Lenten Season Lectio Divina Series: Women of the Torah

This is the third entry in our Lenten series of posts taken from Stephen Binz’s Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina. Two weeks ago we introduced the concept of lectio divina and posted a study on Abraham. Last week we posted a study on David titled “The Shepherd Who Is Also King.”

Be sure to check out our videos that further explain this terrific series.

This week, we are posting a study from the introduction to Binz’s volume Women of the Torah: Matriarchs and Heroes of Israel.

Listen to Sarah, the Quarry of Encouragement

Lectio

Listen to this prophetic voice calling God’s people to remember the lives of their ancestors Abraham and Sarah. Pay attention to the way the prophet exhorts people of every age to gain wisdom and strength in the present challenges.

Isaiah 51:1–2

1Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you.

Through this commentary, continue seeking the significance of this passage to help you look to your biblical ancestors, obtaining insights from them into life’s purpose and meaning.

This passage from the prophet Isaiah was written during the exile of the Jewish people in Babylon (sixth century BC). Though the exiles have remained faithful to God, they are discouraged and disheartened by their captivity and seeming powerlessness. They fear that, even if they are able to return to Judah, they will not be able to face the overwhelming task of restoring their homeland because they are so weak and few in number. Isaiah offers these exiles an encouraging message, calling them to look back to the example of their ancestors Abraham and Sarah. Though these exiles lived well over a thousand years after Israel’s patriarch and matriarch, the prophet still holds up Abraham and Sarah as the inspiring models for their descendants to imitate. In these mentors from the past is found hope for the future.

Based on the parallelism in Hebrew poetry, Abraham is the “rock” from which his descendants were carved and Sarah is the “quarry” from which her descendants were dug. The masculine image of rock suggests an indestructible foundation of solid faith from which later generations were shaped, while the feminine image of quarry implies a rich source from which offspring are mined. Sarah is the deep pit in which are buried valuable minerals and undiscovered treasure. She is the abundant source from which living stones in every generation can be excavated, stones filled with inspiration, courage, faithfulness, and hope.

Based on God’s assurances to Abraham and Sarah, the exiles in Babylon can be confident that God will bless them with strength and abundance as they prepare to make the same journey as Abraham and Sarah, returning to their home in the Promised Land. The promises made to Abraham and Sarah continue to be fulfilled in every age. As we reflectively mine the Scriptures for stories of the women of the Torah, we will realize that we are digging in a quarry that will yield plentiful discoveries. Through this work of excavation, we will unearth riches to bring inspiration and hope to our lives.

Meditatio

Consider how these ancient words of the prophet can shine their light into situations of discouragement today.

What might have been some of the discouragement felt by the exiles who listened to the prophet? Do I experience similar discouragement today?

How is studying the stories of the Bible like excavating a quarry? What rich minerals do I hope to mine from this Bible study?

Oratio

Respond to God’s Word to you with your own words to God. Speak from your heart in response to the hope you have been offered.

Most High God, you called our ancestors to a committed life in covenant with you. Help me to learn from their example and be inspired by their heroism so that I may leave a legacy to the generations after me. Bless my life as I listen to, reflect on, and pray through the stories of these women. Transform my life, as you did theirs, with the power of your Word.

Continue to express your hopes, desires, struggles, and commitment . . .

Contemplatio

Remain in peaceful quiet and place yourself in God’s loving embrace. Ask God to give you whatever gift he desires for you during these moments.

©2011 by Stephen J. Binz. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without expressed written permission is strictly prohibited.