“Cows of Bashan”—that has to be one of my favorite lines in the Bible. I can just see the faces of these haughty women when that rough old country boy Amos spun that one out. There they lay on their silk cushions commanding even their own husbands to wait on them. These spoiled women have many sisters in spirit today. Just check out these other passages in Amos:
Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— Amos 2:6. Translation: I will punish you for not looking after those in need just so you could buy yet another pair of new shoes.
I will strike the winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end,” declares the LORD, Amos 3:15. Translation: I will destroy not just your upscale houses but also the cabin in the mountains, the condo on the beach, and the time share you visit every summer.
“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” Amos 6:4-7. Translation: Disaster will come on those with the best and most expensively decorated homes, who eat lamb and veal—the most expensive meats in the market—who like to be entertained lavishly, who use the most expensive perfumes and makeups and judge their haircuts by who paid the most, yet are not concerned one iota over the spiritual state of this nation.
If you cannot see our culture in these verses, it may just be that you are one of these people, more concerned about what you can have here and now, about your status among the rest of the snobs, about your comfort and convenience than about your relationship with God. Those people broke their covenant with God, thinking that sacrifices and tithes (4:4) could make up for trampling on the needy in order to make even more money (5:11), or just ignoring them and blaming them for their own problems as we tend to do.
And they judged greatest among them those who spent the most on clothing and jewelry and perfume and homes and probably even manicures, while God’s Word shows us that great women are known for purity, for love, for strength of character, for teaching, for serving the poor, the ill, the weak, or even those who don’t deserve it at all.
We have now seen all four of the oracles God sent specifically to women—the manipulators, the high maintenance, the weak who cannot face facts, and the snobs who judge by society’s standards instead of God’s. I have known all four of them. The goal for me--and you--is to make sure we are never counted among them.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens… She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong… She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness… “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Prov 31:15,17,20,25-27,29.