By Sigrid Fowler
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Mother’s Day will be in the past after today, but as a mother myself, I’m interested in what the Bible says about the topic. Since many readers also look at life and experience from this perspective, I think I’m on safe ground to take upthe subject at any time. There seem to be more mothers who figure in biblical stories than fathers. More heroes of the Bible are men rather than women, but their identity as fathers is not often celebrated.
Abraham, famous as a father, is an exception. He is sometimes known as “Father Abraham,” as the song titlegoes. But Abraham reaches one hundred and still has not become a father, let alone “father of many nations,” as God promised. Genesis records one relevant detail, however: “For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, that they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice” (Gen 18: 19).According to the translation of J.N. Darby, God saw that Abraham would govern his family and so found him a good choice for the divine purposes. In fact, it is clear, from that amazing willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, thatAbraham’s first desire was to be obedient to God.
The mothers whose stories are included in the Bible are more numerous but as notable for many reasons. Jochebed, the mother of Miriam, Aaron, and Moses, defied Pharaoh and kept her baby son Moses alive against Pharaoh’s order that all the male Hebrew babies be killed. It’s nearly impossible to imagine the biblical story, indeed even the world, withoutMoses. The Mosaic Law is followed by believers and unbelievers alike, Jews and Gentiles.
Samuel’s mother, Hannah, was grieved because she had no children and worse, had to endure the mocking of her husband’s other wife, who was a mother several times over. Hannah prayed so fervently in the temple that Eli the priest thought she was drunk. She tells him that no, she was appealing to the LORD for a child. Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving when her petition is granted is a glorious hymn of praise and adoration (1 Sam 2: 1-10).
The most notable mother in the Bible is Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. She also prays, and her prayer is similar toHannah’s in many respects. Both extol the greatness of the LORD and celebrate the defeat of enemies—theirs and theenemies of God. The prayers are about the same length, and both offer their praise in general terms, not making specific reference to a child or their identity as mothers. Mary’s prayer (Luke 1: 46-55) is the more famous, often called the Magnificat from the first word of the Latin text: Magnificat anima mea in Dominum, “My soul magnifies the LORD.” Both Mary and Hannah are models of God’s supernatural power in a life—a virgin mother who also gives birth to the Messiah and a barren woman to whom God gives a son, the judge and prophet, Samuel.
The mother of Timothy was a godly woman, as wasTimothy’s grandmother. These two women are credited with exerting a formative influence on Timothy, who would become Bishop of Ephesus and a martyr according to church history. Paul gives credit to this mother and grandmotherwhen he writes to his young protégé, saying, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim 1: 5 ESV). These women are our examples.
But not all biblical mothers are admirable. Eve’s sin brought death into the world, and her son Cain became the first murderer. Sarah gave her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to get a child for him. Her weak faith led to centuries of bad blood between their descendants. She was clearly unwilling to let God carry out a plan in his own time.Athaliah, probably daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, murderedher own grandsons (viewed as rivals), is known as “the greatest villainess of the Bible”(http://womeninthebible.net/women-bible-old-new-testaments/athaliah/). The mother of James and John wanted Jesus to elevate her sons.
The best picture of the godly mother is Proverbs 31, and its twenty-one verses say it all. This mother not only runs her house, directs her servants, sells some of her goods and buys a field, then makes sure her family is warmly clothed in winter. Mothers appear in many places in Scripture;Solomon’s picture of a godly woman in Proverbs 31 goes into detail.