When you hear the phrase “heroes of the Bible,” who comes to mind?
- David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
- Joshua, a leader who brought God’s people to the promised land (Joshua 1-5).
- Peter, the one on whom Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18).
- Paul, an apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-12).
All these are incredible people who, by God’s grace, knew God and made Him known. We learn from them. We are inspired by them. We, in many ways, want to be more like them.
But, who might we be missing?
Some other heroes of faith might take longer to come to mind.
- Ruth, a widow who was self-sacrificing, kind, and devoted (Ruth 1).
- Deborah, a catalyzer courageously speaking truth (Judges 4-5).
- Anna, a prophet dedicated to fasting and praying (Luke 2:36-38).
- Lydia, a hard worker worshipfully showing hospitality (Acts 16:11-15).
These are just a few women of faith who, by God’s grace, also knew Him and made Him known. Sometimes as we study the Bible, we can too quickly pass over our sisters in the faith. How might we be impacted if we took time to stop, pray, and reflect as we studied biblical women?
LifeWay Women’s Ministry Specialist, Kelly King, shares her insight through the stories of six key women in her recent release Bible Studies for Life: Living by Faith. Although Kelly does not specifically address these questions in her study, we can start learning from biblical women by asking four key questions.
1. What did they say (and not say)?
Although we might not find as much conversation in the Bible as we might like, we can learn much by paying attention to the dialogue preciously available in the Word.
As we come to each account, we can look for the heart-posture behind the words. Could the women’s speech be coming from places of humility? Kindness? An outlook for others? On the other hand, might there be signs of resentment? Bitterness? Jealousy? Sometimes in moments of conflict or even when speaking to someone in power, many words could be harshly spoken. What about if they are not? If a passage doesn’t contain the reactive words we might expect, what signs of character can we learn from and emulate?
In her study, Kelly describes how Abigail, David’s wife, used her words: she interceded, asked for forgiveness, revealed the destiny of another, and even prevented harsh, judgmental action. We see that she “approached the situation with wisdom, humility, resourcefulness, generosity, and courage” (36). From how Abigail spoke—using kindness and wisdom—and from what she didn’t say—speaking ill of others and manipulating King David’s actions—we can learn how to tailor our words with grace and care for others.
2. What did they do?
We can learn from how women acted in the situations where God brought them. What type of actions do they take? Do they act in backhanded, deceptive ways? Do they think creatively? Do they seek to bring reconciliation? Are they providing wisdom?
Kelly uses Deborah as an example of such action. Deborah spoke wisdom into a challenging wartime situation by calling Barak to step into what God purposed for his life. Deborah was able to act in order to “call Barak to act decisively because of her own trust in God.” She acted in such a way that “she also found a way to elevate Barak and encourage him to face his lack of faith.” (19). What actions capped off Deborah and Barak’s God-given victory? Praise. After seeing such success, we find Deborah worshiping the Lord. Through Deborah’s example, we discover much about God-honoring action which builds others up and calls them to the Lord’s plan.
3. How did they respond?
Responses are revealing. How do women of the Bible respond not only to joys but also difficulties in their lives? How do they respond to other people’s actions? How do they respond to trial?
Kelly describes the story of Hannah. Hannah, unable to have children, experienced deep distress. She was facing circumstances out of her immediate control. But what do we see that Hannah did? She showed her faith and she prayed. In her moments of deepest anguish, she cried out to the sovereign God. What we see in her response of prayer is revealing: she acknowledged God for who He is, was specific in her request, submitted to God’s plan, and was hopeful (26).
We can remember the value of prayer through Hannah’s example. Women who fear God can respond to whatever they face in life through prayer.
4. How is their faith evident?
Through how the women spoke, acted, and responded we can learn much about who they were and how they led their lives in God-honoring ways. We can see much about their faith to encourage our own. How do these accounts show us the gospel story? How do they reveal hearts seeking to honor God?
Kelly describes Rahab’s courageous faith. Rahab offered shelter to two Israelites scouting the land and helped them escape—in a manner protecting herself and her family. In the midst of personal fear and looming difficulty, she showed faith: “Rahab’s trust and faithfulness in the midst of this calamity would have lasting implications far beyond her earthly life.” Through her story, we see that “courageous fear of God results in faithful actions for Him” as her trust in God affected future generations (12, 14).
We can learn how a deep trust in God and fear of the Lord can lead us to be women of courageous faith.
We have so much to learn from our sisters in the faith, and we are just beginning. Kelly unpacks these biblical accounts in much more detail and delves into two more faith-filled stories. Through biblical insight, reflective questions, and practical next steps, you can be both encouraged and convicted by this six-week study. Find out more here.
Deborah Spooner is a Minnesota-born analytical creative serving as a Marketing Strategist for LifeWay’s Groups Ministry. As a pastor’s daughter with a background in Digital Communications and Media and Biblical & Theological Studies, you can find her at her local church, in deep conversation, or with a book or pen in hand as she seeks to know Christ more and make Him known.