Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.
Is lying ever ok?
Is there ever a time where it honors God to lie rather than tell the truth?
Is it conceivable that God might even bless someone BECAUSE they lied about something?
If you were to read only the New Testament in search for an answer to these questions, you would find only a resounding “No!” Lying, falsehood, and deceit show up in virtually every New Testament list of unholy practices. And let’s not forget about Ananias and Saphira.
But, the issue of lying seems to become cloudy when you read the Old Testament. There are several times in the Old Testament when someone’s lying leads to God’s blessing. For example, Rahab the prostitute hid the Israelite spies in her home and sent them off safely while lying to the guards of Jericho about which direction they went. The result of this was that God not only spared her and her family, but she actually became a direct ancestor of Jesus!
Then there’s the story above, the clearest example of a lie leading to blessing.
The story goes that Pharaoh commands the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Hebrew babies. Obviously they do not. And when Pharaoh confronts them about it, they tell him that the Hebrew mothers are too good at having babies and pop them out before the mid wives can get there.
Gasp! They lied.
For this, God blesses the mid wives, because it showed a true fear of God rather than man.
Now before we draw conclusions about what this means for our truthfulness, and before I give ammunition for kids to use against their parents, look at the circumstances:
Innocent lives were in danger.
The future of God’s people was being threatened.
Pharaoh’s intentions were evil and selfish.
The mid wives were acting on behalf of the defenseless.
First, there is no situation any of us will ever face in which all of these things will be true. So using this passage as simply an excuse to lie is ridiculous. Second, the ultimate issue here is that the mid wives feared God on Pharaoh. They could have been killed for their disobedience to Pharaoh, but their faith in God’s sovereignty was greater than their fear of Pharaoh’s power.
In conclusion, I’m not going to tell you if and when it’s ever ok to lie. That’s really a silly discussion. I hope that if I were in a situation where innocent lives were at stake, I would do whatever possible to save them, even lying. I’m sure you feel the same. The point of this passage is: fear God, not man. God is the only one who can save and destroy, and because of this, there is no lasting harm that any man can do the one who comes to God through faith in Christ.