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What’s Behind the Obvious?

by Marlene Houk 

Burke County   Marlene Houk Burke County


The large room echoed the painting’s vast feel of King Solomon’s court as the Queen of Sheba presented herself. I felt drawn inward to join the others of the court, gaping at her beauty and the treasures she presented to the wisest man who had ever lived.

Jacopo Robusti (called I1 Tintoretto), the leading artist in Venice in 1576, created bold characters in his painting called, The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. The linear perspective style of receding floors suggests the vastness of King Solomon’s kingdom. I remember staring intensely at the elegant robes of the queen and the dramatic body language of the characters. But, even more, astonishing was the brief glimpse behind the painting as the curator shined a light into a corner beside the king’s elevated throne. We saw beneath the painting, behind the obvious as she pointed out the hat originally painted on the blue and white-robed man with the white hair. Fifty years later, I still recall the tall brown hat I saw for less than five seconds.

When I peer into a list of named Bible women, I feel the same way. Catching fleeting patterns, I pause to consider their impact and walk away, stunned at the messages rising to the surface of my understanding. Hidden in a list of named Bible women, secrets to our success in living a Christian life rest on the surface of the ancient pages of the Bible. Here are three secrets to whet your spiritual appetite.

  1. Our names can point others to Jesus and His saving power. God considers names important because they define, reveal, and describe people and things. Newly discovered stars receive names from astronomers and scientists. Parents honor their newborn babies with names chosen after much thought. And, God revealed His own name in His Word. When we become His children, He even writes our names on the palm of His hand. As we live for the Lord, our names become synonymous with His character, and others notice. God makes Himself known to others through our actions and words as our names bear influence for Christ.

God allowed the named women in the Bible to reach out to us through their divinely-told drama with messages of wisdom and practical solutions. The same problems they experienced we encounter today, and the crises remain basically ageless: relationships, emotions, and actions.  Their names become the same with caution or encouragement. Jezebel warns us about anger and craving for control. The Bible equates Her name with a sinister evil. Mary, the mother of Jesus, reminds us, simply by her name, to be gentle and kind, ignoring the taunts and threats of others to focus on Jesus, our Savior.

Our names possess power in the sense of influence. The purpose of the power of our names exists to point others to Jesus.

  1. Our godly community can lead us closer to each other and Christ. One of the patterns in the list reveals another secret—the power of community. Looking at the Bible references reveals that a whopping 75% of the list of named Bible women have close or exact references. Their stories could not be extracted from each other. We need both of their stories to complete the messages that God wants us to know from their crises. God wants His people to be in community—encouraging, teaching, giving, serving, discerning, guiding, and showing compassion to others. Together, we are stronger. As we support other Christians, and they provide resources for us, living for Christ emerges as a reality, not just wishful thinking or theory.
  2. Legacy leaves a lasting impression on the Gospel. Legacy wafts through our minds with a wisp of lavender buds or maybe yellowed lace, rich with memories.  Likewise, Bible stories we cherish form spiritual legacies within our hearts.  Sarah, Abraham’s wife, begins her faith journey in the Old Testament in Genesis and closes with God’s final honor to her in Hebrews 11:11. We can trace Sarah’s journey from acknowledging God in the Old Testament—stumbling through doubt, and poor choices, and fighting barrenness—to being in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter eleven.  Her story finally ended after millennia as God called her a woman of faith. What a legacy she leaves us of how to travel through life, toward faith, trusting in the promises of God!

Other secrets lay hidden in the list. Search for them. They contain treasures untold to enrich and enlarge your Christian life.

In his painting, Tintoretto depicted the Queen of Sheba as she visited King Solomon. As I ponder the spiritual analogy of the hidden hat some fifty years later, as revealed by the light of the curator’s tool, I realized a simple yet profound truth. A list of named Bible women, seen through the light of God’s Word, uncovers discoveries of God’s vast love and infinite care for His children.


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.