Lessons from Pharaoh's Daughter on Mercy

In the last 2 weeks we have been studying the women that were instrumental in Moses' life. They were:

  • Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives that delivered him and spared his life (despite Pharaoh's orders)
  • Jochebed, his biological mother
  • Miriam, his sister, who was also mentioned in the piece on Jochebed

Today we will be discussing his adopted mother, who was the Pharaoh's daughter.

Through our study of Jochebed, we talked about how Moses came to be adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter. According to Exodus 2:2-4:

"...when [Jochebed] saw that [Moses] was a beautiful child. she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river bank. And his sister (Miriam) stood afar off, to know what would be done to him"

What ended up happening is that the Pharaoh's daughter discovered Moses when she went to bathe in the river, accompanied by her maidens. However, although she realised that he was a Hebrew child, Exodus 2:6 says that "she had compassion on him" and spared his life. This was despite the fact that her father, the Pharaoh, had ordered that all Hebrew male children be killed at birth (Exodus 1:15-17). Miriam, noting her compassion, was then bold enough to approach the Pharaoh's daughter and ask if she should go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse him for her. Two remarkable things then happened:

  1. Pharaoh's daughter gave Miriam permission to find Moses a nurse, thereby preserving his life even further (Exodus 2:7-8)
  2. The woman that Miriam called was Jochebed and, not only did the Pharaoh's daughter give her permission to nurse him, she paid her to do so until he was old enough to be weaned and brought back to the palace- making Pharaoh's daughter Moses' adopted mother (Exodus 2: 8-10)

Pharaoh's daughter therefore has much to teach us about the concept of mercy. If you prefer, you can listen to the rest of this devotional via the audio below rather than continuing to read. Feel free to download and share it with your loved ones as well.

"Mercy" can be defined in the following ways:

  1. Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, enemy or other person in one's power
  2. The discretionary power of a judge (or authority) to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment
  3. An act of kindness, compassion or favour

This is exactly what the Pharaoh's daughter did by knowingly adopting a Hebrew child, despite her father's command and the power that she herself had to execute it. Such benevolence puts me in mind of God and the mercy that He showed to mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You see we, like Moses, also had a death sentence on our heads. However, ours came about through the events of the fall of man- in which Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, despite God commanding them not to. This act of disobedience is known as “original sin”. Sin is an “offence or revolt against God…[a] deliberate defiance [of God’s word]” which is clearly what Adam and Eve did in eating the apple. It is called original sin because it is a sin that we were born with as it has literally been passed down from them throughout the generations, including our own (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 51:5). Original sin therefore means that man is actually sinful by nature.  

We are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart of man is “desperately wicked” and since man speaks or acts “out of the abundance of his heart," it makes sense that man finds it very easy to defy God. This is why the Bible says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We don’t just stay babies in our state of original sin but, as we grow older, our predisposition to sin invariably causes us to go against God and commit some of our own. This is known as “mortal sin”. 

Both types of sin:

  1. Cause us to fall short of God’s glory (image or resemblance), meaning that sin makes it impossible to reflect God and be the image of Him that He originally intended mankind to be (Genesis 1:26)
  2.  Cause us to be at enmity with God and separated from Him, which is illustrated explicitly by the fact that Adam and Eve were kicked out of God’s presence in Genesis 3:23-24
  3. Lead to death, as this is “the wage [recompense or return] of sin” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, the ultimate consequence of a life lived in deliberate defiance of God’s word (sin) is death and damnation, along with Satan and his agents (hence the reason I said mankind, like Moses, also had a death sentence on our heads).

Jesus, however, came to end this vicious cycle “once and for all” (Hebrews 10:10). He was therefore “offered to bear the sins of many” in the same way that the lambs, calves and bulls were in accordance with the law (for He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it, according to Matthew 5:17). This is why Isaiah prophesied that He would be “led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).  However, unlike with the sacrificial lambs of bygone days, Jesus didn’t have sin transferred onto Him- He actually became sin, despite never sinning Himself, so “that we might become the righteousness of God” through Him (for in doing this, it fulfilled God’s need to exact a punishment for sin (death). It also meant that we, as mankind, were justified (made innocent or guiltless) before God without ourselves having to suffer. Jesus therefore became a substitute for mankind and our misdeeds so that God- in His mercy- could spare our lives, just as Pharaoh's daughter spared Moses'). This is the true meaning of Easter and why we, as Christians, celebrate at this time.

It is now only through faith and confession of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are justified before God, and can escape the death sentence caused by sin. This first occurs when we say the sinner’s prayer (usually a variant of Romans 10:9-10), which is our first opportunity to partake of His grace. Have you done this before, lovely? Or do you simply wish to renew your relationship with God? No problem! Simply say the following:

"Lord Jesus, I thank You for dying in my place on the cross all those years ago. I thank You for having compassion on me and paying the price necessary to give me life, just like Pharaoh's daughter did for Moses (as a fore-shadow of what You would do for us years later). I confess that I am a sinner but I believe that my faith in Your death and resurrection eradicates all of that. And, through Your mercy; in line with Lamentations 3:22-24, I will not be consumed in death or judgement because Your compassion does not fail. I will remember that Your mercies are new every morning. They are not just extended to me now, in this moment, but every time I need it because your faithfulness is great. You have been more faithful to me than I have been to you, but I will try to do better. Help me Holy Spirit and guide me into all truth, that I may be made new and walk worthy of the calling to which I have been called from now on. In Jesus' name, I pray, amen!"

If you just said that prayer, here's what you can do in terms of next steps:

  • Read the devotional regarding the lessons that The Adulterous Woman teaches us on Grace, as well as it's accompanying eBook. These will show you how to continue to live in the love and mercy of God
  • Join a Christian community (or church) where you can learn more about God's love for you and get support from godly people in your new walk with Him