What have you been told about mother’s intuition? Some praise it as a mysterious motherly power for good and others claim it is corrupt and not to be trusted. Some naysayers run in Christian circles – claiming that to listen to your motherly intuition is to go against God.
This leaves many mothers conflicted, acting against their intuition and instincts – and even scientific evidence, to follow a leader who says the bible tells them so. It happened to me.
God And Your Gut
I was raised to believe my intuition was always wrong. I was told it was my flesh, the part of me that is against God, and to be disregarded no matter the situation. It was part of my training in unquestioning obedience to earthly authorities.
I was led to believe that somehow my redemption in Christ did not extend to intuition. I was told others knew what was best for me in every situation.
But now I believe Christ does redeem the whole person. “Yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and blameless before him,” (Colossians 1:22).
What the Bible Says About Gut Feelings
Fortunately, I was blessed to be transformed by the renewing of my mind in understanding scripture and what God really says about our intuition and instincts.
In his book, Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me Book III, Samuel Martin, helps us understand the gut-mind relationship through Jeremiah 17:10. In the NIV it says: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
This word for mind is translated in the Hebrew is literally “kidneys.” A more literal modern translation could be “I the LORD search the heart and examine the gut…” The Jewish culture at the time believed that the gut or kidney area, more specifically, was the source of thought.
Interestingly the King James Version translates this word for kidney as “reins” as in the Latin for kidneys – renes. So it translates the above verse, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Together with the heart (feelings), the gut in Hebrew refers to all the inward parts of a person. In fact, according to Martin’s research, the ancients also believe the soul resided there, in the mid-driff area.
Bible Verses About Gut Feelings
With this understanding of the Hebrew beliefs and words, Martin suggests a review of the following verses as they pertain to what we call “gut feelings.”
In my own research of the verses, I found it interesting that the WEB translates the Hebrew “kidney” as “mind”, “heart”, and “inmost being.” The words in bold below are all the same Hebrew word in the original text.
“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God” (Psalm 7:9)
“I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons” (Psalm 16:7).
“For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).
Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me Book III not only lists a great many number of other verses using this kidney word as a seat of emotion and thought, but other Hebrew words for the gut, bowels, etc used in the same way throughout scripture.
Your Gut Feelings And The Holy Spirit
An important word to note is the Hebrew “keh-rev” (קרב), which places this inward part as a seat of spirituality. The emphasized words below are the Hebrew for inward parts, as the places for our spirits.
“Yahweh, who stretches out the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him..” (Zechariah 12:1 NIV).
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekial 36:26).
I don’t think this means that our spirits are contained in one section of the body. I think what’s being said here is that our spirits are very much connected to the same part of us where our feelings and thoughts reside.
A Biblical Understanding of the Heart
Only one translation of the bible picks up on the word “intuition” and it’s used in conjunction with the heart in Job 38:36. The New Living Translation says, “Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?”
In fact, in other translations Job 38:36 is translated:
“Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding?” HCSB.
ESV translates the same verse in Job as “Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?”
According to Strong’s Hebrew, this word for heart means “seat of wisdom.” The Hebrew considers the heart the source of all thought and feeling. There is not a separate word for brain.
Most Hebrew translators seem to prefer the term “inward parts” as most accurate – though it is a little awkward in our modern English.
Gut feelings really do seem to be the closest term we would use today. Wiktionary defines gut feeling “An instinct or intuition; an immediate or basic feeling or reaction without a logical rationale.”
Pin this for later —->
What the Bible Says About Mother’s Intuition
So what about mother’s intuition? How do you recognize it? If you have had your maternal intuition kick in, maybe you’ve felt it in your gut. Maybe it was a chest pain or an ache in your intestinal area? Did you know that your gut contains 500 million neurons, connected to your brain? Some scientists have gone so far as to call this our second brain.
As a Christian you might wonder if this is something from God. What does the Bible say about mother’s intuition?
If a mother’s intuition is a gift from God, then it’s important we honor this design to be used as He intends. As a mother, I want to bring everything God gave me to the role. As Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose.”
Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me Book III, explores maternal intuition in Scripture. This book, he says, is a response to the “urgent need in Christ’s Body to address the falsehoods Christian mothers have been told with regard to the God-given maternal intuition.”
Martin describes maternal intuition as follows. “..A spiritual experience takes place in the person of a mother and that experience leads her to grasp or understand the truth about something (generally [but not exclusively] connected to her children), which she could not otherwise have apprehended, known or understood.” He describes it as a gift from God, a tool to be used in a mother’s calling to care for her children.
He backs up this understanding of maternal instinct as being related to the heart as it understood in the original Hebrew. Mcclintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature (CBTEL) puts it,
“the heart is not merely the organ of pure inward self-consciousness, but also of all the functions of perception in general, 7 so that לב (‘heart’ in Hebrew, lehv), in a restricted sense, acquires the signification of mind or understanding;” (pg. 115).
So when the Hebrew scriptures speak of the heart, they mean all forms of perception, including intuition. All the above scriptures speaking of the heart /gut /mind apply to a mother’s intuition too.
Is Mother’s Intuition Always Right?
This doesn’t mean mother’s intuition is always right, but it is always worth listening to and investigating further.
This is because our emotions and thoughts can lead us astray. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).
God can! God formed, knows, and heals our hearts. As Martin points out in his book, when our entire being is restored in the work of Christ, this absolutely includes our hearts, guts, and every bit of us. We don’t have to worry about our hearts always being deceitful. It is not “never to be trusted” as some would say. It just shouldn’t be our sole source of what is most true and right. It needs to be checked by God’s written word.
And sometimes, it’s just a prompting that needs to be validated other ways. I can tell you I’ve had many nights when my never sleeping toddler was “sleeping too long” (at 2 am, mind you). I got worried and had to go check and see for sure. She was fine.
So was I “wrong” to check on my child? Not at all. While my worry was unfounded, listening to that instinct was virtually harmless – a minute of missed sleep on my part. Had something indeed been wrong, the consequences of ignoring my gut would be much more dire.
Why You’re Really Told To Disregard Your Intuition
So if all of this is true, why are leaders teaching Christian mothers not to listen to their intuition? Why do they want you to ignore your instincts? I believe it serves them and their needs for self-glory. If you go thinking for yourself, listening to the Holy Spirit and your God-given instincts, they could lose your unwavering loyalty.
They want you to doubt yourself, and to ultimately lose your own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. This makes it easier to manipulate and control you.
But, a godly leader has no need for control and no fear of their sheep leaving them to follow God. In fact, every godly leader should desire for you to choose God over them.
In 1 Samuel 3, God spoke directly to Samuel as a child. His caregiver and spiritual leader Eli, didn’t perceive it. Did he say, “Don’t listen to that I know what’s best for you”?
No. But he told Samuel, “Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down. It shall be, if he calls you, that you shall say, “Speak, Yahweh; for your servant hears.”’” (I Samuel 3:9).
Intuition and The Voice of God
From these biblical texts, we see that the Holy Spirit can and does speak through what may feel like intuition. The “Spirit of truth” may teach you through a gut feeling.
I can attest that I’ve heard Christian teachings many times that “didn’t sit right.” I couldn’t pinpoint it right away, but that gut feeling proved to be a nudging of the Spirit. It prompted me to search scripture which brought me discernment.
The point is that your gut is worth listening to, not that it’s always right. Everything, every prompting, does not stand on its own alone. Everything must be held against the light of scripture as seen through the lens of Christ. This is how you will know if your inner prompt is the voice of God.
A Good Mother According To The Bible
Samuel Martin has a great deal more to say in his book and much deeper explanations on this topic of gut feelings and maternal intuition. I can’t cover it all here, but there is one last picture I’d like to share with you from Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me Book III. It’s his comparison of Job calling out the bad mother ostrich to the good mother God describes.
In Job 38 God finally sets Job straight on Who created all of the world and knows exactly how it works, God Himself. In His speech to Job, God describes the ostrich as a bad and foolish mother.
The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but cannot match the pinionsa and feathers of the stork.
For she leaves her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand.
She forgets that a foot may crush them, or a wild animal may trample them.
She treats her young harshly, as if not her own, with no concern that her labor was in vain.
For God has deprived her of wisdom; He has not endowed her with understanding.
Job 39:13-17, NIV
Martin compares this to what God says about human mothers in other places in scripture.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” (Isaiah 49:15, NIV).
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21, NIV)
The conclusion is that God designed us to care for, remember, and protect our children. We are not to neglect them or treat them harshly. Through His Spirit we are given the mind of Christ – all wisdom and understanding – and intuition and guidance to care for the little ones God has placed in our care.
Final Thoughts on Mother’s Intuition and Instincts
I feel like I was only able to barely scratch the surface here on mother’s intuition, but I hope it was helpful to you.
If a biblical study of mother’s intuition is something you care about, I strongly recommend checking out Samuel’ Martin’s book for yourself.
Here’s what some reviews are saying:
“Samuel Martin is very thorough and explains things from a biblical perspective in great detail. This book has been a huge blessing as well and it has made me feel more confident in following those God given instincts as a wife and mother. May God bless the Author and may God bless others with the teachings in this book!”
Find this helpful? Check out:
Gentleness in the Bible & How to Teach It To Your Kids
7 Godly Principles for Parenting