Summary: When can a blessing be the cause of cursing?
The Blessing of Children
The Bible says that children are blessings. Psalm 127:3 says they are the “heritage of the LORD, and that the man who has many of them is blessed. Jacob would eventually have 12 sons and at least one daughter. So in one way we can see that Jacob was blessed with a quiver full of them. But as Psalm 127 which compares children with sharp arrows in a positive light, we must remember that arrows can create quite painful and deadly wounds as well. It has been said that children are blessings with strings attached.
When we consider that the Book of Genesis was written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Moses, some time before crossing over Jordan into the Promised Land. The Children of Israel would have to learn how to deal with a land blessed with milk and honey. There was also the possibility that temporal blessings can become a curse if they lead us away from God.
God chose to include the not so pleasing acts of His people in the Bible. The wilderness generation would learn of the exploits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the Bible also shows their failings as well. Truly, God is the only true hero in the Bible. Israel needed to learn from both the good examples and the bad. So we read of Abraham who boldly steps out in faith to follow God to a land which he was promised. But the same Abraham in time of famine went to Egypt and there tried to give his wife away to Pharaoh. God rescued Abram and Sarai from Egypt, and they left with great possessions. However, these temporal blessings became a snare when the land could not bear the combined herds of Abram and Lot which led to a tragic separation, especially for Lot. Isaac too, after being promised of the LORD’s blessings let his wife Rebekah be taken by Abimelech. The blessings of Isaac became a source of strife with his neighbors. How often are the good blessings of God used by Satan to cause the wounds of disharmony and strife.
In today’s lesson, another painful lesson is to be learned. It was said in the previous passage in Genesis that Jacob loved Rachel more than his sister Leah. Being “blessed with two wives isn’t always a blessing. Here it says that God took the side of the hated Leah and caused her to become pregnant. She gave birth to four sons, one after the other while Rachel remained barren. This blessing unfortunately became a form of boasting which caused strife in Jacob’s family. At least it can be said that Jacob who had been deceived by his father-in-law to marry Leah was faithful to her and performed the duties necessary for her to have children. Jacob could be a scoundrel at times, but he had some good points as well.
Jacob would not have to wait for a long time to become a father like Abraham and Isaac. These children were conceived the natural way without the miraculous intervention by the LORD. And Leah was his legal wife and not a concubine. But it would not be long that this blessing would pierce his family with discord and lead to utter chaos. We shall see that in the next chapter.
Leah would initially have these four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and then Judah. Reuben as a legitimate firstborn, the culture of that day said as firstborn, he was to be especially favored. It would seem natural that the blessed seed, Christ would come through his loins by one of his descendants. Bu this was not to be, as we will find out. Neither would Simeon or Levi receive the blessing. We shall see that the blessing will eventually rest on Judah, who was not exactly the most godly of Jacob’s sons.
So we leave this passage today with an exuberant mother, Leah, who named her fourth son “praise.” She praised the LORD and also saw it as a way for her to become the favored wife. A woman’s worth was tied up in those days in bearing sons, and she had four of them now. The other wife Rachel was embittered because she was childless. One can only imagine how much strife was in the family with Jacob having to act as referee between the two wives. And the children looked on. We see this later on repeat itself with the two wives of Elkanah in the Book of 1 Samuel.
We can see how this strife in Jacob’s family would serve as a warning to the Israelites. They would need to be united in the fight against their enemies in Canaan. Later on, strife would divide the Israelites into two kingdoms who fought petty wars against each other.