Genesis 49:13-28 It is better to trust in God, than in man, our descendants or ourselves
13 “Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven for ships,
And his flank shall be toward Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between the sheepfolds.
15 “When he saw that a resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens,
And became a slave at forced labor.
16 “Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 “Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
A horned snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
18 “For Your salvation I wait, O Lord.
19 “As for Gad, raiders shall raid him,
But he will raid at their heels.
20 “ As for Asher, his food shall be rich,
And he will yield royal dainties.
21 “Naphtali is a doe let loose,
He gives beautiful words.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a spring;
Its branches run over a wall.
23 “The archers bitterly attacked him,
And shot at him and harassed him;
24 But his bow remained firm,
And his arms were agile,
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 “The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.
Jacob gave each of his sons an appropriate blessing according to divine inspiration. Even though many of his sons were ignoble, and violent, and many lack lustre (save two who were outstanding), his faith remained grounded in God’s faithfulness. In today’s devotion, Jacob taught us to trust in God, than in man, our descendants or ourselves
Zebulun: The tribe would be prolific tradesmen being made prosperous by seaborne trade.
Issachar: The tribe would be learned men and a source of wisdom for the nation. They would be given fertile land but being geographically exposed to invading armies, they would be enslaved to foreign nations.
Dan: The tribe was called to inspire justice and righteousness among the people. But they chose treachery and trickery ( Dan shall be a serpent in the way).
Gad: The tribe would constantly be raided by foreigners, but they would fend off the attackers.
Asher: The tribe would be productive farmers and shepherds settling along the fertile northern coast of Canaan.
Naphtali: The tribe would be free mountain dwellers as liken to a doe. They would settle northwest of the Sea of Kinnereth.
Joseph: The blessing is bestowed on Joseph on behalf of Ephraim and Manasseh. The two tribes would be fruitful and mighty in battles. Joshua, Deborah and Samuel came from Ephraim, and Gideon and Jephthah, both from the tribe of Manasseh. Jacob explicitly bestowed the greater blessings upon Joseph because he was the prince among his brothers.
Benjamin: The tribe constituted a violent trait (a ravenous wolf). They were portrayed as cruel in Judges 20 and Saul, a Benjamite was a brutal king.
Every blessing was spoken appropriately as opposed to presumptuously. Jacob spoke in accordance to divine inspiration trusting that God would fulfil the Abrahamic covenant through his sons.
It is better to trust in God, than in man, our descendants or ourselves
The blessings bestowed on the sons are a mixed bag: two are outstanding (Judah, Joseph), six are disappointing (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Dan, and Benjamin), and the rest lack lustre (Zebulun, Gad, Asher and Naphtali). Given his prophetic knowledge of the tribes’ respective destinies, there are scant reasons for Jacob to feel hopeful concerning the future of Israel. However, Jacob’s insistence to be buried with his ancestors back in Canaan attested to his faith in God, not in his children.
However, many trusted in their children, expecting the children to uphold the family’s name and honour. Still many place their complete confidence in the disciples and followers of their church or organisation. Such will experience despair when the people whom they trusted fail them for various reasons. However, that is not to say that we no longer believe in people. But it is necessary to carefully discern before putting our trust in imperfect human beings. Therefore, our responsibility is to disciple and train the people who are placed in our care. If our disciples continue to journey with us, all is well and good. If not, God will send others in their place and our ministry or organisation will succeed if we do not give up. The psalmist said,
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Psalms 118:8-9
That said, we must also understand our own limitations and put complete trust in God. And even in our weaknesses, He can cause us to succeed. For Jacob, he might have taken to blaming himself for the state of his sons. But he has chosen to believe that the promise given to him and to his ancestors is immovable. Neither his own inadequacies nor his sons’ failings are capable of annulling God’s faithfulness towards the promise.
We must spend less time mauling over our challenges. But spend much more time praising God for His faithfulness and acquiring divine wisdom through the word. Paul said, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (ESV). How then should we approach life’s challenges? Knowing that our success is predestined, we should no longer think of challenges as hindrances but rather paths to greater wisdom and faith. Thus, we become ever more steadfast in the face of challenges to succeed through the power of the Spirit.
Dear Lord, I thank you for calling me to be salt and light of the world. You have called me in various capacities in my family, church and workplace. Use me to raise up people of righteousness, mercy and godliness to make this world a better place. Continue to send disciples to me and my church so that we may fulfil the great commission. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.