The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. (Exodus 1:15-17)
The midwives in today’s passage play a starring role in Exodus 1. What can Shiphrah and Puah teach us about our work today? At least two things.
First, that God uses the nobodies of this world to do his work. To fully appreciate this truth, we must understand the context of today’s passage. The King of Egypt (AKA Pharaoh) had a problem. In Exodus 1:9-10 he’s quoted as saying, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us….we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
Pharaoh’s solution is the mandate we see him hand down in today’s passage: Kill all the Hebrew boys. Why? Because they were the ones who would “fight against” Egypt. Girls posed no threat to Pharaoh, and thus, they meant nothing to him. But they meant a great deal to God. Because it is five women that God uses to thwart Pharaoh’s plans: Shiphrah, Puah, and as we see in Exodus 2, Moses’s mother, sister, and the daughter of Pharaoh.
Have you ever felt looked down upon at work because of your gender, race, or where you did or didn’t go to school? Know that God sees you, values you, and can use your work for his mighty purposes.
Here’s the second thing these Hebrew midwives teach us: God remembers the faithful but not necessarily the famous. Before Moses wrote the words of today’s passage very few people knew Shiphrah and Puah’s names, but everyone knew Pharaoh’s. And yet, in the eternal Word of God, Pharaoh’s given name isn’t mentioned. You see, while Pharaoh was certainly famous in his day, he was an enemy of God, and thus his name has been erased from the history books. But while Shiphrah and Puah were nobodies in their day, their faithfulness to God’s commands ensured that the history books and God himself will remember their names forever.
Hebrews 6:10 tells us that “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” God didn’t forget Shiphrah and Puah’s faithful work, and he won’t forget yours, believer. Regardless of how obscure your work is today, know that the Lord sees your faithfulness, will reward it, and will remember it for eternity.