Summer in the Psalms is a sermon and written reflection series from my church. It is based on the Psalm and linked readings for the week from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Guest writer: Mimi Otani @ crazy4jazz.com
Genesis is filled with many disturbing and controversial passages. This passage is one of them because of its portrayal of Jacob’s marriage to two sisters, one attractive and one seemingly less so.
Some translations and interpretations say Leah’s “tender eyes” were due to her tender heart (perhaps she spent time crying or praying, making her eyes red and swollen), or that they were blue, which would have been a sign of weakness, or that she had a squint or was cross-eyed; others suggest that her eyes were beautiful, but perhaps her only beauty.
Either way, the order of the sentences suggests that Jacob weighs one sister against the other and chooses the one he finds more physically beautiful. There’s no suggestion that he falls in love with Rachel for any reason other than her appearance. Jacob’s superficial attraction makes him an easy target for Laban, who takes advantage of Jacob’s susceptibility and tricks him into another seven years of labor.
Although I am not a big fan of Jacob, I give him a lot of credit, because even after seven years, Rachel was still desirable to him, and he was willing to work for another seven years to marry her. What woman would not long for such an expression of love?
Looking at the bigger picture, we can see that God uses both women to fulfill the promise that He made to Abraham: that He would make Israel a great nation. The sons of Rachel and Leah become the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. Rachel, who was initially chosen by Jacob for shallow reasons, is shown his faithful love, the kind of love God has for all His people. Leah, the unloved wife, ultimately is more honored than her sister. She becomes the mother of Judah, the line that gives birth to Jesus. And Jacob, through all his work and struggles and character flaws, is key to God’s fulfillment of His everlasting covenant with Israel and with all His people through Jesus. Through Jesus, we are called children of God and enjoy an inheritance that is more than the land of Canaan.
Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
He is the LORD our God (Psalm 105:5-7)
God does not sugar coat His story – He is not afraid of revealing human weaknesses and follies in His Word. Stories like Jacob’s help us to learn from our weaknesses: to realize why we all need Jesus to carry our burdens and why we depend on his grace.
Think of a time in your life when God has rescued you from your own weakness and foolishness, bringing good things to you or other people in spite of everything. Give Him thanks for His wonderful works and the faithfulness of His promises.