Shiphrah and Puah were powerful women of faith in the Old Testament. Only a few verses in the Bible tell their story but their bravery and faithfulness make them outstanding examples.
They stand to speak of the power of God, even in our professional life, to cover and protect and provide.
Who were Shiphrah and Puah?
Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew midwives in the Bible. The Bible verses about Shiphrah and Puah are Exodus 1:15-20.
Facts about Shiphrah and Puah
Here are a few interesting background details about these two amazing women.
Meaning of Shiphrah
Shiphrah means fair
Meaning of Puah
Puah means splendid
Were Shiphrah and Puah Hebrew or Egyptian?
Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew.
Lessons from Shiphrah and Puah
What can we learn from Shiphrah and Puah?
They can teach us many lessons about faith in God, obedience, decision-making, and courage.
Here are a few lessons we can draw from the very short account of these heroines of faith in Scripture.
Lesson #1: You don’t work for those who employed you
I know, this point seems strange. So let me explain.
Shiphrah and Puah knew that they might have been employed by the Israelites or Pharaoh or whomever, but, as believers, they worked for God.
You went to school. Worked hard. Got your degree. Did an outstanding interview. And voila, you got the job!
Now you have an employer. That’s good. But you don’t work for them.
See where I’m going with this?
As a Christian, you work for God. All you do at work, on the job, is worship to God.
Professional integrity matters to God.
Professional ethics matter to God.
So when you are at your place of employment, don’t forget to do all you do to God’s glory.
Your employer gives you a paycheck but your bigger obligation is to honor God.
Here are two Bible verses to consider:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. Revelation 22:12 NIV
Lesson #2: Allow your faith to drive your decisions, even in your job or career
The reason Shiphrah and Puah had such a strong sense of purpose as well as an awareness of who they really worked for was because they were God-fearing.
Scripture says that they feared God.
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 1:17
So Shiphrah and Puah didn’t have the luxury of following new policy without thinking about their relationship with God.
They knew they had a responsibility to ensure that they walked the talk.
But how do we make such decisions when our faith conflicts with civil law or policies at work?
This question takes me to my next point.
Lesson #3: Obedience to God supersedes obedience to man
The Bible deals with this issue.
When Peter and the Apostles were brought to trial for sharing their faith, they had one response:
We must obey God rather than human beings! Acts 5:29
Yes, we are obligated to obey civil law because lawmakers are servants of God as well.
But we should obey as far as they don’t lead us to disobeying God.
Shiphrah and Puah saw that what they were being asked to do went against God’s law.
Since as humans we have no power to give life, we don’t have the right to take it.
Shiphrah and Puah respected life because they feared the God who gives life.
And obedience to the God who is the giver of life comes ahead of obedience to those who can hurt the body but not the soul.
Lesson #4: Never lose sight of your purpose and calling
Shiphrah and Puah had a purpose. They were to bring new life into the world.
To kill newborn babies was in direct opposition to their purpose. It’s like completely contradicting The Hippocratic Oath.
Shiphrah and Puah didn’t lose sight of why they existed. And they didn’t default on their calling.
It can be easy to lose sight of why you do what you do, especially when you come under pressure.
But in times of difficulty, whether spiritually or professionally, remember your why.
Lesson #5: Your purpose is tied to God’s promise
Hundreds of years before this whole baby killing mandate from Pharaoh, God called Abraham.
A part of that call was a promise. God said He would make Abraham a great nation so big that his family would be like the sands of the seashore.
Abraham didn’t live long enough to see it but now it was truly becoming a reality.
The Israelites were multiplying rapidly because this was a fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham.
As much as Pharaoh wanted them dead, he couldn’t kill the promise of God.
The promise God made to Abraham to make him a great nation was under threat.
Killing boy babies would weaken the Israelites. Birth rates would fall. And eventually the genocide would lead to extinction.
But God had already set up his people in the right place, at the right time, to protect his purpose and his promise.
Like Esther, Shiphrah and Puah were called to their work for such a time.
God is always watching over his promise to you and he will keep watching until His word is fulfilled.
The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jeremiah 1:12 NIV
Lesson #6: There is a blessing in obedience and being happy for others
In those days, midwives usually entered their profession because they could not themselves have children.
If this is the case, it is very possible that Shiphrah and Puah were married women who had not gotten pregnant for quite some time after their marriage.
But because of their bravery and obedience to God, their wombs were open and they were able to have children and build families.
If it is indeed the case they were barren for a while, Shiphrah and Puah could have chosen to be bitter against God.
They knew the anguish and pain of not having children.
They had the option of taking out this bitterness on the Hebrew women. They could have reasoned to themselves that if God didn’t give them children then no other woman should have the joy of motherhood.
But they didn’t. Even in their childless state, their heart was still dedicated to God.
Their faith was so mature that they could celebrate the blessing of children for other women.
They not only celebrated. Shiphrah and Puah risked their lives to protect the blessings of others, the same kind of blessings they might have felt that God withheld from them.
Shiphrah and Puah honored God and by doing so they released God’s favor in their lives.
And how did God reward Shiphrah and Puah?
They were rewarded with a similar blessing of children and a family.
And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Exodus 1:21
Lesson #7: Seek good, godly, professional friendships
Shiphrah and Puah were like minded women, in faith, courage, and professional integrity.
They covered each other’s backs. They supported each other’s decisions to do the right thing. They were two women on earth touching in agreement on an eternal matter.
As a professional woman of faith, you need this. At the job. In your business. For your marriage.
Find your like-minded company. Find your tribe.
If you want to live a holy, God-fearing life, find some good girlfriends, some sisters, who will be the iron to sharpen your iron. company.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character”. 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV
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Conclusion: What is the significance of Shiphrah and Puah in Exodus 1?
These two Hebrew midwives were outstanding because of their extraordinary bravery as professionals and as believers.
They have set an excellent example of what it means to honor God in all areas of life.
Shiphrah and Puah are important in the Bible because they teach us that it is possible to have professional integrity even in the midst of unfavorable situations.
That God covers those who obey. And that there is a reward for those who honor God.