We have here the birth of four of Jacob’s sons, all by Leah. Observe, 1. That Leah, who was less beloved, was blessed with children, when Rachel was denied that blessing, Gen. 29:31. See how Providence, in dispensing its gifts, observes a proportion, to keep the balance even, setting crosses and comforts one over-against another, that none may be either too much elevated or too much depressed. Rachel wants children, but she is blessed with her husband’s love; Leah wants that, but she is fruitful. Thus it was between Elkana’s two wives (1 Sam. 1:5); for the Lord is wise and righteous. When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, that is, loved less than Rachel, in which sense it is required that we hate father and mother, in comparison with Christ (Luke 14:26), then the Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob, for making so great a difference between those that he was equally related to,—a check to Rachel, who perhaps insulted over her sister upon that account,—and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt put upon her: thus God giveth abundant honour to that which lacked, 1 Cor. 12:24. 2. The names she gave her children were expressive of her respectful regards both to God and to her husband. (1.) She appears very ambitious of her husband’s love: she reckoned the want of it her affliction (Gen. 29:32); not upbraiding him with it as his fault, nor reproaching him for it, and so making herself uneasy to him, but laying it to heart as her grief, which yet she had reason to bear with the more patience because she herself was consenting to the fraud by which she became his wife; and we may well bear that trouble with patience which we bring upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. She promised herself that the children she bore him would gain her the interest she desired in his affections. She called her first-born Reuben (see a son), with this pleasant thought, Now will my husband love me; and her third son Levi (joined), with this expectation, Now will my husband by joined unto me, Gen. 29:34. Mutual affection is both the duty and comfort of that relation; and yoke-fellows should study to recommend themselves to each other, 1 Cor. 7:33, 34. (2.) She thankfully acknowledges the kind providence of God in it: The Lord hath looked upon my affliction, Gen. 29:32. “The Lord hath heard, that is, taken notice of it, that I was hated (for our afflictions, as they are before God’s eyes, so they have a cry in his ears), he has therefore given me this son.” Note, Whatever we have that contributes either to our support and comfort under our afflictions or to our deliverance from them, God must be owned in it, especially his pity and tender mercy. Her fourth she called Judah (praise), saying, Now will I praise the Lord, Gen. 29:35. And this was he of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Note, [1.] Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. Fresh favours should quicken us to praise God for former favours. Now will I praise the Lord more and better than I have done. [2.] All our praises must centre in Christ, both as the matter of them and as the Mediator of them. He descended from him whose name was praise, for he is our praise. Isa. Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.
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