How to Learn from Wise Women in the Bible August 9th, 2016 Randy Petersen
How to Learn from Wise Women in the Bible
How to Learn from Wise Women in the Bible August 9th, 2016 Randy Petersen
Bible Engager’s Blog

"We each must die and disappear like water poured out on the ground. But God doesn't take our lives. Instead, he figures out ways of bringing us back when we run away" (2 Sam 14:14 CEV).

With these words, a woman courageously challenged King David to bring back his rebellious son, Absalom, from exile. It's a verse worth memorizing today, undergirding our evangelistic efforts. But we should also take note of the speaker, described as "the wise woman who lived in Tekoa."

"The wise woman" sounds like an official job title, and maybe it was. Elsewhere we read of Deborah, "a prophet and leader of Israel." The other "judges" of Israel were generally warriors, avengers fighting for justice, but Deborah was actually a judge. "Israelites would come and ask her to settle their legal cases" (Judges 4:4-5).

The Bible refers to several women serving as prophets, delivering key messages from and about God—besides Deborah, notably Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20), Miriam (Exodus 15:20) and Anna (Luke 2:36). But there are also more casual connections. Ruth follows the practical wisdom of her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 3:5). Mary seeks out her cousin Elizabeth, who is older and a few months further in her pregnancy (Luke 1:40-45). These interactions bring to mind Paul's instruction that the "older women" in the church "must teach what is proper" so that the younger women would learn to develop healthy relationships (Titus 2:3). And yet younger women aren't the only recipients of such wisdom. We see Priscilla joining with her husband, Aquila, to instruct the preacher Apollos (Acts 18:26).

As we dig deeper into the Bible, we might learn a few things from the "wise woman of Tekoa"—and others like her. What can these women teach us about seeking and imparting wisdom in our own relationships? How can we follow their examples to help one another mature into the full stature of our faith (Ephesians 4:13)?

1. Seek out the wise ones.

It's likely that you have similar "wise women" in your church, and maybe some "wise men." They may have official positions or perhaps they dispense their wisdom more casually. Chances are, they don't advertise—humility seems to go with true wisdom—so you need to find them. Ask around. Pray about it. Look for those who are deeply respected, whose advice carries weight. And when you need to talk through some important issue, seek them out. "The teachings of the wise are a fountain of life; they will help you escape when your life is in danger" (Proverbs 13:14 GNTD).

2. Measure human wisdom by Scripture.

Beware of any adviser who dismisses the wisdom of the Bible. On the contrary, the wisest counselors draw guidance from God's Word. They know the right passages to turn to. They remind you of biblical truths you may have forgotten. They help you apply Scripture to your situation. And they send you back to the Bible to learn more. "The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant" (Psalm 119:130).

3. Try creative approaches as you share wisdom.

The story of the wise woman of Tekoa is a strange one. (Read it for yourself in 2 Samuel 14:1-24.) She was sent by an army commander to sway King David's policy, and she did so with a story. This is very similar to the approach of the prophet Nathan, who had earlier confronted David about his adultery (2 Samuel 12:1-15). In both cases, the request for judgment became a kind of parable, in an attempt to make David see his own situation. This is what creative approaches do—they change the viewing angle. They help people see—people who have turned a blind eye to what's most important. As you share God's wisdom with others, consider how creativity—a story, song, dance, drawing, etc.—might shed new light.

4. Center your wisdom on the character of God.

When it comes to policy, there are many people eager to talk you into the "best" solution. Whether it's the latest weight-loss fad, a hot new technology, or a political movement, we have no shortage of barkers telling us what to do. But where do we find true wisdom? Ultimately it comes from God's character. We love because God loves (1 John 4:19). "Be holy because I am holy," God says (1 Peter 1:16 GNTD). We offer ourselves as living sacrifices in the worship of the one who has sacrificed himself for us (Romans 12:1-2; 5:8)

The wise woman of Tekoa reminded the king that God "figures out ways of bringing us back when we run away." That's wisdom for us in this age as well, as we reach out in God's character to a wandering world.


Want to learn more about the Bible's wisdom—and the influential women who lived out its truths?

Resources on the Bible's wisdom and its wise women »

Read more posts about: PerspectiveStories and TopicsWomen

Randy Petersen
Randy Petersen

Randy Petersen is Director of Scripture Engagement Content for American Bible Society. Writer of more than sixty books and hundreds of church curriculum lessons, he has also served churches as a Bible teacher, small-groups coordinator, drama director, preaching consultant and softball pitcher.

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