Summer in the Psalms is a sermon and written reflection series from my church based on Psalms and associated readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Jacob had a difficult life. Often it seemed like his problems were mostly his own doing. Born the second son in a society that awarded all property and honor to the oldest, he was still determined to take everything for himself. Jacob’s name meant “Supplanter” or “Trickster” and it fit. No matter what the consequences, he never seemed to learn to stop plotting and manipulating. He schemed, fought and tricked his way into an inheritance and prosperity.
When the Lord tells Jacob, “you have striven with God and with humans, and prevailed,” He’s telling the story of Jacob’s life. But He’s also affirming that Jacob is exactly who God made him. God told Jacob’s mother ahead of his birth that he would inherit his father’s blessing, and that God’s chosen line would flow through Jacob, not his older brother. God could have simply caused Jacob to be born first. But that’s not what He did.
Instead, God designed Jacob to be a fighter and a striver, someone who never took no for an answer, someone who would wrestle God Himself to get the blessing he wanted. It’s not that God wanted or caused Jacob to do underhanded things. But Jacob was on a path to become Israel, the father of a new and mighty nation, and he needed to be persistent, shrewd, and unafraid in the face of opposition in order to be ready for everything that entailed. Through Jacob, a lowly second son with an iron will and an unrelenting drive for more, God kept His promises to His chosen people.
Wherever you are in your life right now, it’s worth asking: Who has God designed me to be? What personality and character traits has He given me, and how do they fit into God’s plan and promises for my life?
Name a personality or character trait that you like about yourself. Thank God for making you that way. Next, name a trait that you aren’t as happy with, maybe one that’s gotten you into trouble, or has seemed to be an obstacle as you pursue your goals. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God has used that trait to move you in His direction for your life. Thank God for this trait. Then, thank God for who He has designed you to be and for the role He has called you to play in this world.