Lessons from Shiphrah and Puah on the Benefits of Fearing God

In Exodus 1:15-17 we are informed about the fact that the Pharaoh reigning at the time of Moses' birth gave a command that all Hebrew sons be killed at birth. This is because he was afraid that the Hebrews' great number and might would mean that they would one day "join [Egypt's] enemies and fight against them" in the event of war (Exodus 1:9-10). However, Shiphrah and Puah (two Hebrew midwives) did not do as Pharaoh said and "saved the male children alive" because they "feared God" (Exodus 1:15-17). As such, these women have much to teach us about the fear of the Lord and it's benefits. If you'd like to find out what these are by listening to the devotional rather than continuing to read, do feel free to press play on the audio below. You can also download and share it with your loved ones:

We often think of fear as being a negative emotion because it is usually used as synonym for afraid or frightened. However fear, in this context, means "reverence" (which is "a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe [or] veneration"). So, what this means is that Shiphrah and Puah had greater "reverence," "respect" and "awe" for God and His statutes than they did for Pharaoh and his command. This was the passion that drove them to civil disobedience although it was (presumably) punishable by death.

As a result of our spiritual mothers' fear of God (and the part this played in them obeying Him), "God dealt well with [them] and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And...because the midwives feared God...He provided households for them" (Exodus 1:20-21). Therefore Shiphrah and Puah clearly demonstrate that the fear of the Lord:

  1. Helps us to keep away from evil and not partake in sin, just as they did. This therefore keeps us from reaping a negative harvest, given that we reap what we sow (Proverbs 16:6; Galatians 6:7)
  2. Leads to life in abundance so that one may sleep satisfied; untouched by evil and everything that comes with it (e.g. guilt, anxiety. dis-ease etc, while living, and condemnation in death)
  3. Prolongs life, according to Proverbs 10:27. We see this literally where Shiphrah, Puah and the Hebrew male children are concerned. Their fear of God kept them from the evil of contributing to infanticide; thus the Hebrew boys' lives were "prolonged". However, the ladies' fear also, more than likely, served to prolong the length of their own days on earth as well as in heaven (eternal life)
  4. Leads to riches, honour, life and no lack/want (Proverbs 22:4; Psalm 34:9). This would explain why God provided households for Shiphrah and Puah, and the people multiplied and grew so mighty!
  5. Causes God to protect and deliver those who fear Him (Psalm 34:17). This is probably how the midwives were able to disobey Pharaoh without suffering dearly for it
  6. Produces wisdom, according to Psalm 111:10, which is probably how the ladies were able to deceive Pharaoh and not get caught (Exodus 1:18-19). Point #7 (below) probably helped with this too as the fear of the Lord also-
  7. Leads to revelation as God shares His "secrets" with those who fear Him (Psalm 25:14)

It is important to recognise that, like Shiphrah and Puah, our faith walk will put us in positions where we will have to choose whom we will serve- man or God. This may put us at odds with those we used to identify ourselves with; the people that used to influence our decisions and choices. These situations epitomise what Jesus meant when He said "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way" to righteousness (Matthew 7:14). Few take it because it is not easy to swim against the current whether that "flow of dissipation" is internal (desires brought about by our carnal mind or "flesh") or external (desires brought about by the influence of "the world").

Related: An Interview with Donna on Martha

But what about you, lovely? Which path will you take? Colossians 3:22 says that we are not to be "men-pleasers". Romans 12:2 says we are not to be conformed to this world so that, like Shiphrah and Puah, we may act as living testimonies proving "what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God". Whenever you have to choose between pleasing man or God remember that fearing the Lord and doing His will, will be validated via the appearance of the blessings or benefits explored above.

Related: An Interview with Ellen Chauvin on Mary Magdalene