Here is Barren Beginnings, Part 2, which is part of a Bible study I’m writing inspired by the barren women in Scripture. You can find part 1 here, and I hope to post a final installment next week.
Opening Prayer (Still unwritten)
As we consider barrenness in the Bible, let’s be careful and reverent. Ruth, for instance, bore no children with her first husband, but she is not called barren. Maybe her husband was; maybe he died very quickly; we don’t know all the details. Put more bluntly, Scripture refuses to tell us.
In our first session, we included Michal in a list of barren women. She had no children.
Have you learned the story of Michal? Read these verses to review:
- 1 Samuel 14:49
- 1 Samuel 18:12-19
- 1 Samuel 18:20-25
- 1 Samuel 18:26-29
Without more information about Michal, it is odd to hear her father call her a snare. Perhaps this is in the sense of bait: holding Michal in front of David, David would continue in war. Yet, 1 Samuel 18:28, Saul is even more afraid of David because Michal loves him.
Their love story continues, or ends, with 1 Samuel 19:11-17. David marries Abigail following 1 Samuel 25, during which time we learn Saul gave Michal in marriage to another man (1 Samuel 25:44).
The war between the houses of Saul and David was long. David had many sons, but in 2 Samuel 3:12-16 we see him seek her once more, despite her loving husband and David’s war against her family. 2 Samuel 6:20-23 culminates with David celebrating victory but Michal seeing David “uncovering himself . . . before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20).
Michal had no children to the day of her death. She “despised” David “in her heart” (1 Chronicles 15:29). Still, she is not entirely an unsympathetic figure. Used by her father and husband, taken from her home and a devoted husband, re-wed to a man with many wives: her situation and life were complicated, to say the least.
Having no children further complicated her life. Would Saul have taken her away from David if she’d born David a child? Would David have honored her more? Would the Kingdom of David, and the sad estate of David’s children, faired differently? We cannot know. We cannot even know whether God punished her with infertility or whether she was infertile at all!
Note: There is some confusion about 2 Samuel 21:8, which indicates Michal raised five sons; however, the father of those children was her brother-in-law. In that context, it appears she raised her sister’s children after her sister died. Some texts name her sister there instead of Michal.
Solving a Problem?
A common tendency regarding barrenness is to focus on what a particular woman (or man) is able to do or not do. When we try to apply Scripture to barrenness in a practical way, even with the best intentions, we may unintentionally continue solely along those lines.
We could try to write a list right now of things people do to try to solve, or go around, barrenness. However, isn’t there much more to barrenness than action or inaction?
Barrenness is specifically mentioned 21 times in Scripture. Who was barren in Genesis 20:18?
Many women suffer the grief and pain of having no children. They are not all permanently barren, although some are. Some husbands are barren! A majority of those who suffer in want of children are simply unmarried.
Young or old, those pains are like a problem without solution. Yes, love and serve the young, whether you are a parent or not, but nieces and nephews cannot automatically dispel grief, whether one’s own body results in barrenness or one’s situation.
Again, our call from God to love our neighbors as ourselves includes children, but loving others as oneself, when one is grieving, can still be painful.
Scripture is clear that God incorporated barren women—indeed, the state of barrenness—into His chosen people, His chosen land, and His chosen means of salvation, both in the bloodline of Christ and, as we will see, even in our own lives.
Where do Children Come From
Barrenness, as we know it as unintentionally unable to bear children, was not intended within creation. Generally women have a stage of fertility in their lives; God has blessed us that way biologically, and thanks be to God for that! But where do children ultimately come from? (Read verses as time allows)
- Psalm 127:3
- Psalm 139:13
- Genesis 30:2
- Genesis 33:5
- Isaiah 8:18
Does barrenness hinder God? Does God promise to heal all barrenness in this fallen word?
If barrenness can be used by God, is it really about doing more or better in some way?
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). Thanks be to God that He provides the Child we all need: Jesus Christ, our Lord. He grants us family in His Church, where people are reborn, hearts are renewed, and griefs are met with the hope of God’s provision, now and in the world to come!