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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–8
Verses 1–8

1. We are here told how cheerfully he proceeded in his journey after the sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el: Then Jacob lifted up his feet; so the margin reads it, Gen. 29:1. Then he went on with cheerfulness and alacrity, not burdened with his cares, nor cramped with his fears, being assured of God’s gracious presence with him. Note, After the visions we have had of God, and the vows we have made to him in solemn ordinances, we should run the way of his commandments with enlarged hearts, Heb. 12:1. 2. How happily he arrived at his journey’s end. Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle’s flocks were to be watered, and there he met with Rachel, who was to be his wife. Observe, (1.) The divine Providence is to be acknowledged in all the little circumstances which concur to make a journey, or other undertaking, comfortable and successful. If, when we are at a loss, we meet seasonably with those that can direct us—if we meet with a disaster, and those are at hand that will help us—we must not say that it was by chance, nor that fortune therein favoured us, but that it was by Providence, and that God therein favoured us. Our ways are ways of pleasantness, if we continually acknowledge God in them. (2.) Those that have flocks must look well to them, and be diligent to know their state, Prov. 27:23. What is here said of the constant care of the shepherds concerning their sheep (Gen. 29:2, 3, 7, 8) may serve to illustrate the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, has for his flock, the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them, John 10:14. The stone at the well’s mouth, which is so often mentioned here, was either to secure their property in it (for water was scarce, it was not there usus communis aquarum—for every one’s use), or it was to save the well from receiving damage from the heat of the sun, or from any spiteful hand, or to prevent the lambs of the flock from being drowned in it. (3.) Separate interests should not take us from joint and mutual help; when all the shepherds came together with their flocks, then, like loving neighbours, at watering-time, they watered their flocks together. (4.) It becomes us to speak civilly and respectfully to strangers. Though Jacob was no courtier, but a plain man, dwelling in tents, and a stranger to compliment, yet he addresses himself very obligingly to the people he met with, and calls them his brethren, Gen. 29:4. The law of kindness in the tongue has a commanding power, Prov. 31:26. Some think he calls them brethren because they were of the same trade, shepherds like him. Though he was now upon his preferment, he was not ashamed of his occupation. (5.) Those that show respect have usually respect shown to them. As Jacob was civil to these strangers, so he found them civil to him. When he undertook to teach them how to despatch their business (Gen. 29:7), they did not bid him meddle with his own concerns and let them alone; but, though he was a stranger, they gave him the reason of their delay, Gen. 29:8. Those that are neighbourly and friendly shall have neighbourly and friendly usage.