If you’re a bold, wonderful woman (or you’re trying to get there), the Bible can be a source of true inspiration. After all, there are many strong women in the Bible – all of them able to teach us a thing or two. In this expert post, self-proclaimed Bible nerd Jennifer Mobley Thompson picks 7 daring Biblical gals and challenges us to follow the courageously.
The Power Of Daring
My daughter will be leaving for her sophomore year of college in a few short weeks. She’s level headed and responsible and so cautious that I never worry her actions will get her into trouble. There’s a lot of comfort in that, especially since her school is out of state and she can’t just run home any time something goes wrong.
I’m glad she doesn’t text while driving. I’m thrilled she doesn’t party hard like a lot of her classmates. And I’m ecstatic that she almost always makes good choices. But at the same time, I want her to take some risks.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”
I want her to dare much – dare to be herself, dare to stand up for what’s right, dare to fall in love, dare to try new things even if they’re scary. Taking the safe path might be comfortable, but to risk little is to gain little.
Here are seven strong women in the Bible who gained much when they bravely dared much.
7 Strong Women in the Bible
”But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him [Sisera] while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” – Judges 4:21
I realize this is a disturbing admission to make, but this is my favorite story in the Bible. Jael isn’t even a major player and seems to come out of nowhere. The chapter begins with Deborah, the Israeli judge de facto, telling her army commander, Barak, to attack the Canaanites at Mount Tabor. The entire army was killed except for their commander, Sisera. He fled to a place he thought he would be safe.
But he wasn’t counting on the strong women in the Bible. Because Jael dared to fool him into thinking she would keep him safe, only to go all Van Helsing on him, and she saved the Israelites.
Fun Fact: Barak wouldn’t go after the Canaanites at Mount Tabor unless Deborah went with him. Exasperated, she agreed and told him that since he was such a baby the victory would go to a woman. And it did.
Takeaway: Jael didn’t have a lot of time to develop a plan. The opportunity presented itself and she boldly seized it. It’s easy to over think things, especially when one of our choices seems so risky. Sometimes it’s better to be like Nike and just do it.
”When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.” – 1 Samuel 25:23
Abigail is described as an intelligent and beautiful woman. She was also the wife of Nabal, a very wealthy man who, I believe, was a delusional narcissist. David had not yet become king, but he was a very powerful man with an excellent army. Abigail’s husband not only denied their request for a small share of his goods for a feast, but he talked smack about David to his men. When David found out he led the charge back to Nabal’s household to kill every last male. But Abigail heard what her bonehead of a husband had done and went to meet David before he got to the house. She brought food and wine for all of his men and fell before him, exalting him and begging pardon for the house of Nabal.
Because Abigail dared to approach David she spared the men of her household.
Fun Fact: Nabal died a few days later and Abigail eventually married David.
Takeaway: It wasn’t Abigail’s gaffe, but she took matters into her own hands and humbled herself before David. Being humble, especially when someone else messed up, is difficult. But it’s part of being strong, and a risk that usually pays off.
”But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”’ – Joshua 6:25
Most people don’t associate the term “prostitute” with a Biblical heroine, but Rahab, another of our strong women in the Bible, fits both bills. The Israelites were camped out across the river from Jericho and Joshua was in charge. He sent two spies on a reconnaissance mission, but they didn’t make it out of the city before the gates were closed for the night. While the king’s guards searched for the Israelite spies, the local hooker was hiding them in exchange for the lives of her and her family.
Because Rahab dared to hide the enemy spies, she and her family were spared when Israel sacked the city a couple weeks later.
Fun Fact: Rahab is one of only five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
Takeaway: Rahab had heard what the Israelite’s god had done for them and even though it went against what her society expected of her, she chose to do what she knew was right. So often what we know is right is not the norm and it takes a bit of brass to stay firm in our convictions.
”Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.” – Ruth 2:11
One of the most famous of the strong women in the bible, Ruth was a sweet little Moabite girl and the daughter-in-law of a good Jewish woman, Naomi. They had been living in Moab when they both became widows. Naomi decided she’d go back home to her native Bethlehem and she tried to convince Ruth to stay with her people. Hebrews weren’t exactly fond of those pagan Moabites, after all. But Ruth felt the need to take care of Naomi (a widow with no family was like a death sentence) and she knew there was something special about these Yahweh-loving people. So she followed Naomi back to the land of Judah and eventually married there.
Because Ruth dared to leave her home and everything she knew, she provided Naomi with a family to take care of her.
Fun Fact: Ruth was King David’s grandmother and is also listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
Takeaway: Ruth could have done the “smart” and comfortable thing by staying with her family in Moab. Instead she chose to follow her mother-in-law into an uncertain future. Maintaining our comfort isn’t always the best thing for us and sometimes we need to put on our big girl panties and just head into the unknown. We need to be bold like Ruth.
”Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” – Esther 4:16
The very wealthy, very powerful Persian king Xerxes was having a six-month celebration to flaunt all of his possessions, including his beautiful wife, Vashti. She wanted no part of that, however, so she declined his summons. To save face he demoted her from the queenship and went on the search for a new queen. About a year and tons of women later, he found Esther. What he didn’t know, however, was that Esther was Jewish. His right hand man, Haman, didn’t have anything against Esther, but he did have something against her Uncle Mordecai and all Jews. Not knowing she was related to his nemesis, Haman convinced Xerxes to have the Jews in his vast kingdom annihilated. Esther took her own life in her hands when she approached Xerxes to plead for the lives of her kinsmen.
Because Esther dared to enter the king’s court uninvited, she saved her entire people.
Fun Fact: There is no mention of God in the entire book of Esther.
Bonus Fun Fact: King Xerxes is the same Xerxes in the movie 300. Except the real king wasn’t eight feet tall. Or a god.
Takeaway: Esther was all about social justice and she risked her life for it. Defending Christian standards in the face of society’s morals takes a lot of guts, but considering what Jesus did for us it’s the least we can do.
6. The Sinful Woman
”Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” – Luke 7:44
Imagine you’re at a dinner party. The meal is over and everybody is relaxing around the table, enjoying the company, engaged in stimulating conversation and finishing their full-bodied red wine. Such a pleasant scene, isn’t it? But now imagine one of those girls show up. The kind of girl who shamelessly flaunts her assets. You know what kind of girl she is. “Easy” is a nice way to describe her. That’s the basic scenario of the Sinful Woman. She was one of those girls and she was definitely out of her element when she crashed the dinner party Jesus was at.
Because the sinful woman dared to humble herself and shower Jesus with love the best way she knew how, she was saved by her faith.
Fun Fact: The shoeware de rigueur was sandals and it was a dusty place, ergo, Jesus’ feet must have been incredibly filthy. And she washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Ewww.
Takeaway: This chick made a complete fool of herself to everyone except Jesus. She was so overwhelmed with love for her savior that she tuned out everyone else and just focused on him. That type of zeal may be way out of our comfort zone, but don’t you think it’s worth it?
7. The Samaritan Woman
”The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” – John 4:9
This particular woman had two strikes against her. One) she was a Samaritan and, as the scripture says, Jews did not associate with them; and B) she was considered immoral because she had already had five husbands and, at this particular time, was shacking up with a dude outside of wedlock. I’ve read different commentaries that suggest she was an outcast by Samaritan standards because of her debauched lifestyle. When you consider that and then add the fact that Samaritans were considered unclean by Jews, can you imagine her surprise when Jesus spoke with her? She was so affected by the conversation that she spread the incredible news in her town and many believed.
Because she dared to share what he told her at the well, many in her town believed in Jesus.
Fun Fact: When the woman mentions the coming Messiah Jesus says, “I am he.” This was the only occasion before his trial in which he specifically said he was the Christ.
Takeaway: It was downright scandalous that this Jewish man spoke with a woman of such questionable repute. She could have easily shied away and ignored him, but she didn’t. We never know how a conversation with a complete stranger just might change our lives.
Are you inspired to be daring like these 7 strong women in the Bible? Stand bold, go forth, and let them inspire you to be the change you want to see.
You may also be interested in: 10 Quotes that Will Resonate With Women: Great Bible Verses for Her
About the Author: Christian Mingle can’t be more excited to welcome this post from sassy and self-proclaimed Bible nerd Jennifer Mobley Thompson. Strong on wit and rooted in Jesus, Jennifer brings a fresh voice to the community. We hope you’re as inspired and transformed by her writing as we are!