My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:1-11 NIV

The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.… So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Exodus 1:17,20-21 NIV

The Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah feared the Lord. This is a common phrase used frequently in Psalms and Proverbs. Job, an ancient patriarch, asked, “Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? …God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells… And he (God) said to man, “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding,” Job 28:20,23,28. These women demonstrated that they understood God’s desire when they let the Hebrew infant boys live. Shiphrah and Puah did not let their circumstances – being slaves to a pagan, ungodly king – dictate the proper course of action. These women feared the Lord, they respected God, they followed him and obeyed his commands first and foremost.

I believe these women spent time in prayer, and in learning about God before they were put into the position of being midwives to the Hebrew women. They had a clear understanding of how God wanted them to value life, regardless of what any human authority told them to do. I believe these women sought God, asked for wisdom, looked for understanding, and then acted on the knowledge he had given them, and did not kill any Hebrew newborn infants.

Circumstances do not dictate what is the right thing to do. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also faced dire circumstances involving a pagan, ungodly king in authority over them. They also chose to honor and fear God. They said to Nebuchadnezzar, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up,” Daniel 3:17-18.

Our difficult circumstances may not include being ordered to bow down to idols or to kill newborn infants, but we will have to choose who we will serve, who we will fear, who we will honor. Shiphrah and Puah were blessed with families of their own, and God saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. Sometimes our reward is delayed by years, or may not come until we are ushered into God’s presence. But know that God protects, shields, and rewards those who fear him and are faithful to him, especially in difficult circumstances.

By Grace Hunter