Laban said to him, "Just because you are my relative, should you work for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."
I. THE TRUE LIFE is that which starts from the place of fellowship with God and commits the future to him. We can always find a pillar of blessed memorial and consecration. The Bethel.
1. Providential care.
2. Religious privilege.
3. Special communications of the Spirit.
God with us as a fact. Our pilgrimage a Bethel all through.
II. THE TRUE TESTIMONY that which erects a stone of witness, a Bethel, where others can find God.
1. Personal. The pillow of rest the pillar of praise.
2. Practical. The testimony which speaks of the journey and the traveler.
III. THE TRUE COVENANT.
1. Coming out of fellowship.
2. Pledging the future at the house of God, and in sight of Divine revelation.
3. Blessed exchange of gifts, confirmation of love. Jehovah keeping and guiding and feeding; his servant serving him and giving him a tenth of all he received. The patriarch's vow was the result of a distinct advance in his religious life. The hope of blessing became the covenant of engagement, service, worship, sacrifice. The highest form of religious life is that which rests on a solemn vow of grateful dedication at Bethel. The end before us is "our Father's house in peace." - R.
I. THE FOUR CONDITIONS OF A TRUE HOME.
1. His agreement with Laban.(1) The degraded position in which women were regarded among the ancients.(2) Laban's dishonesty in the non-fulfilment of his agreement.
Jacob served seven years for Rachel.I. ITS EVIDENCE.
1. He is obliged to accept a position of servitude.
2. He is obliged to prostitute the most sacred affections by consenting to a mercenary bargain.
II. ITS CONSOLATION (ver. 20). Love lightens and cheers every task of labour and endurance. A week of years was like a week of days to him. Coleridge says, "No man could be a bad man who loved as Jacob loved Rachel."
III. ITS LESSONS FOR HIS POSTERITY. Israel was destined to rise to eminence and power amongst the family of nations. But it was necessary for that people to be reminded of the lowly estate of their forefather. When the Israelite presented his basket of first fruits before the Lord, he was instructed to confess, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father" (Deuteronomy 26:5). The nation was thus taught that all its greatness and prosperity were not due to natural endowments and industry, but to the electing love of God. The strength of His grace was made perfect in weakness.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. In this servitude of Jacob, we find the principle of inevitable retribution. He had deceived his father, and here in his turn he was overreached. Leah deceived her husband, and in consequence lost his affection. Here both deceivers were justly punished. O my beloved brethren, be sure, be sure, be sure, your sin will find you out.
3. We have here, lastly, the principle of compensation; Leah lost her husband's affections, but she was blessed in her family (ver. 31). Here we have punishment tempered with mercy. This is what the Cross has done for us; it prevents penalty from being simply penalty; it leaves us not alone to punishment, but mingles all with blessing and forgiveness. Through it life has its bright as well as its dark side.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
1. There must be a supreme affection (ver. 18). No two should marry unless each feels that life without the other would be incomplete.
2. Corinthians 1 Corinthians 6:14,15). A mixed marriage is a prolific source of misery. The ungodly partner despises the Christian for marrying in the teeth of principle. The Christian is disappointed because the apparent influence gained before marriage is dissipated soon after the knot is irrevocably tied.
3. A true home should be based on the good will of parents and friends (Genesis 28:1-5).
4. There should be some prospect of suitable livelihood.
II. THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF SUPREME AFFECTION (ver. 20). Love's labour is always light.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
2. Changes in life are steps in our education by God.
3. God deals with all parts of human dispositions.
4. Yield yourselves unto God.
5. Expect difficulties in your way to do right.
(D. G. Watt, M. A.)I. THE ERRORS OF THE YEARS OF SERVITUDE.
II. ITS TRIALS.
III. ITS BLESSINGS.
(T. S. Dickson.)1. Honest, gracious souls dare not be idle when they do but visit friends. Jacob.
2. Laborious men in God's fear will want no hirers; Laban looks after such a servant.
3. Labans are first motioners for Jacobs; the covetous masters for honest servants.
4. The most unrighteous men may grant principles of equity which they never mean to practice. So Laban.
5. The faithful servant and labourer is worthy of his due reward. A brother servant that is faithful is worthy of any wages reasonably to be expected (ver. 15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)marriage-price is distinctly regarded as a compensation due to the parents for the trouble and expense incurred by the education of the daughter. From this view there is but one step to the notion that the parents deserve the gratitude of the man to whom they give their child; and the Hebrews, who assigned to the women a position eminently high and honourable, who regarded the wife as an integral part of the husband, and as the indispensable condition of his happiness, and among whom it was a proverbial adage, that "an excellent wife is far more precious than riches" — the Hebrews bought their wives as a treasure and the most valuable possession. It may be seriously asked whether such a purchase was, in principle, not more dignified than the custom according to which the wife buys, as it were, a husband by her dowry, and in consequence of which the daughters of poor parents are in a very precarious position, while, in the East, daughters are at least no burden on their fathers. In practice, that custom is certainly liable to considerable abuses; heartless or avaricious parents, without consulting the inclination of their daughters, may sell them to those who bid the highest price; but scarcely any principle, however lofty, is safe against abuse; besides, it was a law among most tribes, that the daughter's consent must first be obtained; and it was a custom among some, that the money received by the parents should be applied for the benefit of the bride or the young couple. But suppose even that the manner of courting and acquiring the wife was not in every respect noble and delicate among the Hebrews, it certainly did not affect the relative position of husband and wife; the one was no master, the other no slave; the usual customs could, therefore, safely be retained, as long as they did not endanger the beautiful principles which guaranteed the dignity of the other sex.
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
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