Saturday, February 6, 2010

90 Day Bible Update Week 5: A Woman's Place of Influence is in the Home

I had planned on writing about worship and a few other topics I’ve enjoyed learning about this week, but I may have to explore these in a second Bible update for week 5. The overwhelming theme in my reading this week that seemed almost to jump out from the pages at me every day is that of the powerful influence of women over their families and especially their children.

It’s a grave misconception that a submissive wife who devotes her whole self to her husband and children is an insignificant member of the family, who doesn’t really make a difference in the culture because she’s stuck at home. Feminists would have you think women in the home are held back or put down or ignored. I’ve been struck over the last week of my reading just how much influence women have- over their husbands, over their children, over the course of nations. I remember a funny quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding that went something like, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck that turns the head.” I don’t think that’s a feminist statement, because the feminist would insist on being the head! I do think that’s a very true statement and one that has Biblical merit.

I am certainly not the first to do this, but I made a little chart of the kings of Judah and their mothers. Guess what? Almost every time you have a good king, his mother is Hebrew. Almost every time you have a bad king, his mother is a foreigner who did not worship the Lord. These mothers made a difference in the lives of their sons. In fact, it’s easier to predict the outcome of the son by looking at the mother than by looking at the father. Let me give a couple of examples. Solomon (good) fathered Rehoboam (bad). Remember all Solomon’s wives and concubines? It got him into trouble. It is said of Rehoboam that “he did evil because he had not set his heart on following the Lord.” Why wasn’t his father able to pass on his faith to Rehoboam? His mother Naamah was an Ammonite who didn’t worship the Lord.

Not only does a bad mother corrupt, but a good mother can make a positive difference. In the case of Hezekiah, his father Ahaz was very evil. “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” and even sacrificed his sons to Molech. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3) It’s hard to imagine a child of such a wicked man turning to the Lord, but Hezekiah’s mother was Abijah, daughter of Zechariah. She made the difference in his life and Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 29:2) We see this same pattern of reversal repeat itself with the wicked Amon being replaced by the godly Josiah whose mother was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah. Jedidah means “beloved” and Adaiah means “Jehovah has adorned Himself”. Josiah’s father was wicked, but his mother came from a family who loved the Lord. By the way, you might have guessed that Amon, Josiah’s father, had a foreign mother.

Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham all had good starts, although they didn’t all finish strong, and they all had Hebrew mothers. Jehoshaphat, who had a Hebrew mother, starts out “walking in the ways of his father David” and the Lord blesses him. He gets into trouble at the end of his reign when he aligns himself to Ahab (wicked king of Israel) through marriage. This marital alliance was Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram’s marriage to Athalia, wicked king Ahab’s daughter. It is suspected that Athalia is also Jezebel’s daughter. Either way Athalia is certainly not "a nice Jewish girl", and likely had a wicked foreign mother herself (Jezebel). Athalia and Jehoram are both murderers. It’s no wonder Ahazia doesn’t turn out so well. Not all the mothers of the kings are named, but there is definitely a strong trend among those that are mentioned: so goes the mother, so goes the son.

I couldn’t help but reflect on this thought again as I read in Ezra the radical way intermarriage to foreign wives was dealt with. They made the Jews who had sinned in this area send their wives packing, children and all. It seems so wrong, so heartbreaking, so unloving. But, what Ezra had in mind was preserving a nation for the Lord. “The people of Israel have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices… Shall we again break your commands and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would You not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor?” (Ezra 9:1&14) Ezra understood how much influence women have in the home and wanted to protect the re-planting of their nation in their homeland from the idolatrous influence of foreign women. God doesn’t have anything against foreigners, it is their “detestable practices” that are renounced as evil. The fact that God includes Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, all three foreign women who worship the one true God and identified themselves with His people, in the genealogy of Christ shows that it’s not being foreign that God hates, but the idolatry. The issue is not place of birth, but whom they worship. God wanted a nation set apart for Himself, and we are grafted into that people today. We need to take seriously our role as wife and mother. God does.

Esther is another example of the incredible influence of a godly woman on those around her. The book opens with Queen Vashti, a feminist who bristles and rebels at the thought of being shown off like a trophy by her husband the king. She’s busy with her own agenda, throwing her own feast, so that she can’t be bothered with her husband’s plans. She doesn’t mind telling the king “no” even at the point of causing him public humiliation. The king realizes his wife doesn’t even respect him. Then enters Esther. She’s nothing Queen Vashti is, except beautiful, and she’s everything Vashti is not. Esther is meek and wise and submissive. She spends time in thought and prayer before acting to ensure that she’s being sensitive to God and her husband. She desires to please her husband. Esther’s oft repeated phrase, “If it pleases the king…” (3:9, 5:4, 5:8, 7:3, 9:13) shows her desire to contribute to her husband’s happiness, not take away from it with her own agenda. And God uses this meek, submissive woman of prayer to rescue His people instead of a Hebrew version of the strong-willed feminist Vashti.

Doesn’t this just fly in the face of the wisdom of the culture that says women have to be assertive and controlling to be influential? But, this is God’s way. Contrary to what many feminists would have you believe, God is not a misogynist. He gives women great responsibility and the opportunity to greatly influence others. The question is to what end will we use that influence? Esther had quite an effect on at least two kings of Persia, Xerxes I her husband, and Artaxerxes, her step son or possibly her son. She used this influence to rescue the Jews in Persia and she also helped establish Mordecai, her godly uncle, as second in command to her husband the king. Again, it’s amazing how influential women can be when we are content to submit ourselves to the Lord and pour ourselves into our family.

Consider for a moment the responsibility you have over the daily life of your home. I don’t know about you, but my husband entrusts to me entirely the running of our home. What the kids study in school, when and how often the kids are drilled in catechism and Bible memory work, when we do family worship (he asks only that we do it, but leaves the scheduling to me), as well as other details like paying bills and what’s for dinner. We set the focus, pace, and mood in our homes. And think of it this way. If the breakdown of the family is contributing to the breakdown of our society, then we can have a tremendous preserving influence on the culture at large through our efforts within our own families.

Your prayers for your husband and children are not wasted. The time you invest in studying the Scriptures with your children will pay dividends later. The character training is not in vain. The influence of a godly woman can make all the difference in the lives of your husband and children. Be encouraged and stay the course, for God has called you to a noble purpose. Do not neglect your great opportunity to influence your loved ones for the Lord.

You can check out other 90 day Bible challenge updates at Mom's Toolbox and Raising Olives.


  1. Mmm... very interesting about the Kings!

    This post brought comfort to me. As a Christian mother of 2 children with an unbelieving husband, I hope that I can draw their hearts towards God.
    I struggle A LOT at times with many things with my husband and in my spiritual life too.

  2. What a great post!! I loved it and was very encouraged. It can be discouraging to read all the families who have failed to pass on their faith to their children. I am glad you noticed the trend of the mother's faith.

    I think that line of the man being the head and the woman being the neck is also in Fiddler on the Roof!

    And thank you for the award. It made my day!

  3. Well said. If we as women stay within our Biblical boundaries, and do our work, we can have tremendous influence over both our husbands and our children. Motherhood is hard work! But the mother does set the tone of the home. We have a great responsibility in the teaching and training of our children. We make our husband's job so much easier when we do our work well. I am going to paraphrase a verse in Proverbs 31.....her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.....

  4. I hadn't made the connection between the good kings and their mothers, although after reading Proverbs recently I had been wondering why Solomon, with all his wisdom from God, ended up drifting away from God and why it seemed his sons all turned out 'bad'.

    [As far as society telling us that the assertive woman with be the one who 'makes it', the winner of the last Survivor series (which I watched with my eldest daughter) certainly turned that theory on it's head. No one, not even herself, expected her to win the $$$ but she did.]

  5. What a wonderful post! I loved reading it. It is so encouraging. That is fascinating about the kings and their mothers. I love how you charted it out. Very interesting.

  6. What great insight, thanks for sharing! God bless - Holly

  7. What a wonderfully inspiring post! I'll have to remember this on those days that I wonder what my purpose is!!

  8. I wrote the first sentence of your second paragraph in my prayer journal to think about at times when I miss the mark as a wife and mother. The connection between Esther and Artaxerxes was a new thought for me. Keep up the good work. We all appreciate your thoughts so much.

  9. Wow! That was an amazing post. I really, really enjoyed your insight and your encouragement.
    I had never made the connection between all the moms and kings before... I really appreciate you putting it all together and sharing with the rest of us.
    Your post makes me realize even more how much positive influence I can have by simply following the Lord and raising my children to have the same desire.
    Thank you.
    I am going to print this one out for my 'inspirations' folder.



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.