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Thankfulness Project: Hayil—Valiant Warrior and Woman of Valor

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” -Judges 6:12 (ESV)

The NIV calls Gideon a “mighty warrior.” “Valor” here or “mighty warrior” is the Hebrew word “chayil” or “hayil”, which can be translated as wealthy, great, excellent, virtuous, worthy, strong, very powerful, noble, capable, commanding an army, warriors, mighty, or valiant.

One interesting thing is that in English, the way this phrase is constructed is sometimes as an adjective describing a noun. But in Hebrew, this word is a concrete noun, like the words "tree" or "man" or "sword" or "warrior". It is a concrete, unmoving, indisputable thing. It is so because God has spoken it. It is what God called a frightened man who may have had an anxiety disorder, a man who was so terrified of his enemies that he was working in the worst possible conditions threshing wheat to turn into flour so he and his family could eat. Yet God called this frightened man a man of courage; powerful, worthy, capable, a valiant warrior. Gideon didn’t even acknowledge this part of what God said to him; I believe because his mind immediately rejected it. I believe he thought something to the effect of thoughts that have also challenged me in the past: “What? Me? No way God. We’re just going to move on to the other part of what you said because calling ME a person of valor or mighty courage and power is absolutely ridiculous.” Valor means having strong courage in the face of battle or danger. Gideon knew this was not who he had ever been nor would be described as. But I am thankful this is the miracle of God's transforming power when He calls us.

if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -2 Cor. 5:17, ESV

While Christ had not been born yet, God still called men and women like Abraham, Sarah and Moses to do the things HE called them to, even when it went against the very laws of nature, even when it went against their preconceived notions of the way the world should work. Even when it went against their own beliefs about themselves and who they thought they were. Some thought themselves unworthy, incapable, too old, too young, too much, not enough. To the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said: “Do not say ‘I am only a youth’, for you will go to everyone I send you and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. This is the Lord’s declaration...Look, I have filled your mouth with My words.” Jeremiah 1:7-9 (CSB)

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I’m so very thankful that we don’t have to come to God fully pre-qualified for the tasks He calls us to do. Actually, it usually works best when we aren’t qualified, when we lack the full measure of skills or experience for the job, when we aren’t enough on our own, or don’t have enough talent or means, like the widow woman who by God’s power miraculously was provided food for herself, her son, and the prophet Elijah every day so they didn’t starve.

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. -2 Cor. 12:9 (NIV)

I’m thankful that when we lack a portion of what it will take to do the task, God steps in with exactly what we need right then. He is our portion (Ps. 73:26). Then He does the impossible, and HE gets all the glory. This is how the Father works. This is the history of the Bible. God is a Doer of the impossible, and I’m thankful He lovingly beckons us to be part of His grand story, of millions of miracles large and small taking place every day. Sometimes people pass a hard test or conquer a fear, addicts walk away from their addictions, or people learn how to lean on God’s strength instead of their own wisdom, understanding, coping mechanisms, bad habits, self-soothing comforts. We run to the Father and find He alone is all we need, and He equips His children for whatever He asks us to do.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. -2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

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We won’t be truly successful if we aren’t first His children and tasked or called by God to do something. It doesn’t work out right if we take on the tasks of someone else’s calling, or try to do it without Him, or our own way, or do the wrong thing. But if the Lord does call us to a task, whether terrifyingly large or what we consider small, we can rest assured that He has already arranged time and space to accommodate making His plans happen in perfect alignment. There is no limit to His power or the glory He will receive when we obey, and the rich rewards we will graciously receive for it.

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided." -Isaiah 14:24 (NLT)

I’m thankful we can rest assured that if the God of heaven’s armies, the Creator of the universe has spoken, or called us, or tasked us, or named us with a certain quality such as chayil, it will be so, it already is so (since He is not bound by time), if we choose to obey and not reject Him. It doesn’t matter what excuses we try to come up with, or what doubts the enemy throws at us to get us to give up or run away. I’m thankful my limitations don’t hinder God. God’s power is unlimited.

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This word chayil is also used to describe a famous Bible character named Boaz, a kind, patient, godly man who was waiting for the right, godly wife:

And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. -Ruth 2:1 (KJV)

Chayil is here translated as “a mighty man of wealth.”

The ESV calls Boaz a “a worthy man of the clan.” In the NLT he is “a wealthy and influential man.” Boaz was an upstanding, wealthy bachelor in the community. But even more, He was capable of being the right, understanding, kind type of husband that Ruth needed after her previous husband had died. Boaz worked with her, knew her reputation, and came to love her. Their story is one of the most beautiful and romantic in the Bible. Boaz was called by God to marry Ruth, and God qualified him for the job. God not only qualifies us for tasks, He also qualifies us and the people we need to be in relationship with, no matter the type of relationship. He calls people to us, and us to others, so that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17 (NIV)

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One of the most famous Bible passages about the ideal wife is Proverbs 31. Verse 10 begins with: A wife of noble character who can find? (NIV). “Noble” here is also hayil. The NLT says “virtuous and capable.” The chapter then goes on to list a lifetime of accomplishments of the woman who is hayil, noble, capable, virtuous, strong, everything a woman could look up to and aspire to be, whether married or not. Chayil is an achievable goal, for men and women, by the power and grace of God, when we live in surrendered obedience to Him, to each task He calls us to each day.

On Shabbat, or Sabbath, the weekly Jewish day of rest, it is common for a special prayer to be recited at sundown before the evening meal begins. This prayer is called the Eshet Chayil. A Sabbath day of rest is one of the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai for all Jews to obey. Jesus reiterated this command later, and for all His present and future followers—Jew, Gentile, all nations for all time. Moses was a little boy whose life was in danger when Pharaoh commanded all the Hebrew boys to be killed. His mother hid him in the reeds and saved him, protected him. She was a courageous woman of valor who saved a baby boy who would grow to be a man called by God to lead the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, and to receive the laws of the Ten Commandments. So the women who protect even at great cost, who risk it all for God, are honored on Shabbat, on Sabbath, with this prayer. It is also Jewish women who spend all day Friday preparing the Sabbath dinner and the food for the entire next day in advance, so that all can rest. The women who work hard and provide so their families have peaceful homes of rest are also honored with this prayer. Eshet Chayil is, according to some, also a metaphor for the Torah, the laws of Moses, the commands we are to obey, a calling on how to live as believers of God’s Word, which Jesus Christ expounded on in His time on earth.

King David’s armies and close followers were called chayil. The Bible-writing prophets such as Jeremiah were called chayil. The example of a husband and leader is chayil. The virtuous female example is hayil. The followers of Jesus can and should aspire to be chayil; and I’m thankful that, with God's continuous help and by His beckoning, we can be chayil— men and women of valor.

© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

Comments

Naude Lorenzo on May 19, 2021:

this is an awesome article, a smart person like Amanda can make an interesting bible study even for those who are familiar with the bible. a super smart lady, keep at it Amanda, we love it.

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