WOMEN CHARACTERS OF THE BIBLE (3) - SARAH
Under divine inspiration King Solomon stated that the price or worth of a virtuous woman is far above jewels, and that her husband safely trusts in her. “She openeth her mouth with wisdom (God’s wisdom), and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” – Proverbs 31:10-11, 26
Wisdom is an attribute that goes not without knowledge. Undoubtedly, lack of spiritual knowledge is a major factor responsible for the pit falls or errors into which not a few women have fallen. The female Christians of today have much to learn from the experiences and lives of godly women of old in the Holy Bible for their spiritual development in the knowledge of salvation and in holiness.
In order therefore to excite the interest of women in particular in the study of the Scriptures and help their faith in the Lord we are publishing a series of sermons written in a plain language on some women characters of the Bible beginning with Sarah the wife of faithful Abraham.
WHO WAS SARAH?
Sarah was the wife of Abraham. She was formerly known as Sarai but when God promised to bless her and make her “a mother of nations”, He changed her name to Sarah, which means a “princess”. – Genesis 17:15,16
She was a godly woman who proved to be a very good example for all other women. Sarah was the mother of the Jewish nation. As a wife she was obedient and submissive to her husband. When Abraham went with her to Egypt because of hunger, he feared that Pharaoh might kill him and take her to wife being a good-looking woman. So he advised Sarah beforehand that she should say that he was her brother so that the Egyptians might not kill him. Truly, as soon as they arrived in Egypt the fame of Sarah’s beauty reached Pharaoh and she was taken to his house with intent to marry her. God was angry and He punished Pharaoh and his household with plagues, and consequently, Sarah was returned untouched or undefiled and without blemish to Abraham, her husband. Read Genesis 12:10-20
A similar incident happened again when Abraham and Sarah went to Gerar according to Genesis 20:1-18. For the fact that Sarah was a fair woman Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took her. But when he had not gone near her or demanded sexual intercourse of her, God warned him in a dream that he would die because the woman he had taken was another man’s wife.
King Abimelech pleaded innocence and explained that Abraham had told him she was his sister and she confirmed that he (Abraham) was her brother. The king said he had acted with integrity. God agreed that he did it with a clear conscience but added: “I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” He warned him to send the woman back to her husband who, being prophet, would intercede for him so that he might not die.
So the king rose early in the morning and told his servants the whole story in regard to God’s reaction and they were afraid. He also called Abraham and queried as to why he treated him so. Abraham then declared: “…Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.” – Verses11, 12
The discretion of Abraham made him not to die before his time and God helped him. Yes, the Bible says, “Discretion shall preserve thee.” (Proverbs 2:10, 11) Again it should be appreciated that what Abraham said was true. Sarah was truly his sister; and brothers do marry their sisters in those days when God had not, by law, forbidden incest. The law against such marriages was later enacted by God at the time of Moses the prophet, according to Leviticus chapter 18.
Sarah was restored pure to her husband. There is no doubt that because the ways of Abraham and Sarah were pleasing to God, He protected her from being corrupted.
These events show that Sarah was a woman who feared God and who was faithful and loyal to her husband. She was not attracted by the riches and worldly glories of the Pharaoh of Egypt or King Abimelech of Gerar to forsake her husband.
St. Peter admonished Christian women to be chaste and to serve God with fear and meekness. He added that it was so the holy women of old trusted in God and subjected themselves to their own husbands. “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye (women) are, as long as ye do well…” –1 Peter 3:1-6
When Sarah saw that she had no child she suggested to her husband to marry her own handmaid by name, Hagar, and said that it might be they would have children through her. Abraham agreed and married Hagar the Egyptian girl (Genesis 16:1-3) This shows that Sarah had a godly mind for her husband and was not selfish as some women are.
When Hagar was conceived she became proud and she despised Sarah her mistress. Sarah did not take the law into her hands to deal hard with her. She complained to her husband and got his permission before she dealt hard with Hagar. Instead of Hagar to humble herself to Sarah she ran away but the angel of God met her by a spring of water in the wilderness on the way to Shur and said to her: “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” (Genesis 16:4-9) This shows that Sarah was an orderly women who had high regard for her husband and that her action against Hagar was approved of God.
Sarah was a good housewife and was hospitable. When the angels of God visited Abraham at the time they were to go and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their heinous sins she played her part actively in entertaining them. There again God repeated His promise through the angels to bless Sarah with child in her old age. – Genesis 18:1-15
Sarah was a woman who had faith of God. Concerning her it is written: “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised…” – Hebrews 11:11, 12
Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac: her only child who was a child of promise. (Genesis 17:15-22, 18:9-15, 21:1-7) Although she was barren until her old age, she was patient, kind and loving and remained faithful to her husband. She died at the age of 127 years. Many Christian women of today learn to be like Sarah in faith, purity, patience and obedience.