“31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, ‘It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.’ So she named him Simeon.34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ So he was named Levi.35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.”NIV
We may not always understand the negative experiences we have to go through, but we can be certain that the Lord sees (and hears, v33) what is happening. He sees ‘’my misery’’ (32), and he sees me in it. I venture to suggest that we often find there are divine ‘compensations’ amidst life’s troubles. Sometimes surprisingly so.
But Leah had to learn (and so do we) that she could never earn Jacob’s love. Love is freely given. It can’t ever be a salary
That said, what the passage shows movingly is that although Leah felt the deficit where Jacob’s love was concerned, she was the recipient of God’s tender loving care in tangible and sensible ways – ways she could comprehend, could make sense of.
None of this actually changed the sad situation with Jacob. But even amidst pain and disappointment, may we learn to ‘’praise the LORD’’ (32). Indeed, may it be our determined choice to do so: ‘’…I will praise the LORD.’’
‘The names of Leah’s sons suggest the blessings that accrue through heartbreak. For the Leah’s of the world there are great compensations. God remembers and hears them. Broken-hearted and forsaken, they live again in the lives of those whom they have borne either naturally or spiritually.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.26.
‘Each wife had what the other wanted. Rachel had love but wanted children (Genesis 30:1). Leah had children but wanted love. Indeed, Leah expressed her longing for Jacob’s love in the names she gave her first three sons: Reuben, which sounds in Hebrew like ‘’he has seen my misery’’; Simeon which means “one who hears”; and Levi, which means “attached” – an intimation of Leah’s hope that Jacob would become more “attached’ to her after the birth of her third son. Levi became the ancestor of the Levites, the priestly line of Israel.
After the birth of her fourth son, Leah seems to have become more content and thankful, for she named him Judah, which means “praise.” Judah became the ancestor of the royal line of Judah, from which would come King David and eventually the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3)’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’,p.175
Considering this short passage reminded me of these beautiful song lyrics:
‘The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell…’
I once heard the profoundly touching story that the words of the second stanza, were found written on the wall of a mental asylum somewhere behind the iron curtain:
‘Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
We’re every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.’
PRAYER: I thank you Lord that nothing can separate your people from your love