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Favor for the Unloved

Genesis 29:31-35

When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived, gave birth to a son, and named him Reuben, for she said, “The LORD has seen my affliction; surely my husband will love me now.”

She conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, “The LORD heard that I am unloved and has given me this son, also.”  So she named him Simeon.

She conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, “At last, my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore, he was named Levi.

And she conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore, she named him Judah. Then Leah stopped having children.

God saw that Leah was unloved, so He showed her His favor and made her fruitful. In those days, the birth of a son indicated God’s blessing upon a marriage. The birth of four sons made quite a cultural and religious statement of God’s favor. While Rachel had Jacob’s heart, she was barren and childless. Her shapely form may have gained Jacob’s attention, but Leah produced children in abundance for him.  How embarrassing for Rachel! She was Jacob’s true love, but God seemed to favor Leah – the wife of obligation. How could this be fair?

Leah mistakenly thought that giving Jacob sons would win his heart. She named the first Reuben, meaning, “see ye a son,” illustrating the continuation of the lineage through that son. She knew God had seen her misery and had blessed her. Surely Jacob would love her now that she had blessed him and God had shown His favor on their union. God even sent more sons. She named the second Simeon, which means, “hearing.” She realized God had heard she was unloved. This makes me think Leah must have heard people talk about her situation, knowing Jacob’s affections were fully focused on Rachel.  Perhaps, she had even heard Jacob assuring Rachel that he loved her, regardless of Leah’s child.

Jacob’s heart, however, was not moved by sons. He continued to be devoted to Rachel. God gave Leah a third son. She named him Levi, meaning, “attached.” It seems she had given up on love altogether and now hoped that Jacob would at least be attached to her through three sons. With the birth of the fourth son, Leah did not acknowledge Jacob at all. She simply praised God and named him Judah, which means, “praise.”  She might never gain the love of her husband, but she would praise God for His love toward her.

We cannot make anyone love us. Love is a voluntary action of the heart that cannot be earned. While Leah would never earn Jacob’s love, she finally realized that God loved her, and she chose to praise Him.  We should follow her example. When those we love do not seem to love in return, we can praise God, who loves us unconditionally. He shines His favor upon us, making us fruitful in the areas where He has called us. His favor can do things for us that we could never do on our own, and we do not have to earn it. He freely grants it to us through Christ. 

Leah praised God at the birth of Judah. God chose Judah’s lineage to birth His own Son into the world.  No son born to gain Jacob’s affection would produce Christ. When we can praise God for His blessings in our lives and not see them as a means for personal gain, He can use those blessings of praise to do mighty things! Praise God for what He has done in your life today, and turn your heart toward Him. His blessings were not meant to make others love you; He blessed you to demonstrate His love for you. Let go of any desire for man’s love, and relish God’s undying and unrelenting love for you. Praise the God who grants favor to the unloved and makes them fruitful!

Have a blessed day!

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