Women in the Bible: Do you Fear the Unknown? Nana Dolce
Do you fear the unknown? Join Nana Dolce as she explores Old Testament stories of women struggles, overcoming fear, and finding redemption. Discover the key to having hope in difficult times!
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Fear the unknown? Nana Dolce explores women’s struggles in the Old Testament, revealing keys to overcoming fear and finding hope in tough times!
Women in the Bible: Do you Fear the Unknown? Nana Dolce
Shelby: Merry Christmas! We’re getting really close to the holidays.
Ann: It’s so exciting.
Shelby: Yes, and we have—
Dave: —do you know how I know, Shelby?
Shelby: What’s that?
Dave: Because there are packages at our front door every day.
Shelby: Amazon makes a daily stop.
Dave: Somebody in our family buys a bunch of Christmas presents.
Ann: Yes, I do, and I—
Dave: She lo-o-o-v-es Christmas.
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Shelby: Well, it’s fun to be in the studio with you guys today. You’re kind of my guests today, so welcome to FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson.
Ann: Thanks, Shelby.
Dave: I’m a little scared to be on this show.
Shelby: This is a special episode because, throughout this past month, we’ve been highlighting some of the best moments from FamilyLife Today in the year 2023. Yesterday, in fact, we enjoyed snippets from conversations this year about the impact of a good man on a family and a community. But as we mentioned at the end of yesterday’s discussion, not every woman lives with one of these “good men.” So, today we want to speak directly to the hope found in Jesus for those women and, in fact, how the life of every woman, regardless of their circumstances, can point to Jesus.
Ann: Women that are living in this position of, “Man, my man is not generally the good man. He might be good, but I feel like we’re just failing and struggling, and he’s not walking with Jesus. He doesn’t even know Jesus, and you’re going to address me today? This is a great day. I need this.”
Shelby: Yes. In order to do what we’re talking about, we’re going to be hearing a few highlights from a series we had with Nana Dolce.
Dave: This is Nana Dolce Day.
Shelby: It’s Nana Dolce Day, yes.
Dave: The whole day is about Nana.
Shelby: The temptation has been to break out into song for Nana Dolce Day.
Dave: [Singing] Nana, Nana. [Laughter]
Shelby: I’m going to go ahead and stop you right before you get started, Dave.
Dave: [Singing] Nana, Nana, Nana. [Laughter]
Shelby: Nana Dolce Day is going to be clips from your conversation that you had with her. Let’s get started with Nana’s description of a few women who overcame fear and intimidation to glorify God, and how that ultimately impacts you and me today right now. Let’s listen to Nana.
Nana: One of the things I wanted to do in this book was to talk about 30 individual women, but at the end of it, I wanted you to look back and see the big story of the Old Testament. So, we walk through Genesis to Exodus, and we go to the time of the Judges, the time of the Kings, to the Exile, and talk about women within the different time periods of Israel’s history.
Some of them, you’ll be familiar with; some of them you won’t be as familiar with, but I want you to see this grand story unfold, and to see the faithful God Who keeps His promise and Who uses unexpected saviors. So, when Exodus begins—you know, Exodus is the story that Moses is telling. He tells Genesis as well. He tells the first five books of the Bible.
I love how it’s like Moses can’t even get to himself until he talks about these six women first. All of them are actually women that are used to save him. The one who will be used to be the mediator of the Exodus is himself saved by six women. [Laughter]
Ann: You’re right. I had never thought of that. It’s Moses telling this story, but he highlights them.
Nana: He does, yes; in a beautiful way. He starts with these two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who look like small fish in this big sea of the story, the story of this big nation that’s multiplying, and the Pharoah who sees them as a threat and is trying to subdue them. And then come these two little women.
Ann: They’re nobodies.
Nana: They’re nobodies. And yet the Pharoah wants to use these nobodies as, really, his hands at the birth stool to smother the children and to kill them. This Pharoah actually reminds me of the serpent in many ways. Actually, culturally, he wore a crown that had a cobra on it, so he’s the symbol—
Ann: —you’re right. I only know that through watching Moses, the movie. [Laughter]
Dave: Even the cartoon.
Ann: Yes, but it must be true. You’re saying it is true.
Nana: Yes, it is true. So, he very much represents the—if there’s the seed of the woman, there’s also the seed of the serpent, because that’s part of the promise in Genesis 3:15, that the seed of the woman would crush the offspring of the serpent. So, this Pharoah represents that in many ways, and he comes to these two women and really gives them, these women that are nobodies, almost like a chance to be somebody, right?
“You are Pharoah’s”—what’s the word I’m looking for?
Nana: Instrument. “You are literally his hands at the birthstool.” What a chance for them to have been the most feared women in that community, and yet it said that they didn’t fear Pharoah, but they feared God, and they let the children live.
Ann: Probably thinking that they would be murdered as a result, possibly.
Nana: Sure. How do you say “no” to Pharoah?
Nana: And yet, these women did, because they feared God. So, the end of their story doesn’t end with less children, but actually with more, because God gives them families; they add to the number because they feared God. So, that’s Shiphrah and Puah.
Dave: Let me ask you this.
Dave: As a woman, how do you copy that? How do you carry that spirit forward as a woman, knowing what they did? As you said, critical. If they don’t do that, all of history is different.
Nana: Yes. Their stories actually remind me of Corrie Ten Boom, and how they, because of their fear of a greater authority, actually don’t listen to the authorities of their day, and they hide the Jews. We can even look at people who hid slaves on the Underground Railroad, who subverted the authorities that were calling them to do something evil, because of their fear of a greater Authority.
Those are dramatic stories, but it makes me wonder: how many ways does God call me to fear Him over the things that call my attention to fear, just within the regular everyday life of being a woman? Where am I tempted to fear and give my allegiance to something other than God, as opposed to fearing Him and trusting Him? It can be in small ways, or it can be in big ways; but I think we always have a chance to obey God and fear Him over other forces that call for our fear and that call for our obedience.
Shelby: Ann, as you think about that, she’s encouraged us to examine those places in our life and in our heart where we might experience fear and lean into that and intentionally be obedient to God. Can you think of some specific areas, maybe in your life, or areas that you’ve seen in other women’s lives, where they’ve leaned into fear and then been obedient instead of succumbing to that fear?
Ann: I don’t think I’ve been in situations where my life has been at risk, or I could be jailed for something, but there are so many women that are putting their lives at risk. I respect them so much. My friend who lives in Bethlehem is being persecuted every day for her faith. Most of the population is Muslim, and she is a believer.
She’ll text me, or she’ll message me: “Pray for us. It is so, so hard, and the persecution is so, so great.” I know that she’s felt, often, that her life is at risk. Man, I look at her and her walk with God, her submission to Him, her surrender. Oh, I respect these women!
Shelby: Yes, deep respect. They are living it. If Shiphrah and Puah point us to a God Who helps us overcome the fears and anxieties of life, Nana Dolce pulls from another unlikely woman in the Old Testament who sometimes gets a bad rap. She does, but she actually points us to the shame-killing love of Jesus. What’s her name?
Shelby, Dave, and Ann: Bathsheba.
Shelby: Listen to this.
Nana: Bathsheba was this woman who lived next to the palace. I loved digging into her story, because sometimes we don’t know enough about Bathsheba.
Ann: Yes, tell us more.
Nana: Yes; she was actually politically connected. David had these 30 warriors.
Ann: The Mighty Men.
Nana: Yes, Uriah was one of them, but Bathsheba’s father was also one of the 30 men, and her grandfather was Ahithophel, who was David’s counselor.
Ann: So, they all knew each other.
Nana: They all knew each other, and that’s probably why she lived so close to the palace, because she was from a politically connected family. But it’s springtime, and the kings are at war; but David is not at war. He’s chilling in his palace, and he’s on the roof. It says he looks down and sees a woman bathing.
Now, that bath was actually a ceremonial bath. It says that she had just finished her period, and the Mosaic Law said that after the menstrual cycle, a woman was supposed to cleanse herself by bathing. So, she’s performing this really ceremonial bath. It wasn’t just a bath of luxury, like, “Oh, let me take a bath.”
Ann: She wasn’t trying to entice him.
Nana: Exactly. She was cleansing herself; it was a ceremonial bath in obedience to God’s law. The King of Israel should not have been looking, but he looks and says, “Hey, who is this?” brings her to him and sleeps with her.
Ann: Do you think, when she came to the palace, he knew instantly, “Oh, this is Bathsheba,” and made the connection?
Nana: Yes. Well, it says he asked who she was, and they said, “This is Bathsheba.” They name her father; they name her husband.
Ann: They did name her father and husband.
Nana: They did, yes, “Wife of Uriah.” So, he knew who it was.
Dave: In some ways, I think of that moment as 1 Corinthians 10:13. God always gives you a way out of temptation. “Here it is, David. We are reminding you of what you already know. We’re just putting a pause on it.” And he goes forward.
Nana: He does, he does. Bathsheba doesn’t say anything in this narrative. The only thing we get from her are three words, “I am pregnant.” That’s the note that she sends to him, so he starts to try to clean it up by bringing Uriah, making him drink; but he never goes home to sleep with his wife. He sends Uriah back to the battlefield with a letter that literally signs his death, because they’ll put him in a place where he’ll die.
The picture that I get of Bathsheba is what Nathan says to David when he comes. He said, “This rich man has all the sheep, but he doesn’t take one of his own sheep to feed his visitors. He takes the pet lamb of his neighbor.”
Ann: And David’s enraged.
Nana: Yes. He’s enraged, and he says, “Death will come to this man.” He says, “You are that man.” He uses Bathsheba in that way. We never hear her say anything, but when Nathan comes and says, “You are the man,” he tells David, “God has taken away your sin, and you will not die, but the baby that you have with Bathsheba will die.” But then we read Psalm 51, where you see David crying out in repentance.
That Psalm is so interesting to me in light of what he did. He watched this woman, and desired this woman, who was being cleansed in a ceremonial bath, and in Psalm 51, he’s asking God to cleanse him and to wash him with hyssop. There will be a greater Son that will die; ultimately, it’s Jesus. The sin that David commits—God doesn’t sweep away anything, punishing your sins and then pretending that He hasn’t seen mine, right?
He is a good judge, and every sin I have committed, and every sin you have committed will be accounted for. Either you will reject His offer, and you will suffer for it yourself, or He will place it on His Son, and Jesus will suffer for every single one of those sins. So, David’s sin against Bathsheba will ultimately fall on the head of a much greater Son, Who will suffer for it.
And in God’s amazing mercy, Bathsheba’s son Solomon will go on to bring the Lord Jesus, and Bathsheba is named right there in that lineage that you mentioned at the beginning. She becomes the long, long-ago mother of the Lord Jesus. Even in this story that’s full of so much sin, we see God’s grace, and God’s grace to Bathsheba. There’s nothing that you have done that is too filthy for God to cleanse. There’s nothing that you have done that Jesus said, “I will not take on and suffer for it.”
Ann: And there’s nothing that has been done to you that God cannot cleanse and remove.
Nana: Sure, absolutely. And we will see that, not only with Bathsheba, but even David’s daughter, Tamar, who is raped because of this sin that’s introduced to David’s household because of his sin. But God can take horrible things—ashes—and bring beauty from them. Again, He has suffered in a way that He relates to what you’re going through, can sympathize with what you’re going through. You can sit across from a God Who knows because He’s been through it.
Shelby: Man, this is just vital for people to hear, just vital that the horrible things that have happened in their life or the horrible things that have happened to them, God can bring beauty out of ashes. Bathsheba’s story is a story of sexual assault, and to help her see the beauty of these horrific ashes, beauty that can only come through the redemptive power of Jesus, we’re able to see the gospel in that. That’s what we’re doing all the time at FamilyLife Today, right?
Dave: Yes. I was listening to Nana again so eloquently remind us of the blood of Jesus. This story of Bathsheba and David actually ends up at the cross. That’s where forgiveness comes. Shelby, I was just sitting here thinking, “We get to do this every day. We get to come into people’s lives, through digital podcasts or radio broadcasts or whatever way they listen, and it’s really the same thing every time. We get to say, ‘Guess what? Your sin, my sin is washed away by the blood of Jesus’.”
Shelby: It’s been washed away, yes.
Dave: You talk about good news!
Ann: And there’s hope.
Dave: Yes. Wow! So, what a privilege we get to do this every day.
Ann: I know.
Dave: I can’t believe we’re sitting here doing it, and Nana helped us do that with a biblical story. Let me say to you who listen to FamilyLife and who donate financially: “Thank you”. This is a joy to be able to serve you and your neighbors. Those of you who have never given to FamilyLife, you may not know, this is how we work. We are a donor-, listener-supported ministry that happens because people like you say, “I love this program. This has helped me, and it’s helped my neighbors, and I want to give back.”
You can give back right now. It’s December. I know we’re all spending money on Christmas, but I would say, “Take some money and say, ‘I want to help God bring His love and forgiveness into my home and my neighbor’s home, even my kids’ home’.”
Ann: And your gift will be doubled, which is pretty remarkable.
Dave: Doubled. Yes, that doesn’t happen anywhere else.
Shelby: You can go online and make a donation at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329; again, that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Like Dave said, we’re grateful for that.
Nana hinted at this earlier when she was talking about the repercussions of David’s sin. David may have repented of his sin, as we read in Psalm 51, as being “against God and God alone,” but his sin had consequences. It did have consequences—
Dave: —it always does.
Shelby: —ultimately harming his own son and his daughter. Let’s listen to this.
Nana: Tamar is David’s daughter. David is King of Israel at this point, and I think her story reminds us that some of these stories in the Bible, especially those pertaining to women, can be dark, because the Bible isn’t a fairy tale—
Ann: —that’s for sure!
Nana: —where everything is just like a Disney princess movie. This is East of Eden. This is thorns and thistles. This is the wilderness before home, and painful things happen; and sometimes they happen to women.
The Bible is not prescriptive in that sense, but descriptive, describing the wilderness experience, and sometimes the violence that women face as a result. We know that, even in our world today.
Nana: Tamar is David’s daughter, who is actually raped by her own brother. Her brother, the crown prince, the one that was supposed to succeed David, desires this half-sister. It said that he loved her so much that it made him sick, and he just desired this woman that he could not have.
So, there’s a cousin that comes to him, and the Scriptures describe him as “crafty.” I almost imagine the serpent. He comes probing in the same way that the serpent was probing. “Why are you sick? You are the King’s son. You shouldn’t be sick.” He says, “I love my sister, Tamar.” He says, “Here’s the plan. Pretend you’re sick, and David will come see you and send Tamar to you to make you some cakes. When she’s here, you can do with her what you want.”
Ann: Didn’t he say, “Ask for Tamar?”
Nana: Yes. So, she comes into his home, and she will never leave the same. When I was in seminary, I worked at a domestic violence shelter in Philadelphia. This was a home for women and children. I was an intake counselor, and I remember days—I worked the night shift. Women would come in with bruises, blue and purple faces, telling the stories of the abuse they had encountered, in their homes, by people who should have protected them.
When I read Tamar’s story and that description, I think of those women. In the story, David does not punish his son.
Ann: And it’s interesting, too, Nana, because it says that son, after it occurred, hated her.
Ann: Hated Tamar.
Nana: Yes, absolutely. The Mosaic Law said that if you raped a woman, you actually had to care for her, because she had no hope of marriage after that; so, you had to take responsibility for her care. He takes her and literally pushes her out of his home, and she says, “This latter thing of pushing me away is worse than the first.”
Nana: She rips her clothes, throws ashes, and lives, desolate, in her brother Absalom’s house. When David heard about it, he did not do anything. Not only was he a father but he was also the King. The King should bring justice, and we don’t see David doing any of that. I wonder if the shame of his own sin made him think, “Well, if I did that, how can I punish my son?”
Ann: With Bathsheba, you mean.
Nana: Exactly. But I love that the gospel is for mothers and for their children. It’s for fathers, and it’s for their children. I can say something to my children even if I have struggled with that, because my hope is their hope. I need Jesus as much as they need Jesus, which encourages me to speak to my kids about their sins, because I’m not hiding my sins.
Nana: We’re all before the Lord! But David is quiet.
Ann: What do you wish David would have come and done?
Nana: Oh, he should have brought justice for Tamar. Amnon should have been punished according to the law of God, and Tamar should have been cared for in a way that we don’t see happening.
Shelby: Man, Nana is just so good! I love how she turns everything back to Jesus.
Shelby: How we’re able to see—
Ann: —the gospel—
Shelby: —the gospel that way. I wish I could look at that the same way that she does, to see all of life through the lens of the gospel.
Dave: When I hear that, I think, “That’s our job, Shelby and me, as men. Protect our women.”
Dave: I want to be the man. Not that women can’t stand up for themselves, but I want to protect our women. We are called to protect and provide for our women. Dennis Rainey said years ago—former President here at FamilyLife: “Do not let your life be the door through which sin enters your family.” I’ve never forgotten that thought. That’s another way, as men and women, we protect our family.
Dave: “I’m not going to play with some kind of sin like David did. I’m not going to take a stroll at night when I should be at war. I’m going to be where I should be when I should be there because my sin is not just my sin. It’s a legacy.” I could be opening the door to a heritage that my boys will struggle with if I’m not careful with my own sin, as a man, protecting my family.
Shelby: It’s interesting that you mention that, because Nana shared all these stories about women whose lives point us to Jesus. At the end of our time with her, we asked her what she hoped her own legacy would be. When we asked that question, this is how she responded:
Nana: I hope that I’m a woman whose story is pointing to Jesus. We have 30 women here, but the story doesn’t end with Mary. It continues into the New Testament and all those women Jesus interacted with.
Nana: It goes into the First Century church, and all those amazing women when you read church history—Perpetua; there are all of these amazing women all the way down to church history.
We’ve mentioned Rosa Parks; we’ve mentioned Harriet Tubman. All of these are women of faith. When it comes down to Nana Dolce, in 2023, I hope that I’m living my life in a way that is pointing others to Jesus, that I am a woman who believes that God is faithful, keeps His Word, so I can live today trusting that His promises come true, and that my everyday life reflects that truth.
Shelby: Ann, can you, maybe—as we hear that testimony from her about what she wants her life to be, can you, maybe—encourage the listener who’s feeling overlooked, maybe unsafe, or without hope right now? How does her life matter?
Ann: Yes, let me speak directly to you and remind you: Jesus sees you. He loves you. When you are weeping, He is weeping with you. He knows your name. He knows your circumstances. Call out to Him! As I read through the Bible every year, I’m astounded how every time it says, “And they sought the Lord,” then it says, “And He answered them.” So, seek Him. Seek people that will protect you, that will hear you. Godly people want to be beside you.
We do, here at FamilyLife. Reach out to us so we can pray for you and get into a good church where people will see you, they’ll pray for you, they’ll notice you, [and] they’ll help you, because your life matters. It matters to the body of believers, and it matters to God. We want to be His hands and feet in the church and here in any way we can. Don’t give up hope because He, Jesus, is our hope.
Shelby: Yes. There’s always hope in Jesus. There always is. We believe in that so much here at FamilyLife Today. We’re so grateful to you, our donors, who make it possible for us to do programs like this. So, again, we’ve mentioned this earlier, but every donation made this month is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com with your donation. Make your donation there, or you can give us a call. You can call at 800-358-6329. That’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Again, Merry Christmas! It’s that season. We’re really excited. We hope you have a great weekend. We hope you’re able to worship in your local church. Coming up next week, it’s one of our favorites, Brant Hansen, to talk about not going wobbly on Jesus. We look forward to hearing that.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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