Sunday, September 21, 2014

Leah's Legacy

(If you are not familiar with the account of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, read Genesis 28-29.)


Poor Leah.

If you’ve read her story, you can’t help but feel for her. A conniving father sneaks her into a wedding night that was meant for her prettier sister, and the husband is none too pleased. After all, he’d worked – gladly! – for seven years so he could have Rachel (lamb).  Not Leah (cow). So he works seven more years for Rachel, each day a virtual slap to the face of this unwanted woman.

So what’s a neglected wife to do to win the love of her husband? Give him sons! Fulfill that promise God made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob:
I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you.  I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your future offspring throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:6-7).

God was all for that: “When he saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb.” Then He proceeded to give her sons ‑ all within one paragraph of Old Testament narrative.

Because the Lord loved Leah, His eye was upon her in her loneliness. Leah named her first son Reuben, which sounds like the Hebrew word for seen. Because Leah declared “The Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”  This is the way, she must have thought, that God will take care of me: He will make my husband see that he loves me!

But Jacob didn’t.

She named her second son Simeon, heard, because “The Lord has heard that I am unloved, so he has given me this son.”  Maybe two sons would inspire Jacob to love her!

But Jacob didn’t.

When she gave birth to her third son, she named him Levi, which sounds like attached: “Now that I have given him three sons, my husband will become attached to me!”

But Jacob didn’t.

Certainly, Leah called the names of those three sons often every day, whether correcting them, praising them, or calling them to supper:

“Reuben, don’t speak so harshly to your brother!”

“Come, Simeon, join us at the table.”

“Levi, you are so dear to me.”

And with every spoken name, she would remember her longing for her husband’s love:

Seen. . .   The Lord has seen me; perhaps now my husband will see me for who I am.

Heard . . .The Lord has heard my cries; surely my husband will hear my cry and comfort me.

Attached . . . My husband will attach himself to me; I will no longer be lonely!

But Jacob didn’t.

Those names did not ring true of Leah’s husband, but they were (and are) always true of God. Not just for Leah, but for every wife, whether neglected, cherished, forgotten, esteemed, mistreated or anything else.

The Lord sees you . . .

The Lord hears you . . .

The Lord is attached to you . . .

. . . whether or not a husband ever is.

Before closing her womb for a time, God gave Leah a fourth son. She named him Judah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for praise. Leah declared, “I will praise the Lord” ‑ and there is no mention of her husband this time. For this name was about God alone, not her relationship with her husband. Leah saw her Lord, heard His love for her in the midst of her sorrows, and attached herself to Him in worship and praise.

When Leah named her fourth son Praise, she couldn’t have known that centuries later, through Judah’s lineage, a great shepherd king would come, who would govern God’s people as a man after God’s own heart.

Nor could she have foreseen that a thousand years after David, the One True Shepherd King, the only One worthy of all praise in every age, would enter this world to fulfill God’s covenant promise.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. 
That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 1:20)