Women of Faith
Today’s reading: Judges 3-5; Luke 7:31-50
9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Judges 4:9
50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50
In today’s readings, we meet two women of faith (not counting a third, Deborah) from whom we can learn much. Deborah is a prophetess and judge in Israel who recruits one Barak to lead an army against the Canaanites who have been cruelly oppressing the nation for twenty years. Barak accepts the job on the condition that Deborah accompany him to the battle. She agrees, but warns him that the glory for the victory will not go to him but to a woman. At that point, the first-time reader guesses that the glory will go to Deborah, but not so. It is Jael, a Kenite woman, who in God’s providence takes advantage of the opportunity to murder the Canaanite commander, Sisera, while he is sleeping peacefully in her tent.
During a meal at the home of a Pharisee named Simon, a notoriously sinful woman slips in and begins to wash, kiss, and anoint Jesus’ feet showing great love and respect for Him. Simon, meanwhile, judges Jesus for His acceptance of attention from such a woman. Simon’s reasoning is: “Either, Jesus doesn’t know who she is, in which case, He is not a true prophet, or He knows who she is and accepts a rank sinner, again revealing Himself to be no prophet.” Neither of these options is true, because Jesus does know who she is and welcomes her because of her faith. She is a sinner whom God has called to Himself and whose sin is forgiven because she believes in God’s Son who would take upon Himself the punishment for sinners such as her. Jesus rebukes Simon but exonerates and reassures the woman. “Go in peace,” He says. She is saved by faith.
Faith drives both of these women: Jael, and the woman at Simon’s house. They are honored for their faith although they both go against the tide of their society in doing God’s will. The glory for the victory goes to Jael who is not even an Israelite. The peace and assurance of salvation goes to the sinful but believing woman who is roundly rejected by a Pharisee.
Barak and Simon, the men in these two stories, leave much to be desired, although reluctant Barak did come around (Hebrews 11:32) and the outcome of Simon the Pharisee’s life, we are not told.
Learn from the two women of faith who understood that “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).