This devotional is from our “God is Love” series on Leah, “God’s Love for the Unloved”

When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 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. (Gen 29:31-35)

A few things stand out if we read the Bible without blinders; these things likely reflect a record that was not “adjusted” by later generations to polish up their past.  Story touches parts of our hearts that simple reporting of facts would not; the Bible is much more than just a book of history.  In Genesis 29, several of these come right out to the surface.  First, the hero stories are often filled with less than favorable reflections of their characters.  In the case of the origins of the 12 Tribal Patriarchs, their names and origins are attributed to the emotional struggle of two sisters in tension over who would be loved by their common husband, hardly the most favorable way to introduce the national fathers!  Second, the story (among many others) paints an unfavorable light on polygamy.  Also, this story shows something that almost never appeared in ancient literature – that women are also made in the image of God and that their emotions matter deeply to God. In fact, ancient literature rarely even mentions women, much less what is going on in their heart!  Similarly, the ancient promotion of the first born son (called “primogeniture”) is constantly thwarted in Genesis, reflecting an honest account of how things really were, but also of how God is not subject to human institutions for His plan.  In fact, women and second born sons got protection unparalleled in the ancient world.  We could go on, and we should study for these things, but one final thought on this passage should resound deeply with us – God loves the unloved.  In fact, the love of God for the hidden pain of the brokenhearted matters so much that, in the story of Leah, he chose an ugly, unloved, sad woman to be the torch-bearer of praise in spite of her emotional distress; we too can reach for God’s love when earthly love is unreachable.  For Leah, her reaching out to God in praise has her forever recorded as the matriarch of the coming Christ. His love, you see, is eternal.

Dialogue Questions:

    • Why do you think about Leah’s story of being unloved? How does it speak to the broken hearted?

Things to Pray about:

    • Pray for God’s heart of love to be real and tangible to the lonely and the unloved.