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Moms in the Bible
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Total Momsense

Anita Renfroe (Word Music)

About the Author
Described as a "shot of espresso in a decaf world," Anita Renfroe is a highly original, spontaneous, and unashamedly real comedian, musician, and author. She unleashes her distinctive brand of musical comedy to packed-out churches and clubs across the United States. She makes her home in Atlanta with her hunk of burning love, John, and her three semi-grown children, Calvin, Austin, and Elyse.

Six Amazing Moms in the Bible

By Anita Renfroe If you have spent your adult life trying to live up to the mothering standard set in the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs (and I know some women do), you might as well just go ahead and take up permanent residence in the I-can’t-quite-measure-up lane. I have a sneaking suspicion that that woman was either a composite sketch of several stellar women, a wishful hope, or a case of one woman mistakenly believing her own press kit.

The intro to that chapter of Proverbs states that these are “the sayings of King Lemuel — an oracle that his mother taught him.” Webster defines this sort of oracle as “a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions.” I would amend that to say that this was likely a mother hoping none of the girls her son was currently dating would ever measure up to her “oracle.” Regardless, we are left with the impression that this sort of mother is the Approved Standard Version — family centered, good business woman, great cook, generous, prepared, discreet, praiseworthy, wise, and beautiful. If she was indeed a real woman — all things to all people and extraordinarily perfect — then I’m just glad we didn’t have a chance to meet. She could never have considered me as part of her Potential Friend Pool.

This is precisely why I am so glad that the Bible gives us pictures of other kinds of mothers — the ones who cause us to nod our head to affirm the phrase, “If you can’t be a good example then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” I have come up with examples of a few of both types in the following list. There are many other moms in God’s Word, but these are a sampling of the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre.



The Original Mother — more specifically, of Cain, Abel, and Seth (and several unnamed others)

I guess if we are to commence in chronological order we would have to begin with Eve, the mother of us all. And she was the woman who made THE monumental, mind-blowing, affects-everybody forever mistake. So she probably deserves the bad rap she gets. But it wasn’t like there were any other women around to make it instead of her, right? Maybe she was the first to partake of the fruit just because she was the only one who could remember where it was in the garden (women just know where stuff is). You have to feel a little bit of sympathy for the girl who didn’t have a mother to ask about how things were for her back in the day. When the kids had a temperature or were teething she just had to figure it out on her own, but, then again, nobody could look at her and tell her that she was doing it all wrong. And sure, she got us into epidurals, but she had the mother of all heartache, too. Her sons were involved in the first homicide (without Nintendo and violence on TV to blame it on). She was the first mom to have to bury her child.


Mother of Isaac

This is the mom who gives hope to everyone who waited a little late to get started on the Mommy Track. Not that she didn’t try; her womb was just on a different biological clock. God made a promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. This led Sarah to the logical conclusion that she would be the mother of many nations. When that wasn’t happening in a timely manner, Sarah decided to do her own "thang," so to speak. She gave her handmaiden Hagar as her maternal stunt double. This resulted in a child but not the child. When the messenger of the Lord told Abraham that it really would be Sarah that was going to deliver the promised baby, Sarah overheard, laughed, and promptly got in trouble for it. But if you were her age you would laugh, too, just thinking about how the breast-feeding would be easy now that she could just lay Isaac on her lap to do it. Sarah is a sister who could laugh at her late start with motherhood knowing that good things come to those who wait.


Mother of Jacob and Esau

For every mom who has ever had the temptation to play favorites with her children, pay attention to Rebekah. She didn’t just play favorites, she schemed and connived and was an accessory to one of the biggest Daddy Dupes in all of history. It says it plain in Scripture that Isaac loved Esau because he was an outdoors-man but Rebekah loved Jacob. This kind of favoritism does not bode well for a family. When the lines are drawn and it is obvious who is thick with whom, life can get very messy. Rebekah was in collusion with Jacob (even his name meant “trickster”) to take the birthright from his older brother. I’m sure she rationalized that it wasn’t such a bad thing since the twin boys were only separated by moments, but her hand in helping Jacob trick his father was her way of thumbing her nose at the order of things and a diss to her dying husband. Turns out that this family rift lasted for a long time. Rebekah reminds us that it is a dangerous thing to use maternal power for manipulation.


Mother of Solomon

Bathsheba was well-named as it was her “bath-ing” that attracted the attention of King David. Their illicit affair resulted in the birth of a son. David tried for some damage control by sending her husband out to war, back to the house hoping for a copulating cover-up, and then out to the frontlines to get killed. (And we think we have seriously evil plots in our current movies.) David got his wish — Bathsheba’s husband was killed in battle, and David thought he had gotten away with it. Nathan confronted him and David repented bitterly. But we never really hear how it all affected Bathsheba. Their sin is well documented and the effects to David’s household long-lasting. However, a son was born from their union and Solomon turned out to be a peaceable ruler whose wisdom was legendary. Bathsheba’s motherhood gives women hope that, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy and the birth of your child, God can redeem any situation. You never know, you might just have the wisest person ever on the planet staring back at you from that high chair.


Mother of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam

If there was ever a mom whose life would have made a great screenplay for a Lifetime for Women movie it would be Jochebed. You just have to give it up for her and the midwives who, in their act of civil disobedience, allowed Moses to be born. Those midwives, when asked by the pharaoh why they were not killing the boy babies as commanded, replied that the Hebrew women were “too vigorous” and popped those babies out before they could get there! Thus baby Moses was born but had to be sent down the river (literally) with his sister serving as lookout, only to be pulled out of the water by the pharaoh’s daughter, who secured the services of Moses’ biological mom to nanny him. Talk about movie script material! Oh wait. They’ve already done that. Anyway, Moses’ mom shows us that the determination and ingenuity of a desperate mother can result in surprising circumstances. Oh, the places you’ll go!


Mother of Jesus

Talk about your Personal EPT . . . I mean Mary’s was early, EARLY! And accurate, too. Angelic visitation definitely qualifies as a sure thing. But the favored girl had to have some concerns because unwed pregnancy was a little different back then. You could get stoned for it. I’m sure she was very relieved to find out that the angel had given her beau, Joseph, the same message. And yes, she was going to give birth to the divine Gift of heaven, but, as any mother knows, all gifts come with some work attached. She still had to change the Baby Jesus’ diapers, soothe him as he teethed, teach him to walk, and clean up his skinned knees. She had to cook the meals and wash his clothes and do all the things that moms do for their children. It’s interesting the places we see Mary pop up in the gospels — for example, at the temple sending out an APB for her boy. (I believe I might have grounded Jesus if he told me that he was just doing his father’s business, but no such reaction from Mary is recorded.) Another of my favorite mother moments of Mary’s was when she was at the wedding feast apparently exasperated with her thirty-year-old son for not doing that “thing” he could do with the water. When Jesus seems to refuse to come through the way she knows he can, she goes around him and tells the servants to get ready to do something for him. And Jesus does the miracle. I would have loved to have been there to see the looks pass between mother and son that night. And then we see Mary at the crucifixion. Disciples may scatter, followers may be in hiding, but a mother stays when the rest of the world walks away. In fact, Mary is a rich tapestry of real motherhood: a lot of excitement followed by years of work and moments of intense pain. But through it all, mothers are there.

These moms in the Bible reveal to us that mother-love is fierce and stubborn to a fault — even wrong-headed sometimes. We do right things for wrong reasons and wrong things because we think everyone needs our help. When you look at the moms in the Bible say a silent prayer of thanks that these women are included along side the Oracle of Lemuel in Proverbs 31 to bring snapshots of reality and spiritual caution cones to our journey.

Excerpted from If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Anita Renfroe, Copyright 2006.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing –  All rights reserved.

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