Day 18

Shiphrah and Puah

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 or on Instagram, @whitneycapps.

Post Comments (39)

39 thoughts on "Shiphrah and Puah"

  1. Chloe McNeely says:

    “Obedience doesn’t guarantee or broker blessings” -Yes! To know Jesus is so much better than any ‘earthly blessing’ we could receive!

  2. Andrea Parkins says:

    “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” Psalms 34:4. YES. This is what I needed today. Was just praying for the day, asked for help with anxiety. First verse I looked down and saw. He knows my fears.

  3. Alyssa Annis says:

    I went to Christian school all 13 years, and have never heard these two women’s names! Thank you for a great read this morning and teaching me something completely new.

    1. Nikki Williamson says:

      Graduated from Bible college and never heard their names! Same!

  4. Angela Greenwood says:

    Obedience to God and go against the king/ruler. Brave women, I pray to be this brave, resolute, and faithful.

  5. Diana says:

    Spot on. So many nuggets to write down!
    “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.” Thanks SRT for reminding us that obedience doesn’t mean a perfect life. But it does mean it changes and sanctifies me and draws me in greater dependence of my savior.

  6. Mandy Gabbard says:

    I’ve been in church my whole life and ever heard this story! What a word for this time.

  7. Danielle Chamberlain says:

    I’ve not paid much mind to these midwives either. Pointing out that obedience doesn’t equate “blessing” (ease) was important and timely for me to remember

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