Friday, 8 March 2013

In praise of cunning women and a roguish God!


Like it or not, there seem to be some aspects of God's character that are seen more clearly in women than in men. If Genesis 1 is right and the male and female of the species are both made in the image of God Himself, then I guess this statement shouldn't surprise us. It's just possible that the Creator God buried his rich character deep into the psyche and personality of men and women. Whilst both sexes point to who He is, men and women individually are capable of showing a unique insight to aspects of God's ways and worth.

This is never more apparent than in the little studied subject of cunning!
Shrewdness, guile or subtle thinking, prudence and wisdom. These are not uniquely female traits, but the girls are definitely in charge in the cunning department!

Think about the mother of baby Moses, commanded to throw her baby in the river. She obeyed to a degree, but only after placing him carefully with prayer and hope into a pitch lined basket, and sending her older daughter to follow him along the river bank. When Moses is discovered by the Princess, his sister Miriam pops out of the bullrushes quite by chance and offers to find a wet nurse for the boy that happened to be his mother. Genius - us fellas would never be able to work out and execute such a plan!

What about Jael, luring Sisera, the enemy general, into her tent with a promise of safety and hospitality. Perhaps if we read between the lines, Sisera had an expectation of some quite intimate hospitality. So using her body, then ordinary household utensils, Jael drugs him and pins him to the floor through his brain with a long tent peg and a hammer, releasing her people from oppression.

We could go onto Esther using the only real asset at her disposal, her looks, with King Xerxes to gain favour, then be open to God's purpose for her people once she had a hearing.

Or what about Rahab who lied to her king and gave him false information about enemy spies whom she believed God was with, all in order to save her family. She crammed her house full of relatives who were saved during the ensuing invasion, whilst a tell tale scarlet cord hung from her window.

Cunning is a fine line to dance along. There are stories of women who practise manipulation and control - that kind of counterfeit cunning comes from the serpent in the garden, taking something of what God made good and distorting it for gain. You see serpent cunning with Deliah using her looks like Esther to ensnare God's anointed leader - but without honour for God.
Jezebel or Salome carry echoes of Esther too, but distorted by wicked hearts and enabled by weak men. Salome is offered the same terms as Esther, up to half the kingdom, as she beguiled the king sexually - But unlike Esther, she harmed her people rather than serving the purpose of God, getting the head of John the Baptist served up after dessert.

Though the Jezebels and Salomes champion the dark side of cunning, a sin spoiled counterfeit version, it seems true that God himself, the master tactician loves to work this way.
Jesus tells us the story of the prudent manager in Luke 16. He commends the man for shrewdness for business practise that looks to us like fraud! Jesus Himself demonstrated a life lived as shrewd as a snake but as innocent as a dove. He shows us the perfect version of guile.

This characteristic cunning that is imprinted in our hearts as a reflection of the creator God is somewhere on the spectrum between the gullible and the rogue - but it feels much nearer to the rogue than we realise or are comfortable with!
So this blog is in praise of cunning women, who in their shrewdness and intrigue are displaying a small measure of God's perfection in the way that he works out his purposes in our lives - In praise of cunning women, and a roguish God!

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