Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew midwives. A midwife is a woman trained to assist mothers during childbirth. In Egypt, when Pharaoh sought to slow the growth of the Israelites, he gave the midwives a cruel command. Exodus 1:15-16 says: “Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives…and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”
Did Shiphrah and Puah obey Pharaoh’s command to murder? No, and here is why:
1. Shiphrah and Puah feared God. Because the midwives feared what God could do to them if they obeyed Pharaoh, they did not carry out his command to kill the Hebrew baby boys. In turn, God rewarded the midwives by providing households for them. It is important for us to develop a holy fear of God, as well.
Proverbs 1:7 reads: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Fearing God does not mean we walk around in fear of God, terrified to call on Him. Rather, having the fear of God means we live in awe of His greatness, respond to Him with faith, and obey Him because we know He is a righteous Creator.
Yes, God is gracious and full of compassion. He is slow to anger and great in mercy, but God is also a hater of sin. He hates sin so much that even our best works are as filthy rags. Our sins are like scarlet in His sight, they are red like crimson. God hates sin because He is holy and perfect. There is nothing wrong about Him. But the main reason God hates sin is because sin separates us from Him. In the Garden, it was sin that stained our pristine world, broke the divine fellowship, and caused the Fall which brought about death and destruction and despair. Isaiah 59:2 reads: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
When we fear God, we will not want to sin since sin separates us from Him. This does not mean we will be perfect. Sometimes, we will still fall short, but a heart that fears God will always be running after righteousness and striving to be obedient. When we fear God, we recognize Him as the One Who loves and also the One Who disciplines. When we fear God, we acknowledge His greatness and majesty, but we also acknowledge His terror, jealousy, wrath, and justice. God is both a lion and a lamb.
When we fear the One Who tells us “fear not, for I am with you”, we will not have to fear any other person. Like the midwives, we will do what God wants over what man wants. If someone tells us to do something wrong, we will gladly disobey in order to do what is right. Also like the midwives, God will reward us for fearing Him.
I fear God, and therefore there is none else that I need fear.
– Colonel Gardiner