Genesis 35:21-26: Jacob and sons.
“21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons: 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel:Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:Dan and Naphtali.26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:Gad and Asher.These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.”NIV
Jacob was blessed with ‘’twelve sons’’, but at times they were a cause of grief to him. Mind you, he was not always a good example to them. But how he must have been wounded by what ‘’Reuben’’ did (22). It was an insult to his father, ‘’and Israel heard of it.’’ They say ‘truth will out.’ It has a tendency of doing so. We may sin in private, but we cannot sin secretly, for God knows, and there is a good chance other people will find out too.
This quote from Warren Wiersbe sheds further light on a sad episode:
‘For a son to take a father’s wife in this manner was a declaration that he was now the head of the family. When Abner took King Saul’s concubine, Saul’s son and heir Ishbosheth protested because it meant Abner was usurping the crown (2 Sam. 3:6-11). When David succeeded Saul as king, he was given Saul’s wives as his own (2 Sam. 12:8). Rebellious Absalom declared himself ruler by taking his father’s concubines (2 Sam. 16:20-23), and Adonijah’s request to have Abishag as his wife was the same as challenging Solomon’s rights to the throne (1 Kings 2:13-25). It would appear, then, that Reuben’s purpose was to take over the leadership of the family, which made his deed only that much more vile…………………………………………………………………………………………
Jacob did nothing immediately, but surely his heart was broken by what his son had done. Reuben showed some character in protecting Joseph from death, but he wasn’t able to save him from slavery (Gen. 37:20-30). Though Reuben was the firstborn, his brothers didn’t seem to respect his leadership. In his old age, Jacob exposed Reuben’s sin and deprived him of the rights of the firstborn, giving them to Joseph (48:1-14; 49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1-2).
Those who teach that our dedication to the Lord automatically protects us from troubles and tears need to read this chapter carefully. Certainly God had forgiven Jacob, and certainly Jacob was walking with the Lord in faith and obedience. Nevertheless, he still had his share of trials.’