Mothers of the Bible

Title: Mothers of the Bible

Bible Book: Proverbs 31 : 10-31

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Mother's Day; Mother



M. C. Waldrup had been out of school eleven years when he was saved and called to preach the Gospel. He enrolled at Mississippi College, where he had to struggle with all those subjects he had left behind when he started working in the timber industry. He got his first test paper back and English and he was surprised at how low he had scored. He went to see his professor, Dr. Chester Swor, who would become one of the most outstanding youth speakers in America, and asked him, “What can I do?” Dr. Swor said, “Pull it up!” He pulled it up.

Brother Waldrup was totally committed to the Lord and took advantage of every opportunity to preach the Gospel. So, when he was invited to preach at the Old Ladies Home in Jackson on Mother’s Day (no joke, that is what they called it), he readily accepted the invitation and began preparing his first Mother’s Day sermon. He preached the sermon to an eager audience and when the service was over they complimented him almost to the point of embarrassment. Finally, before he left one lady told him what a wonderful Mother’s Day sermon he had preached - “even if there was not a mother in the room.”

Today, the celebration of Mothers Day gives us an opportunity to honor our mothers, and to challenge mothers to do everything they can to lead their families to commit themselves to the Lord. I really do thank the Lord for this day. Did you know that the idea for Mother's Day was born in a small Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia?

It was 1876 and the nation still mourned the Civil War dead. While teaching a Memorial Day lesson, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis thought of mothers who had lost their sons. She prayed that one day there could be a "Memorial Day" for mothers. The prayer made a deep impression on one of Mrs. Jarvis's eleven children. Young Anna had seen her mother's efforts to hold the war-split community and church together. As she grew into adulthood, the younger woman kept Mrs. Jarvis's dream in her heart. On the day of her mother's death, Anna was determined to establish Mother's Day in her honor.

On May 12, 1907, a local observance was held which later spread to Philadelphia. By 1910, Mother's Day was celebrated in forty-five states, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. Elated, Miss Jarvis told a friend, "Where it will end must be left for the future to tell. That it will circle the globe now seems certain."

On May 8, 1914, President Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day “for displaying the American flag and for the public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country” [Bible Illustrator].

Mother’s Day, 2013 falls on May 12. I wonder how many times Mother’s Day has fallen on my birthday, or is it that my birthday has fallen on Mother’s Day. My wife and I have joked about our birthdays on many occasions. This year, I told our people that I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said, “a revival”, so I scheduled one. Once again, she has the last laugh because Mother’s Day falls on my birthday.

Mother’s Day is a special day, a day I remember my mother, who has been in heaven since 1984, and anyone who knew my mother knows she closed her eyes in this world and opened them a heartbeat later in the presence of the Lord she love and served as very few people I have known. I have also celebrated Mother’s day with the mother of my sons for over fifty years. I remember my grandmothers, and even though I do not remember her, my great grandmother, whose father was a decorated hero of the Civil War, I still honor that Grandmother, who baby sat with me when I was a toddler, or so I was told.

I thank the Lord that a day has been set aside in America to honor our mothers. This is one day that should be celebrated with our Lord and His Word in mind. We live in a day of conferences. You can find a conference on just about anything of interest to you. There are men’s conferences, women’s conferences, youth conferences, family conferences, evangelism conferences, prayer conferences, stewardship conferences, and a host of others. If we are serious about seeking help, the best place to start is the Bible.


A. Rebekah Was God’s Choice for a Wife for Isaac (Gen. 24).

1. Abraham sent his servant to the home of his kinsmen to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham was well advanced in years and wanted to find a wife for Isaac. He made his trusted servant swear that he would not take a Canaanite woman for Isaac’s wife. Furthermore, he made the servant promise that he would not take Isaac back to the home of Nahor and Bethuel, because it was to the Land of Canaan that the Lord had led Abraham and it was the Land of Canaan He promised his descendants. The servant took a caravan of men and camels and left for the home town of Nahor and Bethuel.

The servant prayed that the Lord would lead him to the right woman for a wife for Isaac, and as he waited at the well where the women went to draw water, the Lord answered his prayer. A beautiful and intelligent young woman came to draw water and she met the conditions set forth in the servant’s prayer (Gen. 24:12ff).

(11) “He made the camels kneel beside a well of water outside the town at evening. ⌊This was⌋ the time when the women went out to draw water. (12) “Lord, God of my master Abraham,” he prayed, “give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. (13) I am standing here at the spring where the daughters of the men of the town are coming out to draw water. (14) Let the girl to whom I say, ‘Please lower your water jug so that I may drink,’ and who responds, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels also’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”
(15) Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—coming with a jug on her shoulder. (16) Now the girl was very beautiful, a young woman who had not known a man intimately. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up. (17) Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me have a little water from your jug.” (18) She replied, “Drink, my lord.” She quickly lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink. (19) When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I’ll also draw water for your camels until they have had enough to drink.” (20) She quickly emptied her jug into the trough and hurried to the well again to draw water. She drew water for all his camels (21) while the man silently watched her to see whether or not the Lord had made his journey a success. (22) After the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing half a shekel, and for her wrists two bracelets weighing 10 shekels of gold. (23) “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” (24) She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” (25) She also said to him, “We have plenty of straw and feed and a place to spend the night.” (26) Then the man bowed down, worshiped the Lord, (27) and said, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

The Lord revealed to Rebekah’s father and his household that this was the Lord’s will, so she returned with the servant to Isaac. “And Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah and took Rebekah to be his wife. Isaac loved her, and he was comforted after his mother’s death” (24:Gen 24:1-67, HCSB).

2. Rebekah ’s Favoritism Divided Her Home, Gen. 25.

(21) “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord heard his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. (22) But the children inside her struggled with each other, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. (23) And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb; two people will ⌊come⌋ from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. (24) “When her time came to give birth, there were indeed twins in her womb. (25) The first one came out red-looking, covered with hair like a fur coat, and they named him Esau. (26) After this, his brother came out grasping Esau’s heel with his hand. So he was named Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when they were born” (Gen 25:19-26, HCSB).

3. The home of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau was a divided home. Isaac was also guilty, if not as blatantly as Rebekah. Favoritism divided that which should have been a godly home, and over a period of time Rebekah helped her son Jacob deceive Esau and cheat him out of his birthright. He fled to Rebekah’s family, where the trickster became the cheated one. The Lord accomplished His purpose with Jacob, whose name He chanted to Israel, Prince with God.

B. Jezebel Is One of the Best Examples of a Really Bad Mother.

“Ahab son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Judah’s King Asa; Ahab son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria 22 years. 30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight more than all who were before him. 31 Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were a trivial matter, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him” (1 Kings 16:29-31, HCSB).

Jezebel the pagan married Ahab, king of Israel. I grew up just south of Memphis, seven miles west of Sledge, Mississippi. We attended a mission church from some time before it was organized as Green River Baptist Church. During the time when it was a mission of another church we got home just in time to see R. G. Lee go to the pulpit, kneel in his white Palm Beach suit, which matched his white hair, and pray before standing an preaching as only R. G. Lee could preach. Dr. Lee preached his famous sermon, “Pay Day Some Day” over 1200 times. I heard him preach it in person twice, and I can never forget his description of Ahab, that old “toad squatted on the throne of Israel”, or his description of Jezebel, “the adder coiled by the throne.” He portrayed her as the vilest of women, which seems appropriate, considering what she did to Israel and the servants of the living God.

Jezebel was like Satan incarnate, compared with most women. She pushed to have Baal worship replace YAHWEH worship in the land He had given to Abraham and his descendants. This vile, evil woman spread paganism, violence, and murder across the land of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, but in the end she met a death no one would ever desire, a death prophesied by the prophet Elijah.
Wait a minute! I thought the subject here was what kind of mother Jezebel was, not what kind of queen she was. Well, I haven’t forgotten that I said she was an ungodly, evil mother. Do you recall her daughter? Her name was Athaliah, who seemed determined to prove herself to be as vile and evil as her cursed mother. She even murdered her own sons who seemed to get a little too close to the throne of Judah.

“When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs. (2) Jehosheba, ⌊who was⌋ King Jehoram’s daughter and Ahaziah’s sister, secretly rescued Joash son of Ahaziah from the king’s sons who were being killed and ⌊put⌋ him and the one who nursed him in a bedroom. So he was hidden from Athaliah and was not killed. (3) Joash was in hiding with Jehosheba in the Lord’s temple six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.” (2 Kings 11:1-3).

I thank the Lord that the Bible has many examples of godly mothers. There are mothers who were godly rather than evil like Jezebel and Athaliah. There are also many examples of mothers who did not create tension and hatred among her family members, as did Rebekah.


A. We Must Begin with Eve, Genesis 1-2.

1. Eve was created the perfect woman - “very good.” She was the first mother and we must assume that she had the ideal traits of a good and godly mother.

2. Eve enjoyed good health. Think about it: our original mother must have been just about the most beautiful mother who ever lived. She must also have been among the healthiest women who ever lived.

3. She lived in a paradise. She lived in the Garden of Eden, the most perfect place any mother ever occupied. She lived in a paradise like no other on earth. She never needed to take a vacation as long as she lived in Eden.

4. She had the world’s best husband. Of course, Adam was the only husband in the world! But, I am convinced that he may well have been among the most brilliant men who ever lived, as well as the healthiest. Who named all the animals God created? Adam. Who sat at the feet of the Creator and learned about the universe, the animals, the stars, and constellations? Adam.

5. Eve had the distinct privilege of walking and talking with God. It would be interesting to know just how long Eve walked with God in Paradise before the Fall.

6. Still, she sinned. She sinned with her eyes wide open. She knew she was disobeying God, her Creator. She was the first person to be deceived by Satan, the prince of the fallen world.

7. She was restored and received the first Messianic promise from the Lord. We must remember that we are all descended from Eve, and according to some report I read years ago, there is no doubt that we are all the children of one mother.

B. Our Next Mother is Sarah. Genesis 12-23.

1. Her name was Sarai, which means contentious. I have teased little girls who were named Sarah by asking, “Are you Sarah today, or are you Sarai?”

2. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means princess.

3. When we meet Sarah she is old. She was the half-sister and wife of Abraham, but she had no children and could have no children.

4. She is barren and miserable. We can read the Old Testament and see something of the status of a woman who had no children. Think of Rachel and Hannah.

5. God promised Abraham that Sarah would have a son. Abraham believed God, even when Sarah doubted His promise. She struggled with doubt, even though she believed God.

6. Sarah was blessed with a son. In fact, Sarah was blessed - in many ways.

C. Our Next Mother is Ruth, Ruth 1-4.

“During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to live in the land of Moab for a while. (2) The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the land of Moab and ⌊settled⌋ there. (3) Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. (4) Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about 10 years, (5) both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband” (Ruth 1:1-5).

1. Ruth was a foreigner, the daughter-in-law of Naomi.

2. She had been a pagan.

3. She was widowed.

4. She was a loyal and faithful daughter-in-law. She returned to Israel with Naomi, even though Naomi tried to dissuade her.

“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. (17) Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

5. Ruth was especially blessed. She became a wife and mother under God’s blessings.

6. Her descendants would include King David.

7. She is included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

D. Our Next Mother is Hannah, 1 Samuel 1-2.

1. Hannah was loved by her husband. Her husband never ceased loving her.

2. Barren and desperate, Hanhan prayed for a son.

3. She was given a son, and she gave her son to the Lord.

4. She was blessed.

E. Our Next Bible Mother is Mary.

“The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (19) So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

(20) “But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. (21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt 1:18-21)

1. Mary was blessed among women. I could not believe it when I learned that a seminary professor insisted that it did not matter that Mary was reported to have been a virgin. I had a problem accepting it when a close friend refused to translate the Hebrew word Almah, “maiden” rather than “virgin” (Is. 7:14). “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, HCSB). A friend said to our mutual friend, “I know you could translate that word right.” To which my long time friend, a Hebrew and Old Testament professor said, “I know it, too, but I refused to live a lie for the next several years if I do not translate it as I believe it should be.” If there is any doubt, Matthew settles it in the first Chapter of the Gospel that bears his name.

2. Mary was a virgin when the angel appeared unto her. She was told by an angel that she would give birth to the Messiah.

3. She knew great joy. She also experienced great grief when Jesus was crucified, but she experienced greater joy, when Jesus was raised from the dead.

4. She remains a great example for mothers today. She is still blessed among women.


A. The Bible Gives the Qualities of a Good Mother, Proverbs 31:10-31.

1. The ideal mother is pure and holy before the Lord.

2. She loves her husband.

3. She loves her children.

4. She provides for her family.

5. She is industrious.

Sometimes church signs get it right: Seen on a church sign: IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, HOW COME MOTHERS STILL HAVE ONLY TWO HANDS? - Donna Waldeyer, Paoli, PA, Christian Reader, Nov/Dec 1995, p. 95.

B. There Is Help For Mothers Today.

1. First, there is the Scripture.

2. Prayer is essential.

3. There are many good role models.

4. Every young mother should find a role model in her own mother.

5. There is no perfect example in the Bible.

6. There are no perfect mothers today.

7. The ideal mother is a growing mother.

8. The ideal is a forgiven mother.

9. The faithful mother is a blessed woman.


My good friend, Dr. Bill Cooper, who graciously included my name in the Acknowledgments in his four latest books, wrote The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis (Daniel, Jonah, and Esther) which introduces us to an amazing mother. Dr. Cooper, in OLD LIGHT ON THE ROMAN CHURCH, writes of an amazing woman and mother. She was the Lady Pomponia, who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at a time when such commitment might have led to her martyrdom, had it not been for the fact that her husband, a Roman Senator, was given the customary privilege of hearing her case. It seems that she agreed never to talk openly of her faith in Jesus and was permitted to live.

Paul, in writing his Epistle to the Romans, refers to this godly lady, without mentioning her name. Let me show you how he does that. He wrote, “Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus” (Romans 16:10). Aristobulus had gone to the Island of Britain with one Bran, father of Caradoc, who had returned as a puppet ruler under the Roman emperor. Aristobulus was a faithful witness of Jesus Christ, which led to his martyrdom.

A few verses down, Paul wrote, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother—and mine” (Romans 16:13). Rufus was the son of Lady Pomponia, and Paul obviously knew that he should not mention her name, less he placed her life in jeopardy. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul extends greetings to some of the Lord’s faithful servants, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. (20) Erastus has remained at Corinth; Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. (21) Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers” (2 Tim 4:19-21). Dr. Cooper makes a strong case for identifying Pudens as Rufus, the son of Lady Pomponia. Linus was the son of the very brave warrior king of Britain, Caradoc, who defeated the best the Romans could send against him in more than thirty pitched battles. Because of his courage, when he refused to bow before the Roman Emperor, the people shouted that he was too brave to be condemned to death. He and his family were permitted to live in the home of Lady Pomponia, who led them to faith in Jesus Christ. Pudens, son of Lady Pomponia, married Claudia, daughter of Caradoc. Linus, son of Caradoc became the first bishop of the church at Rome, and became a martyr for our Lord. Claudia wrote many of the hymns the first century church sang.

I am indebted to my friend, Bill Cooper, for his research in the museums of England, as well as his work in translating from the Latin very important testimonies about those early believers. On this Mother’s Day, my sense of gratitude for Dr. Cooper’s work leaves me humbled before our Lord.

We have many examples of godly mothers in the Bible, but I thank the Lord that we have records of godly mothers down through the ages, and there are countless thousands of godly, dedicated, loving mothers today who live for their families and teach their children the ways of the Lord.

The mothers who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, and never seek to introduce their children to the Savior are numberless. Still, in His own way, the Savior is reaching out to those mothers every day. There may well be some mothers here today who need to surrender their will to His will. I would urge mothers everywhere to believe in Jesus Christ, live in Him, walk with Him, and introduce your children to Him.

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