Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 1)

momA teacher gave her class of second graders a science lesson on the magnet and what it does. The next day in a written test, she included this question: “My full name has six letters. The first one is “M”. I pick up things. What am I?” When the test papers were turned in, the teacher was astonished to find that almost 50 percent of the students answered the question with the word mother.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day when we honor our mothers.  How many of you have ever had a mother?  That’s what I thought.  And you know, motherhood is much more than giving birth.  There are many mothers who have never carried a child in their body, but they have carried a child in their heart, and we want to be careful to include those wonderful women as we honor mothers.

This week, as we approach Mother’s Day, we are going to look at seven Biblical mothers who are praiseworthy.  Some of these “magnificent mothers” are well-known in Scripture, some of them get more of a fleeting look, but all of them have characteristics that are to be admired, imitated, and praised.

Magnificent Mother #1: The Protector

The first “magnificent mother” is one I’m going to call “The Protector”.  We find her story in the book of Exodus.  You know it well.  Her name is identified in Exodus 6:20 as Jochebed, the mother of Aaron, Miriam, and Moses; but she is most well known for what happens in the first ten verses of chapter two.  That of course was the time when Pharaoh was ordering all the Hebrew boy babies to be thrown into the Nile River.

Exodus 2:2 says when Jochebed gave birth to Moses, “she saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.”  Now, I never met a mother who didn’t think her son was a special baby, but I think Scripture is trying to tell us that Jochebed saw something even more in this child that she had brought into the world.

She protected him.  She kept him hidden.  And when she could keep him hidden no longer, she made a little basket for him out of papyrus reeds, waterproofed it with tar and pitch, hid him among the reeds along the banks of the Nile, and set his sister to watch out for him.

I know that most mothers would do anything to protect her child, but Jochebed really goes to it.  She thinks of everything.  Imagine the care and effort that she must have put into that little floating basket.  She does what it takes to protect the life of her son.  And how is she rewarded?  When Pharaoh’s daughter rescues the baby, she ends up hiring Jochebed to take care of Moses.  Jochebed, a slave woman, ends up getting paid to nurse her own son!  (Some of you mothers out there wish you could’ve been paid for watching your own kid!)

There is nothing in our world today to compare to a nationwide policy of drowning all male children of a particular race.  But there are plenty of things for a mother to be worried about.  And God never made a better worrier than a mother.  There are pitfalls and dangers that every child will face, and every mother, like Jochebed, wants to protect her child.  No good mother wants harm to come to her child.  But, you know, there comes a time when The Protector has to let go a little and allow her child to grow, to learn, and maybe even fall down a little.  There’s a beautiful song that Bill Gaither wrote for his children that says:

Mom and Dad would love to collect you
And shield and protect you
And save you from hurts if we could
But we must let you grow tall
To learn and to know all
That God has in mind for your good

So, like when a child is learning to walk, sometimes Mom has to let her child fumble around and get its own footing; but when the child falls, The Protector is always there to kiss the bumps and bruises and to love and encourage.

~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chair

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