved him to bless the world. It was her influence that helped make him the man that he became. Mothers, we have an important job to do!

Women of the Bible - Deborah
Judges 4 & 5, Heb. 11:32-34

When you are reading the book of Judges you will find Israel under the leadership of twelve judges. In each instance the country gets away from the Lord, begins to worship idols, etc. and then God sends punishment in the form of enemy nations attacking them then they beg God to deliver them. He raises up a judge to deliver the nation and turn them back to the Lord. There is a time of revival and then the cycle starts all over again. How patient God is!

In this line of judges, the fifth one is a woman, Deborah. Although she was a married woman, she was a woman of unusual attainments. Her husband, Lapidoth probably encouraged her though he was evidently not as forceful and capable as she. She was also a prophetess, one of only a few females distinguished in Scripture as being endowed with the prophetic gift. She had the ability to discern the mind and purpose of God and declare it to others. As a woman she had intuition as well as inspiration which sometimes is better than a man's cold reasoning.

She was also an agitator, one who stirred up public discussion with the view of producing a change. She aroused the nation from its lethargy and despair. As the fifth judge, all Israel was under her jurisdiction and from her palm tree (her place of judgment) she dispensed righteousness, justice and mercy. She was also a warrior. She sent for Barak and told him it was God's will that he should lead Israel in a battle to deliver the country. He was hesitant to go until she offered to go to battle with him. After the victory she ruled for forty years with the land at peace.

She was also a poetess and a maternal figure, although there is no mention of children, she was called "a mother in Israel" (Judges 5;7). Dr. Herbert Lockyer in his Women of the Bible says she was "the female Oliver Cromwell of ancient Israel who went out to fight the Lord's battles with a psalm on her lips and a sword in her hand." Deborah served God to the limit of her ability and capacity. We all have
different gifts and can serve in various ways. Are we using the gifts God has given
us to the best of our abilities?

Women of the Bible - Miriam
References: Ex. 15:20-21; Num. 12:1-15; 20:1; 26:59; Deut. 24:9; Micah 6:4

When Moses' mother placed him among the reeds in the river to protect him from the Pharaoh's edict, she commissioned his 10 year old sister to watch over him. When the princess discovered him she was right there to offer to find her a wet nurse for him and of course called her mother. The princess left him with Miriam's mother and paid her to care for him, not knowing she was his mother. Isn't that just like the Lord?

As she grew up she became both a musician and a prophetess. We find her at the Red Sea proclaiming and singing the power and faithfulness of God. She was the first poetess in the Bible.

Miriam later rebelled against the mission of her life - to protect and labor in partnership with Moses, whom she had helped to save for her country . She had been a faithful patriot but jealousy led her to reject both the leadership position of Moses and his foreign wife. As a punishment God afflicted her with leprosy for week.

After being restored to divine favor we would want to believe she was noble and submissive the rest of her days, but no further mention is made of her until her death which came shortly after the leprosy. Just as Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, neither was Miriam because of her sin. She died at Kadesh Barnes and like Moses, her burial place is one of God's secrets.

It is injurious to our character to be discontented with who we are and jealously desire a higher place of honor which another holds.

Women of the Bible - Delilah
Judges 16:4-21 (Read Proverbs 5)

After looking at such a wise woman judge last month, we go to the opposite extreme and see a wicked deceitful woman, Delilah. She was the epitome of the strange woman in Proverbs 5.

When Eugenia Price was writing up the scripts for the "Unshackled" program in Chicago about people saved through the Pacific Garden Mission, she went through over 200 interviews and found that the chief influence in the life of all these people was a woman. Sad to say, the majority of them were for evil not for good. God has placed us women in a position of influence. Most of us have no idea of the impact we may have upon our husbands, or other men we come in contact with.

Samson was a judge in Israel for 20 years. He was a Nazarite and as such had taken a vow not to cut his hair or drink wine. He had strength that no one had had before. His enemies needed to defeat him but were unable to until they recruited the services of a Philistine woman he had fallen in love with. According to Lockyer, he refers to him as her husband, however I do not see that he was. All she was interested in was money. They had offered her the sum of 1100 pieces of silver. Our Lord was betrayed for only thirty pieces of silver.

She kept trying to find out the secret of his strength and he made up tales for her which proved untrue. She had his enemies lying in wait in her house. She would lull him to sleep and then try to tie him up with things he had told her he could not break and then wake him telling him the Philistines were upon him. Of course he could easily break out of these restraints.

Finally she kept on at him and then turned on the waterworks and told him he didn't love her if he didn't tell her his secret. You would think by now after three previous attempts he would be wise to her maneuvers but he wasn't. He told her all his heart. She shaved his head and his strength was gone and he was as weak as other men. Of course we know the strength was not in his hair but in his Lord. "He wist not that the Lord was departed from him." That tells us the real reason.

You remember the end of the story. They made a slave of Samson but later during a huge celebration they brought him out to make sport of him. His eyes had been put out, but he asked someone to place him between the pillars of the building. His hair had begun to grow again and he prayed one last time for God to strengthen him just one more time and let him die with the Philistines. He grabbed both pillars and pulled the building down upon the 3000 plus people, including Delilah. Thus "the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." We women need to be aware of our powers of impact and be sure they are used for good rather than evil.

Women of the Bible - Naomi
Book off Ruth

In our studies of Bible women we come to a wonderful mother-in-law named Naomi which means my joy or my bliss, or pleasantness of Jehovah. She was married to a man named Elimelech. No genealogy is given but they were both from Bethlehem-Judah, where two sons were born to them.

During the rule of the Judge and during a severe famine Elimelech decided to migrate to Moab, 30 miles away, where there was food. He evidently stepped out of the will of God for as a Hebrew he had God's promise, "In the day of famine thou shalt be satisfied."

One disaster followed another. The two sons married heathen Moabite women and then Elimelech died leaving Naomi, a faithful Jewish woman, a widow in a foreign land of idolaters. To add to her grief and desolation, both sons also died, leaving their wives, Orpah and Ruth, childless widows.

Naomi decided to go back home to Bethlehem alone, releasing the daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their families. Orpah remained, but Ruth was adamant in her desire to stay with Naomi and go with her to Bethlehem. Evidently she had already begun to believe in Naomi's God.

As Naomi approached Bethlehem her friends cried out a welcome using her pleasant name. She rebuked them telling them to now call her Mara which means bitter. "I went out full and returned home empty" she stated, accusing God of afflicting her.

Naomi was now too old to work in the fields, but in the providence of God, Ruth secured work as a gleaner in the fields of Boaz who was a distant relative of Naomi. After observing her he commanded his men to allow her not only to glean leftovers in his fields, but to drop handfuls on purpose for her.
Thus God provided their needs and later with the help of Naomi's counseling, Boaz and Ruth were married and became part of the line who were ancestors of the Messiah.

Women of the Bible - Hannah
1 Samuel 1, 2:1, 21

After the days of the judges "every man did that which was right in the sight of his own eyes". There was a man named Elkanah, a Levite, of the priestly tribe of Kohath. Although a godly man, he followed the common custom of polygamy and had two wives. One was Hannah who was his most beloved wife. The other was Peninnah who had borne him several children. Hannah, though the favored wife, was barren. It is possible that since she had not been able to bear children, she persuaded her husband to take another wife like Sarah did Abraham. Peninnah caused all manner of friction in the home and chided Hannah because she had no child.

For a Jewish woman her greatest desire was to become the mother of a son who might possibly be the Messiah. Hannah was a sincere, god-fearing woman who went to the temple to pray and to beg God to give her a son. She promised to give him back to the Lord if he granted her desire. She was so sorrowful and though she was praying, she was doing it in silence and the priest thought she was drunk. Hannah protested her innocence and declared she had never taken strong drink and then poured out her heart to Eli, the priest.

Eli told her to "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him." She returned home content for she believed. She was now joyous and buoyant not depressed and sorrowful. God granted her request and a son was born to her whom she named Samuel which means "asked of God".

Her psalm of thanksgiving makes her out as a poetess and prophetess of no mean order. With her desire fulfilled she burst into song and pours out her gratitude to God for His goodness. Her Magnificat became the basis of the one that the virgin Mary offered to the same covenant keeping God.  There was no change in her condition, but there was in her heart. She had not experienced the fulfillment of her desire, but she believed God and broke into a song of praise that was very similar to the one that Mary sang later when told that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Dr. Herbert Lockyer compares them in his book Women of the Bible in this way:
 
Mary's Song
My soul doth magnify the Lord
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior
He hath shewed strength with his arm
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination or their hearts
He hath put down the mighty from their seats
And exalted them of low degree
He hath filled the hungry with good thing
And the rich he hath sent empty away.
Hannah's Song
My heart rejoiceth in the Lord
Mine horn is exalted in the Lord
The bows of the mighty men are broken
And they that stumbled are girded with strength
The Lord killeth and maketh alive
He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up
They that were full have hired out themselves for bread
And they that were hungry ceased.

There is quite a resemblance between them. The spiritual lyric of Hannah is equal to any of the Psalms and is eloquent with the divine attributes of power, holiness, knowledge, majesty and grace. Hannah prayed and promised, and when her prayer was answered she quietly redeemed her promise and presented him back to the Lord. He was raised after being weaned by Eli in the temple and was visited once a year by his other. As a reward God gave her five more children. Her son, Samuel, became a priest and a man of prayer and intercession all his days.

Women of the Bible - Michal
1 Samuel 14:49; 18:20-28; 19:11-17; 25:44; 2 Samuel 3:13, 14; 6:16-23; 21:8; 1 Chronicles 15:29

David had slain Goliath and was now a hero in Israel. Saul had become jealous and afraid of him. He offered his older daughter to him, but reneged and gave her to another man. Michal was enamored of him and her father, King Saul was informed that she loved David. So he promised her to him without a dowry if he would kill 100 Philistines, thinking that he would surely be killed himself, but instead he killed 200 Philistines.

Saul was still determined to kill David and had a group of men ready to slay him but Michal heard about it and warned David to flee and let him down through a window. Then she tricked her father and his emissaries. She put a hair-covered image in his bed and said he was sick. When they discovered her treachery Saul accused his daughter of disloyalty and reproached her. Michael pretended that David had threatened to kill her if she did not help him. She
was quite a devious woman.

Michal's affections for David began to wane as he was now a fugitive. Her father had wanted to give her to Phalti as his wife. This was an illegitimate union since David was still alive. Phalti evidently cared for her since he followed her weeping when she decided to return to David after the death of Saul. God had already chosen David t be king and Abner made an arrangement to assist David in taking over the kingship of the nation. David made the
restoration of Michal a condition of the league. He still desired to claim her as queen in Hebron.

The closing scene between Michal and David shows that whatever love she had for him had turned toscorn and disdain when after making Jerusalem his capital, David accompanied the sacred ark of the covenant into the city. He had stripped himself of his royal robes and led the procession in the place of a slave, "danced before the Lord with all his might". She was horrified at his loss of royal dignity. She had no regard for the Ark and spat at David and made disparaging remarks to him. As a result "Michal had no child unto the day of her death" This was punishment appropriate for her transgression. She ended her days without the love and companionship of a husband, caring for
her sisters five sons, all of whom were ultimately beheaded.

David went on to have several more wives and many children. We will discuss that later. Alexander Whyte says that "Michal is a divine looking glass for all angry and outspoken wives." I pray that none of us will be looking into that glass.

In His fellowship, Celeste

Women of the Bible - Bathsheba
References: 2 Sam. 11:2, 3; 12:24; 1 Kings 1:11-31; 2:13-19; 1 Chron. 3:5

Bathsheba came of a God-fearing family. She was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, one of David's faithful men. She became the wife of Uriah, the most loyal of David's men. While her Uriah was away doing his duty, his king "tarried still at Jerusalem" (2 Sam. 11:1). The king's place was leading his men in battle, not staying at home. He was up on his roof top and chanced to see Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. Some who have written about this incident place the blame squarely on both parties. She should have been more modest and been aware that she was being observed. She was "very beautiful to look upon" and David's lustful passions were aroused and he determined he must have her. He evidently knew who she was and who her husband was and sent for her to be brought to him. He was the king. Could she disobey? Did she object? We don't know. But we do know that she came to him and that they engaged in a sexual relationship resulting in her becoming pregnant.

David had other wives but was very taken with Bathsheba. This was the one bad mark on his otherwise virtuous life. "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah" (1 Kings 15:5). In an effort to cover up his sin he told his officer to allow Uriah to come home to be with his wife. But Uriah was a man of the highest principles and refused to have any physical contact with his wife when his men were out fighting. So this plot of David's was foiled. So he proceed to give orders for him to be put in the forefront of the battle to be sure of his being killed. After his death and a brief period of mourning, Bathsheba became his wife. The child of their adulterous union was evidently born without disgrace, only to die within a week of his birth. "The Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare David".

David evidently did not have the consciousness of his sin until Nathan pointed it out to him. We have his full confession in Psalm 51. Both David and Bathsheba must have had much agony of soul as they became deeply conscious that the death of their son, conceived out of wedlock, was a divine judgment upon their dark sin. Nathan assured David "the Lord also hath put away thy sin." Even though he was forgiven by God the consequences of his sin remained.

God then blessed them with another son whom they called Solomon, meaning, "Beloved of the Lord". Although not his firstborn son, he was chosen later to be King and to build the temple of the Lord. Tradition says that it was Bathsheba who composed Proverbs 31, as an admonition to Solomon on his marriage to Pharoah's daughter. The rest of her life is veiled in silence.

What a wonderful forgiving God we have. When we read these things we should be challenged to think that if David, "a man after God's own heart" could fail like this, so could we. No matter how long we have been saved, we do not grow in strength - our old flesh is as weak now as ever and we must ever be on guard.

1 Thess. 4:3-4 " For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, That ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor."

In His fellowship, Celeste

 

The Queen of Sheba
References: 1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12; Matthew 12:42

The Queen of Sheba sought out Solomon because she had heard of his incredible wisdom. "She came to prove Solomon with hard, or perplexing questions". She heard that he knew all about "the name of the Lord" and this particular aspect of his wisdom attracted her to make the 1200 mile trip to Jerusalem. She had also heard that it was Solomon's God who had made him so wise. We have no real evidence that she was converted from her heathen gods to worship the God of Solomon but she was certainly impressed. We can only hope that the spiritual truths she heard found
lodging in her heart and bore much fruit in her life after she returned to her country.

They were both very open with each other. "Solomon told (or answered) all her questions, there was not anything hid from the king, which he told her not." Don't we wish we knew all that he said to her. Likewise the queen "communed with Solomon of all that was in her heart."

When she saw the extent of his wealth, the grandeur of his palace, "there was no more spirit in her:, implying an almost speechless condition. She had heard about it but didn't believe it. In her own words "I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and behold the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard." Another thing that impressed her was the happiness of his men and his servants. What a great testimony.

She brought many expensive gifts for Solomon, not that he needed any. She gave him gold, spices and precious stones. The gold had a value in 1967 of $3,500,000. No doubt it would be multiplied today. Solomon in turn gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked." We are not told exactly what that was. We hear no more of her until the Lord Jesus spoke of her in Matthew: "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"! We all need wisdom and it is found in the Word of God

In His fellowship, Celeste

The Widow of Zarephath
References: 1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:25-26

After the prophet Elijah had delivered God's message to Ahab that there would be no rain for three and a half years and was fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel, God told him to go to the brook Cherith and ravens would feed him there. He did so and the ravens brought him bread and flesh every day for some time. Eventually the brook dried up due to the drought and God told Elijah to arise and go to Zarethath (Sarepta) and that he had commanded a widow there to sustain him.

When he arrived there the widow and her only son were gathering a couple of sticks to make a fire and bake a small cake from the remaining meal and oil they had and then they would lie down and await to die. Can you imagine the prophet saying to her after she told him that to go ahead and do it but to make him a little cake and bring it to him first! But then he gave her a promise from the Lord that "the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth". We do not know that she knew he was a prophet but she evidently had some knowledge of the God of the Israelites and she obeyed his command.

For about two years Elijah abode with the widow and her son, but the son got sick and died. The distressed widow blamed it on Elijah and he told her to give him her son and "he carried him up into a loft where he abode, and laid him on his own bed" and prayed and then stretched himself upon the child three times praying that God would let the child's soul come into him again. "And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again and he revived."

The woman's testimony then was "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." God always keeps his promises. I think he has a special place in his heart for widows as we see in the scriptures he takes great care of them. Jesus himself made mention of this widow in the passage in Luke. Check it out.

In His fellowship, Celeste

The Widow and Her Pot of Oil

Here we find another account of some of God's favorite people, widows. This woman's husband had been a student in Elisha's school of the prophets. He had evidently died young but with many debts. She didn't know how she would provide for her two sons. Her creditors were threatening to take her sons as slaves in payment of this debt. She sought our Elisha and asked his advice.

He asked her what she had in the house. She said nothing except a little pot of oil. In Lev.25:39 the law concerning children exchanged for debt continued in servitude until the year of Jubilee. But under the ancient Roman law there was no provision made for their release. She was instructed to send her sons out to borrow all the empty vessels they could and bring them to him. When they did, he poured the oil into the first one, filling it up and then he filled another and another until all the vessels were filled. When they were all filled, the oil stayed. God does not waste his provisions. She was to sell the oil and pay off her creditors and then to live off the rest.

God truly multiplies what we surrender to him. He did exceedingly abundantly above all she could ask or think. He not only supplied her immediate need but took care of future needs as well. What a wonderful provider he is when we depend on Him.

In His fellowship, Celeste

The Woman of Shunem - Given to Hospitality (Part I)
References: 2 Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6

May I suggest that you read these references first in order to get the whole story. It is too good to only get an abbreviated picture. Here we find a faithful woman of high rank and wealth who showed compassion, concern, consideration and care for God's servants. From her home she had a commanding view of the well-traveled road from Samaria and Carmel to Shunem. She took note of an elderly prophet, wearing a pastoral mantle and carrying a long staff. His whole demeanor marked him as "an holy an of God." His name was Elisha.

She wisely spoke of him to her husband and they decided to prepare a room for him to use when he was traveling by. This is probably where the "prophet's chamber" came from. They prepared the chamber with the essentials for a guest room: bed, table, stool, candlestick or lampstand and had it ready before they invited him. He responded readily to her invitation and probably used the room of and on for a least four years. He wanted to do something for her to repay her kindness, and talked it over with his servant, Gehazi. He reminded him that she had no child and they were old. The desire of all Jewish women was to have a child, perhaps it would be the Messiah. So he delivered the message to her that she would bear a son.

After the son was born and was three or four years old he followed his father into the fields in the heat of the day and evidently had a sunstroke. Fathers solution: "Carry him to his mother." Things never change! She held him on her lap but he died. She was not hysterical but quietly took him up to the prophet's chamber and laid him on the bed and shut the door. Then she asked her husband to send a man to prepare a donkey and go with her to fetch the man of God. She evidently did not even tell her husband their son was dead. He wondered about her going that day since it was neither new moon nor Sabbath. Her answer was "It shall be well".

Elisha recognized her a good way off and could see she was quite distressed. He tried to send his servant to go with her but she refused to return without Elisha. Gehazi went on ahead and tried to revive the son and returned to say he was dead.  Elisha went into the room, closed the door and prayed, stretching himself over the child. His flesh warmed. Elijah paced the floor and repeated his actions. The child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. We are left to our imagination for the rest of the story but this was not the end. There were future consequences to come and we will discuss them next month. Read all the references to get all the details!

In His fellowship, Celeste

The Woman of Shunem - Given to Hospitality (Part II)
Reference: 2 Kings 8:1-6

Elisha informed the woman of Shunem that there would soon be a famine and instructed her and her household to go wherever she could and stay for seven years. She did exactly what he told her. Wouldn't you? After this man had raised her son from the dead, I believe I would do what he said. She lived in the land of the Philistines.

At the end of the seven years, and I feel like it was probably the very day, the woman returned to her land. However her house and her property had been confiscated by the government. So she went immediately to the king to plead for the return of her property.

The timing was perfect. When she arrived at the palace, Elisha's servant, Gehazi, was speaking with the king about all the wonderful things that his master, Elisha, had done. Gehazi was telling the king about the woman whose son he had restored to life. As she entered the presence of the king, Gehazi cried out "My Lord O king, this is the woman and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life!" Talk about a living demonstration and confirmation of an incident!

Evidently the king asked for the story from her and then appointed a certain officer to accompany her and to "restore all that was hers and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now." V.6. This was a faithful women and I'm sure that Prov. 28:20 applied to her: "A faithful man (or woman) shall abound with blessings." God always does exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. "Even if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful."

In His fellowship, Celeste

 

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