The disobedience of the midwives presents a fascinating, and not unimportant, ethical issue for believers. Were Shiphrah and Puah right to disobey Pharaoh’s edict, and if so, why? We know from this passage and others, such as Daniel’s refusal not to pray (Dan. 6:10) and Peter and John’s refusal to abstain from preaching the gospel (Acts 4:19-20), that we are to follow the laws of our nations unless those laws expressly violate God’s law.
While this is important for us to know, and there may be times when we must put this principle into practice, for most of us it is more academic. Few of us will ever be in a situation where a law of the land is in direct conflict with God’s law. But that does not mean this principle isn’t relevant and helpful for us. It is, just for a larger reason. Notice why the midwives knew what to do in this situation: They feared God. The same was true with Daniel and with Peter and John. The fear of the Lord gave them the wisdom to navigate their ethical quandary and to follow God, even if it put their very lives at risk.
And this is what we need to take away from this part of the exodus account. Our daily struggle is not to be bold to stand against the unjust laws of our nation; it is to be faithful to follow the just and good commandments of our God. Like Shiphrah and Puah, we need to be men and women who fear God, who love Him and desire to live for Him out of gratitude for what He has done for us. Ours is not a question of when we are to disobey; it is the question of why we aren’t obeying more.
What are some ways you have disobeyed God, been slow to obey, or have obeyed with the wrong heart? Confess these to God and ask Him to fill you with the fear of the Lord.