Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Biblical Descriptions of Women

Here's a fairly exhaustive study of the word "woman" in the Bible, with all of its uses and descriptions (from the ESV version, so I may have missed some mentioned in other versions). I thought it would be helpful for us to see how women are described in the Bible, positively and negatively, as we strive to be godly women.

Not all of them will apply in each of our lives, and some are situation-specific... but perhaps one or many of these will catch your eye and inspire you in a particular area of your life... and we'll come back and examine these a little at the end of the list.


  • made by God (Gen 2:22)
  • taken out of man (Gen 2: 23, 1 Cor 11:9)
  • "beautiful in appearance" (Sarai-- Gen 12, Rebekah-- Gen 12, Bathsheba--2 Sam 11:2, Tamar-- 2 Sam 14:27, 1 Ki 1:3-4)
  • "pregnant" (Exod. 21:22, Is 26:17, and many, many more)
  • "skillful" (Exod. 35:25)
  • "tender" (Deut 28:56)
  • "refined" (Deut 28:56)
  • "delicate" (Deut. 28:56)
  • "loved" (Jud 16:4)
  • "worthy" (Ruth 3:14)
  • not worthless (1 Sam 1:16)
  • "discerning" (1 Sam 25:3)
  • "wise" (2 Sam 14:2, 2 Sam 20:16, Prov 31:26)
  • "wealthy" (2 Ki 4:8-- the Shunammite woman who cared for Elisha)
  • "barren, childless" given a home and children (Ps 113:9)
  • "gracious" (Prov 11:16)
  • receives honor (Prov 11:16)
  • precious (Prov 31:10)
  • trustworthy (Prov 31:11)
  • interested in doing good for and pleasing her husband (Prov 31:12, Prov 31:23, 1 Cor 7:34)
  • a willing worker (Prov 31:13, 19)
  • prudent (Prov 31:16, 18)
  • "strong" (Prov 31:17)
  • diligent (Prov 31:18-22, Prov 31:27, Luke 15:8)
  • generous (Prov 31:20)
  • teaches kindness (Prov 31:26)
  • "excellent" (Prov 31:29)
  • "woman who fears the Lord" (Prov 31:30-- worthy of praise)
  • great in faith (Matthew 15:20-28)
  • worshipful, sacrificial, worthy of remembrance (Matt. 26:6-13)
  • "saved" by faith (Luke 8:40)
  • freed from disability (Luke 13:12)
  • bearer of a faithful testimony that led many to believe (John 4:39)
  • uncondemned by God (John 8:10-11)
  • "believer" (Acts 16:1)
  • "seller of purple goods" (Acts 16:4)
  • "worshiper of God" with an open, attentive heart (Acts 16:4)
  • unmarried/betrothed are interested in holiness & "the things of the Lord" (1 Cor 7:34)
  • "glory of man" (1 Cor 11:7)
  • not independent of man (1 Cor 11:11)
  • "quiet" learner (1 Tim 2:11, 12)
  • "submissive" (1 Tim 2:11)
  • "weaker vessel" (1 Pet 3:7)
  • "drunken" (1 Sam 1:13-- Eli was mistaken when he thought this about Hannah)
  • "perverse, rebellious" (1 Sam 20:30-- spoken by Saul to Jonathan about his mother in order to shame him)
  • "desolate" (Tamar-- 2 Sam 13:20, because she was defiled)
  • "cursed" (2 Ki 9:34-- Jezebel)
  • "wicked" (2 Chr 24:7-- idolatrous woman)
  • "barren, childless" (Job 24:21)
  • "forbidden woman" (Prov 2:16, 5:3, 5:20, 7:5-- the adulteress)
  • "evil" (Prov 6:24-- the adulteress)
  • wily of heart (Prov 7:10-- a woman dressed as a prostitute)
  • "a beautiful woman without discretion" is like a gold ring in a pig's snout (Prov 11:22)
  • "quarrelsome" & fretful (Prov 21:19-- living with this kind of woman is worse than living in a desert)
  • heart of snares & nets (Eccl 7:26-- godly men escape her)
  • deceived transgressor (1 Tim 2:14)
There's a lot here, but I think it may be helpful to look at this both in a micro- and macro- way.

Generally, the biblical woman is discerning, gracious, generous, and kind. Generally, women are given a role defined by family and the home. Rather than seeking to control or manipulate men, the biblical woman is focused on the Lord, and her husband, children, and home (if married). A godly woman passes her faith on to others (specifically including her children and those who know her testimony) and is willing to sit at the feet of Jesus and love and worship Him.

Starting with what she is not... she is not quarrelsome or worrisome. She does not seek to ensnare, capture, or deceive men. She does not dress seductively. She doesn't act thoughtlessly or imprudently.

She works hard in order to serve her household, the poor, and widows. She worships God. She tells others what Christ has done for her. She learns with a quiet spirit, willing to submit to what is taught.

She is protected by the men in her family when she is a virgin (there were many instances of this, but these were not necessarily descriptive passages so I did not include them in the list), and focused on her family and home once married. She serves her husband and is faithful to him. She seeks to make him known as an honorable man. She raises children, teaching them kindness and faith. If unmarried, she is single-mindedly focused on serving Christ and being holy for Him. She fearfully, faithfully, and attentively serves a gracious, forgiving, and healing Creator God by serving, loving, and giving to the people around her.

This is encouraging and challenging stuff, huh? Any thoughts you'd like to add or other things you see in these descriptions?


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