Old Testament Women Who Pointed to Jesus: Nana Dolce
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Nana DolceNana Dolce teaches women and children at The New Macedonia Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where her husband is director of discipleship. She has an MA in theological studies. Nana writes for various ministries and serves as an instructor for The Charles Simeon Trust.
The Old Testament is packed with the narratives of women whose lives foreshadowed Jesus. Author Nana Dolce examines several of their life stories.
Old Testament Women Who Pointed to Jesus: Nana Dolce
Old Testament Women Who Pointed to Jesus: Nana Dolce
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Nana: There is nothing that you have done that is too filthy for God to cleanse. There's nothing that you have done that Jesus says, “I will not take on and suffer for it.” God can take ashes and bring beauty from them. He has suffered in a way that He relates to what you're going through. He can sympathize with what you're going through. You can sit across from a God who knows, because He's been through it.
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 or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife—
So today is Women's Day at FamilyLife Today.
Ann: Yes, it is. That's right. I love Women's Day.
Dave: It is. I mean we don't often get to do this, but we've got Nana Dolce back in the studio with us. You've written a book called The Seed of the Woman. Nana, welcome back.
Nana: Thank you for having me.
Dave: And I know it's not Women's Day, but I sort of feel like I'm just sitting here teeing up a conversation between two women about the women of the Bible.
Ann: Well, that's what's so interesting. Nana, you're a mom; you're a wife; you're professor; you're an author. But you have a love for God's Word, and you've been passionate about going back into the Bible and really putting a highlight on the women in the Bible that often we don't even see. So that's why you're calling it, “It's Women's Day.”
Dave: Well, let's talk about some of the women highlighted in your book from the Old Testament. Where do we start? Abigail.
Ann: Yes, let's talk about Abigail.
Nana: Sure; yes. When we get to Abigail, you know we've already walked through Genesis a little bit. We've walked through Exodus with Rahab. The children of Israel were entering the land, right? So now they've been in the land, and there is now even this system of kings, and this is when we meet Abigail. With Abigail, there's a king called Saul that God is going to be moving away and bringing in this younger king named David.
When we meet Abigail, Saul is literally chasing David around in the desert, and David is trying to hide from him. David is in the desert with about 400 men, and it says that there was a rich man named Nabal, and his shepherds were in the wilderness and David protects these men. He's, literally, like a defense wall/a defensive wall around them. David's hope is that Nabal would be thankful enough to provide some things for him and his men and so he goes to ask for this. This man Nabal is incredibly insulting. The Bible—his name actually means fool. It means foolish. He is harsh. He's just—
Nana: —arrogant, hot tempered and just very mean. And it flames David’s anger. He says, “I protected you. Now, I'm going to kill all of the men in your household.” Abigail comes on the scene. It's very obvious that the salvation of Nabal’s household rests on Abigail’s shoulder. I love this picture. David has his sword strapped, 400 men swords strapped, riding to kill Nabal’s household. This is the army of David coming this way. Now, picture this one woman on a donkey riding to face the anger of 400 swordsmen. This is the picture of Abigail. She takes the provisions that Nabal said he wouldn't give, and she goes to face David and assess that she prostrates before David, and she says “Let the blame fall on me.”
Ann: Which is insane.
Nana: It's amazing to me. She takes the blame for her unworthy husband and says let the blame fall on me and because of her wise, gracious word—you know there’s a passage in Proverbs that says a wise word, turns away anger, turns away wrath. She models that. David actually starts to pronounce a benediction and praise God for keeping him from blood guilt and turns away, goes back into the desert and God continues to ride on and he strikes down Nabal.
The book says that 30 narratives that point to Jesus and her picture. I think we see Jesus in an amazing way. The one who literally rode to face God's wrath on our behalf and said, “Let the blame fall on me.” I think in Abigail we see this little foreshadow of the one who will turn away God's wrath from us sinners, from us in our foolish sins. Jesus rides forth and the blame is put on him and God's wrath turns away from us. In these narratives of these women when Jesus says, “All of it points to me,” we can see it in David, we can see it in Moses, but we can see it in Abigail too.
Dave: Yes, I mean when you tell it the way you did, I'm teary. It's like part of me is amazed at her courage.
Ann: David ends up marrying her because he sees this woman is wise.
Dave: But I'm just thinking when she's walking forward, and you described it, the swords are ready to be pulled. It's like the gun is cocked. They probably have them pointed and she's walking into that as a little woman. You don't expect the warrior to be a woman, and yet—
Ann: —she is.
Dave: —her humility, but courage in the midst of that, changes history. And you're right, it's a type of Christ; that's unbelievable.
Ann: Let's go back to the time of the judges, because we skipped Hannah, and Hannah is a pretty remarkable story. A lot of women know that story, but let's talk about her a little bit.
Nana: Oh, I love this story. I mean, I love all of these stories, honestly. [Laughter]
Ann: Me too!
Nana: But I do like the story of Hannah especially. I think I've mentioned on a previous day that I've dealt with secondary infertility and oh, there's just so much pain that comes with that. This was a woman who was barren, and it says that her husband had another wife who literally added insults to injury in reminding Hannah, provoking her about being a barren woman. Here's this other wife with all of these children, and here's Hannah and she's dealing with the shame. In in those days, she would have literally worn her infertility as shame.
Ann: Oh yes, because a woman's worth was found in the number of children she could have.
Nana: Yes, yes, and so this other woman is provoking her. What we have with Hannah is the author, the narrator, takes us close enough to hear her whispered prayers. It says that she goes into the temple, or where the Ark was, and she is literally weeping, praying to God and she calls him the Lord of Hosts. That is the first time in the Bible that that title is used for God.
Nana: It is.
Ann: I didn't know that.
Nana: Yes, and the Lord of Hosts, Yahweh Sabaoth, literally means the God who rides before legions of angelic armies. It means the Lord of Armies. And so just picture God in His just/the General of Heaven who rides before armies; this is who she's calling on. And when I think that that is the first time the Bible gives that title to God, you would have thought that Yahweh Sabaoth would have been by the Red Sea.
Nana: Or would have been by, you know when they’re defeating Sisera or some kind of major battle, but it’s this woman dealing with infertility who is calling on Yahweh Sabaoth. God remembers Hannah and He opens her womb and gives her a son. She gives this son back to God and he will be the last judge of Israel and the one who will anoint the first two kings including King David—her son Samuel and He'll give her other children as well. But Hannah’s story ends with this beautiful prayer that Mary seems to pick up in the New Testament, where she's literally saying He lifts up the lowly and the haughty and the proud He brings down.
Ann: Oh, we should read that; that's such a great prayer.
Nana: It's in 1 Samuel chapter 2. It's called Hannah’s prayer. It says “Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the LORD;
my horn is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
There is none holy like the LORD:
for there is none besides You;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by Him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who are hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them He has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them He will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.’”
Ann: When you read that, what I hear is a woman who's been in the depths of sorrow, and there's a depth to her faith as well. She has been in need and torment and sad, and she's cried to the Lord, and He's heard her. There's this—I don't know—to me it's like anyone that has been through some hard pain, there's also, as they call on Jesus and our Father, there's this richness and depth to them, like, “Oh, you've known sorrow.”
Nana: So even her calling on Yahweh Sabaoth, right, there isn't anything I go through that is so small that I can call on the God who is the General of Heaven. It doesn't have to become this big major national thing for Yahweh Sabaoth to move on my behalf. She says in this prayer that God will thunder against His enemies. The Hebrew word for the provoking that Peninnah, the other wife, was doing is literally she was “thundering” against Hannah. That's the Hebrew word. She was thundering against Hannah and in some ways, she's thundered against.
I'm reminded even when it says that those who are low, He raises up to sit with princes. And He lifts them up from the ash heap. In many ways I'm remembered of the one that Mary will sing about, Mary’s son, who it looked like it was the end for Jesus. This is a reversal in many ways. The one who had a lot is brought down. The one who seemed to have nothing is lifted up. That is the picture of the gospel. God raises up His Son that they thought they had done away with, right. He raises him up to sit on His right hand. He is the glorified Lord Jesus. And in the gospel, all of us who lower ourselves and humble ourselves as sinners, we are lifted up to sit with that Prince.
Ann: When you were not able to conceive, did you feel like and go to God in that way, like Hannah did?
Nana: I have gone to Yahweh Sabaoth and cried. I feel like there's something about infertility is just so—you can't do anything about it unless the Lord opens the womb. He does it in different ways, but it is His work to do and there is something that really calls you to cry out to Him and to go to Him in prayer. And I've done that.
Ann: And your son that you've adopted—
Ann: —have you felt like, “Oh Lord, you have answered that prayer?”
Nana: Absolutely. Infertility, I think, is so hard because it's hope deferred.
Nana: Each month brings a new hope, and hope can be painful, actually. Sometimes you don't even want to hope because if I don't hope, then it's not the evidence of my barren womb is not going to hit us hard.
Ann: The same with women that are miscarrying often.
Ann: Like, “I don't want to get my hopes up.”
Nana: Oh, my goodness, yes. There's a passage in Proverbs that says a “hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and so that heart sickness. I remember one month it was just so hard for me and crying out to the Lord. I remember because there was a particular name that I wanted to name this third child that the Lord might give us. I remember looking down just on a random piece of paper and there was a magazine that had that name on it. I remember thinking, “You see me. You see”—
Ann: What was the name?
Nana: It’s Ezra, and so that's our son's name, actually. Yes, so that’s his name. So even on that day, in my pain, God knew him and knew the story that He was writing and that He would bring that to pass. He's Yahweh Sabaoth and He hears us as we cry out to Him.
Ann: That’s so good.
Dave: How about, you know you look at another woman and you think “This is only going to be negative.” You think Bathsheba.
Nana: There's a lot of negative with Bathsheba. It's a hard story. This David that we meet in the story of Abigail who turns away from blood guilt, right, because she says “Hey, don't do that; let the blame fall on me,” and he turns back, he will commit the sin of blood guilt in Bathsheba’s story. Bathsheba was this woman who lived next to the palace. I love digging into her story because sometimes we don't know enough about Bathsheba.
Ann: Yes, tell us more.
Nana: Yes, so she was actually politically connected. David had these 30 warriors—
Ann: —the mighty men.
Nana: Yes, yes, so Uriah was one of them, but Bathsheba’s father was also one of the 30 men, and her grandfather was Ahithophel who was Davis 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 there's—you know it's springtime and the kings are at war, but David is not at war. He's chilling in his palace. He's on the roof and 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. The Mosaic Law said 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; she was cleansing herself 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 he asked who she was, and they said, “This is Bathsheba.” They named her father, and they named her husband.
Ann: They did name her father and husband.
Nana: They did, wife of Uriah, so he knew who it was.
Dave: I mean, 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. Here it is, David. We are reminding you what you already know, but 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 she sends to him and 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 says “This rich man who 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 Dave is enraged.
Nana: Yes, he's enraged, and he says, “Death will come to this man,” and 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, and 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 the 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 as 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, you know, 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.
And so, David’s sin against Bathsheba will ultimately fall on the head of a much greater Son who will suffer for it. And God and His amazing mercy it is not faithful, wise Abigail that goes on to have the seed, but it's actually Bathsheba.
Ann: —who has Solomon.
Nana: Yes, 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. So even in this story that's full of so much sin, we see God's grace and God's grace to Bathsheba.
Ann: What do you think our takeaway is for the day? We've talked a lot about women and their impact.
Nana: Yes, I would say if we're leaving it on the story of 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 says, “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: Absolutely, and we will see that not only with Bathsheba, but even David's daughter Tamar, who's raped because of the sin that's introduced to David’s household because of this 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.
Ann: As you're speaking, I'm guessing that listeners are thinking, “I need to read this. I need to read the Bible,” and I would just tell you and encourage you: get a Bible that's easy to understand just for your everyday reading. Maybe have a study Bible with it or you're going through the study Bible.
Dave and I are going through the One Year Bible, and I can't tell you—I feel like these people are my friends, that you're talking about, because I've read about them so often as I've read through the One Year Bible every year, and it unfolds in each year. Every single year I think, “Look, I'm learning something new; I never discovered this.” Nana, you have brought so many new things that I haven't even seen before, so thank you for highlighting, digging deeper, and just showing us how Jesus uses women.
Shelby: Hi, I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Nana Dolce on FamilyLife Today. Nana has written a book called The Seed of the Woman: 30 Narratives that Point to Jesus. Now, this book traces the gospel storyline through the narratives of women, from the Garden of Eden to the times of the matriarchs, the judges, the kings, and into exile all the way up to the birth of Christ. You can find a copy of Nana’s book at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can pick up the phone and call us at 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann are going to be joined again with Nana Dolce back in the studio. She's going to continue talking with us about the stories from the Bible through the lens of women, helping us to see specifically that God never fails. He uses messed up people to help fulfill His mission. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us.
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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