Set of 30 Bible Stories about Honor & Shame

Biblical writers communicated God’s honor for the shamed through stories. Narratives recount how God saves his people from disgrace and displays honor.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-5-11-10-pmHere is a story set of 30 biblical narratives that address honor and shame. For a more complete list , see “Appendix 2: Biblical Stories Addressing Honor-Shame” in Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures.


Creation (Gen 1-2)—God creates his honored vice-regents from lowly dust, crowing them with honor and glory (cf. Ps 8).

Adam and Eve (Gen 3)—God’s children disobey him, inducing feelings of shame and expulsion from God’s presence.

Cain (Gen 4)—After being disregarded by God, Cain’s face falls and status envy prompts him to kill his own brother.

Babel (Gen 11)—Humanity strives to build a name for themselves and exalt themselves to the heavens.

Job (Job 19, 42)—After Job’s entire family rejects and alienates him, God restores his fortunes and social standing.

Abraham (Gen 12:1-3)—God calls Abram to a position of grand prominence: a great nation, abundant family, divine blessing, mediation of universal blessing, etc.

Leah and Rachel (Gen 29-30)—The unloved Leah bears the first four sons of Israel. Then God removes Rachel’s reproach when opening her womb.

Moses (Ex 2-4)—A fugitive shepherding in the desert becomes confronts and overcomes powerful Pharaoh.


Ruth and Naomi (Ruth)—Two widows in a foreign land become the progenitors of Jerusalem’s royal family.

Eli’s Sons (1 Sam 2)—God’s humiliates Eli’s worthless sons because of their disgraceful conduct as priests.

David (1 Sam 17; 2 Sam 7)—The youngest, forgotten son in the pasture becomes a national hero and great dynasty.

Saul (1 Sam 18)–Saul’s heart fills with envy when David is praised more than him.

Nabal and Abigail (1 Sam 25)—While David angrily marches to revenge Nabal’s foolish insult, Abigail alleviates the tension by honoring David’s and his warrior with a large feast.

Saul’s Burial (1 Sam 31)—When the Philistines publically desecrate the body of king Saul, the citizens of Jabesh-Gilead valiantly reclaim the body to avoid further dishonor.

Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9)—David fully restores the crippled grandson of the desposed Saul.

David’s Servants in Ammon (2 Sam 10)—Instead of accepting David’s convoy as a gesture of honor, the Ammonite king Hanun greatly shames them by cutting their beards and garments.

Shimei (2 Sam 16)—David refuses to retaliate against Shimei’s degrading verbal and physical insults when fleeing Jerusalem.

Uzziah (2 Chron 26)—When prideful king Uzziah enters God’s temple despite the priests’ warning, God removes his honor by afflicting him with leprosy.


Daniel and friends (Dan 3 and 6)—Daniel escapes imminent destruction to become a prominent Babylonian official.

Ester and Mordecai (Ester)—God’s servants escape imminent death and become prominent leaders in the Persian empire.

Hosea and Gomer (Hosea)—Hosea, as an act of prophetic judgment, marries an unfaithful spouse to symbolize Israel’s disgraceful unfaithfulness to God.


Mary (Luke 1)—The young virgin is greatly favored by God and gives birth to the Son of God, Son of David.

Leper (Luke 5)—Jesus cleanses the debased and rejected leper at his feet with a mere touch, allowing the leper to enter the temple and offer sacrifices.

Widows and Dead Son (Luke 7)—Jesus erases the shame of widowhood and death by raising that widow’s son in Nain.

Gerasene Demoniac (Luke 8)—Jesus cures a naked, demon-tormented man living in the tombs, thus greatly increasing Jesus’ own fame.

Bleeding Woman (Luke 8)—Jesus heals and purifies a woman subjected to 12 years of incurable bleeding, and honors her with praise.

Unexpected Invitees (parable, Luke 14)—When the regular folk are too busy to eat, the master invites all the poor, blind, and lame. A picture of the Messianic banquet Jesus was inaugurating.

Prodigal Son (parable, Lk 15)—The two shameful sons find reconciliation and welcome from their father. A picture of Jesus’ radical table fellowship with shamed sinners before the Pharisees.

Controversies with Leaders (Luke 20)—In a series of public spats the Jewish leaders attempt to discredit Jesus, but his ripostes silence their challenges and garner more fame from the crowds

Jesus’ Foot Washing (John 13)—Aware of his authority before God, Jesus assumes the role of servant and washes his followers dirty feet as a symbol of self-debasing love.


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4 Comments on “Set of 30 Bible Stories about Honor & Shame

  1. Thank you so much for the list. although I try to read the Bible also with ‘shame-oriented’ eyes, I still fail a lot of times. Your list is helping me to focus more seriously to words connected tot shame-honor. Excuse me for a very small comment: In my bible the story of Babel hass been written in Genesis 11 (not: 10, as you stated, … forgive me)

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