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Chayil: Release the Power of a Virtuous Woman

Chayil: Release the Power of a Virtuous Woman

by John Eckhardt

Learn More | Meet John Eckhardt

Chapter 1


In our society it is not uncommon to talk about strong women. Many of us have known strong women. Our mothers were or are strong—strong in character and power, whether it’s spiritual strength, emotional strength, or otherwise. Most of us have known strong women of God who move in power, miracles, healing, and deliverance. They are full of the Holy Ghost. They are strong prayer warriors, intercessors, prophetesses, counselors, preachers, and teachers.

In our society it is not uncommon to talk about strong women. Many of us have known strong women. Our mothers were or are strong—strong in character and power, whether it’s spiritual strength, emotional strength, or otherwise. Most of us have known strong women of God who move in power, miracles, healing, and deliverance. They are full of the Holy Ghost. They are strong prayer warriors, intercessors, prophetesses, counselors, preachers, and teachers.

Sometimes men are intimidated by strong women. And sometimes women say, “Well, I don’t want to be too strong,” without realizing that God created them to be strong. This kind of strength is not about physical strength or about women trying to be stronger than men. A lot of women have accepted the traditional definition of who a woman should be: She should be weak and stay in the kitchen. She should be quiet and not say anything.

Then God raises up women who become leaders— governmental, business, and church leaders. And people still say that a woman shouldn’t even speak in church, that she should be silent. Society is now shifting to where women who at one time were not very visible in business are taking over in greater numbers in various leadership roles in certain industries.

Strong chayil women are not Jezebels. They are not overbearing and beating up on their husbands. But the virtuous woman is not just a nice woman who is holy, clean, and praised. She’s a chayil woman who is also strong, mighty, and valiant.

Here’s an interesting point: if you ever look up the name Sarah, or Sarai—Abraham’s wife—you’ll see that it is connected to her being “a mother of nations” (Gen. 17:16) and means “my princess” and “nobility.”1 The root word for the name Sarah is the Hebrew word sar, which literally means “ruler, leader, chief, official, head, and overseer.”2 It refers to someone of power. So Sarah, the woman of God, the woman of faith, was not just a wife who had a baby. She was a very powerful woman who was married to Abraham, a very powerful and wealthy man.

Deborah, a judge in Israel, was also a very powerful woman. All of Israel came to her for sound judgment. Esther, a queen, was a very powerful woman too.

In Scripture we read of women who carried authority and were strong in prayer and worship. Of course in the Old Covenant you’ll find more men walking in chayil. Still, God did not create women to be weak. And this is the problem: some men do not approve of strong women. They automatically call them Jezebels. Jezebel was a witch, a seductress— manipulative and domineering. Being a strong woman does not make you a Jezebel.

Both men and women should be strong. The Bible says, and this applies to women as well, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10). I pray that you would be strengthened with might by the Spirit in your inner being.

There’s No Junior Holy Ghost for Women

In the Scriptures men were the physical warriors, and kings fought many battles. Pharaoh had chayil. Moses had chayil. Joshua had chayil. David had chayil. Hezekiah had chayil. But women also had chayil. Women such as Esther, Deborah, Anna, Ruth, and Abigail had chayil. These were all women of influence and power.

These scriptures on might and power in Christ apply to women as well as men.

    That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.
      —Ephesians 3:16

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
      —Ephesians 6:10

    I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
      —Philippians 4:13

When women receive the Holy Ghost, it’s not the Holy Ghost Jr. You have the same Holy Ghost that men have. You can be strong, mighty, and powerful. You can walk in wealth and business. You should be strong in the prophetic, in preaching, teaching, prayer, worship, or whatever your call is. You should not become weak or reduce yourself for the approval of men. You should not be dominated, run over, or controlled. You are not to be a doormat for a man or for a church. You should be strong.

This is who you are, chayil woman. I am challenging you to be strong in the Lord and in what God has given you. Walk in strength. Don’t ever let culture or tradition make you weak. You are not this “little woman” who is just run over. No. You can have a quiet and meek spirit and still be strong. As a matter of fact, the Bible talks about meekness as a strength. It’s a virtue. Let’s go a little deeper into the fullness of the valor and might of the virtuous chayil woman.

Woman of Valor

In the Jewish culture Proverbs 31:10–31 is a poetic blessing husbands sing over their wives at the Sabbath table. The term is eshet chayil, and it is a spontaneous blessing.

    Friends cheer one another on with the blessing, celebrating everything from promotions, to pregnancies, to acts of mercy and justice, and honoring everything from battles with cancer, to brave acts of vulnerability, to difficult choices, with a hearty “eshet chayil!”—woman of valor.
    So I set aside my to-do list and began using Proverbs 31 as it was meant to be used—not as yet another impossible standard by which to measure our perceived failures, but as a celebration of what we’ve already accomplished as women of valor.

This changes the whole idea of Proverbs 31, which should now be liberating for women to read and not a reminder of who they are not.

Carol McCleod states:

    Materialism, physical beauty and creature comforts were never meant to be the substance of the life of a woman who was created for chayil!
    You were created to help win this battle on planet earth!
    You were created with power and with ability!
    You were created to tap into the wealth of God on earth!
    You were created to be a front-line warrior in the mighty army of God and for His purposes!
    You were created to raise up the next generation of warriors for the kingdom of God!
    You were created to take back real estate from the kingdom of darkness and to position yourself as an immovable proponent for all that is right and good.
    You were created to pray for the sick with faith and with power.
    You were created to use the resources that God has given to you as a treasure chest of generous giving and lavish investment in God’s kingdom.
    You were created, my sisters of the faith, to walk side by side with man, pushing back the darkness, subduing and taking dominion over the earth.
    The fight was never intended to be man vs. woman; the battle was intended to be man and woman taking down strongholds and charging forward in victory against spiritual forces of wickedness.

Kathi Woodall states:

    The Old Testament uses chayil most often in the context of war or battle. Traditionally, the role of a man is to fight for and defend his country or his homeland. Scripture is full of stories of the Israelite men leaving their homes to go to battle; over and over it refers to them as chayil. They are the valiant warriors who crossed the Jordan to claim the Promised Land and fought alongside Joshua. They were the “elite army” of Israel who could “wage war with great power” (2 Chronicles 26:13). King David was chayil even before God chose him as king; he was “a mighty man of valor” (1 Samuel 9:1).
    These are merely a sampling of the imagery behind the word chayil. Like these valiant warriors, a chayil woman fights for and defends her home. She protects it from invading negative influences and organizes those under her so that it runs smoothly and calmly. A chayil woman is strong, mighty, and efficient. She is valiant and virtuous. But, and this is a very important point, she is all of these things alongside her husband, never in opposition to him.
Chayil women are women of valor.

As I mentioned, Ruth is the only woman in Scripture referred to directly with the word chayil. She is the woman of valor who surpassed them all.

Yael Ziegler states:

    Over the course of the narrative, Ruth is accorded various appellations, including: Moavite, shifkha, ama, woman, and daughter-in-law. Perhaps her most memorable designation is “eshet chayil,” a woman of valor. Ruth is the only character in the Tanakh termed as such, and this accolade seems to be reserved for a truly ideal woman. The term chayil suggests Ruth’s strength, integrity, loyalty, honesty, leadership, and efficiency. Although Boaz couches this appellation as the opinion of the people in the gate, it is Boaz who calls Ruth a woman of valor. It is therefore of particular significance that this description mirrors the one used about Boaz himself in Ruth 2:1. This equates Ruth with Boaz, suggesting that her behavior sets her on par with the venerable Judean leader. It also hints at their compatibility, and the possibility of creating a marriage between equals.

Ruth becomes a woman of power and influence who is in the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Prophetess Michelle McClain-Walters wrote a book on this called The Ruth Anointing. I invited her to come and talk about this during my Chayil Woman Challenge on Facebook. She is another of my spiritual daughters who’s been with me for almost thirty years. I’ve taught her everything I know, and she’s taught me a lot as well. She is a strong prophet, preacher, and apostle. She is an author and a powerful prayer warrior. She is strong in activation, impartation, and deliverance. My ministry and my life have been blessed by being connected with her all these years. She and her husband, Floyd Walters Jr., preach and lead conferences around the country and the world. This is what the Lord has revealed to her about Ruth:

    When I think about the women in the Bible who had the characteristics of a chayil woman, I think of Ruth. I even believe, through my prophetic insight, that when Solomon wrote about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, he was writing about his great-grandmother, Ruth. She was the only woman in the Bible who was actually called a virtuous woman. In Ruth 3:11 Boaz said, “We all know you are a virtuous (or chayil) woman” [paraphrased].
    This means that Ruth had to have been doing something, something that was seen. By this, God showed me that chayil men recognize chayil women. God showed me that He is breaking the contention between men and women and He is raising up Ruth and Boaz—chayil men and chayil women—and we are going to move forward together. The enemy has always tried to put us at odds. But I believe this is the set time where men and women will recognize that, yes, we are different, but we can walk in unity. In this regard, unity means that we are moving together, but we have a distinction. God wants us to understand that we are valuable because of our differences, not because of our sameness. Moving together in covenant as chayil women and chayil men is based on our valuing each other’s differences. Though the enemy has caused us to fight against one another, I believe this is the time for chayil women and chayil men to walk together in unity. Together we defeat the powers of darkness.
Chayil women are strong.

Women of God are intended to operate in might. Stella Payton states:

    Chayil in its original framework is eshet chayil meaning woman of valor. Valor means great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle. It implies bravery and courage—doing what frightens you. Or pluck—the kind of daring that enables you to quickly remove someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation. Chayil is nerve—braced mentally to face demanding situations. She is audacious—taking bold risks with confidence.
    A chayil woman has backbone—strength of character, will and determination; spirit—energy with determination and assertiveness; and guts— personal courage with tough character, true grit—courage with resolve. She is a woman with moxie—force of character with determination and nerve. This is a true chayil woman. And these are the characteristics women need today.

There is a great company (army) of chayil women who are declaring the Word.

    The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
      —Psalm 68:11

    The Lord giveth the word: The women that publish the tidings are a great host.
      —Psalm 68:11, ASV

Some translations use the term army.

    The Lord gives the command [to take Canaan]; The women who proclaim the good news are a great host (army).
      —Psalm 68:11, AMP

    The Lord provided the message. The women who proclaimed it were a great army.
      —Psalm 68:11, EHV

    The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host.
      —Psalm 68:11, ESV

    The Lord gave matter to the women to tell of the great army.
      —Psalm 68:11, GNV

    Adonoi gave the word; rav (great) was the tzava (company, army) of the mevaserot (heralds, those that published it, the lady evangelists).
      —Psalm 68:11, OJB

Chayil women are strong women in the Word. They are strong in prophesying. They are strong in decreeing and declaring. They are strong in confession.

God empowered women on the day of Pentecost. The daughters prophesied.

    And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
      —Acts 2:17, emphasis added

The Greek word dunamis means power, and this power comes through the Holy Spirit. Remember, women do not have the Holy Ghost Jr.

Scripture tells us that Philip had four daughters who prophesied.

    And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
      —Acts 21:9, emphasis added
Breaking Out of the Box With Sophia Ruffin

Chayil women prophesy. The word of the Lord is in their mouths. One of my spiritual daughters, Sophia Ruffin, was a guest on one of my Facebook Live Chayil Woman Challenge broadcasts where we discussed the chayil woman. She is a strong preacher who stepped out in ministry, traveling around the country. It takes a level of bravery, courage, and strength to step out and do what she’s doing. We don’t always encourage women to be bold, courageous, and brave because we’re trying not to make them like men. But, as I’ve said, women should be brave and courageous, and many of them are despite the lack of encouragement in this area. So I asked Sophia, “How do bravery and courage fit in your life, in your testimony, and even your stepping into what you’re doing today?” This is what she said:

    For years, you hear about the virtuous woman, and it sort of puts the woman in a box. Even when you read it from our traditional perspective of Proverbs 31, it still feels like this woman is in a box. But it’s [not] just about a virtuous woman. There is more to it. It’s more about being brave, courageous, bold, full of valor, and coming through like a one-woman army. This new perspective that you are bringing out really brings this woman out [of] the box. You have brought more definition to her character. You have also brought more identity to the strength and power of a woman. It is powerful that we are no longer being secluded in this box of just being virtuous.
    What I’ve learned is that you can still be a woman, still be feminine, while being brave and bold and a woman of war. I had a lot of challenges growing up, and as a woman, you have to carry a lot. The responsibility that’s put on a woman, oftentimes at an early age, is a heavy load. Still, somehow you learn how to overcome. You learn how to walk through opposition. And so that’s what this chayil woman revelation means to me.
    I’m a courageous person. I’m bold because I didn’t allow my life, my circumstances, the trials I had to go through, and all the things I had to overcome to stop me, block me, or sit me down. I chose to rise up. Yet when I rose up, I didn’t rise up in my own strength. I rose up in the strength of God. When a woman has a relationship with God and she is able to rise in the strength of that, she becomes powerful. She becomes dangerous. She becomes confident. And she feels unstoppable.
    One of my things is keeping this mentality that when I see something that seems impossible, I’m the one who says, “I want that challenge. I want to be the one. I want to be the one to prove that it’s possible.” Many get timid. They shy away. They don’t want to do it. But I grew up with this mentality. I grew up in overcoming. And like many women, when I become [sic] an adult and I was able to overcome and defeated the enemy multiple times, I became dangerous. Chayil women, we’re dangerous.
Boldness and courage

I have seen Sophia’s boldness and courage. I’ve seen her launch out in ministry and travel around the country. And what I love about Sophia is this: when it comes to courage, she has an abundance. She had the courage to tell her testimony. A lot of people are ashamed of their testimony, but because she had the courage to share it, thousands have been set free. She even wrote a book about it called Set Free and Delivered: Strategies and Prayers to Maintain Deliverance. She says,

    Before anybody knew my name and before I had any of these opportunities or a platform, I spent eight years in the wilderness walking out my deliverance and getting free from homosexuality, giving me the ability to trust God and believe that it is possible to get free and stay free. This is what I wrote about in my book. I also talk about being proactive in spiritual warfare. You can be victorious and courageous. You can’t always be reactive. But you’ve got to be proactive. That’s the thing about a chayil woman: she knows that she can’t always be reactive and that she must not always wait on a situation to happen and then respond to it. You have to be proactive in spiritual warfare and know how to destroy the enemy before he is able to attack you. That’s what I love about strong, confident women, women of power who say, “This is what I went through, but this is how I made it out.” We are a voice of hope for somebody else who may be in that same struggle and who may be waiting on somebody to be bold enough, courageous enough to share their testimony.
    I said, “OK, God, if You’re going to use anybody, then use me.” So I just started with being bold. Once I shared my testimony and being a hope for many people to say, “Wow, God did it for you; He can do it for me.” And that’s when I just began to write books.
    And I stay in my lane. I use discernment when different situations come up. For some of them, I think, “OK, shame comes with that.”
    A lot of people are sitting on their power, sitting on their anointing, sitting on their deliverance, and sitting on somebody else’s breakthrough because they allowed the demon called shame to shut them up. But I believe God is raising up courageous women who will talk and testify about what they’ve overcome and how they made it out. When God adds His anointing on top of that, oh, you’re powerful!
    So I just walk in the strength of my identity. God is with me, and I am unshakable. I’m not intimidated by the enemy.

It took courage for Sophia to step out the way she has. It took valor. And that’s what chayil means. It means courageous, valor, valiant. Sophia and other chayil women like her are strong preachers who give it all they have. Oftentimes women have been told they can’t preach. But chayil women preach with the strength and power of God, despite opposition. Men get delivered under their ministry. Women get delivered. Young people get delivered. The chayil woman is a blessing to all those she ministers to. Chayil women don’t just do women’s meetings. They cast out devils and prophesy with the full power of the Holy Ghost.

I am challenging you, woman of God, to rise up and be strong, just as I would any of my spiritual daughters. Don’t be a weak woman. Don’t be timid. Don’t be fearful. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t hide. Don’t draw back. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it because you’re a woman. Don’t feel as if you’re a second-class citizen. In Christ there is neither male nor female. The Bible says that both sons and daughters will prophesy. There is a place for you.

Valor Is My Name With Valora Shaw-Cole

Valora Shaw-Cole and her husband, LaJun Cole, pastor Contagious Church in Tampa, Florida. She is a spiritual daughter and a powerful prayer warrior and preacher. I’ve had her open up our conferences in prayer. Not only does Valora serve actively in ministry, but she has an impact in the school system and her local government. She has also written several books.

The reason I invited her to join me on my Facebook Live Chayil Woman Challenge in June 2018 is that her name is Valora. I never saw that the word valor is in her name until I did this chayil challenge. So I asked her to share about her name, how she came to understand it, the power behind it, and what a revelation of her name has done for her life. This is what she said:

    For years I certainly didn’t know who I was. I remember God asking me twenty years ago, “What does [your] name mean?” I had no idea. I was going through a very challenging time in my life, so I began to study the Word. I heard God say, “Look up valor.” When I did, I saw that it meant to be bold, to be strong, and to be courageous.
    I said, “Well, wow, God. This is what You’re telling me? I have to be bold? I have to be strong? I have to be courageous?”
    I was a nurse at that time, and I had to write my name several times a day. God said to me, “Every time you write your name, every time you speak your name, every time your name is spoken, a declaration is being made about who you are.”
    This revelation really caused me to dig deeper. For so many years I was told that I was nothing, that I was no good, that I would never amount to anything, that I would never do anything, and no one would ever love me. This is what I grew up believing in my own home. When I went to school, I was bullied by my peers. Being ostracized so much and in this way, I felt as though I had no worth or value when it came to anything. I allowed fear to actually silence me. I allowed fear to paralyze me. I grew up very fearful and intimidated. I had a fear of rejection and a fear of success. And I did well in school. I always excelled. I was on the dean’s list. But even those things caused me to be rejected. Excelling caused me to be rejected. I felt like I was in this place where I didn’t know what to do.
    So I began to search the Word, and God began to deal with me and show me who I really was. He showed me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, that I was created in His likeness and in His image, and that He knew me before I was in my mother’s womb. But even with my conception, I had adverse situations. My mother was not married to my father at the time, and it was a very challenging time for her.
    I didn’t know my father. I only knew his name. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I met him. So part of me felt this emptiness because I didn’t know and didn’t understand. My mother and I were so different. I felt like I was in a family I didn’t belong in. I went through that whole process of healing. Went through the process of renewing my mind. And it was so key for me. God said to me, “You must renew your mind. You must read My Word. You must continue to confess who you are according to My Word. You must know the truth, because the enemy will always show you something that is not the truth. He’ll even show you the facts, but you must understand the truth.”

What Valora has come through and how she is doing all that she’s doing, and has done both professionally and in the ministry, demonstrate her testimony of moving forward in valor, courage, and boldness. God has this same path outlined for all His chayil women—to take them from who others have told them they are to a place of strength, might, and power. There are several instances in the Bible where God made His truth about a person’s identity clear by giving the person a new name—Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul, and so on. You may not get a new name in the natural, but God wants to make you aware of what, or rather who, He calls you. Are you fearful or faith-filled, timid or bold, doubtful or trusting, rejected or accepted, soft-spoken or outspoken? Who is God calling you in this season? What is your name?

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