Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14)
The word, “bereave” (שָׁכֹל – shakol), is a very interesting word. It primarily has the idea of losing someone in death. The Hebrew word has been rendered a variety of ways, such as: “deprived” (Genesis 27:45); “cast their young” (Genesis 31:38; Exodus 23:26); “rob you of your children” (Leviticus 26:22). It has also been translated metaphorically as “barren” in reference to land (2 Kings 2:19; 21). The word carries the idea of being stripped of something that is very dear to you, such as a loved one, and especially a child. The word, “take (Benjamin) away,” is used synonymously with bereave in Genesis 42:36.
In our passage, Jacob did everything that he could to keep his youngest son, Benjamin, from going with his brothers to Egypt to try to buy food for the family. The brothers had a bad track record of losing people that Jacob loved. Joseph had disappeared and was assumed dead back in Genesis 37 after he went to check on his brothers. Simeon was arrested and put in an Egyptian prison after going with his brothers to buy food on the last trip for food (Genesis 42:24). When the brothers came back from Egypt from that trip (without Simeon), they tell Jacob that they can only return for more food if they bring their youngest brother with them. Jacob is furious that they even mentioned to the Egyptian official that they even had another brother. He flatly refuses to let Benjamin go:
“And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” (Genesis 42:36-38)
At first, Jacob will have nothing to do with taking this great risk in sending Benjamin to Egypt with his brothers for more food. Why? He had been hurt in the past, and he did not want to risk being hurt again in the future. It was only after he had no other choice, when he realized his whole house was going to starve, that he finally acquiesces to let Benjamin go. You know the story: Jacob’s fears turn out to be unfounded as he not only get’s Benjamin back, he gets Joseph and Simeon back as well. But Jacob almost missed out on the blessing of seeing his two missing sons again, all because of his fear of losing a third son.
Bereavement can cause a person to put up barriers and protections that will keep them from experiencing future blessings from God. This may be a weak illustration, but I just talked to a man recently who was reluctant to get another dog because he had just lost one, and he did not want to go through the pain of loss again. Losing a new dog someday will definitely be painful, but does that temporary grief outweigh the joy that the dog will bring through all of the years of its life.
I also know of people who have been burned and hurt by broken relationships who are reluctant to enter into any new relationships. Hurt is real and fears are real, but we cannot let our hurts and fears keep us from the abundant life that God has for us today and tomorrow as we fulfill His will. Jacob was so worried about losing again that he almost missed a big win. Jacob almost missed it. He almost refused to let Benjamin go. But, God would not let him. God allowed Jacob’s situation to become so desperate that he had no other choice. We simply cannot let our grief cripple us, control us, or keep us from moving forward with life; it must be God’s will that guides the decisions we make.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.