Depending on what exact circles you hail from in Christendom, the concept of there being strong women in the Bible is one that is, at least, sometimes debated and, at most, is sometimes disparaged.
Are women allowed to be strong?
Did God design women to be strong?
Do we have examples in Scripture of strong women? If so, are these godly examples?
Or were they closer in likeness to the modern-day stereotype of a man-hating, harsh woman?
These are just some questions one often runs into when talking about the concept of strong women in the Bible. But what we need to know is what God’s Word, not man’s, has to say. Finding out the strength of a woman in the bible—that will be our focus today!
What does God say about a woman’s strength?
What does the bible say about strong woman? While mankind may sometimes struggle with the concept of women being strong, God never has. In fact, one of the major pictures we are given of what a godly woman looks like and the many characteristics a woman of God can be known for, the Proverbs 31 woman, is known for her strength! Proverbs 31:17 says,
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
We know that this is a picture of a woman after God’s own heart, for we read later, in Proverbs 31:29-31
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
A godly woman’s strength comes from her walk with God, as Paul alludes to in Philippians 4:13 (NIV) “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” God is not against women being strong. In fact, He raises them up and honors them for living out the strength they find in Him.
There are many godly inspirational quotes for Christian women that reflect this God-given strength!
The strength of a woman in the Bible
While our culture sometimes ridicules or disparages women who show great strength, God’s Word never does. Nowhere in Scripture do we see God put down a woman for being strong. Rather, we find example after example of women mentioned by name and praised for their many contributions to both the nation of Israel as well as to the church in the New Testament age.
Deborah, a prophetess and judge in Israel, is lauded in Judges 4-5 for faithfully and strongly leading the nation of Israel. Judges 5 ends this way: “And the land had rest for forty years,” revealing the blessing of her strong leadership.
Huldah, a prophetess we read of in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34, was used by God to reveal to King Josiah, the High Priest, and the other men of the royal court, the truths of God’s law that Josiah had newly re-discovered.
We have already seen the radiant example of feminine strength presented in Proverbs 31. That is just one example from Proverbs, however. Throughout that book, we see wisdom personified as a woman. We are told that the wise woman builds her home, sons are told to listen to the instruction of their mother, and the list goes on.
In the New Testament, Mary (who we will look at in a moment!) is an example of amazing strength. Priscilla in the book of Acts, along with her husband, corrects the theology of a traveling evangelist and also works alongside Paul in a tent-making business. Phoebe, in Romans 16, is commissioned by Paul to deliver his letter to the church and is praised for her service.
The list could go on, but the contribution and strength of women is on display throughout Scripture as a positive, helpful, God-ordained thing.
Who was a strong female in the Bible?
When I think of strong women in the Bible, my mind always turns to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Think for a moment what life must have been like for her, and you quickly discover just how much strength she truly did possess as a result of her walk with God.
She was a very young teenager – most scholars tend to think somewhere around 13-15 years old – and yet she was ready and willing to become the mother of the promised Messiah.
This is a big deal, because in her day and age, to be an unwed, pregnant woman was often a death sentence. Many a woman who had been with men without being married were stoned to death. It would have been understandable for Mary to want to (or even decide to!) turn down this call of God in her life. We all would have understood if she had run the other way in fear.
But she didn’t.
Because she knew her God. She knew (and shortly after, praised!) His character. She knew Him to be good, trustworthy, and faithful, so she said “yes” to His call even though her life mission would result in the misunderstanding ridicule and judgmental glances from those in her community who would have assumed her to be a “loose woman”.
She cared more about God’s call on her life than she did what public opinion of her was.
That, my friends, is strength indeed!
Who was a courageous woman in the Bible?
There are many examples of courageous women in Scripture, but the example that always stands out to me the most is that of the Hebrew midwives in the book of Exodus.
Exodus 1:15-20 says, “Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and let the male children live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong.”
Here is an amazing example of two strong and courageous women! In the face of likely impending death, if the Pharaoh were to discover the true motive behind the Hebrew midwives’ actions, they were nevertheless willing to do the right thing and preserve the lives of these newborn baby boys.
Women can be – and are! – strong and courageous, and they can be used by God in countless amazing ways for His glory and the good of others when they operate out of that strength and courage.
Strength and courage are not something to hide. They are characteristics to be put to good use – and God in Scripture was faithful to provide us with many examples of women doing just that.
Woman, don’t listen to the enemy!
It is the enemy, not God, who wants to tell women that there is virtue in being weak, scared, whimpy, and lacking in strength and courage. This is not to say that we are enough on our own, have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, have to strive for ultimate strength on our own, can never struggle, and must depend on ourselves. Not at all. Our strength comes from Christ, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. But it is to say that it is a good thing – something to be lauded and imitated – to see women walking in and living out their God-given strength in a whole host of different ways.
The enemy knows the great power of influence women have (why do we think he went to Eve in the garden?), and he does not want them to walk through life with godly strength.
The good news is, we do not have to fall prey to his lies and caricatures of what womanhood is supposed to look like. We can instead follow in the footsteps of the strong women in the Bible and boldly walk forward in the strength and courage that God alone provides, joyfully doing so every step of the way.
Prayer about being a strong woman
Lord, we often have so many lies, stereotypes, and deceptions that come at us in both church and culture about what it means to be a godly woman. The church sometimes tells us that there is virtue in women being weak. The culture often tells us that women are to be harsh or domineering in order to fight back against men.
But You, Lord, provide a much better way for us. You show in the Bible that to be a strong woman and to also love our husbands and children is by no means contradictory. We can be feminine and be strong!
Thank You for the examples You have provided, and we also thank You for the strength You provide that we can only find in You. Help us walk in light of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
GUEST AUTHOR: REBEKAH HARGRAVES
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, homeschooling mama of two, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author. Her passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life.
Rebekah’s books: “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)” (2017), and the “Lies Moms Believe” Companion Bible Study” (2018).