Throughout the ages, society in general has given very little place or status for women who are not under the protection of a husband, son or other male relative. God, however, has mercy, and He always incorporated provision into His law for their care.
Jesus and Women who are Alone
The Scripture: Exodus 22:22-24
"Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear them. My anger will be aroused...; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless."
1. Who is God's particular concern in these verses?
2. What will happen to anyone who takes advantage of them?
The Scripture: Deuteronomy 14: 28-29
"At the end of every three years bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that... the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied.”
3. What was one provision to provide them with food?
The Scripture: Psalm 68: 4-5
"His name is the Lord... a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling."
4. What does the Lord call Himself in these verses?
The Lord recognized that Leah, the older wife of Jacob was sadly neglected, so He gave her the best gift a woman of that day could receive - six children of her own and two by her maid.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian maid, who bore Abraham's first son. After Isaac was born, Hagar and Ishmael behaved badly and God told Abram to send them away. However, God did not leave them to die in the desert.
The Scripture: Genesis 21:18
"God said, ‘Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’"
5. What did God promise Hagar?
True to God's promise, Ishmael became the father of the Arab nations.
God has never changed His mind about women who are alone. In the New Testament, we find James reflecting God's attitude. He instructed families to be the primary source of care for widows; when such help is not available, the responsibility falls on the Church.
The Scripture: James 1:27
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."
6. What is part of James' definition of pure and spotless religion?"
Many prominent women mentioned in the Gospels were apparently without husbands. Tradition calls Martha and Mary, the mother of Jesus, widows; and Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene unmarried.
The Scripture: John 19: 25-27
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother... When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby He said to His mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."
7. What did Jesus say to His mother?
8. What did He say to the disciple?
9. What did the disciple do?
Jesus was good friends with Mary of Bethany, Martha, and Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. One time when He was visiting with them, Martha was critical of her sister because she chose to sit at Jesus' feet, listening to Him, rather than help her prepare the meal.
The Scripture: Luke 10:41
"Martha, Martha, ...you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."
10. What did Jesus say to Martha?
At another time, Mary anointed Jesus with a vial of expensive oil. Some of Jesus' disciples complained that her act was a waste. But Jesus again defended Mary.
The Scripture: Matthew 26: 12-13
"When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
11. What did Jesus say Mary had done?
12. What did He prophesy?
After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, Mary Magdalene went to His tomb. When He first appeared to her, she did not recognize Him.
The Scripture: John 20: 16-17
"Jesus said to her, 'Mary, go...to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
13. What did Jesus tell Mary to do?
When Jesus said Mary's name, she recognized Him. How often in the past Jesus must have uttered her name in the same loving fashion.
Whenever women have been alone - have had no one to support them or their cause, the Lord has been willing to step into the breach for them. Although Isaiah 54 was written to Israel, thousands of single women have personalized it and taken it as their personal love letter from the Lord.
The Scripture: Isaiah 54:1
“ ‘Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child, burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord.”
14. What does God promise the barren woman?
The Amplified Bible translates this promise to mean spiritual children.
The Scripture: Isaiah 54:4
"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame; do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproaches of your widowhood."
15. What three promises does the Lord make?
The Scripture: Isaiah 54:5
"Your Maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth."
16. Who will the Lord be to her?
The Scripture: Isaiah 54:7
"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back."
17. What is His attitude toward her?
The Scripture: Isaiah 54: 13-15, 17
"All of your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace. In righteousness you will be established; tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear….. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you…. No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and this is their vindication from me,' declares the Lord."
18. List the promises given in these verses.
Could anyone ask for greater promises from the Lord?
Do you need any further proof that God loves and highly values women who are alone, unmarried, or perhaps feel rejected or unwanted? There is Someone who loves you very much, who has made great promises for you and your welfare, and who has a great heritage for you both in love and His service.
- Widows and orphans
- Their wives will be widows and their children, orphans
- Tithes of every three years' produce were stored so that the local widows could eat.
- A father to the fatherless and a defender of widows
- That He would make Ishmael into a great nation
- To look after orphans and widows in their distress
- "Dear woman, here is your son."
- "Here is your mother."
- He took her into His home.
- That she was worried about many things, but Mary had chosen what is better, which would not be taken away from her
- Prepared Him for burial
- That wherever this gospel was preached throughout the world, what she had done would also be told in memory of her
- To go to the disciples
- She will have more children than the woman who has a husband
- She will not suffer shame, disgrace or reproach
- Her husband
- One of compassion
- Their sons will be taught by the Lord;
Their children will have great peace.
They will be established in righteousness;
Tyranny will be far from the;
They will have nothing to fear;
Whoever attacks them will surrender to them;
No weapons forged against them will prevail;
They will refute every tongue that accuses them.
All scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(unless otherwise indicated)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 New International Bible Society
Copyright © 2006 by JoAnne Sekowsky