1 Samuel 2 was where my bookmark was this morning. As I read Hannah’s song of thanksgiving, I thought of the hymns of other women in the Bible: Miriam, Deborah, and Mary. (Did I miss any?) So I read them all and jotted down these reflections (edited for public consumption):
- Exodus 15:21 — Miriam’s brief hymn is sung in response to Moses’ longer song. Her song is responsive, not initiative. The occasion was not formal worship, in which case she wouldn’t have been soloing at all. She sings of Yahweh’s violent triumph over the chariots of Egypt.
- Judges 5 — Deborah and Barak’s song is, again, not in the context of worship, but public celebration. Deborah does not lead out on her own, even despite Barak’s less-than-exemplary manliness in the previous chapter. She sings of Yahweh’s marching, which shook the earth. She sings of His fighting the enemies of His people. She rejoices in the death of His enemies.
- 1 Samuel 2:1-10 — Hannah’s song is a personal exultation in Yahweh. She speaks boldly against her enemies because she has Yahweh’s salvation to rejoice in. She rejoices in Yahweh’s triumphs over His enemies by which He delivers His people, and she draws strength and courage from that. In Hannah’s case the enemy wasn’t a mighty army, but a petty personal adversary, but she speaks in strong military terms of how Yahweh put Peninnah in her place. She rejoices that God is the Judge of the whole earth.
- Luke 1: 46-45 — Mary, again in a private context, also rejoices in God as Savior, exulting in His triumph and judgment.
That gives us a few ideas of what feminine worship should look like:
- It doesn’t barge ahead of male leadership.
- It rejoices in God’s judgment, even when it’s violent.
- It is safe and secure in the knowledge of his powerful salvation.
So when wise men write against effeminate worship, they aren’t bashing women at all, because effeminate worship is nothing like feminine worship. Effeminate worship denies male leadership, downplays God’s judgment, and leaves women insecure under the ill-conceived notion that it’s better if both God and men are too nicey-nice to defend or protect them.