(via Catholic Sistas )
Hey guys! This is the first installment of my Judith Bible Study. She truly is one of my favorite women in the Bible. I also wanted to give a special thanks to Father John Solomon for helping me with this!
So a few days ago I was having a discussion with a friend about strong women in the Bible. We spoke of course of the “Proverbs 31” woman, Esther, Mary etc. I brought up Judith and my friend had never heard of her. It is amazing how we can be inspired by the Holy Spirit. So because of this conversation I am now compelled to do this Bible study.
Judith has to be one of my favorite books in the Bible. Judith is a strong independent woman who gets the job done! So some of you may have not heard of Judith, most Protestants consider this book to be part of the Apocrypha so she will not be in a NIV Bible. It makes me said that Martin Luther chose not to translate her but that is a discussion for another time. If you have the Holy Bible app you can switch over to the Catholic PDV and you will find Judith in there. This is the first installment in this series and I hope you all like it!
We are going to do this chapter by chapter and we will introduce characters as they come along. Each chapter in this story has a specific message and I feel that we should discuss each one thoroughly. I will also have an informal list of sources once I complete the study!
Setting: Most Biblical scholars believe that Judith takes place about 587-590 B.C. The reason they believe this is because this was the time period when King Nebuchadnezzar II was attempting to make conquests in that particular region of the Middle East. The story takes place in Jerusalem. So I also want to touch base on what a life for a typical Jewish woman was during that time period. So in Judaism, they do not regard women as lesser citizens. A woman could hold property; she could have a job if she needed. Women are held in high regard in Jewish culture. A woman’s opinion did matter to an extent. So just keep this in mind as we go through this story.
We first meet the King of the Medes (well, briefly). We learn that he had a decent sized kingdom, a powerful city; he even built a huge wall (which was a big deal back then). In Verse 4 we are then informed of the following, “and he glorified it, in its power, with the force of his army and with the glory of his chariots.” Obviously this King of the Medes is a flashy guy. If we dig a little deeper though into this verse we see that “he glorified it,” which means that he worshiped his own success so much that in his mind it was equivalent to God’s.
Let’s stop here for a second. This king glorified his own success as if it was God’s. Is anyone else guilty of that? Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. If we are passionate about something and we are successful at it we should be proud, right? Well, what does the Bible say about success?
1 Samuel 18:14 (NIV) says, “In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.”
So we know now that we are successful because we have been blessed with success. We still have to put work in. One cannot just sit around and wait for something to happen. We should also feel a sense of pride in ourselves when we accomplish things. But when we, “Glorify” like the King of the Medes what does the Bible say?
Job 25-28 (NIV) says: “If I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained If I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss if homage then these would be sins to be judged for I would have been unfaithful to God on High.”
Our success is to glorify God not ourselves. We should have good self esteem and be proud of our accomplishments. These accomplishments for us as Christians are a way for us to show the world how God has blessed us. When we glorify success like God we are being unfaithful and how does God feel about that?
So now we learn that this other King, Nebuchadnezzar II, “prevails” over the King of the Medes in battle. Nebuchadnezzar was now the new King of this region and his heart was, “exalted.” So we see that when we glorify our success like we should glorify God someone will come and prevail over us and it will probably be a big jerk who was just as bad as the person whom he replaced.
So Nebuchadnezzar sends out messengers to all the leaders in the area that pretty much said that he was taking over. And most of the people, “rejected this without honor.” In verse 12 we learn that, “The King Nebuchadnezzar being indignant against all that land, swore by his throne and his Kingdom that he would defend himself against all these nations.” Well, the Nebuchadnezzar seems pretty arrogant and prideful, doesn’t he? But let’s put this into perspective. In our daily lives we put a lot of effort into the things we care about. We also can become arrogant when we are very good at something especially if we have invested in it. What does that do to our relationship with God? Well, it pushes us further away because we become so caught up in ourselves that we forget what our original intentions even were.
Earlier I touched on being unfaithful to God and I want to touch base on that just a little more. You see when we glorify anything like we should glorify God it is a slippery slope. You see being unfaithful in any relationship could destroy it. Remember relationships of most kinds are based on trust. God puts all of his trust into us knowing that we will fail him and still loves us. How many of you can say the same? I mean personally for me, if someone was unfaithful to me I might be able to forgive but they would not be a part of my life anymore. But God isn’t like that. I feel that as Christians we should try our best to emulate the one we believe to be perfect. However, we are not perfect and we allow pride to cloud our judgment. How can we combat this?
Proverbs 11:2 (NIV), “When pride comes, then comes disgrace but with humility comes wisdom.”
When you start feeling like your ego is getting too big remember to be humble.
Proverbs 13:10 (NIV), “Where there is strife, there is pride but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
Remember when you are becoming overwhelmed and your head is getting way too big listen to the people who care about you, they aren’t jealous (usually) they do want to help you.
And lastly remember Proverbs 22:4 (NIV), “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches, honor, and life.” You hard work will pay off just do not bite the hand that feeds you.
So that is Chapter 1. Chapter 2 will be up soon! I hope that this opens discussion, so please comment !