There are many scriptures addressing fatherhood, but nowhere in the Bible does it instruct a woman on how to be a good mother. This is a curious thing considering being a mother was something expected of women in the Bible. So, what does the Bible say about mothers? Not a whole lot directly.
What we do find in the Bible about motherhood is how God “mothers” us, and many examples of women in their mothering role. Both have good things we can learn about mothers.
What Does Mother Mean
The word mother in both the Hebrew and the Greek is pretty simple. They both mean “mother,” but each has another interesting elaboration pointing to birth.
Birth is the point of departure. When a child is born, the mother is the source, and a parting or dividing occurs.
A mother is one who gives life.
The First Mother
If I were to ask you who was the first mother, you might say Eve.
Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all human beings (Genesis 3:20).
However, there is the initial giving of life, before Eve ever had the ability to give it.
Then the LORD God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live (Genesis 2:7).
The Almighty God is a trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three, together, birthed or mothered the human race into being.
How God Mothers Us
In addition to the labor of birth, attributes connected to motherhood are commonly seen as comforting, nurturing, gathering, and guiding. All these are an expression of the image of God.
He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant (Isaiah 42:14).
You ignored the Rock who gave you birth; you forgot the God who gave birth to you (Deuteronomy 32:18).
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:13).
But I have learned to feel safe and satisfied, like a young child in its mother’s arms (Psalm 131-2).
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Luke 13:34).
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him (Deuteronomy 32:11-12).
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15).
Seeing God as mothering us has the potential to deepen our trust in him.
Three Notable Mothers in The Bible
There are many stories in the Bible involving mothers. I’ve chosen the following three to highlight.
1. Jochebed, the mother of Moses. We hear far more about her son than her, but her role deserves highlighting. Moses was born when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and the Pharaoh was killing baby boys.
Because Jochebed hid her baby boy in the river in a basket that was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, he was not killed. Instead, he grew up and was used by God to deliver the nation of Israel.
2. Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Before he was born, she was barren and grief-stricken. She went to the temple crying out to the Lord and she was given Samuel. Her gratitude led her to sacrifice raising the boy herself and she took him to the prophet Eli.
And she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there (1 Samuel 1:26-28).
Hannah’s sacrifice did not go unnoticed by God.
And the LORD blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD (1 Samuel 2:21).
3. Nameless mother of the living
We hear about the wisdom of Solomon. The most famous story regarding his wisdom involves mothering.
The story is of two women who were prostitutes that both gave birth to boys three days apart. One of the women accidentally smothered her son and switched the babies in the middle of the night.
In the morning, the nameless mother of the living noticed the switch, but the nameless mother of the dead refused to return him.
The matter was brought before King Solomon who responded to their arguing with wisdom revealing the true mother — the one who’d rather give him up than have him killed — a giver of life.
And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother” (1 Kings 3:24-28).
The Mother’s Heart
In all three of the preceding examples, the mother’s demonstrated sacrificial love. Again, we see this in the heart of God.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die (John 3:16).
The best lesson we can learn about being a good mother is to seek to become more like God.