Did Sarah Die Of A Broken Heart?

The Death Of The Princess Sarah



Sarah had been a good wife to Abraham and a good mother to Isaac. Yes, she had her faults, as we all do; but God called her a princess (17:15) and listed her with the heroes and heroines of faith (Heb. 11:11). The Apostle Peter named her as a good example for Christian wives to follow (1 Peter 3:1-6), and Paul used her to illustrate the grace of God in the life of the believer (Gal. 4:21-31).


There is a legend that Sarah died of a broken heart as she learned of God’s command to Abraham to offer their son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. The sword pierced her heart, as it did Mary’s when she witnessed the slaying of her illustrious Son at Calvary. When Sarah saw her husband and son leaving the tent, taking with them wood and a large knife she became terrified with shock and died. When Abraham and Isaac returned—Isaac brought back from the dead as it were—it was only to mourn and weep for Sarah. Had she lived she might have received her dead son back from the hands of God, and heard from her husband how his hand had been restrained by the angel, “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”


But in the legend it goes on to tell us, eye and ear of the devoted wife and mother were closed to earthly things, and her heart stilled forever beyond the reach of the terrors, to which human flesh, and especially mothers’ hearts, are heirs.


Abraham’s Tears

Sarah lived 127 years. These were the years of Sarah’s life.  Then Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. And Abraham had sorrow for Sarah and cried for her.

Genesis 23:1-2 (NLV)


Sarah is the only woman in Scripture whose age is noted – not once, but several times. At the age of 127 Sarah passed away, leaving Abraham bowed in grief. His love for her had been genuine and tender. She was to him “the princess.”


Abraham loved his wife, and her death was a painful experience for him. He showed his love and his grief by his weeping. These are the first recorded tears in the Bible, and tears will not end until God wipes them away in glory (Rev. 21:4). Even though he was a man of faith, Abraham did not feel that his tears were an evidence of unbelief.


Grieving is one of God’s gifts to help heal broken hearts when people we love are taken from us in death. Paul did not tell the Thessalonian Christians not to weep; he cautioned them not to sorrow “as others who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13-18). The grief of a believer should be different from that of an unbeliever.


Sarah died in faith (Heb. 11:11, 13), so Abraham knew that she was in the Lord’s care. In the Old Testament, very little was revealed about the afterlife; but God’s people knew that God would receive them when they died (Ps. 73:24).


For the believer, to be “absent from the body” means to be “present with the Lord” (Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:1-8); so Christians do not approach death with fear. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord… that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).


The death of the wicked is vividly described in Job 18, and what a fearful picture it is! When the wicked die, it is like putting out a light (vv. 5-6), trapping an animal or a bird (vv. 7-10), catching a criminal (vv. 11-14), or uprooting a tree (vv. 15-21). What a difference it makes when you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and as “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26; 2 Tim. 1:10).


What Lessons Can We Learn From Sarah?

Miracles never cease.

Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s ability to do the miraculous – to nurture an old man seed in an old woman’s womb – and expressed their disbelief with similar words, both quoting Sarah’s age as the impediment.


“Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord?” was God’s way of reminding this couple that miracles are his stock in trade. For the creator of the universe and all it contains, bringing a sleeping womb to life was child’s play. Consider this: “If God could do this impossible thing for Sarah at the age of 90… what will he do for you and me?”


“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord—
glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?

Exodus 15:11 (NLT)


Let’s show more than a little respect. If you’re over 40, you may recall the chiffon margarine commercial that ended with the line “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” And it’s downright dangerous to try fooling Father God. Ask Sarah. On what should have been the happiest day of her life, she was too wrapped up in fear, too stuck in her sin to rejoice over the good news God had brought her. Instead, she mocked his promise, questioned his abilities, then lied about laughing – only to be pulled up short by God, who’d heard it all. I’m guessing Sarah didn’t make that mistake again. In the television spot, Mother Nature’s words were followed by thunderous lightning strike. The Lord is far more gracious, but we should never doubt his power.


Make no mistake: God can’t be mocked. What you give is what you get. What you sow, you harvest.

Galatians 6:7 (VOICE)


There is a time to laugh. Sarah showed us why laughing at God isn’t wise but laughing with God honors his gift of joy. Sarah’s first laughed was provoked by disbelief and covered with a lie. But her second laugh rang out openly and unashamedly, inviting all to laugh with her. And then, to top it all off, God named her son “Laughter!” Truly, the Lord does have a sense of humor, evening as he “makes the laughable believable.”


You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
You stripped off my dark clothing
and covered me with joyful light.

Psalm 30:11 (VOICE)


A eulogy says more than a birth announcement. When our children are born, we have birth announcements printed and naked baby pictures taken within days of their birth, featuring only their name and vital statistics. Compare that to a heartfelt eulogy spoken at the funeral of a loved one. Memories, both funny and tender, pour forth. The unique personality of the deceased is celebrated. However enthusiastic Abraham might have been at the birth of his son, his response to the death of his wife – complete with morning and tears – was what found its way into Scripture. Sarah is honored not only for the son she had but also for the life she lived: “a princess of the first order, respected my rulers and husbands alike, a spirited woman and bold companion.”


“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown.”

Proverbs 12:4




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