In Proverbs 31:30 we read "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." The most important thing in a woman's life is to fear God, and lead a righteous life. Following are four such women mentioned in the Bible as examples to us today.
Ruth lived in the days of the Judges, before Saul was appointed as king over Israel. She was a Moabite woman whose Israelite husband had died. In spite of the hardship of being a widow in those difficult times she made the most important decision of her life by deciding to follow the true God of Israel rather than adhering to the pagan religious practices of Moab.
Ruth implored her mother-in-law, Naomi: “... Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17).
Then upon returning to Bethlehem with Naomi Ruth met Boaz, a righteous man and a relative of Naomi's deceased husband, Elimelech. Although Boaz was much older than Ruth she understood her obligations of that time to the family of her late husband and, following the guidance of her mother-in-law, let Boaz know she's willing to marry him and preserve the family name of her deceased husband (Ruth 3:9-11).
Ruth 4:21-22 reveals the lineage resulting from this union which included King David, and eventually Jesus Christ.
Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther in the Bible, was raised by her uncle Mordecai, after her parents died (Esther 2:7). When she was older Esther was taken into the court of King Ahasuerus, found favour with him and eventually became his Queen, but she kept her Jewish identity hidden on advice from her uncle.
A set of circumstances arose which brought the Jewish people in the Kingdom into great danger and they faced being wiped out. Esther was now queen and Mordecai told her she had to act in order to save her people. This meant that Esther would be taking her life in her hands as she explained "...any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who is not being called, he has but one law: put all to death except the one whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days." (Esther 4:11)
The Jews community fasted and prayed for Esther and she risked her life by entering the inner court. She was spared by the King and also permitted to make her plea for the Jewish people, as well as revealing she was Jewish. The evil decree of Haman, the King’s official who was plotting to destroy the Jews, was eventually thwarted, and the Jews were spared.
Esther subsequently became even more elevated in the Medo-Persian Empire, along with her uncle Mordecai. To this day the Jews observe the festival of Purim to commemorate their deliverance at the time and also to remember the courage of Esther and her faith in God.
Abigail lived during the time David was hiding from Saul, who was seeking to kill him. She was married to a very rich man called Nabal (I Samuel 25:2), who is described as being “...harsh and evil in his doings” (verse 3).
David and his men were in the vicinity of Nabal’s property, needing refuge and help. When Nabal refused to help him, David became so upset he decided to take revenge against Nabal’s whole household, marching to attack him with 400 men (verse 13). David was overreacting, and deep down He knew what he was about to do was not right.
In spite of Nabal’s bad behaviour Abigail was loyal to her husband and determined to help if she could. She gathered supplies for David’s men and went out to meet him before he reached Nabal’s property (1 Samuel 25:18-21). She was putting her own life in danger and taking responsibility for the situation that had developed, even though her husband had caused it. She told David: “... 'On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be...’” (verse 24).
Abigail’s humble and courageous approach, helped David to realise what he was about to do was not according to God’s will: "And David said to Abigail, 'Blessed is the Eternal God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me... because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.” (verses 32-33).
About ten days after this incident Nabal died (verse 38-39) and David eventually made Abigail his wife.
Luke 7:36 describes an incident when Jesus was the guest of a prominent, rabbinical religious leader named Simon. Although Simon had invited Jesus to dine with him, he did not show Jesus the appropriate respect you should show a guest.
A woman, who had lived a very sinful life, was nearby and when she saw Jesus with the Rabbi she recognized who He was and acknowledged Him as her Messiah and Saviour. Evidently she was trying to turn her life around and, in order to honour Christ, "... stood at Jesus' feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head; she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil" (verse 38).
The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and mumbled to himself, " 'This Man, if He really was a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner'" (verse 39).
Jesus knew what the Pharisee was thinking and related a parable about two debtors -- one who owed a great deal and another who owed much less. The debtor who owed the most was more grateful when his debt was forgiven. Jesus then contrasted the lack of respect the Pharisee has shown Him with the behaviour of the woman who understood that Jesus, our Saviour, was her salvation.
Jesus, knowing the woman was repentant and God fearing, then told her that her sins were forgiven. This pronouncement caused much consternation for the Rabbi and the other dinner guests as verse 49 shows: "And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'
The repentant women exposed a problem the Pharisee had, and should have recognised but didn’t and, very importantly, she also enabled Jesus Christ to reveal Himself as the Word of God in the flesh, who forgives sin. The Pharisee was dining with God in the flesh and did not realise it.