Mary, a Surrendered Faith

From the moment God made Eve, He had special plans for women. Even when her own act of disobedience brought about the discipline of her Creator, God, He was gracious – He made her a mother! The miracle of having a child, the honor and great privilege of motherhood, was her Father’s loving hand once more giving her life. After reading Eve’s story, it is no surprise to find, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, Jewish women taking part in much of community life. From commerce and trade to Temple worship, women were held in high regard. Proverbs 31 is but one place lending us a peek into the active life of a godly woman. She looked well to the ways of her household, and could be found to be a willing worker, even active in selling linens to merchants and in the buying and selling of land. And, above all this, she feared the Lord, served Him and her family – these were her most precious attributes of wisdom and kindness.


Women were included when God instituted the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 29:11) and were present when Joshua read the Torah to Israel. Their presence was not just an option; they were required to be present for the public reading of the Scriptures on the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:12).

https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/newsletter-jun-1988/the-role-of-women-in-the-bible/

A glimpse into the lives of other Old Testament women of faith as well only solidifies the reality Jewish women were active in their community of faith. So, one might ask this question – as I did when studying the life of Christ’s mother, Mary – why did the early first century life for women look so different than their foremothers of the Old Testament?


…Jewish people often found themselves under the rule of foreign powers vying for Palestine’s important position as a land bridge that connected Asia, Europe, and Africa…the cultures of these occupiers deeply affected Jews and the region’s other inhabitants.

Early, J. E. (2015). Jesus and The World Into Which He Was Born. In 974330454 755833937 J. E. Early (Author), A history of Christianity: An introductory survey (p. 1). Nashville, TN, TN: B & H Academic.

It seems quite certain the subtlety of Satan present in Eden has been active through the years post-Eden, even through today. The Jewish people have been on a journey for centuries, from the Flood to slavery to exile to the Diaspora and the years that followed. First-century Mary grew up in a society deeming women “less than.” Although Jewish women were, in theory, esteemed, it was in private, not publicly. Jewish women were to be homemakers and lead quiet lives of prayer and holiness, but not in open concert with the men in their community of faith. They could hear a sermon, but most likely, they were to not ask questions nor voice opinions. According to Jewish history, Mary most likely would have had to stay in the “Woman’s Court” when she went to Temple. She would not have dared venture past its confines. According to all the research and reading of the Scriptures I have done thus far, I believe Mary was a young pauperess, probably in her teens, when she was betrothed to marry Joseph. She lived out her normal days in Nazareth – a tiny nothing of a town in the corner of Galilee. According to the world around her, Mary was ordinary, nothing too special at all.


God thought differently.


Her Father God trusted her character.

He knew she would question yet surrender.

He knew Mary would know the Scriptures (even if she had been discouraged from gaining any learning or education.)

I know I may take liberties here, but I imagine Mary listening daily to her father and the other men quote and talk over the Holy Scriptures.

I genuinely believe she had been “pondering” many things in her heart all her young life. From the very beginning of her story, we see how special she was indeed.

At that time in history, it would have seemed revolutionary (and offensive) for a Jewish woman to speak and interact with a Priest/Rabbi, let alone have a conversation with one of God’s messengers from Heaven. Nonetheless, God sent Gabriel to Mary first instead of her espoused, Joseph. Think of this considering what we have learned about first century Jewish culture. From the onset – before Christ was even in Mary’s womb – God challenged culture and traditions made by man (and not God.)


Let that sink in.


This common girl from Nazareth, and her surrendered faith, gave birth to the Rabbi of rabbis, King of kings, the Messiah – Jesus – our Savior. When I think of what she must have thought the day Gabriel told her what was to come, my mind goes crazy with questions. But one question I will ask her one day in eternity will be this, “did you ever falter or doubt?” I know me – tiny steps forward in faith and giant leaps backward in doubt and fear. I simply cannot fathom the call on Mary’s life, what it must have been like to raise the Son of God, knowing He was also your Savior.

Can you imagine?

In Luke’s account of Mary’s life, we see she was bewildered by Gabriel’s greeting and could not fathom what he was saying to her. She was a virgin; how could she have a child, let alone be mother to the Son of God?! Yet at the end of their conversation, Mary’s surrendered faith was the foundation upon which God built the rest of her life.

An ordinary peasant girl was used to bring the most extraordinary gift the world has ever known.

Trusted by God. Highly favored by the Creator. Unlearned and young, Mary was wise beyond her years. She knew to trust in the Lord with all her heart and not lean unto her own understanding of things. Mary’s astounding and sweet story sheds grace on my own inadequacies. It brings truth. And with that truth, freedom. Mary is teaching me a thing or two about how God uses the foolish things to confound the wise – especially when we surrender all to Him.

Abigail’s Appellant Faith

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“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.” Tozer’s words echoed within me as I sat down to listen as my Father introduced me to His precious daughter, Abigail. This woman and her faith, what a powerful display of humility, grace, and wisdom. Aside from the fact she is one among only three women in the Holy Scriptures to be singled out and noted for their outward beauty, she is a woman noted for her inward magnificence as well.

The Lord says of his daughter that she was “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance…”

Her life had certainly not been a fairy tale while living as wife to Nabal. No two people could have been more antonymous than they. The Lord described Nabal using the Hebrew words qâsheh and râ‛âh, meaning he was cruel, grievous, hard-hearted, obstinate, rough, stubborn and troubled, evil and wretched. A deeper word study reveals Nabal was most certainly a beastly and cruel man.  Abigail was described with Hebraic words such as, ṭôb, śêkel, yâpheh and tô’ar which are the exact opposites (and then some) to Nabal. In detail, Abagail was noted to be beautiful on the outside and one who had a favourable countenance. She was bountiful, cheerful, joyful, kind and most pleasant. This sister of grace was known for her intelligence (by implication of success;) discretion, wisdom and her pleasant ways were her testimony.

Now can you picture her life?

Her home?

She walked in a path directly opposite from her spouse, yet aligned perfectly to Her Creator’s will. She sought hard after the ways of her God, and as one commentator states, “manifested a love stronger than death.” 

As I continued to read from the pages of history, it was becoming increasingly clear Abigail was a sweet peacemaker whose life modeled the ways of her Lord. Her words were gracious and seasoned with salt, and she looked well to the ways of her household – she was trusted. The events that unfolded around her were not of her making, she could not control how her husband behaved. Yet when her servants came to her with the grim news of Nabal’s insolence toward King David, Abigail was quick to respond. All the King had asked was for a show of kindness and Nabal, in his churlish and evil way, refused David and his men kindness, respect and decency. Needless to say, the King was furious. Nabal had provoked the wrath of King David and, had it not been for Abigail’s prepared and appellant faith, Nabal and all of his household would have been destroyed. Her discernment in withholding her thoughts and actions from Nabal until the next day show wisdom in placing her trust in God alone.

As she quickly loaded the donkey with more than enough food and drink for the King and his men, take note of how humble, appealing and encouraging she was when finally reaching the King.

“She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him….Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”

-I Samuel 25:24-31

In the history lesson taken from the book of I Samuel, chapter 25, it is revealed Abigail is a woman of patience who cloaked herself in the love of God. She “put on kindness, mercy, humility, gentleness and patience,” and pre-dated Paul’s exhortation to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” What an amazing moment in history, where faith in God from the Old Testament marries the sweet teachings of the New Testament.

One need only read of the events that could have cost Nabal’s household their lives to see the actions of this sweet daughter of God were clothed in love and humilty. Abigail, fearfully and wonderfully made was a woman of beauty, prudence and grace.

Abigail must have known a little something about storing up treasures where moth and dust do not corrupt, about those eternal jewels thieves cannot steal – and, about the faithfulness of God to be a rewarder of those who have the faith to diligently seek Him.

Her convictions and meditations in the ways of the Lord must have been her most valued inheritance, for she walked in them and lived in a manner pleasing to Him. And, in the end, He brought her to the palace of the King. Abigail was a woman after God’s own heart, it is only fitting she ended up the wife of a King described this way too. 

Eugenia Price said this of gracious Abigail, “Only God can give a woman poise like Abigail, and God can only do this when a woman is willing to cooperate as [she] did with Him on every point.” 

Abigail’s life and witness have challenged, rather, beckoned me, to walk closer to my Maker, for He is my true love. She has encouraged me to take a look inward and sit before the Lord, asking this question, “How do I actively treat those who are unkind?” And, on an even more personal level, her life begs the question, “How do I respond to my spouse when I don’t like him very much?”  I most certainly do not live with a man such as Nabal, and for this I am increasingly grateful. However, do I clothe myself as Abigail did, with love and mercy when he behaves in an unkind way? Or, do I feel vindicated when I behave in an unloving manner toward him? Is it possible to muster an appellant faith, and am I willing to intercede on his behalf to the King? When I go to my closet, do I find a wardrobe of love, humility, forgiveness, kindness and wisdom or selfsihsness, envy, impatience and self-righteousness? I am most certain the later can be found hanging there ready, but oh that my King would remind me to outfit myself with the first instead. 

There will be many times in our lives when we are faced with the nastiness of human selfishness, anger and frustration. I am not, by any stretch, suggesting God says we are to be abused by another person’s behavior, I am simply saying He calls us to be kind in the we handle them in return. When we choose to turn away from hurtful situations (and nabalish (my word) type of people,) we should pray to walk in a manner worthy and pleasing to the Lord. This speaks volumes to the world around us of the love of Christ which compels us to regard one another with a heart fixed on the One who gave His life for us all. 

In encountering Abigail on the pages of HiStory, I am finding myself inspired to pray for my spouse more earnestly, and to yield to my Savior more readily. One woman’s faith marked the pages of Scripture with a fragrant grace and purposeful poise, and is changing my life for the better.