The Bible is not particularly known for its progressive take on the value and significance of women (though I would argue that Jesus turned that worldview upside down in significant ways…I love that guy). Honestly, I’m okay with the rarity of women in scripture because when they do show up, they are powerful, smart, and heartbreakingly authentic: Deborah the Judge, Ruth the widow, Rahab the harlot, the Proverbs 31 lady (aka the sickeningly talented businesswoman/mother/wife), Mary the Mother, the Samaritan Woman the believer, Priscilla the friend. They show up, and when they do they steal the show. Yesterday I came across a woman I’d never met in the scriptures before: King David’s mother. She arrives in Psalm 86 and she gets one-half of a sentence in his psalm: “…save me, because I serve you / just as my mother did.”
He prays that God will show him mercy because his mother was faithful. I'm so moved by that, and so grateful. We don’t know anything about David’s mother, how she felt when David was anointed, if she cried when she heard news of David defeating Goliath, if she was around to see her child move from country shepherd boy to King of Israel. We don’t know if she taught him to play the harp or taught him the dances he eventually would perform before the Ark of the Covenant. We don’t know her at all.
But we know something here: She served God. And because of those sweet words written by her son, we have a sense of this woman: the one who engrained in her son’s mind that miracles were possible, that a little boy with a slingshot could defeat an enormous warrior, that a shepherd could become king, that God could defend a nation over and over when the odds were against them. She raised a boy who could fight and write fine poetry (perhaps, one of the greatest poets of all time).
I just finished a study of both letters of Paul to Timothy. And David's words reminded me of Paul’s words to the young pastor: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois andyour mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
This is what I love: it’s the same faith. The SAME faith that dwelled in Eunice dwelled in her son as well. The same faith that lived in David’s anonymous mother lived in her son as well. And, somehow, the king believed that in asking for God’s mercy, it might help to remind his God about his mother.
On this Thankful Tuesday I’m grateful that what I’m passing on is more than concepts that I hope my boys will believe. It’s a living organism called faith that can move from generation to generation and grow more alive in each soul that owns it.
Now if I can just get my boys to write about me in their poems…