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Women in the Word – Salome


Moretto_da_Brescia_-_Portrait_of_Tullia_d'Aragona_as_Salome_(detail)_-_WGA16231Salome is not one of the women in the New Testament that one is likely to hear mentioned frequently.  This lady was a follower of Jesus and had the honor of being among the first to learn of his resurrection.  Prior to that, she cared for his needs in Galilee.

The fact that only her name was known is very important.  To God, your name is important, even the number of the hairs on your head are taken into account, meaning God has designed each person and knows them well, even what is hidden. Continue reading

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Hephzibah


חפצי־בה

Hephzibah, the daughter of Isaiah the Prophet, became the wife of Hezekiah after her father rebuked the king for not being married.  She became the mother of Manasseh and of a daughter, Bilhah who later married a foreign  prince.  Growing up in the home of a prophet would have prepared her for the tumultuous life she was to experience.  Her name means “My delight is in her.”  2 Kings 21:1

250px-Åhus_kyrka-10  HezzikiahHephzibah was blessed in that her husband, Hezekiah, was considered the second best king of the Southern Kingdom.  Hezekiah passionately pursued pleasing God.  Ironically, righteous Hezekiah was born the son of a wicked man. As a youth, Hezekiah turned to God when almost everyone else busied himself satisfying selfish cravings and pursuing evil desires.  He ascended the throne when he was only 25. The young king smashed the pagan altars and images that polluted all of Judah. “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.”  This being her life, it was easy for Hephzibah to “delight in her Lord.”  More blessings were to come in the birth of a son, Manasseh.

Hephzibah would remain in the royal household for a very long time which would have given her the golden opportunity to have a spiritual influence on her son and even her grandchildren.  One would think that with the Godly influence not only of his mother, but also of his father, that young Manasseh would follow in their footsteps in serving God.  This was not to be the case.  In the years to follow her ‘delighting in the Lord’ would be tested over and over.

Hephzibah’s son would assume the throne when he was only twelve, and would reign for fifty-five years (2 Kings 21:1).. Manasseh reigned for about ten years as co-regent with his father. Then when he was twenty-two his father died and Manasseh took over the throne.  This young ruler enjoyed a rich heritage.  He had a godly father and mother, and lived in a time of spiritual vitality and prosperity. He had the words of the prophets Isaiah and Micah ringing in his ears. He had seen the Lord deliver Jerusalem in a very miraculous way when it was under siege by the Assyrians. And yet :  he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.   His mother must have been heartbroken.

What went wrong? Perhaps that is a question that Hephzibah asked herself over and over.  Like many mothers throughout history who witness the  waywardness of their children, she must have berated herself for not being a better mother.  Her heart-wrenching intercession to her Heavenly Father on behalf of her prodigal is likened unto many mothers today.  Yet, the delight of the Lord was in her soul.  As she watched her son destroy all that her husband and her father had worked so faithfully in restoring the nation to Godliness, Hephzibah did not lose faith in what her Heavenly Father could do in the life of her child, and neither should we in the life of our prodigal. Her love for her son could not compare to the love that God had for Manasseh.  It is the sin that God hates, not the sinner.

Manasseh_repents_C-1020Hephzibah must have been grieved that her son was the worst of all the kings of Judah.  Yet, her faith prevailed and it did come to pass that after much harsh chastening, Manasseh repented of all his evil works.    And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (2 Kings 33:12 and 13).     God’s mercy is always available to those who develop a repentive attitude, acknowledging their wickedness and choosing to serve God instead.

Whether Hephzibah was alive when her son repented I know not, but most assuredly wherever she was, she rejoiced with the Heavenly host when he did.  Let us not lose faith in God as to what he can do in the life of our prodigals.

 

 

 

Huldah the Prophetess


Huldah Many of the Saints in the Old Testament who were used of God are often times overlooked; seemingly overshadowed by those who are more familiar in their ministry for the Lord.  One of these Saints is an obscure handmaiden of the Lord which is  introduced to us in the books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

The young King Josiah, appointed workers the task of restoring the Temple of God.  In the process of doing so, Hilkiah, the Priest, discovered the lost Books of the Law, The Torah.  He gave the books to Shaphan, the scribe, to take to the King.  Once Shaphan read the Law, King Josiah rent his clothes and directed a group of men to inquire of the Lord concerning the words of the book. The Prophet Jeremiah, was out of town at the time of the discovery so these men traveled to Jerusalem to seek Huldah the Prophetess. Actually it was deemed that since Huldah was compassionate and tender of heart thereby she would soften a possibly harsh prophecy that awaited them

King Josiah, the last righteous king of the Southern Kingdom became king at a very young age.  Josiah had developed a personal bond with Hulda because she had a prominent position in the royal court and helped nurtured him into the God-fearing man he was to become.  Therefore he had no qualms about consulting her to verify the authenticity of the Books of the Law.  This would indicate that she was an educated woman, one capable of discerning whether or not the scroll was authentic.

Actually there is more known about Huldah’s husband than there is about her, which would indicate that she was a seemingly humble lady. esteeming her husband more than herself.   Huldah’s husband. Shallum. was a nephew of Jeremiah. Ironically Jeremiah was a kinsman of Huldah in that both descended from Joshua and Rahab.  While Jeremiah admonished and preached repentance to the men,  Huldah could be found in the midst of the city giving counsel to women and children who wished to inquire of Jehovah God.  This devoted woman may have had more testimonies of the Lord than many of the men whose office it was to explain and enforce the laws.

She apparently manifested the feminine grace of speaking with kindness.  Although some have criticized her for not addressing the King respectively (2 Chronicles 34:23);  but then  in verse 26 she address Josiah as the king.  Perhaps this is addressing not only Josiah’s  human nature but also his spiritual condition as well.  Her confidence in the King’s wisdom was a reflection of her ability to discern the focus of Josiah’s heart.

Huldah actually ranked with Deborah and Hannah when it came to the outstanding women of the Old Testament.   Her word was accepted by all as  divinely revealed.    Huldah, after attesting to the genuineness of the scroll,  then prophesied national ruin because of the nations disobedience to the commands of God.  This prophetic message and the public reading of the law brought about a revival whereby the King rent his clothes and set out to institute a reformation.  With a renewed spiritual life not only the King but also the people vowed to follow the God of their fathers more faithfully and to forsake their wicked ways.  Even today when men discover the truths of scripture, and apply them to their lives and morals, great and mighty changes take place.  Huldah was one of the main players in this revival.

weasel-credit-karen-white-resizehe name Huldah means weasel.   Although these aggressive mammals are notorious for feasting on poultry, the damage they do is far outweighed by their value as destroyers of rodents.  These Carnivorous mammals are usually brown, with white underparts. Species living in snowy regions acquire white coats in winter and are then known as ermine.  Historically, ermine was the status quo fur for royalty, and the most sought-after fur for court presentations and official portraiture. Ermine, as itErmine turns out, became linked with Western European courts due to a symbolic legend stating that an ermine would “rather die than be defiled/soiled”, as translated from the  Latin, “potius mori quam foedari”. Hence its representation of royal “moral purity.”

Huldah can be likened unto the weasel in that she was actively pursuing the rodents of sin in the lives of the people.  Like the ermine, she was used in God’s court of royalty.  Her life represented the “rather die than be defiled” symbol associated with the ermine.  May each of us desire to emulate this Godly woman in our ministry and lives.

 

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2 Kings 22:14-202 Chronicles 34:22-33

 

 

 

Women in the Word – Hagar


hagar-in-the-desertLife is not always fair and there are times when the sins of others have a dramatic impact on the events which transpire in one’s pilgrimage on this earth.  Such is the case of Hagar, an Egyptian slave to Sarah, the wife of Abraham.   Given that her name means ‘stranger’ she indeed was unfamiliar with the tenets of the Jewish faith.  Many commentators believe that Hagar eventually converted and became a believer in Jehovah God.  This fact is substantiated on two specific occasions in Hagar’s life.  Journey with me in Genesis as we familiarize ourselves with the life of this young Egyptian and how God intervened in her life.

Hagar became the helpless victim of the scheming of Sarah.  Abraham’s elderly wife had not been able to conceive and bear him a son.  In Jewish culture, this was a disgrace upon a woman.  To avoid the scorn and ridicule of others, Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to bear a child.  Since Hagar was owned by Sarah, the child born to the slave girl would also become the property of Sarah.  This entire plot was a sin before God. and all three participants were equally guilty.  Sarah distrusted God in that her weak faith gave way to taking matters into her own hands.  Abraham, the ‘friend of God’, should have obeyed the law of God and refused to participate in Sarah’s scheme.  Hagar, the lesser of the three should not have yielded, but then as Sarah’s slave, perhaps she did not have a say in the matter.  As we learn in Genesis 16,  the end result of this arrangement led to tears, heartache and strife.

Once it was discovered that Hagar was with child, jealously engulfed Sarah.  It is conceivable that in her humanness, Hagar chided her mistress.  Her pregnancy had elevated her into a new position in the world.  Perhaps for the first time in her life, Hagar was treated with respect.  This only heightened the tensions between Hagar and Sarah to the point that it became quite difficult for them to dwell together.  Thus, Hagar fled into the wilderness only to have God intervene and redirect this distraught fugitive.  Hagar was in awe that “Thou God seest me”.  She accepted God’s counsel and returned to Sarah.  Although this must have been a very difficult thing in which  Hagar to submit, it was comforting to receive the promise from God that her son would become the father of a great multitude.  She must have realized that she was the object of God’s special care when He gave her the name of her son, Ishmael which means “God hears”.

Fourteen years later, God opened Sarah’s womb and she bore a son, Isaac.  Tensions manifested once again between, not only the mothers but also the sons, Isaac and abraham-and-hagarIshmael.   Sarah could take it no more and she demanded Abraham to cast Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness.  In actuality, she was condemning the mother and child to death.  However, once again, God intervened provided water, and we are told that Ishmael grew and became an archer in the wilderness of Paran.  In spite of God’s divine intervention in her life, Hagar seemingly failed in rearing her son in the faith that she had embraced while living in Abraham’s household.  Not only was this evident in the fact that she found a wife for her son in Egypt, instead of the Israelites, but also in the realization that Ishmael is recognized as the ancestor of the Arabs and the prophet Mohammed.

Once can only speculate why this religious cult evolved from a son of Abraham.  Perhaps it was anger toward Jehovah for allowing Hagar and Ishmael to be cast out into the desert.  Maybe they give Mohammed the credit for leading Hagar to the well of water.  Whatever the reason, these folk became the instrument of Satan in warring against God’s people. For thirteen centuries, the Muslims have performed the ‘Hajj’, retracing Hagar’s steps in search of water in the wilderness.  This is one of the 5th Pillars of Islam.  Muslims are commanded in the Koran to carry our this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime if they are physically able.  In 1999, 2 million Muslims journeyed to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Hagar was indeed a victim of other’s sins, but she had a free will and did not exercise it for righteousness.  The life of Hagar teaches us that the temptations of a new position often lead to foolish actions, especially in times of trial and difficulty.  Had she patiently trusted God to work out his divine purposes instead of taking matters into her own hands, perhaps she would not have become the mother of the wicked Muslin religion.

Women in the Word – Michal


The fate of single women in Bible times was often left in the hands of the father.  Arranged marriages were commonplace and were often used as a way to obtain power, prestige or provision.  Love or romantic feelings were not considered, rather, the need of the father or the husband was the determining factor.  Sometimes there were situations where one or both of the betrothed parties actually did have affections for each other.  Although this was not the norm, our story is about a woman who was passionately in love with her promised husband.  Her life was going to be one of great joy and happiness, till death do them part.  Sadly, through the events of others, she is forced into making some choices which changed her outlook on life,  Her fairy tale existence turns into a bitter, sorrowful, lonely existence. Come with me as we learn what the Lord has to share with us, starting in 1 Samuel 14:49.

Michal was the youngest daughter of King Saul and his wife Ahinoam, from the tribe of Benjamin. Commentators record that she was very beautiful and lusted by all men who saw her.  She had an older sister, Merab, whom had originally been promised to David, but instead was given to another.  Her brother, Jonathon was a beloved friend of David.  When Saul learned that Michal loved David, he arranged for her to marry David, taking advantage of an opportunity to use her as a snare in arranging David’s death.   Saul was insanely jealous of David and saw him as a threat to his kingship.

Whether Michal was aware of her fathers deceitful plan, the Bible does not state.  Saul did not request a dowry for his daughter; instead the conniving King Saul demanded the foreskins of 100 Philistines.   Knowing that the Philistines would be somewhat reluctant to part with their foreskins, Saul knew that there would be an excellent chance that David would be killed by the hand of the enemy.   David was apparently aware of Saul’s scheme and countered the kings request by obtaining 200 foreskins.  What a despicable dowry for a kings daughter, however,  Michal was passionately in love with David, with a devotion recognized by being the only woman in the Bible who was described a loving a man.    Although Michal was excited about marrying David, the Bible does not indicate that David was in love with her; to him,  marrying Michal was too good of an opportunity to pass up.  1 Samuel 18:17-28

Michal’s emotional desire for David was not necessarily a genuine heart-felt love.  She was most assuredly infatuated with his charismatic personality and probably swooned over his good looks.  The excitement of David being a national hero which would provide political stature as well as the prestige of being married to the next king, was alluring for sure.  In the beginning it was most assuredly a storybook wedding for her.  But then life for Michal took an unanticipated detour.

Michal’s devotion to David was exemplified when she helped him escape her father’s fervent desire to have him killed.   Her loyalty to David over her father led her to help David escaped by lowering him out of the window.  She then proceeded to deceive her father by faking David to be ill.  Saul was beside himself.  His own daughter had turned against him! 1 Samuel 19: 11-17

Her beloved husband was now a fugitive.  Months passed. lonely months; perhaps years, and David had not sent for her.   She may have reasoned in her heart that her presence would be too distracting and David would be concerned for her safety.   Heartbreaking news began to arrive at the palace.  David had taken another wife, and then another one.   How devastating!  How could he?   Only a woman who has been lured into the excitement of a romance and then………………….swoosh, it’s gone, can fully understand the emotional trauma associated with such abandonment.  The emotions of love and anger consume one’s very being.

After a period of time, Saul decided to marry Michal off to Phalti, a trusted friend.  1 Samuel 25:44  It seems to have been a mutually happy arrangement and Michal’s bitterness and lingering affections for David began to fade.  Her life had stability and purpose once again………………..and once again,  another life changing event begins to take shape.

In 2 Samuel:3:13-16, David requires as part of a league agreement, that Michal be returned to him.  Having her in his harem would bolster his claim to the throne.  He sent messengers  to the house of Phaltiel to fetch her.  Michal begged to stay with her husband.    This was indeed a tear-jerking event, so much so that Michal’s husband followed the entourage, hoping to rescue his wife, but was ordered to return to his home.  Understandably, Michal was a tad bit upset.

Relations between David and Michal were strained to say the least.  It would be quite likely that she rejected any amorous advances that he made.  She was a prisoner in the harem of a man whom she despised.  One day she was watching David making what she considered to be a fool of himself. immodestly dressed in public, dancing and singing.   Some commentators believe that he even exposed himself either intentionally or unintentionally.  He was celebrating because  the Ark of the Covenant had been brought inside the wall of Jerusalem.  Michal went out to meet David and all of the pent up anger came pouring out of her bitter heart as she berated him for not acting like a King.   2 Samuel 6: 20-23, relates this event and the subsequent rebuke which David gave her.    Such a sad ending to the life of a woman who never fulfilled her vocation as a helpmeet to her husband.  She was never to be brought into the bed chamber of King David again, and she died childless.

Neither the Bible nor historical records indicate that Michal believed in David’s God.  Even though she was an Israelite there is no indication that she sought wisdom or help from the Lord God Jehovah.  Perhaps her life would have turned out differently……………………….

Women in the Word – Abigail


abigailFor those unfortunate women who are yoked together with a mate who is difficult and challenging,  God has been especially gracious in sharing the story of Abigail, one of the loveliest females in the Bible.  Her biography is an inspiration to all ladies who struggle to live a Godly life in spite of their troubled home environment.  Although her parentage and genealogy isn’t given in the Word we are told that her knowledge of Jewish history testifies to an early training in a godly home, whereby she became acquainted with the teachings of the prophets of Israel.  Her name in itself indicates that she was the “Joy of her Father”

As her story unfolds in 1 Samuel 25, we learn in verse 3 that she was a woman of understanding.  Her countenance was tempered with knowledge and beauty.  It is worth noting that the Lord listed understanding as her fist admirable quality.  Many women have a tendency to focus on their beauty rather than their brain.  Lest we are neglectful, it is good to remember that it is not spiritual for women of God to dress shabbily.  Proverbs 31 sets the example that we are to make ourselves coverings of tapestry,  Tee shirts and jeans are not an acceptable attire for ladies to wear to church.  In addition, Abigail possessed wisdom and discernment.  She was indeed capable of working under stressful conditions.

nabalWhatever the cultural or familial reason for her marriage, our dear sweet heroine was married to a fool.  That is exactly what the name Nabal means.  Although Nabal was a descendant from the house of Caleb, he did not inherit the Godly spirit of his ancestor.  God describes him as churlish and in Isaiah 32: 7  teaches us that the meaning of the word churl is one that deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words.  Nabal was a stingy selfish, penny-pinching, son of Belial.

david-and-nabalThe third character in this unfolding drama is David.  Without taking the time to reiterate the entire story, we will focus on the fact that David sent men to ask Nabal for sustenance for his troops.  When Nabal refused, David’s anger was kindled and he prepared to seize what he needed from Nabal and to destroy not only Nabal but his entire household.  Fortunately, one of the trusted servants shared the arrogance of Nabal with Abigail, who immediately understood that she needed to take action.

Knowing that innocent lives were at stake, Abigail put herself to the task at hand without informing her husband.   She functioned well under pressure and organized her servants to prepare a meal for David and his men so that her people would not die.  The provisions that Abigail prepared for David are listed in verse 18.  There needed to be enough provisions to feed the 600 men of David’s army.   Ponder for a moment if you will, the fact that the food was loaded upon the backs of asses, the most stubborn of animals.  Yet there is not an indication that this nature manifested itself in this most important task.

abigail-and-davidThe events that transpire next can only evolve from a woman whose heart is surrendered to God.  Starting in verse 23, God reveals the indwelt spiritual beauty of Abigail.  This woman willingly takes personal responsibility for the sin of her husband, in that she herself did not see David’s men who came seeking provisions.  She asks David to forgive HER!.    David was so overcome by her countenance that God shares with us in verses 32-34 that he blessed her.

What an amazing tribute to this outstanding woman.  Her intervention in the life of David prevented him from shedding unnecessary blood.  After God reaped judgment upon Nabal she was blessed by becoming David’s wife.  There are so many lessons that both women and men can learn from this biographical presentation in Scripture.  Perhaps the most important is the correlation of this story and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Abigail, the lost sinner was under the curse of Nabal; the law.  David represents the Lord Jesus, who under his mercy, she began a new life, dead to the law.  The Lord is able to develop the character of Abigail in the life of any woman who is in a dysfunctional marriage.  For those readers who do not have access to the throne of grace, may I invite you to admit that you are a sinner deserving of an eternity in Hell?  Confess your sins to the Living God, who gave his Son the Lord Jesus Christ to shed his blood on the cross for our sins.  By asking Jesus to save you,  God will begin a new work in you which he will perform until the Day of Jesus Christ.  Once you have become a new creature in Christ, then boldly approach the throne of grace and ask the Lord to give you wisdom in dealing with all of your life’s challenges.  Follow up your salvation experience by attending a fundamental Bible preaching church and faithfully reading your Bible every day.

Women in the Word – Delilah


delilahGod in his infinite wisdom thought is necessary and profitable to us that he include within his Word stories of women who were not among the heroines of the faith.  Such is Delilah, a woman from the valley of Sorek.   This area of vineyards was located near Jerusalem and during the time of these events, was ruled by the Philistines.   Her name is a sweet sounding indeed, and we are told in one source that it meant delicate or dainty one.  We may assume that since Samson was smitten with her that she possessed external beauty.   Her parentage is not given and there have been divided opinions about her heritage, however, in view of the fact that Samson felt it necessary to explain the Nazarite vow to her, that she was a Philistine, and not an Israelite.

The Bible does not state nor do we learn from history that she was married.  In fact, most commentaries on this woman define her as a Philistine Courtesan.  In today’s world, she would be the equivalent of an escort to the rich and famous.  Delilah used her beauty and personal charm for monetary gain.  Because of her ability to lure a man to his spiritual and physical destruction, she earned the reputation as one of the lowest, meanest women in the Bible, a female Judas of the Old Testament, as one writer so aptly described her.

delilah-and-moneyIt is a fact that one cannot relate the story of Delilah without mentioning Samson.  Being out of God’s will and succumbing to his incessant lust of the flesh, he once again fell in love with a woman out God’s blessing, for sure.  Once the Philistines became aware of the bonding of Samson with Delilah, they seized the opportunity to discover the secret behind his supernatural strength.  The Lords of the Philistines approached Delilah with an irresistible offer of monetary reward if she would help them in uncovering the secret of this man whom they hated and feared.  The amount of money offered must assuredly have been enough to support Delilah well into her old age, and since she apparently had no family, this would have been a way to establish a formidable nest egg.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide who was dumber, Samson or Delilah.  It is hard for me to imagine a man being so smitten that he failed to notice that he was being duped, especially since the Philistines were lying in wait within the house to seize him at Delilah’s command.   Then again,  after the first failed attempt, wouldn’t Delilah have sensed that perhaps Samson was messing with her mind?  Nevertheless, her love of money sent her back again, and again.  If I read the scripture correctly, Samson was awake during each of these failed incidents of trying to unfold the mystery of his strength.  Day after day she nagged him, crying pitiful tears from a heart full of treachery.  Her supreme The Biblewickedness finally deluded Samson into believing that she really loved him ergo he became a traitor to himself.   In his backslidden weakened sinful condition he shared the secret to his strength.  Delilah knew that this time Samson was being genuine.  She lulled him to sleep, possibly knowing that he would never allow her to cut his hair, while he was awake.

There is no record of Delilah having any remorse for the torture which ensued because of her evil trickery of Samson.  She had one purpose and one purpose only and that was to secure money.  It was apparent that there were no qualms about Samson’s blindness and bondage.  We do not know how long that Samson was a prisoner, working in the grinding samson-and-the-pillarsmill of his enemy.  Samson’s besetting sin of lust finally brought him to the place of repentance. In Judges 16: 28, we read of Samson’s prayer of repentance. His hair began to grow, and God restored unto him his strength.  In the midst of a heathen celebration and sacrifice to Dagon for delivering Samson into their hand, the Philistines brought him out to make sport.   His God would grant him victory over his enemies even though it would cost him his like, a life that Samson was willing to give.  It is fitting that among the  3,000 Philistines that were killed by Samson that Delilah was among them.   She had reaped what she had sown.

There are lessons for both God’s men and women to learn in the lives of Samson and Delilah. The gift of feminine charm and appeal must never be misused to satisfy sensual desires.  More importantly, the command to be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers is for our protection and guidance in choosing a mate.  Men should discipline themselves to look beyond the feminine mystique and focus on the inner beauty of which only God can manifest within a woman who is truly sold out to him.