The Con Man Gets Conned

Read: Genesis 29:15-30

Behold, it was Leah! (v. 25)

My friend the used car salesman once said to me, “You have to take advantage of your friends because your enemies will never get close enough.” Laban must have been his ancestor. In Jacob’s dealings with Isaac and Esau, Jacob revealed himself as a con man. But here, the hustler was hustled. Jacob met his match in Laban.

After Laban switched Rachel, the expected bride, for her older sister, Leah, he defended his actions by saying that the firstborn had more rights than the younger. Laban’s trick is fair payback, because this is exactly the order of things that Jacob had upset when he swindled Isaac and Esau. The story is told with a comic edge and is meant to be entertaining. Yet in the larger story of the nation of Israel, both wives, and their many sons, were important.

One way to respond to this story of Laban’s two daughters and Jacob is to focus on contentment versus our “if only” yearnings. In some regard every one of us has, so to speak, set our hearts on Rachel and wound up with Leah. Consider a wedding: a gap exists between who the groom thinks he is, who his bride thinks he is, and who he really is. Likewise for the bride. Ideally, the gap narrows as they both accept (and love) each other. Such reality therapy is for everyone: we too need to learn like Paul to be content with whatever we have (Phil. 4:11-13). Contentment is a key to life. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, thank God for what you’ve been given.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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