Monday, April 02, 2007

Shiprah and Puah - Obeying God Rather Than Man

Our work is not easy, but it's a joy. For years we have been the primary midwives for our people, the Hebrews, and have had the great privilege of seeing each new life being brought into this world. Although our people are foreigners in a strange land, we Hebrews welcome each new life with joy. We know that children are a gift from God, and He has indeed blessed our people abundantly!

The Egyptian king, Pharoah, became afraid of our people and how fruitful we've become. We were enslaved, and oppressed greatly; instead of dying off, however, we've multiplied all the more! Pharoah then gave us an order to kill all of the Hebrew baby boys as they come into the world, thus causing our nation to shrink. We knew we couldn't do such an evil, and trust God to help us make it through...

When I first began the Women of the Bible series, I didn't even consider putting these courageous ladies on the list to write about. I mean, we've heard of Eve, Sarah, and Rachel, but who's ever heard of Shiprah and Puah? After all, they're only mentioned in a few verses at the beginning of Exodus! However, as I was preparing to write about Jochebed, I was struck by the courageous lives of these little-known women, forever a part of their nation's history.

Exodus 1:6-14 sets the stage for the showdown: the Hebrew people were fruitful and multiplied greatly, filling the land. An Egyptian king who'd never heard about the wonderful things Joseph did came to power, and, being scared of the numerous Hebrews, forced them all into slavery. When they continued to spread, he devised something even more evil: killing all of the boys while they were yet being birthed. He summoned Shiprah and Puah and commanded them, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her life." (Exodus 1:16)

The next verse gives us a glimpse into the character of these strong women. "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live." (Exodus 1:17) These women were truly courageous! They weren't merely disobeying an order from some small official; they went against the top man of that day, the very king of Egypt! They were not wimpy women who caved in after the smallest pressure. They were mighty women who feared God! They knew that it might cost their lives, but they refused to kill the precious lives that God had created.

Enraged, the king summoned them and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live? (Exodus 1:18b) The midwives' answer was evasive; they replied, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." (Exodus 1:19b) Some wonder if this was the whole truth, for it would seem like the midwives may have lied or stretched the truth to not anger Pharoah. We just don't know. What we do know from the next verses is that God was pleased with the courage of Shiprah and Puah.

"So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own." (Exodus 1:20-21)

God must have scoffed at Pharoah. Who was this man to try to kill off God's people? Instead of their size decreasing, God blessed them with even more descendants! He was especially kind to Shiprah and Phuah. Because they feared Him, He blessed them with families of their own. Now, they not only helped bring babies into the world, they had little blessings of their own.

Is there a situation in your life where you're tempted to obey man rather than God? Are you scared, and think you may have to do what is asked, just to keep the peace. Are you afraid of what others might do to you if you don't do whatever it is? Maybe it's just a little thing, just a little disobedience, that you don't think will really matter. Don't be afraid! As the apostles said in Acts 5:29, "we must obey God rather than men!" Remember the lives of these two courageous women who, because they feared God, were willing to go against the most important man in the whole land! They were blessed for it, because they trusted and obeyed and did not give in to fear. Next time you're faced with such a situation, what will you do?

Read all about Shiprah and Puah in Exodus 1:6-21


Sheila said...

Thank you for writing about this! I actually just read about Shiprah and Puah a few days ago, and thought the very same thoughts! I appreciate you 'putting them on paper' so-to-speak for us.
God bless,

Elijah Lofgren said...

Great Post!
Great Encouragement!
Great Application!

Thanks for another great post Anna!

- Elijah

Ella said...

That was a really good post, Anna, though they always are. Shiprah and Puah remind me that anyone, great or small, can be used in amazing ways for God.

Alos, it is such a good reminder to be true to ourselves and the Lord, especially in this day and age. As the world turns more form God, we need to be ever truer to what HE says!

Ednella said...

Shiprah and Puah were incredible ladies, and they have been an inspiration to me in the past. I'm so glad you decided to blog about them! Their stand for the Lord was quite incredible.

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

You are right. I don't typically think of them. Thank you for reminding me of their great courage and faithfulness to God!

Miriam Rebekah said...

Another good post!
Shiprah and Puah were really amazing women of God!

Stephanie said...

WOW! Your post totally ministered to me! I can't even begin to tell you what I've been walking through lately. God asked me do something that was so humbling...I was afraid...scared...fearful of what man would think of me...(literally)...

But God was so faithful to surround me with His peace and love! I am so glad that I choose to obey!