Genesis 34:1-4: Guard your heart

“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.” NIV

Jacob’s decision to move close to the city of Shechem may have been a pragmatic choice (33: 18-20), as he tried to keep a safe distance from Esau. There is no indication that he was specifically led by God to this location. He may have ‘’arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan’’ (33:18), but it proved to be a dangerous place for his daughter, Dinah (and her brothers – in a different way). Although Jacob prayed and worshipped in the place (33:20), should he have been there? ‘We make our decisions, then our decisions turn around and make us.’  Shechem, reading between the lines, was a spoilt brat. He was used to getting what he wanted. No doubt he had been brought up with a sense of privilege as ruler’s son, and he thought he could have any girl he wanted. It’s a brutal opening to the chapter, but what started out as lust turned to love (3) – quite an unusual thing to happen.

‘’His heart was drawn…’’ (3). Shechem’s problem was with his heart. It is everyone’s dilemma. Jesus taught that sins of behaviour and speech start in the heart; overflow from the heart. In an excellent book entitled ‘You can change’, Tim Chester shows that our challenge is not to change our behaviour but to have our hearts changed. Love is not automatically sinful, but disordered, inordinate affections will lead us astray. We can love too much and set up idols in our hearts. The heart will be ‘’drawn to’’ whatever it is we love. Let’s set our hearts on God.

Steve Green, on one of his discs, has an unusual, but powerful, song about adultery, and it has this refrain:

‘Guard your heart, guard your heart, Don’t trade it for treasure, don’t throw it away.Guard your heart, guard your heart, For a moment of pleasure, it’s a high price to pay. Guard your heart.’

PRAYER: Help me Lord to always guard my heart