The Birthday Girl with her mother and siblings
The heat and humidity in the air plus all the excitement and being extra long on my feet has taken its toll. I could not drive myself to church today. So I had church by myself and made a study about some good mothers in the Bible, an appropriate subject for this day.
I pinpointed 50 mothers mentioned in Scriptures. Let me highlight some here who have important lessons in faith to teach us.
The king’s decree was that every boy of the Hebrews should be thrown in the Nile, but when Jochebed gave birth to a boy and “saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him” (Ex 2:2-4).
What mother doesn’t think that her child is “fine”? God had a special plan for this child and his mother participated in making it come to happen. This child was rescued from the Nile by the king’s daughter and then brought up as her son, but nursed by his own mother. Eighty years later God put his plan into action and Moses became the liberator of the Children of Israel.
It all started with a mother that could not make herself throw her “fine” child in the Nile. If you’re a mother, to what lengths are you willing to go to rescue your child?
This was a most gracious and kind mother. She showed her kindness way before she became a mother. It is said that if a man is kind to his mother, he will treat his wife well. This woman was very kind to her deceased husband’s mother. She followed her back to her homeland and worked diligently to put food on the table for both of them.
When she later was married to Boaz, and became a mother, the women in the town of Bethlehem gave this testimony about her: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth” (Ruth 4:14-15).
If a woman is kind to her mother-in-law she will probably be and exceptional wife and mother. The child born to Ruth and Boaz was named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David. I’m sure Obed had a very happy upbringing, considering he had such a kind mother.
We don’t know if this woman had children of her own, but we know she was married to Lappidoth. For twenty years the Israelites had been cruelly oppressed Jabin, a king of Canaan who reigned in Hazor, and Sisera the commander of his army, with nine hundred iron chariots.
Deborah, a prophetess, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.
This was a brave woman. She sent for Barak and said to him that he should go after this great army that was oppressing them. “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go,” was his answer. “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman” (Judges 4:9).
Read the story of the victory in Judges chapter 4. The next chapter is a song of victory, in which Deborah says, “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:6-7).
You don’t have to give birth biologically to a child to be a mother. There is much work to do for anybody that has a mother’s heart. Here is a word of encouragement:
“Sing, O barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the LORD.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide…” (Isaiah 54:1-2).
This was a barren woman that longed to have a child. She did the best and only thing possible—she prayed to God for a child and at the same time she promised to dedicate him to the Lord. God heard her prayer and she received a child—Samuel—whom she took to the temple as soon as he was old enough to stay there without his mother.
Picture yourself in her situation. Finally she had a child, and now she had to give him up. I’m sure she did it with a happy heart. Any promise made to God needs to be fulfilled. And God was gracious to her and gave her three sons and two daughters.
After Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him to the house of God at Shiloh. She and her husband brought the boy to the priest Eli, and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:26-28).
As mothers, we need to give our children to the Lord, maybe not as literally as Hannah did, but be willing to let God work in their lives as he pleases.
THE WIDOW OF ZAREPHAT
The situation was hopeless; there was famine in the land. This widow had only a little oil and a hand-full flour and now she was gathering sticks to make a meal for herself and her son, planning to eat it and then die. God sent the prophet Elijah to her. It’s interesting how this probably very discouraged woman was willing to share her meal with a stranger. How would you have reacted? What would I have done? Maybe she thought, “I’m going to die, so I might as well be generous and share the little I have.”
Read the story in 1 Kings 17:7-24 about the miracles God did for her. He multiplied the oil and the flour so she could make pancakes every day. And when her son became ill and died, God did a resurrection miracle. “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth” (verse 24), she said to Elijah.
This widow acted in faith. She believed a perfect stranger and welcomed him into her home. What a great lesson she taught her son in believing God. Do you think they got tired of eating pancakes every day? Not if they were like our David-boy. He loves his pancakes!
THE WIDOW WITH THE OIL
This is another widow, who taught her sons a great lesson in faith. To be left alone with a great debt and two boys to bring up is not an easy task for a widow. She went to the right place, to ask the prophet Elisha what to do. With what she had in the house—some oil—God did a miracle, but she and her boys had to collect empty jar in which to pour the oil.
The size of the miracle depended on their effort of collecting jars. After pouring the oil they had to sell it and pay the creditors. When all was said and done they had money left over to live on. What a great lesson for those boys!
Here is a promise for widows and orphans: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).
This mother was granted a child thanks to her kind hospitality.
One day the prophet Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us” (2 Kings 4:8-10).
Because of her kindness the prophet wanted to do something for her. His servant Gehazi told him this lady had no son and that her husband was old. She received the miracle of a son, and some years later when this boy became ill and died, the prophet resurrected him.
Hospitality is a beautiful virtue and this young boy must have learned many good lessons about it from his mother.
When I was a kid and my dad’s birthday was coming up we’d ask what he would like from us. His answer was always that he wanted well-behaved kids. What parent doesn’t want that?!
Elizabeth was another of the barren woman the Bible talks about. She was not only barren but she was also old.
Her husband prayed about it, and one day the answer came as a promise, but also as a responsibility. Zechariah and Elizabeth would be the parents of John the Baptist, the man that would go before Jesus announcing his coming.
An angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17).
Each child should be a joy and a delight, but we all have a sinful nature and that is not always the case. As parents, we can pray for the “problem” child, or the child with a “problem,” that they be a joy and delight.
MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS
This was the most privileged mother, whom Elizabeth by inspiration of the Holy Spirit called “blessed among women.” Picture the most delightful, compliant, and obedient child. That was Mary’s boy Jesus! I picture him running errands, helping to take care of his younger siblings, working with his earthly father in the carpentry. No temper tantrums, no yelling or screaming, no running off to hide instead of doing the chores.
Mary knew that her boy was different; but sometimes she forgot that he was the Son of God, as when Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem when they went to the Feast of the Passover. “Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them (Luke 2:49-50).
Many years later, when they were all invited to a wedding and the bridegroom had run out of wine. Mary told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). That is an advice worth following even today, to do everything Jesus tells us.
THE CANAANITE WOMAN
This woman had a demon-possessed daughter. When she came to Jesus asking for healing for her girl, she was humiliated, but she didn’t care. Like most mothers she was willing to go to any length to see her daughter made whole.
Jesus told her it wasn’t right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs. “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Matthew 15:26-28).
This is the woman that boldly asked Jesus for the highest honor for her sons, that they might sit at the right and the left of Jesus in his kingdom. How dared she be so bold? Why not? She loved her sons and she couldn’t think of anything greater for them then to sit at Jesus’ side in his kingdom. Isn’t that how mothers are? We want the very best for our children.
MARY, MOTHER OF MARK
We don’t know very much about this mother, but what we know is a great example for us. When Peter miraculously was let out from prison by an angel, “he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying” (Acts 12:12).
What better example for our children than to make our home a house of prayer!
LOIS & EUNICE
Two mothers that passed on their faith… Lois to her daughter Eunice, and Eunice to her son Timothy. While sitting in prison Paul remembers his spiritual son Timothy, and his tears, probably because of Paul’s sufferings for the sake of Christ, and as he prays for Timothy he feels the need to remind him of the legacy of faith he has. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).
Nothing is more valuable for me than to pass on my faith to my daughter and now my grandchildren. That legacy is worth more than all the riches in the world.
The only identification about this mother is the “chosen lady.” The apostle John is delighted because of the positive spiritual condition of her children. “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth” (2 John 4).
If you have followed me through this “walk through the Bible” to meet some of the mothers, you might have noticed the red thread through it all: faith in God and passing it on to our children.
I wish each mother reading these lines to have God’s love and blessing on herself and her children, and her children’s children!