“Behind every successful rancher is a woman who works in town.”
One area in which our culture is at war is in the role of women in business, entertainment, leadership, and by proxy and spill-over, the church. I am convinced that as long as you have leaders, women will have always have assumed a leadership role.
The greatest leader in the history of Israel was David. He was the man, the leader, that all others would be measured against. Despite his failures and short comings, Bathsheba and the Census, David would be the one every other king would be in the shadow of. So much of David’s leadership can be looked at in view of the women in his life. Sure there were more important people in his ministry who played much larger roles, but the women were a fascinating group.
His Great-Grandmother, Ruth was a widower. She was not a prim and proper woman. She was powerful and dangerous. She knew what needed to be done and took initiative to do it. It was Boaz job as the Kinsman redeemer to look after the family of which she was a part. He wasn’t doing his job, so she arranged a circumstance in which he would take his rightful role in the family. She did what she had to do, to get him to do what he was supposed to do. Women, in today’s world, are too busy trying to be men, that they quit asking men to be men. It’s not just a “today problem”. In 1821, Sojourner Truth spoke these words: “…” It was taken from a speech that argued that she was a powerful woman who was equal to any man. She was tuff and she was strong. She was powerful. But she wasn’t a man. Women have this power to bring out the best in men. Some may do it with a challenge like Deborah (Judges 4-5). Some may do it with seduction (Ruth). Some may do it with service (Abigale in 1 Samuel 25). Some may do it with beauty and intelligence (Esther). The point is that as many different women as there are in this world, men will do that many different things to gain the respect of women. Ruth was a challenger of Boaz and became the Great-grandmother of the King of Israel that the Jews still honor. She is referred to by her husband as an “isha-chayil”, “a woman of noble character”.
His Mother was a believer. There is no mention of her in any of the Annals of Israel; none in Samuel or Chronicles. We know his father’s name was Jesse. He is mentioned numerous times, but his mother is not. I just assumed she was absentee. But as I read through Psalms, she is mentioned. She is not named. Who exactly she was is a debate and study for another time. Regardless, she is mentioned briefly in Psalms 86 and 116. Each time it is the same wording. She is known to have worshipped the Lord in faithfulness. She worshipped the same “compassionate and gracious God that is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness” that Moses did. (Psalm 86.15-16) Literally, ‘I am your servant, the son of your mother…” (Psalm 86.16; 116.16). “Just as” in the most recent translation of the NIV, is added in for translation ease. I do believe it is necessary and faithful to the text. David’s mother was a follower of Yahweh.
His Wife, Abigail, was a righteous woman. Prior to her relationship with David, she served both him and her husband with honor. She was faithful in her service. When David and his men needed sustenance, her husband, Nabal, refused to help. She took it upon herself to serve and help David in his time of despair. He needed sustenance and she cooked. He needed reminding of God’s plan and she guided. He needed a woman, she was there. Eventually it all worked in accordance with God’s plan and they ended up married after Nabal’s death. (1 Samuel 25) Proverbs 11.16 says:
A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth.”
His Wife, Bathsheba, bore him a child named Solomon. Though David and Bathsheba’s time began in “not-so-good-circumstances”, they would finish well. She would be one of the five women that Matthew mentions in his genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1.6). She isn’t named, but she is still there as “Uriah’s wife”. That has to say something about her importance. Solomon would become the wisest king to have ruled Israel. He would be just and fair. Eventually he would succumb to greed, idol worship, and other sins. He took many foreign wives and concubines. His sin was numerous, but he would still author many great proverbs of wisdom.
His daughter Tamar, whose mother was Maakah, the princess of Geshur, is the only one of David’s daughters to be mentioned in the Bible. She has two words that describer in her short story: beautiful and desolate. Her story is tragic; but, culturally relevant today. She was raped by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13.26). Amnon refused to marry her and sent her away with extreme hatred. She moved in with her full brother Absalom, despite his poor advice: “Don’t take this to heart” (2 Samuel 13.20) In a world where 1 in 2 women will be sexually abused in their lifetime and only 31% get reported, Tamar has a familiar story. When David hears of this, he is furious. The Hebrew is charah meod. “Very angry” is how it is most often translated. Charah is anger ready to act. I have written about it elsewhere, so there is no reason to dwell on it here; but, I will point out that these two words are paired together only 6 times in the Bible. They are found in Genesis 4.5, Genesis 34.7, 1 Samuel 11.6, 2 Sam 12.5, 2 Samuel 13.21, and 2 Chron 25.10. For a moment I would like to look at 2 of these from 2 Samuel. The second on is found in this story of Tamar. The first is found in Nathan’s confrontation. David sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Nine months later, Nathan confronts him about his sin by telling him a story of two shepherds. One has great flocks and herds; the other only has one lamb. This little lamb was “like a daughter to him” (2 Samuel 12.3). When a traveler came to the rich man he took the sheep from the poor man to feed him. “David burned with anger [charah + meod]” (2 Samuel 12.5) and pronounced a sentence upon the rich man. Then Nathan turned the story on him: “You are that man!” (2 Samuel 12.7) Literally the Hebrew reads: “You the man [‘attah hais’]” So David is the man who has take what is not his. He has taken someone’s daughter. Now in 2 Samuel 13, his own daughter has been taken. David is “furious [charah meod]” (2 Samuel 13.21). He feels the same emotion as he did towards the rich man in the previous chapter.
Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grand-daughter Jehosheba, faced a crisis. Her brother, Ahaziah the King of Judah was murdered by Jehu (2 Kings 9.27ff.). Athaliah, Amaziah’s mother, upon hearing of Ahaziah’s death, assumed the role of King of Judah. In doing so she tried to destroy the royal family (2 Samuel 11.1) Jehosheba thwarted her plan by taking Ahaziah’s son, Joash, and hiding him in the Temple for 6 years, away from Athaliah’s wrath (2 Kings 11.3). He would be crowned King (2 Kings 11.12) and Athaliah killed (2 Kings 11.16), all at the ripe old age of 7, because of Jehosheba.
Finally, his Great42-grand-daughter, Mary, would be the one who would fulfill God’s promise to this world (Luke 1.26-38). She carried Jesus in her womb for 9 months and brought the Messiah into this world (Matthew 1.18ff.; Luke 2). She was just another generation of women in David’s lineage who played a central role in God’s promise.
Women are often maligned in church today. They are pushed to the side or shoved into a corner. Their gifts are over shadowed, and their service is unappreciated. David’s kingdom and his legacy was greatly influenced by women. To eliminate or ignore them from David’s story would eliminate David. Had Ruth not taken initiative, there would be no David. Had there been no Bathsheba, there would be no Solomon and the outrage over Tamar probably not as severe.
Thank God for the women in life that make men. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and wives…you are needed, powerful, and gifted. Thank you.
Miss you Mom!