Daughters of Sarah

1 Peter 3:5-6


5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.


Of one of the most important people in the Bible there is so little said. Just a few verses as her life relates to Abraham. And then one verse in Isaiah and a few more in the New Testament. But I think that her life is overlooked. When Peter wants to give an example of a good wife and mother he uses Sarah. He also tells women today that if they will follow Sarah’s example, they are in reality daughters of Sarah. What a grand accomplishment. What a wonderful compliment. But since there is so little said, how can we know much about Sarah? I think we can if we will but look between the lines. Please give me that liberty today to look between the lines of the narrative of the lives of Abraham and his faithful wife Sarah.

 

I.         The faith of Sarah

            A.        In the Old Testament text much is said of the faith of Abraham and little of the faith of Sarah.

                        1.         Genesis 15:6 (NKJV) And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

                        2.         Abraham believed God when he was told to leave his home and family in Haran.

                        3.         Abraham believed God when God told him that all the land of Canaan would belong to his heritage forever.

                        4.         And he believed when God told him that his descendants would number like the stars of heaven or the sand by the sea.

            B.        But don’t forget that Sarah was a part of that.

                        1.         Can’t you hear Abram coming to Sarah one evening and telling her how God had spoken to him that day.

                        2.         That God had told him to gather every thing he had and go to a place that God would show him, only after he left.

                        3.         So Abram did as God said and Sarah went too.

                        4.         She might have said, “When you get there and get a place set, then send for me. I will be here with mom and dad.”

                        5.         She could have not bought into Abram’s vision, his call but she did.

                        6.         And what about that trip to Egypt, where God had told Abram no to go.

                                    a.         There Sarah agreed to say nothing of being Abram’s wife, because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him for his beautiful wife.

                                    b.         Although it put her in danger, yet she did as he asked of her.

                        7.         They constantly wondered around from place to place, never spending more than a few years or months in one place.

                                    a.         But Sarah had the same faith as Abram or she would have never done it.

                                    b.         Now I know that some will say that Sarah could not have a voice because she was a woman.

                                    c.         But we will see later that nothing if further from the truth.

                                    d.         It was not that she could not object, but rather that she chose not to speak against God’s call on her husband’s life.

            C.        Sarah’s mistake or sacrifice

                        1.         Sarah seems to always get low marks for the episode with Hagar.

                        2.         You remember how that ten years before God had promised Abram a son.

                        3.         I am sure that Sarah was quite excited when Abram came home with that bit of news.

                        4.         But years after year passed and no son. She was getting old. Too old to even care for a son if something did not happen pretty quick.

                        5.         So I think it was a sacrifice on Sarah’s part to give Hagar to her husband.

                        6.         Sarah and Abram had share that marriage bed for over forty years and now, as she sees it, God will give her husband a child through her maid servant.

                        7.         Sure it was a mistake, it was wrong, it was not in God’s perfect will, but on Sarah’s part it was no doubt a sacrifice.

                        8.         Her faith knew that God would do what He said, but it now seemed that the promised son would not be her own.

                        9.         She was putting God and Abraham ahead of herself.

            D.        Faith to bear a child at ninety.

                        1.         Although there were some rough times the next 13 years yet Sarah stuck it out.

                        2.         Then one day God again speaks to Abram that he and Sarah will have a son within a year.

                        3.         Abram falls on his face in laughter, if he knew anything he knew that Sarah now 89 years old was not going to have children.

                        4.         But God changes the names of Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah.

                        5.         We don’t know that Abraham even told Sarah about that conversation.

                        6.         Shortly after that God appears to Abraham and Sarah in their home.

                        7.         God tells Abraham that Sarah will have a child, which causes Sarah to laugh within herself. But God hears the inner laughter and questions her but she denies it.

                        8.         But true to His word, God does to Sarah as he promised.

                        9.         Sarah become pregnant and has a child at ninety years old.

                        10.       She names the child laughter, a good name for a child in your old age.

                        11.       She will live to see Isaac be 37 years old.

                        12.       Heb 11:11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude — innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. NKJV

II.        The faithfulness of Sarah

            A.        As we have already mentioned, Sarah followed her husband and was faithful not only to her God but to her husband.

            B.        Peter says in this passage, that she called him lord, which means master.

                        1.         This means that Sarah submitted to all that Abraham asker her to.

                        2.         She left her home and family because God spoke to her husband.

                        3.         She put herself in danger twice to keep her husband safe, just because he asked.

            C.        Abraham did not treat Sarah as a door mat.

                        1.         When Hagar became pregnant and began to throw that in Sarah’s face Sarah took the matter to Abraham.

                                    a.         Gen 16:6 6 So Abram said to Sarai, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please." And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence. NKJV

                                    b.         Even though it was her idea, he did not give her that response.

                                    c.         Even though it might mean that he would not see his son by Hagar.

                                    d.         Yet he left it in Sarah’s control.

                        2.         When Sarah had Isaac and when he was old enough to wean problems arose between Ishmael and Sarah.

                                    a.         Ishmael, in his late teens by now, began to make fun of his little half-brother and might I add, contender for heir-ship of all Abraham had.

                                    b.         Sarah wanted this bond-woman and her child out of the house so to speak.

                                    c.         This was very displeasing to Abraham for he loved his son Ishmael ad did not want to see him go.

                                    d.         So Abraham took the matter to God and here is what God said. “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice;” Gen 21:12 NKJV

                                    e.         And Abraham did it.

                                    f.         You see, not only is Sarah a good example of a faithful wife and mother, so Abraham was a good example of a loving and caring husband.

III.       The rewards of Sarah

            A.        Sarah became a part of something far bigger than she ever could have been on her own.

            B.        She became the mother of the Jewish race, God’s chosen people.

                        1.         Not only did she bear Isaac, but the nation of Israel.

            C.        She became mother of kings and princes.

                        1.         Gen 17:16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her." NKJV

                        2.         She became the mother of Joseph and Mary and even of the Lord.

            D.        Her reward is not yet done.

                        1.         By her quiet faithfulness she continues to count up blessings.

                        2.         For over 3,500 years her blessings still add up.

Sounds like a great woman will receive what she deserves for her faith. What will our faith get us? Are we like Abraham and Sarah looking for a city which has God as its builder. Let us not pursue this life and our own way so strongly that we miss God’s will for us, both in this life and the next.

 

Consider the case of Sarai. She is in her golden years, but God promises her a son. She gets excited. She visits the maternity shop and buys a few dresses. She plans her shower and remodels her tent … but no son. She eats a few birthday cakes and blows out a lot of candles … still no son. She goes through a decade of wall calendars … still no son.…

Finally, fourteen years later, when Abram is pushing a century of years and Sarai ninety … when Abram has stopped listening to Sarai’s advice, and Sarai has stopped giving it … when the wallpaper in the nursery is faded and the baby furniture is several seasons out of date … when the topic of the promised child brings sighs and tears and long looks into a silent sky … God pays them a visit and tells them they had better select a name for their new son.

Abram and Sarai have the same response: laughter. They laugh partly because it is too good to happen and partly because it might. They laugh because they have given up hope, and hope born anew is always funny before it is real.…

They laugh because that is what you do when someone says he can do the impossible. They laugh a little at God, and a lot with God—for God is laughing, too. Then, with the smile still on his face, he gets busy doing what he does best—the unbelievable.…

He changes their faith. He changes the number of their tax deductions. He changes the way they define the word impossible.

But most of all, he changes Sarah’s attitude about trusting God.

(From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)

Lucado, M. (1997). Life lessons from the inspired word of God : Book of Genesis. Inspirational bible study series (Page 53). Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub.


Godly women of the Old Testament, especially Sarah, serve as models for Christian wives. These holy women, like the women to whom the apostle wrote, anticipated future glory through the ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Trusting God daily enabled the godly women of former times to submit voluntarily to their husbands even when their husbands led them into dangerous, frightening situations.

Sarah serves as a representative of exemplary Old Testament women in her obedience to Abraham, whom she called “lord.” Though it remains difficult to relate Sarah’s reference to her husband as “lord” to any one historical incident, Peter may have had in mind Genesis 18:12, for it is the only Old Testament reference in which Sarah used that term of Abraham. The episode may not suggest that Sarah was submitting to her husband in an obvious way, or that she was being subjected to unfair treatment. But Sarah’s reference to her husband as “lord” revealed a respectful attitude toward him. In other accounts Sarah submitted to her husband by following him in the face of what must have seemed unreasonable requests: leaving Ur, entering the courts of Pharaoh and Abimelech, and perhaps seeing Abraham take Isaac to be sacrificed.

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Peter affirmed that Christian wives married to unbelievers become Sarah’s “daughters” if they do what is right and are not fearful. Here the apostle used “daughters” as a figure for those women who exhibit Sarah’s character by their submission to their husbands, even in difficult circumstances. Doing what is right refers to refraining from doing evil, and doing good deeds including submitting voluntarily to their husbands. “Not fearing any fearful thing,” in light of Peter’s argument, means a Christian wife need not be afraid of the intimidation of an unbelieving husband or of the alarming circumstances into which he might lead her. Submitting to a husband under such conditions means trusting God for one’s well-being even in uncertain, unpleasant, and perhaps even in dangerous circumstances. A wife’s trust in God in the face of fearful circumstances demonstrates the genuineness of her faith (1 Pet 1:7). This trust is strengthened by her anticipation of future glory and by the conviction that she is following the example of her Lord.

A tendency of some people is to argue or even belittle an unbeliever into making a profession of faith. A Christian wife may be tempted toward heated debate with her unsaved husband. But in 1 Peter 3:1–6 the wife is encouraged not to manipulate her husband with argumentation or false affection. Instead she is reminded of the impact of Christlike behavior. The Holy Spirit touches the heart and mind of an unbeliever through deference when a Christian encounters unfair circumstances. Peter’s words constitute both incentive and comfort for wives who are aware that their obedience to God and to their husbands will not be in vain.

First Peter 3:1–6 also shows that an “unequal” marriage, here the marriage of a Christian wife to an unbelieving husband, serves as an opportunity for the wife to achieve spiritual goals. Marriage to an unbelieving husband often causes great distress and emotional pain. But Peter’s words to those wives point out the potential for spiritual gain in such a situation. By her sincere, respectful behavior she may win her unbelieving husband to Christ. What may seem a curse from the human perspective may result in blessing for the husband and wife individually, and in their relationship as a couple.

In addition to the potential for winning a husband to Christ is the potential for personal spiritual growth of the believing wife. Though Peter did not state this, other New Testament writers point out that spiritual growth is produced by trials. Paul wrote, “And we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the

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love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:2–5).

And James stated, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).

Trials often produce in the believer greater dependence on God for help through a closer devotional relationship with Him. Reading the Scriptures, meditation, prayer, and, for some, fasting often become much more consistent practices for the believer in trials than at any other time. It is only reasonable to expect a Christian wife of an unbelieving husband to strengthen her relationship to Christ as she seeks God’s help in her unequal marriage yoke. Through such hardship God promises to pour out His power, His righteousness, His faithfulness, and His mercy. Endnote