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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Bible's Beauties

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles,

A woman’s beauty is a quality that means more than one’s pretty face or figure. (I’m glad, as most of the beautiful people I know are beautiful from the inside and “normal” on the outside.) Some Christians think that, because God looks on the heart, the outside doesn’t matter. Not so! God speaks of women being beautiful. The Bible uses words like fair, comely, beautiful, and well favored.

Who were the Bible’s beautiful women and what can we learn from them?

Sarai—Abraham’s wife must have been gorgeous. Two different kings took her into their harems. Thankfully, God spared her from any harm. (Genesis 12:11, 14. In Genesis 17:15, her name was changed to Sarah.) God praises Sarah for her willingness to yield to her husband. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement (1 Peter 3:1-6). Yield willingly to our husbands.

Rebekah—Isaac’s wife, the Bible calls her very fair. (Genesis 24:16, 26:7) Rebekah was generous and thoughtful in her youth, willing to go and marry Isaac because she saw the hand of God in it. But sadly, she became a wife who lied to her husband and tricked him. We can learn from her positives as a young lady and from her negatives when she used her favorite son against her husband and other son. Because of her sins, Rebekah sadly never saw Jacob again. (Genesis 24:15-67, 27:6-46) Be generous and thoughtful, and don’t change and become deceitful as we age.

Rachel—Jacob fell in love with her because of her exceptional physical beauty, and Rachel became his second wife (after her sister Leah). She was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. (Genesis 29:17) Rachel was physically beautiful, but she seems not to have been a strong believer in the one true God. She took her father’s idols, and she never shines as a godly woman. She did become, though, the mother of both Joseph and Benjamin before she died. (Genesis 31:34) From Rachel's negative example we learn to be genuine in our dedication to God and never to have idols in our lives.

Abigail—Wife of Nabal the fool and later a wife of King David, this lady is praised for her wisdom, discretion, and generosity, as well as her beauty. (1 Samuel 25:3) Abigail was probably in an arranged marriage with an awful man named Nabal. He used poor judgment and was unjust. David would have killed all of Nabal’s men in revenge for Nabal’s unfair response. Abigail learned of her husband’s words, packed food, and set off to warn David. Brave and resourceful, Abigail saved many men from death. (1 Samuel 25:17-42) And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand (1 Samuel 25:32-33). Less than two weeks later, Nabal died. David heard of it and sent for Abigail to become his wife. The lessons? It’s always right to try to save a life, when it’s in your power to do so. (It’s a good idea to take food as a gift, too!) When you do right, God will take care of all your needs.

Bathsheba—David sinned when he looked at this woman’s beauty. (2 Samuel 11:2) Bathsheba was wronged in so many ways! David sent for her. (Because he was a king, Bathsheba probably had no say in the matter.) She became pregnant by David and then David had her wonderful husband killed in battle. Now she was a widow, and her husband’s murderer married her. Their first son died in punishment for David’s sin. They later had four more sons. (1 Chronicles 3:5) One was Solomon, who would become the next and greatest king of Israel. We learn from Bathsheba’s later life dignity and grace, even after suffering and devastating loss. (I Kings 1 and 2)

Abishag—King David couldn’t keep his body heat in bed, so a beautiful young virgin was called to be his “bed warmer.” That woman was Abishag. (1 Samuel 25:3) I frankly don’t understand this young woman’s story. The king had at least eight wives. I never could understand why one of his wives couldn’t warm him up! But, this is the way it happened, and the Bible clearly states Abishag served the king only as a bed warmer. Later, one of David’s sons, Adonijah, asked to marry her, and with that request, he sealed his own death sentence. (1 Kings 1-2) This pretty girl faithfully served the king, and afterwards we hear no more about her.

Esther—Young Jewish Esther was the fairest of the land, and she married King Ahasuerus and became his second queen. God used her position to save His people from Haman’s wicked plot to annihilate the Jews. (Esther 2:7) One of my favorite biblical women, this lady knew how to dress, act, and be classy. She understood human nature and used excellent psychology on both her husband and the antagonist Haman. God brought her to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). Through her, God saved the Jewish people. The feast of Purim honors God for saving the Jews through Esther. From Esther, we learn that God has a purpose in every life. Even a young woman can make a huge difference, if she dares to obey God and the authorities over her (in this case, Mordecai). God rewards those who honor Him. (Esther ended up living in Haman’s luxurious house.)

Job’s daughters: Jemima, Kezia, and Kerenhappuch—After Job’s first ten children died in the collapsed house, God gave him another ten children. His three daughters were known for being the most beautiful in all the land (literally, earth). (Job 42:15) Job’s beautiful daughters were clear evidence of God’s blessing after Job’s not cursing God under great suffering. God restored Job with ten new children, and his daughters were the prettiest in all the land.

The Shulamite—Throughout the book of the Song of Solomon, we read of the bride’s beauty. This is both a love story and an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His church—as all marriage should be. (Ephesians 5:22-27) There’s no doubt that Solomon was bowled over by his bride’s beauty. (Song of Solomon, the entire book) The Shulamite is a metaphor for every wife. Her loving relationship with her husband is recorded in Scripture so that we would understand what passionate married love should look like. She’s an example to every wife of how to build up her husband and express love in words. Her actions show us pursuit, love, preparation, and even tell us what to wear to look lovely. She uses pillows and perfumes and freely expresses her happiness with her husband. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death (Song of Solomon 8:6a)

The Virtuous Woman isn’t exactly called “beautiful” in Scripture, although her beauty is inferred. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:29-30).

Let’s learn some of the valuable lessons from the Bible’s beauties and glorify God with our lives!

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