Shiphrah and Puah
Open Your Bible
Exodus 1:8-21, Psalm 34:1-22, Galatians 6:7-10
BY Guest Writer
Obedience always brings blessings. I’ve heard that message preached, but Exodus 1 seems to teach us something different. It reminds us that we must be very careful with what we expect for our obedience and what we define as a blessing. Today’s reading commends a faith that reverently fears God, not the opinions, whims, and wants of men.
Fearing the growth and potential power of the Hebrew slave nation, Pharaoh orders the midwives who assisted the Hebrew women in childbirth to kill all the boys they helped to deliver. The Bible records the names of these women: Shiphrah and Puah. Pharaoh commands them to be His co-conspirators in a plot to decimate the Hebrew population. But they never carry out Pharaoh’s plan. It is a bold, faith-filled move. But the results are a mixed bag of blessings. We can learn a few important lessons from their example.
We must be careful not to assume that our obedience clears the path to ease and happiness. The midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. But their act of rebellion, though honorable, moved Pharaoh to ratchet up his plan against Israel, and he commanded that all baby boys be thrown into the Nile. This is why we must be careful not to barter our obedience for God’s blessings. Our blessing may be things we cannot see.
In the case of the midwives, they were rewarded with tangible gifts. The Bible records that God blessed the women with families of their own. There is no formula that says our obedience will unlock the desires of our hearts. However, God is the Giver of every good thing we receive (James 1:17).
It’s not entirely clear if the midwives were Hebrew or Egyptian. Either way their faith was tested. Yes, God blessed the midwives with families of their own, but the very next verse says that Pharaoh now commanded that all Hebrew boys be thrown in the Nile. Would the faithful midwives now lose their own children to Pharaoh’s evil mandate? Or were the midwives Egyptian women who would watch helplessly as even more baby boys were killed? God saw their faithfulness and would now grow their faith even more.
Our greatest blessings and most precious rewards are the eternal ones. I want God to make me bolder, refine my character, and chisel away my selfishness. Those treasures won’t always feel like blessings.
The overwhelming context of Scripture points to these same truths. Obedience doesn’t guarantee or broker blessings. Obedience must be motivated by faith in God, not the fear of man. Like Shiphrah and Puah, we are commended to act in ways that prove our confidence in our God who is always faithful, keeps His word, and blesses His people. I’d like to be the kind of person who trusts God to give and define my blessings. I’d rather be changed for eternity than comforted temporarily.
Whitney Capps is a national speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her first book, Sick of Me (B&H Publishers) and bible study, We Over Me (LifeWay) both release in March 2019. Whitney is the founder of Simple Seminary, a place for the everyday gal to learn theology. She and her husband, Chad, are raising their four boys just outside Atlanta, Ga. You can connect with her at whitneycapps.com or on Instagram, @whitneycapps.