Jacob longed for the love of his father. The yearning was deep; the desire intense. His mother favored him while his father favored his brother. Try as he may, scheme as he could, Jacob never achieved his goal; and he left home with his hope unsatisfied.
After entering into the employment of his uncle Laban, Jacob saw Rachel, Laban’s beautiful daughter. A dowry of seven years of labor for Rachel’s hand in marriage was agreed upon. Jacob willingly labored for his love believing that he could finally be satisfied by unconditional love that could fill his heart.
When the day of the wedding arrived, his bride was presented in her veiled apparel, as was the custom. Because of the veil and the darkness of the wedding tent, Jacob did not know until the next morning that Laban had exchanged the oldest daughter Leah for the beautiful Rachel. The longing of Jacob’s heart was again disappointed; but at the same time, he rejected the girl who was now his bride.
Leah understood Jacob’s heart condition. She, likewise, was yearning to find true love. Compared to Rachel, Leah was the ugly duckling. All the men favored Rachel’s beauty and form. Leah had never known favor or gracious love even from her father who had little confidence that any man would be willing to pay a dowry for her. Therefore, he tricked Jacob and secured a husband for the girl that nobody wanted.
Leah knew what had happened. Yet, she hoped for love – unconditional love – from a man whose heart was as hollow and empty as her own. Her desire was unmet because Jacob continued to pine for Rachel.
Leah conceived. She named her first son Rueben, meaning ‘he sees.’ Perhaps she believed that Jacob would see her now; and as the mother of his son, she would merit the love of her husband. She looked for Jacob to satisfy her heart, yet all the while he believed Rachel would fill his deepest need. Son or no son, Leah remained unloved.
Her second son was born and she named him Simeon, meaning ‘he hears.’ Still Jacob did not hear the cry of her empty soul. Son number three was born. His name of Levi testified that she still hoped Jacob’s heart would at last be ‘joined’ to hers.
The magic formula of the perfect person and the perfect relationship evaded both Jacob and Leah. Laban used Jacob who used Leah who used her sons. Empty hearts attempted to draw love unto themselves from empty hearts. No one was filled. All were further bankrupted. They all tried to create life-giving idols out of the objects of their affections. The devastation compounded - - - until something happened in Leah.
She conceived a fourth time and delivered another son. She named him Judah and testified of her ‘praise’ to the Lord. The person upon whom she placed her longing had changed. No longer would she consign all her hope in her father or in her husband. Perhaps she realized that no human could ever be capable of filling the deepest parts of an eternal soul. Perhaps she recognized that the love, which flows from heaven, is far superior to that which originates in the earth.
Out of the fullness of heart, Leah praised God. The girl that nobody wanted became the mother of Judah and the matriarch of the lineage of Jesus. The fullness of God’s love was poured out in Jesus to fill all the empty hearts of humanity. Leah learned what we all need to know: only the love of God can truly satisfy a soul.