Genesis 29:33-35 (ESV)
She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.
What takes seconds to read about here, takes years to transpire in Jacob’s life. These events put relentless pressure on him to change his attitude. Leah names her second son Simeon, which means “heard” and announces, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” Remember, everyone is living in Laban’s household and Laban loves Leah. Now she’s brought two grandsons into the household and Jacob’s expected to appreciate that. His crush on Rachel is nice and all that, but Leah is important.
Then she has another son – Levi, which means “attached,” saying, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” While Jacob must be spending some time with Leah – she couldn’t get pregnant otherwise – she’s now demanding more. Sons are the currency of the realm and Leah has a God given gift for producing them. She’s announcing that Jacob will mainly be with her.
The forth son is icing on the cake and Leah names him Judah, which means “praise,” saying, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Notice that her bitterness is gone. Jacob really is spending a lot of time with Leah. She has won.
Actually, God has won. Jacob hated Leah, not just because of her weak eyes but because she tricked him. But God is on Leah’s side and Jacob now gets that. Eventually he just softens. He knows he can’t control who gets pregnant and opposing God’s will just seems dumb.
But there’s an even deeper lesson; Jacob has learned to love Leah. He still loves Rachel, but he’s gotten more mature and his appreciation of Leah is no longer just obligatory. Leah is a fine woman who shouldn’t be judged for her looks. Jacob is starting to think like a grown-up.
And Leah was the agent of that change. All she did was be herself, talking to Jacob and sharing her pain.
Her tears were God’s chosen instrument to turn Jacob into a man.
This leads somewhere. Leah’s pain wasn’t just something God allowed; it was something God created. God gave Leah her weak eyes.
We like to talk about how God’s ways are higher than our ways, as long as we can change the subject when it gets too close to home. It’s obvious (from both the Bible and from general revelation) that pain avoidance is not God’s highest priority.
Something else is what it’s all about.
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