Meditations on Feminine Worship


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.


7 responses »

  1. I would love to repost this on my blog ( There was actually a really heated facebook debate over this with friends, and professors, and I truly feel like you best captured the proper response to Doug’s post. please contact me.

  2. When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with costly ointment, it was an act of worship. Even though the male host of the house had not washed Jesus’ feet in hospitality, Mary washed them with her tears. Worship is found in allowing ourselves to honor God and be changed in His presence.

  3. I read both the articles that this post refers to, and agree with you completely. God has given you wisdom in your response. And whether we like it or not, because of Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden, our position is lower than that of a man. That is not to say that women are less holy or can’t be used by God. Let’s face it, there are some real prayer warriors that are women. And men are not to laud their power over a woman. It’s just that God set up a pattern from the beginning, and we accept our position in obedience to God. In this day and age, more and more women are being put in authority in the churches as pastors and elders. In one church we were in, they said they had to do that because they couldn’t find any “qualified” men to serve. What a sad state of affairs. The women seek power and the men have abdicated.

  4. Karen,

    Thanks for stopping by. Not sure what second article you are referring to, as I connected my reading with Pastor Wilson’s article and with a Facebook conversation I also had last week.

    I’d also disagree with your comment that “because of Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden, our position is lower than that of a man.” First, differing roles for men and women are a creational design, not a curse. 1 Timothy 2:13 makes clear that the creation order is the foundational reason why a woman shouldn’t have authority over a man. Verse 14 points to the woman’s being deceived at the fall as an additional reason, but secondary.

  5. Valerie, I just came over to say hi! And that I feel like you are, in a way, part of the Femina gang. You’ve been a huge encouragement to me, and you’re really smart! I hope my daughter grows up to be like you – gracious, thoughtful and funny. Hope that doesn’t sound cheesy! Wasn’t sure if you’d see this over at the Femina comments. There’s so many of them these days!;-)

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