Dan will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.

I look for your deliverance, Lord.

Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.

It is interesting to note Jacob’s short prayer for deliverance coming between the two prophecies re Dan and Gad. Both these prophetic words relate to the two tribes fighting: Dan doing the subtle, serpent-like attacking; Gad responding to being attacked by fighting back. The positioning of the prayer in the middle made me think how we have to pray for deliverance, but we also have to work for it. We have our part to play in the battle. ‘Faith without works is dead.’ Someone said, ‘Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.’

This is not to condone certain of the descendants of Dan who would act treacherously – something alluded to here. But I’m sure you can see the general point I’m trying to make.

Jacob’s prayer, coming in the middle of his blessing and prophesying, reminds me of Nehemiah’s ‘arrow’ prayers: short, sharp requests shot up in the midst of life’s trials, needs and crises. Jacob’s prayer was uttered on his death bed. Maybe it was a prayer for strength to continue until he had completed the full series of prophecies. Or maybe he was saying something like, ‘I look for the full experience of your salvation which is shortly to come to me when I die.’ Whatever, we note the wonderful prospect of living (and dying) like this, punctuating all our days with prayer to God.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray without ceasing.