Stories to Live By
by Sandra Glahn
Humans love to hear and tell stories. And the Bible contains numerous narratives full of truth to live by. But some are less known than others.
Here’s a sampling of some of the Bible’s lesser-appreciated characters:
Hagar, an Egyptian slave, gave a name to Yahweh—“El Roi,” the God who sees—because He rescued her and her son from dying of thirst in the desert. God made Hagar a promise that she’d have innumerable descendants (Genesis 16), and she’s the only person in the Bible to receive such a promise.
Tamar, a woman from a non-Jewish territory, showed more covenant love than did her father-in-law Judah, despite the fact that she was the outsider while he had received lavish promises from God. After Judah realized the disparity between his faith and Tamar’s, he told Tamar “you’re the righteous one, not me” (Genesis 38). Before their encounter, Judah had helped to sell his half-brother Joseph to slavery. Afterward, Judah was willing to give his life in exchange for that of Joseph’s brother.
Rahab, a harlot from Gentile Jericho, had heard stories of the greatness of Israel’s God. When some of Israel’s spies came to her, she declared her belief in Him and risked her life to protect God’s people (Joshua 2).
Vashti, wife of Assyria’s evil king Xerxes, refused to allow herself to be objectified, resulting in her banishment (Esther 1). But her stand for what was right made it possible for events to “fall into place” for Esther. As a result, the orphan girl became queen and delivered her people from genocide.
Mary Magdalene is often thought to have had the same profession as Rahab, but the biblical text says only that Jesus delivered her from seven demons. Mary followed Jesus even when most others had fled. Centuries later, church fathers called her “the apostle to the apostles” because she first saw the resurrected Christ and heralded the good news (John 20).
Which of the lesser-known characters from the Book of Books has had the most impact on your life?
Whose life can you inspire by your story?
Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Her new book, Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, explores the lives of these women of the Bible—and more. Profits benefit the International Justice Mission. Follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn, on Facebook at Aspire2, and at her blog/website at aspire2.com.