Going back through these stories again is helping me focus on details and characters that I’ve never really paid much attention to in the past. It’s amazing what I can learn from reading the stories of these courageous and faithful women in the Bible!
Today’s story takes place during a dark time in the history of humanity: a decree from the Pharaoh had gone out to kill all Jewish male babies. This leader was so insecure about the people of God overthrowing his reign that he sought to stamp them out any way that he could. Yet, his actions continued to be thwarted at every turn.
Quick side note: there are two midwives whose names are mentioned in this story: Shiphrah and Puah, and yet Pharaoh’s daughter is left unnamed. The woman who was in a position of privilege and power, while still showed immense faith and character, is a footnote in the story, whereas these midwives are center-stage. This reminds me that God’s priorities are different than ours.
Our contributions made in faith and obedience will outlast us even if we live in day-to-day obscurity.
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”” Exodus 2:5-10 (NIV)
This woman had a big heart that came shining through her actions. She saw someone in distress and responded with compassion. In the cultural climate she was living in, I would imagine that there was immense pressure for her to be cold and heartless, and yet, she wasn’t. She saw a helpless baby, a Hebrew boy, and defied the laws of the land to care for him. She didn’t see him as worthless, or vile or a threat—she saw him as a precious human being.
And her sense of compassion extended far past the infant boy: she not only found someone to care for him and paid her accordingly. Pharaoh’s daughter could’ve ordered a Hebrew woman to care for the baby without compensation, but she didn’t. Her compassion was backed up by practical action.
It’s amazing what practical action fueled by compassion can do!
It’s easy for us to get so focused on what we have going on in our lives that we don’t notice those around us. Or we can get so wrapped up in what society expects of us, that we forget to look compassionately at the situations that we pass every day. But Pharaoh’s daughter reminds us that we can rise above the peer pressure and temptation to turn a blind eye to those around us. We can be compassionate people driven to practical action for the sake of others.
Because Pharaoh’s daughter turned and saw Moses, he was able to, later in the story, turn and find God, leading to the freedom of countless people.
Our practical compassion is never wasted, but can have a lasting impact beyond what we can see.
Is it easy for you to turn a blind eye to the needs around you? Why do you think that is?
How have you given and received practical compassion in your life?