Sarah – her name means”Princess”
You can read about Sarai in Genesis 11, 12, 16, 17, and you can read about Sarah in: Genesis 18, 20, 21, 23, 24. 25 and 49:31; Isaiah 51:2, Romans 4:19, 9:9; Galatians 4:19-31; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6
Beautiful, wealthy woman spoiled by her doting husband, manipulates him into getting what she’s been promised. After she achieves her goal, her way, she finds out she doesn’t really like the result – so she blames her husband, abuses a woman who just went along with the plan and causes a permanent rift in her family.
Today’s headline? Nope. The story comes from the 7th century BC.
Frankly, Sarah is not one of my favorite Bible characters. I find her scheming when she should be trusting, silent when she should speak up about her husband’s harebrained schemes, and pretty doggone mean to the help. Her name means Princess and I’m not in to the whole “princess” thing. You’re more likely to find me fishing on a river in cutoffs smeared with salmon eggs than dressing up in some frothy confection like a Grace Kelly – wannabe. (Although I did love Princess Di.)
And to stump me even more, in spite of the fact that Sarah does so many un-faith-full things, she is still listed in the Bible’s Hall of Faith. This means I have to set feelings aside and pay attention to her story. Hebrews 11 says Sarah “received power” and “considered God faithful.” These are two things I would like to have: power and faith. So, I gave myself the task of sifting through the considerable amount written about Sarah in order to share three things I learned/liked about her.
#1 – “Listen to your wife!”
Eve plunges the whole world into sin when her husband follows her lead. Sarah creates two nations that are at war to this very day when Abraham gives in to her suggestion. After reading about the first two women of the Bible, you might begin to think that women can’t make good decisions and men should never take their advice. Then I read this verse:
“But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed…whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you,
for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you.” Genesis 21:12
God tells Abraham to listen to his wife. I think I need to repeat that. God tells Abraham to listen to his wife.
As you read their story, it is obvious that Abraham and Sarah loved each other. She leaves her home country and heads out on an adventure with him – not knowing where she is going. She leaves a city to live in tents the rest of her life. Author Gien Karssen describes Sarah as not only beautiful but faithful; Abraham’s friend as well as his lover. Together they discuss matters of mutual, daily concern. Abraham listened to Sarah. Her words had influence on her husband.
Herbert Lockyer shared a portion of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the Sarah section of his book “All The Women of the Bible.” I thought it perfectly described the relationship between Abraham and Sarah.
“As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman,
Though she bends him,
she obeys him,
Though she draws him,
yet she follows,
Useless each without the other!”
Hiawatha ends up marrying Laughing Water – which brings me to my next favorite thing about Sarah…
#2 – Sarah Laughs
I love to laugh. Growing up in the Lutheran church I remember looking at all those somber faces around me and resolving that when I got old my lips wouldn’t turn down into a frown but would go up into a smile. (I don’t think I quite grasped the concept of gravity at the time:) I wanted my joy at knowing Jesus to radiate out to those around me. Even at that young age I understood people wouldn’t be attracted to Jesus by an unhappy Christian.
Laughter is all throughout Sarah’s story. Abraham laughs when God tells him he and Sarah will have a child. When Sarah overhears some of Abraham’s guests reiterating that she will have a child “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Will I have this joy after my husband and I have grown old?”” And finally when the child of promise is born Sarah says: “Laugh with me. God has made me laugh with joy.” She even names her son Isaac – which means “to laugh.”
Your father Abraham was pleased to see that my day was coming. He saw it and was happy.
The Jews said to Jesus “You’re not even fifty years old. How could you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus told them, “I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.”
#3 Sarah’s Encouragement
Sarah’s was a flawed, imperfect pursuit of God. This gives me a shot of hope. Ann Spangler says, “God accomplishes His purposes despite our frailties, our little faith, our entrenched self-reliance.” Isaiah 30:18 says: “Blessed are all who wait for Him.”
God’s promises are on His timetable. Scripture says Sarah had Isaac at the “appointed time.” She had to wait 25 years after she got the promise. She had to wait until it was impossible for her to conceive. But faith and patience go together. In Genesis 18:14 God says about Sarah: “Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.” So, sister, do not fear!
“…like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters
if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:6 NIV
How does Sarah’s Story point to Jesus?
Matthew 1:1 starts with “The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Jesus is called the Son of Abraham. Eve was on the lookout for The Seed, the coming of a Savior. God had a plan. Sarah was part of His plan. He used Abraham’s family line to accomplish the plan of salvation.
Satan saw God’s plan and did everything he could to stop it. Throughout the Old Testament we can see that wily devil trying to corrupt the line of Christ. He used the sinful actions of Abraham (letting Sarah be taken into foreign king’s harems – twice!) to try and accomplish his goal of preventing Christ’s birth but God intervened personally on both occasions to protect Sarah’s purity and the line of Christ.
I’m so grateful. That same power and protection is available to those who follow Christ.
Questions to Ponder:
- Sarah had a name change at the age of 99. Do you know what your name means? If you could change your name, what name would you choose?
- Sarah dealt very harshly with Hagar. But Isaac was the child of promise. Was Sarah justified in her behavior to protect her son? Why or why not? What brings out your inner mama-bear?
- Is your child being called to step out in faith, leave home, go on a path that seems unsafe? Are you trusting that the Lord is in control of their lives or are you trying to manipulate the circumstances to keep them “safe”?
Let’s pray Ann Spangler prayer from the book “Women of the Bible:”
Father, thank you for loving me despite the fact that my soul still contains shadows that sometimes block the light of your Spirit. As I grow older, may I trust you more completely for the dreams you’ve implanted in my soul (and my children’s souls), the promises you’ve made to me (and to my children). Like Sarah, may I be surrounded by laughter at the wonderful way you accomplish your purpose (in Your time) despite my weakness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Bottom Line
Things I learned from Sarah: My words have power. I need to use them wisely when speaking with my husband.
First published January 23, 2016.