Daily Word

Providence vs prayerlessness | Genesis 29:1-14

9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and raised his voice and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

13 So when Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Then he told Laban all these things. 14 And Laban said to him, “You certainly are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.

Genesis 29:1-14 (NASB)

Winning a wife

Jacob’s cousin, Rachel, comes to the well to water her dad’s flock of sheep. Jacob puts it together in his mind and decides to impress her by moving the stone and watering her flocks. Returning to the comparison we brought up yesterday between this account and that of Abraham’s servant, we find another comparison. “When Abraham’s servant had discovered Rebekah’s identity, he worshiped the Lord (Gen 24:24, 26), but here Jacob flexed his muscle, proving his capacity to serve Laban’s house.” (planobiblechapel.org quoting Mathews) He uses the fleshly way to win a wife.

Warm welcome

Rachel sees Jacob’s action and hears who he is and runs to tell her father, Laban who then runs to the well to meet Jacob. This is not his first time. In Genesis 24:28-31 he did the same thing when the servant of Abraham arrived and his sister, Rebekah, gave him the report. Laban warmly welcomes him and Jacob stays for a month! Again, we can compare this to the servant who desires to return ASAP and got right to the purpose of his visit – even before even eating.

But was Laban actually “buttering up Jacob” when he called him, “my bone and my flesh”? One commentator puts it this way, “Laban showed this great hospitality, not only because of custom, and not only because Jacob was his nephew; Laban also knew that Jacob would inherit a significant fortune from his father Isaac.” (enduringword.com) I would add, as we’ll see later, he saw an opportunity for free labor for 14 years.

“This scene [Gen 29:1-14] is chiefly about God’s providence versus Jacob’s prayerlessness” (planobiblechapel.org quoting Waltke)


  • In this account, we see Jacob’s lack of prayer. The life of his grandfather stands in stark contrast. Abram “fell on his face” when God spoke to him (Gen 17:3). He trusted in the Lord’s provision and protection (most of the time) and obeyed quickly and fully. How does that compare to us?
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