Sunday, January 22, 2017

Husbands of Blood--Strong Women and their Faithful God

Note: This post is part of a series of posts on marriage/relationships. I pray that this "mini-series" would be a blessing to you! Please feel free to share any of your own thoughts in the comments; I would love to hear them! 

If you are new to this series, you can find the Introduction HERE, Part 1 HERE , Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE, and Part 4 HERE


My sister burst through our front door, pug-in-arms, a smile on her face, rambling about a lesser-known woman in the Bible--one she'd been thinking about--Zipporah, the wife of Moses. 

Chattering on about strong women in the Bible (one of her favorites is Jael, bearer of the tent peg :-)) she stepped into my living room-- 

The conversation that ensued from her insights is what initially sparked this post. I needed direction for my marriage series. Her wisdom steered my thinking and helped me to focus my thoughts. 

Before I really delve into this post, I want to be clear about what "direction" I am coming from. I believe that a man is the head of his family under Christ. I believe in a traditional, Biblical view of manhood and womanhood. That men and women are equal under the headship and authority of Christ, but that both have their unique and distinct roles.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. (Ephesians 5:22-23)

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.  For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.  (I Corinthians 11:3-12)

An understanding of that view helps to lay the foundation for this article. Because where I am taking these thoughts veers away from the usual direction that this flow of thinking leads. 

I want to provide three examples of strong women in the Bible and where their obedience led them and what that meant for their relationship toward their male counterpart in terms with their walk with their Heavenly Father. I want to apply their obedience to our lives today. 

Because the usual conclusion of a traditional view of male headship is that the man, ultimately, has the last word. Even if the wife disagrees, even if her husband is wrong, even if the husband is grossly sinning, the wife is to submit to his leadership and authority. 

I believe that this is an unbiblical strain of thinking when carried out in the individual lives of believing women who fear God. 

There are times when we do stay silent and pray. At times, the Spirit directs us in this way. And then there are times when we lovingly confront our husbands and our wisdom helps to turn them from a sinful or unwise path.  And finally there are times when directed by the Holy Spirit that we separate ourselves from the decisions of our husbands in order to obey a greater authority--our Father who is above all. 

We live in a devastatingly fallen world, where circumstances are not always "normal". 

And sometimes we are called to walk outside of the normal "box." 

Not in a spirit of rebellion, but in a spirit of utter and complete submission to God's authority, even when it might mean upsetting the boat and angering a husband who is on a path of sinful rebellion or explicit and continual disobedience. 

I think that it is important to remember that our husbands are not God. We love them, we honor them, we respect their position and authority, but ultimately they are not God--the ultimate Head. And obedience to His authority and wisdom should prevail in our lives. 

There are times when obeying God will mean that we "disobey" our husbands. It will cause us pain. It must be done extremely prayerfully. And it is Biblical. 

I want to explain this using three examples--these three strike me the most powerfully in Scripture, and I would encourage you to actually go to the texts and ask the Lord to reveal His wisdom through them to you--these are my own reflections and understanding of the passages. 
  • Abigail and Nabal~I Samuel 25 
The account of Abigail and Nabal has always fascinated me. If you aren't familiar with the story, I would encourage you to read it in full--that is so important to gaining a right understanding of the text. But the jist of the story is this: 

Abigail, a beautiful, wise woman (I Samuel 25:3) is married to a man named Nabal. Nabal, a very rich man, is described as surly, harsh, and ultimately lacking in wisdom. He pompously refuses to help David and his men, arrogantly ignoring David's request for provisions. David, who has helped and protected Nabal, is angered by Nabal's response. He determines to fight Nabal and his men, leaving no one alive. 

Abigail learns of what is transpiring. One of her servants tells her-

Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him. (I Samuel 25;14-17)

Abigail then directly goes against the will of her husband in order to protect and save her household. She orders that her donkey be saddled up, provisions be brought to David and his men, and travels herself to explain the situation. 

In this way, she saves her household, prevents David from vengefully shedding blood, and gains the confidence and trust of David. 

Abigail is not afraid to call Nabal what he is in accordance with how he is acting--a fool (I Samuel 25:25). She explains her husband's stubbornness and pride to David unashamedly and without protecting her husband in any way--as her husband has consistently and arrogantly defied God without repentance. 

The Lord acted on behalf of Abigail. As the account goes, she returned home without telling Nabal what had happened until the next day, as he was drunk when she came home at night. 

The Lord struck Nabal and he died within 10 days. David ultimately asked Abigail to become his wife. One can only imagine the joy that Abigail experienced in this after being married to such a cruel and unrighteous man. 

Here, in the account of Abigail and Nabal, we see a godly woman responding to the foolish actions of her rebellious, unbelieving husband. There is absolutely no condemnation for Abigails's actions. It is clear that she acted wisely in accordance with God's will, even though her actions directly conflicted her husband's. Abigail acted independently of her husband's wishes in order to obey a greater authority when the situation called for it. 

  • Zipporah and Moses~Exodus 4:24-26
This is a short passage, so I'll include it here--

And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!—because of the circumcision. Exodus 4:24-26

This is a story that I have honestly never given much thought to, until recently. But it is intriguing to me. Moses, a great man of God, in the midst of serving the Lord, had neglected a direct command of God to him and to the people of Israel. I believe, from Zipporah's response, that he was aware of it. Perhaps he was so busy with leading the children of Israel, that he had just put this "small" thing off. His son was not circumcised. Moses just hadn't gotten around to obeying that particular command. But in God's eyes, it was not a small matter--the text says that because of this act of disobedience, "the Lord met him and sought to kill him." Well!  Zipporah, wise woman that she was, took the initiative and circumcised her son immediately, throwing the foreskin at her husband's feet. This story makes me think that those Hebrew women meant business! If her husband wasn't going to obey the Lord, then she would assume the spiritual leadership in that situation at that time and do it herself. In actuality, she took on the role of priest in her action, as the priest was responsible for circumcision.

And so here we have Moses, a believing, disobedient husband--his wife acted independently of him when his disobedience would negatively affect the family. There are times when we may have to act apart from our husband when he is being spiritually lazy or disobedient so that our family is not compromised. 

Let me give a practical example here. Our husbands should be leading our families in prayer and devotions, but if they are not or will not or are complacent about doing it or do not do it consistently (and we have repeatedly asked them to do this), I believe that the wife should step in and fulfill this role where possible. The spiritual stability of the family depends upon it. This is a time where we should act independently of our husbands . 
  • Deborah and Barak~ Judges 4
This is obviously not a a situation that involves a husband and wife, rather a man and a woman interacting with one another. 

Reading the account of Deborah and Barak, one will see that Deborah was in a position of leadership; she was a judge in Israel. Barak, commander of the army was unwilling to lead (out of fear) his army to victory against Sisera. Deborah exhorts him to lead the army and he agrees, but only if Deborah will go with him. She agrees, but declares that there will be no honor in the victory for Barak because he would not obey without her. And so Deborah goes, fearlessly leading the Israelite army with Barak; she obtains the honor in the victory. 

This third example shows a weak man who would only obey if Deborah went with him. They switched roles in that instance, she being the leader, and he the support (opposite of the traditional way that the Lord intended). 

There are times when we must push our families forward  in the ways of the Lord when our husband is unwilling to lead and he will follow us as Barak did with Deborah. 

My conclusion from these Biblical passages is that there are times that we act independently of our husbands or of male leadership if it goes against the leadership of God. 

We do this not out of rebellion, or in a spirit of feministic independence but because we are accountable to a higher authority, and before Him one day every knee will bow. 

We do it in humility, we do it with His strength, we do it with dignity, we do it because we love Him. He will honor that costly obedience. And give all grace. 

You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market Friday


  1. I especially love the story of Abigail, Nabal, and David. I wrote a post last year for Valentine's Day around the love story and God's intervention.

    1. Yes; it is such a fascinating story! Blessings in Christ to you, Michele.

  2. Yes! So good! My husband and I have been delving into this subject, too, because we've been concerned by books that teach women to submit even to blatantly unbiblical commands and sin. Thanks for writing!

    1. Oh, you're welcome, Alicia! I'm glad that the post was encouraging! This has been a subject that has been upon my heart--I have seen so much suffering inflicted by men who demand submission but don't love their wives as Christ loves the church. I honestly wish that more Pastors would emphasize this principle to men--I think that it's a message so desperately needed.

      The Lord bless you, Alicia! :-)

  3. Rebekah,
    Great post. Looking at the deeper issues in scripture is soooo good. I love your heart and the way you presented it all. Praying God uses it to set men and women FREE to live as God designed.
    ~Sherry Stahl

    1. Thank you, Sherry; I'm glad that it was a blessing!

  4. I really enjoyed a teaching they had at She Speaks last year on Abigail and David. Thanks for sharing these examples so thoroughly. I don't believe we've ever crossed paths before. Nice to meet you. :) ((grace upon grace))

    1. You're welcome, Brenda; it's nice to meet you, too! :-)

  5. Hi Rebekah,
    I'm your neighbor at Coffee for your Heart today :) and I love how you delved into the lives of these women in the Bible. Although I'm not married I find all of their stories fascinating (especially Abigail's) and I marvel at the wisdom they showed, not to mention courage and quick-thinking in a tight situation. I very much enjoyed this post!

    1. Oh, I'm glad that you enjoyed it, Valerie; the Lord bless you! :-)

  6. Thank you for sharing these insights. I had never noticed the story of Moses and Zipporah before. I am your neighbor at Thought Provoking Thursday today!

  7. Bekki, You handled this post with such humility and wisdom. I had never thought about those three women of the Bible in this context until you wrote about it here. So many good insights that are indeed applicable today.

    The more I read about God's role for women, it is not by any means weak as feminists would portray. We too must answer to the headship of Christ, but the Lord has designed us to do it in a manner of humility and grace.

    I just read a marriage book directed at "strong woman" and I learned much about myself as a "strong-willed woman" and how to apply that gracefully and Biblically in marriage.

    Thank you for always sharing gentle exhortation with much wisdom and grace. You are such a treasure to me sweet friend.

    1. Oh, you're welcome, Karen; I'm glad that it was encouraging! I agree with you so much--it takes strength and courage to stand upon the Word of God and to walk humbly beneath His headship.

      You are such a blessing to me, too! The Lord bless you, dear Karen. <3

  8. I enjoyed your post and the examples from the Bible you used!

  9. Rebekah, this is so insightful! Biblical submission is a difficult subject, and you have dealt with it so perfectly here.

    1. Oh, I'm glad that is was encouraging, Crystal! I agree; it is a difficult subject--I think, because there has been so much teaching on Biblical submission, (some harmful and some good) that it's important to really get back to the Biblical texts and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His wisdom and discernment and clarity--it is definitely something that I'm always driven to the Lord for for His wisdom.

      Have a very blessed weekend!

  10. You have made some really good points here, and I really appreciate them, especially after puzzling over the story of Moses and Zipporah just this morning. Just a note of clarification - I don't think circumcision was yet the role of priests when Zipporah did this. The Law in its entirety had not been given, only God's command to Abraham to circumcise his household.

    Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week!

    1. Oh, you're welcome, Tina; I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

      You are right--this was just before the Levitical law was established. I think that what I was trying to express (and a better way that I could have said it) would be that Zipporah figuratively took on the role of priest--as before the Levitical law the husband stood in the place as priest over his household. Therefore, Zipporah took up a priestly role in taking the place of her husband in circumcising her son.

      Thank you for bringing up that point! The Lord bless you!:-)

  11. I've been studying these women lately! I'd loved coming across your post!! I think you'll find this interesting...Shoring Up Episode 4 | Shabby Chic Ministries - vintage Truth / reframed


    1. Angela, I'm glad that you enjoyed the post! Thank you for sharing those links with me; I will check them out! :-) The Lord bless you; have a wonderful week.