Women in the Bible I: Day

Leah: from unloved to beloved


Text: Genesis 29:14-30:21

Leah: From Unloved to Beloved

What woman hasn’t felt like Leah at least one day in her life?

Who hasn’t had the best friend that became homecoming queen? Who hasn’t sighed when she looked in the mirror, desperately trying to camouflage her flaws? Who hasn’t had that moment, perhaps after hanging the eighth bridesmaid’s dress in her closet, that the only way she could possibly get a man to marry her would be if he were tricked?

Rachel, Leah’s sister, was the head-turner of the sisters—Rachel’s name meaning “ewe” and Leah’s, the far less complimentary “cow.” Rachel was the one whom Jacob merely had to lay eyes on and he didn’t care how long it took—he had to make Rachel his wife. Leah, whether by guise of night or veil, then gets thrown into the bride role at the last minute, in her father’s hope that he could marry her off. Somehow.

Jacob rejects Leah.

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, saw behind Leah’s tender eyes and discerned her heart. Leah may not have been “lovely in form,” but she was exactly what God was looking for through whom to establish the house of David and the lineage of Christ.

Leah recognized her children as blessings directly from the Lord, and despite the pain of rejection and her unquenchable desire to be loved by her husband, she praised Him. (Genesis 29:35)

We’ve all been Leah, with the desire to be loved. We’ve all had to swallow the realization that, not only will other people fall short of our expectations, but we’ll fall short of theirs. We’ve all had to make the decision that even if we don’t get our storybook ending and we don’t get to be the beautiful princess adored by the prince, God is still so, so good and we will praise Him.

We may not ever be homecoming queen. What physically greets us in the mirror each day may not be what others define as “beautiful.” We may not ever get married or experience the type of romantic love we’ve dreamed of (or been told to dream of) since we were little girls.

But I promise you this, ladies—in God’s eyes, we’re all stunning beauties. He wants us to forget what the world thinks is beautiful and remember the beauty He created in each of us. He wants us to desire His admiring glances above anyone else’s.

The truth is, we may never get our prince, but we all get our Prince. Yes, even us Leahs.

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  • raisethecatalyst

    I felt like I saw myself reading this. Absolutely in love with this!

  • DonnaMarie Murray

    I have felt Leahs pain…..after being married only 2 weeks , I found a copy of a letter my "ex" husband had written to his former girlfriend. He wrote, "No matter who I marry, you'll always be the one I love. I cannot begin to describe the pain. I was unsaved at the time…so didn't know the love and security of the Lord. This was 33 years ago….but the pain the memory evokes is still fresh. Praise God, that in His eyes I'm always first. Thanks for listening my sister's in the Lord. Be Blessed!

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  • I want to ring Jacob's neck :) So sad he didn't see the beauty inside of Leah. What struck me is how often we say to God 'I didn't want this (Leah), I want that (Rachel)'. I have red hair and for many of my younger years I told God how much I didn't want red hair…but brown instead. Until one day I was admiring a women's red hair color…and thought, hey, that's me! Not really me, of course, but I LOVED her hair. So I embraced what God had given me. I'm hoping Jacob finally did the same with Leah. I think it is remarkable how Leah CHOSE to love and serve God. I will never look at her like I did before I read this devotion. Beautiful Lady indeed!

  • Hello sisters…

    I hear a lot of you saying/feeling the same things I feel, engaged in the same struggles that I face… Why is it, I wonder, so VERY hard to ‘resist the devil’ in the area of our self-esteem- specifically our looks? I know in my life, the enemy doesn’t have to work very hard to discourage me in the realm of my weight.

    My ex-husband divorced me after 15 years of marriage (this was back in 2004/5)… And his reasons were, I believe, equally: not being able to deal with my disability, my growing relationship with The Lord, and the fact that my disability and medications had caused me to gain weight.

    I have spent years trying to ‘shake off’ the ugly and demeaning attitude he had towards my weight gain. I have tried for years to LOSE that extra weight. I have run into medical roadblocks, excessive exercise-related pain, and the frustration that even though I maintain a VERY HEALTHY diet, those extra pounds seem stuck… And I have spent years being stuck in the murky mire of how THE WORLD sees me.

    But our God lifts us OUT of the muddy mire and sets us upon the solid Rock of Jesus Christ, Who sees us as beautiful daughters of The King!!

    I am currently reaching toward Jesus Christ as my King, my ‘Husband’ and my Best Friend… I still have the self-esteem struggle. Every so often I say to myself that ‘no man would want an old, overweight, disabled woman as a wife.’ I’m working on that. I’m doing my best to allow God to re-program my thinking…

    I wonder sometimes how Leah stayed sane, with the daily struggle of being compared to her sister – and found wanting. Then I am glad that God shared her story with us… That we can see the absolute VALUE in being His Handmaiden, part of His story…

    Lord, may we all see and feel and KNOW Your Touch upon our hearts, as we seek to put behind us our struggles with self-image. May we seek to embrace YOUR vision of us, Your Plan for us and how You will use us to encourage other women and share Your Love with a hurting world. Amen

    Have a BLESSED day, sisters!!

  • Oh how I DO love when God's Word hits a nerve unexpectedly. I have read this passage at least a dozen times, and have often felt more pity for Leah on account of her "weak eyes" and the fact that she was Jacob's 2nd choice. I tend to side with the underdog quite naturally. Today I saw Leah in a different light. What was so different when I read it today? I saw something in Leah that I didn't like. In her AND in myself.

    I'll start with Leah. Our girl APPEARS to be having babies to fill a VOID in HER life, doesn't it?! Forgive me if this may seem like a personal projection. I'm honest enough to confess (and I'm sorry to say) that it IS! I caught myself pre-judging Leah for selfishly filling a need for love from her husband, and creating security in her relationship by having multiple babies with him.

    I've overheard women (who are often emotionally battered) say things like, "I just wish God would give me a baby so that I could FINALLY have someone to love and who will love me back." First of all, I totally understand the insatiable desire that our hearts have to be deeply, and meaningfully connected to others. Don't get me wrong, it's a legitimate need. We were created to love and be loved. But babies are not to be used as pawns. As both an adoptee and a mother to one on earth and one in heaven, today's scripture IRKED me.

    Secondly, My heart is heavy for Rachel who has to watch as her sister "conceived again" and again, and again. I'll save my soapbox speech for another time though because I am sharply convicted by this ONE half-verse:

    "Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb…" Genesis 29:31 NASB

    God allowed Leah to have babies BECAUSE she was so unloved. He had compassion on her and gifted her with the JOY of becoming a mother, when there was little joy elsewhere in her life. He GAVE children to her to love and care for because HE LOVED HER.

    Excuse me ladies, I have some attitude to adjust. Thank you Lord for revealing what's in my heart once again! Let me be pruned and more fruitful for Your glory!

    • JuneBug

      I lost this blurb in the edit from above so I'm adding it as a reply.

      Many scholars have attempted to interpret what Leah's "weak eyes" meant. Here's a list of some possibilities that I found:

      -she had unattractive, small eyes

      -she was near/far-signted

      -her eyes were blue (or light-colored)

      -she cried so much that her eyes were red, swollen and resulted in her losing her eyelashes.

      It's worth mentioning that this is Jewish Midrash ie. Rabbinic stories passed down the generations that "supplement" what was left out of OT scripture (Tanakh) suggests that Leah was fearful that she would be given in marriage to the disreputable brother of Jacob, Esau and, therefore, cried constantly as a result.

      -she had gentle eyes ("tender" in some translations)

  • jerianeese

    Hi Everyone, I've been reading along with SRT for some time now but this is my first time joining into the conversation. This study was just too great not to post on! I relate to Leah in so many ways. For my entire life I've struggled with low self esteem about my looks. I was always comparing myself to others, feeling less than beautiful, and seeking validation by trying to find a guy who could make me feel beautiful. It wasn't until I rededicated my life to Christ that I really started to understand I'm precious and beautiful to the only one who matters. I'm young (only 20), but I still struggle with the my earthly desires to find a man and get married when the world deems the timing to be right rather than when God deems it to be the right time. I LOVED when she said " We may never get our prince, but we all get our prince." Everyday I'm learning more that He is more than enough for me, and that even if I don't get my prince, I am already taking part in the greatest love story of all! I'm focusing on loving and desiring him above all other things.

    Blessing to you all, have a wonderful day!

    • eradical84 (EllenMR)

      Welcome! And bless you jerianeese for rededicating yourself to Christ at a young age! Knowing that He loves you and has a plan for you will give you strength and security, whereas other young ladies don't have that faith and stumble around, unsure of themselves. It won't be a perfect, easy path, but you ARE on the path leading to the PERFECT PRINCE! Awesome! :)

  • So thankful to God for this word today! PTL!!

  • I can see myself so much in Leah. For years I have struggled with my image, I was always too tall, too fat, too scruffy to consider myself beautiful. My hair was never quite right. For years I felt like a failure because I did not correspond to an image of beauty that I had imposed on myself. I thank the Lord every day for having blessed me with a husband that loves me the way I am.

    Sisters, we are wonderful because God created us in His image!! We are the living images of our Lord Jesus Christ and we must all be oh so grateful for this. And proud! We are not wrong, we are not just passable. WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL IN THE LORD'S LOVING EYES.

    Blessings to you all!

  • Charmaine

    Oh man how I can relate to Leah. However, as a child I had very high self esteem but as I got older and many ungodly relationships that changed. I begin to see myself as not as cute as I thought I was. I begin to see mysel as not as thin as I was. After being abused so many times by family and others my self esteem took an extreme nose dive.

    But God has been faithful to the max with me. I have walked away from him because I couldn’t see his plan. Nothing was going the way I planned. The love of my life (so I thought) was gone and god failed me(so I thought). And even with all that he was and has been faithful.

    I am still in the process of learning how much God really loves and sees me. It’s unimaginable sometimes to think that the God of the universe can love me, and thinks I’m beautiful. How awesome is that! He said that we are awesomely and wonderfully made! When he sees us our hair is beautiful, our smiles are beautiful, our lips are perfectly formed, our eyes are perfectly shaped.

    When he sees us we are wonderfully shaped, our feet are the right size for our bodies. He doesn’t see our pimples, or flat feet. ALL he see is what He made. And he made all of us in HIS image! Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!!!

    God bless you all ladies! Hold your heads up you are beautiful and wonderfully made!!!

    Thank you SRT for being hear for us!!!!!

  • munchtalk

    I personally don't know how Leah did it! How did she not turn to hate? She had so clearly been given the "short stick." Her husband was sleeping with her sister, and she didn't have a choice in the matter. Yet, God is so full of blessings. Anytime I think about complaining about the craziness in my family, this family is a good reminder of how good we have it! I think God has a sense of humor and compassion as well. Sure, Rachel got the looks, but Leah got the blessings that were highly prized in their culture: so many sons! Nothing that any human could do, would stop God from his magnificent plan of the lineage of Christ. Today, my husband might disappoint me. I may go through something seemingly unfortunate from the world's perspective. But, I hope, that I will have the assurance in Christ to know that a heart that desires Him above all is more precious than anything we could find here on this planet.

    • eradical84 (EllenMR)

      Love it munchtalk! "…a heart that desires Him above all is more precious than anything we could find here on this planet." Awesome!

  • MacKenzie

    I found it awesome that Judah, whose name means “I will praise The Lord”, is who the lineage of Christ comes from. God works in marvelous ways! When Leah finally praised God, despite being unloved, God used her son in Christ’s line! Wow! Thank you, God, for your patience with us and blessings when we do surrender and follow wholeheartedly after you!!

    • Tami

      I was thinking the same thing. I was struck by how she kept naming her first sons based on her need to be seen, appreciated, loved, respected, etc…by her husband. When she took her eyes off of being valued by man and focused on the One in whom she can find her true worth, He gives her more than she even knew she was getting.

      Oh Lord, may we be reminded today to keep our eyes on You at all times, in all circumstances and with all faith in You. Forgive us when we look to the world to find our worth. Heal us when we are wounded by our misguided seeking. Remind us today who we are. Royalty born by the blood of Christ. Amen.

  • Kristi Slappey Bryan

    I have been struggling with some of this lately. I appreciate it being today’s topic. I have recently seperated from my husband (his choice). It has been 2 months now and there have been very few attempts at failed reconciliation. I have not felt loved, wanted, respected, or content in quite some time. I have prayed for guidance to make the right choice and to do what God would have me do. I want to be loved like the fairy tale, but more importantly I want to be loved as God says we should be loved. I then catch myself with the “I wants” and know that God has a greater plan for me even though I can not see it. I think that maybe God was showing me what he didn’t want for me so that when he lays the plan before me I will know to trust him. Hopefully I am following his will and not letting self get in the way. I thank him for the blessings he has bestowed upon me and the promise that he will never leave me or forsake me.

  • The portion of today that hit home the most was the fact that Leah praised our God for her children, dispite the fact that she was rejected by Jacob. Her sweet spirit of praise inspired me. Today I will focus on Praising GOD! Praising him despite my nautre to focus on the negative.

    How often do we question the Lord? How often do we focus on the things going wrong instead of the things that are perfectly right?

    Today I praise God for giving me a job(even though I dont love it!). I praise him for a wonderful GODLY husband (even though we fight at times!) I praise him for ministry in the workplace, I praise him for a longing him HIM!

    Cheers Sweet Sisters in Christ.

  • I needed to hear this: We’ve all had to make the decision that even if we don’t get our storybook ending and we don’t get to be the beautiful princess adored by the prince, God is still so, so good and we will praise Him.

  • Elizabeth

    After quite a messy past, it took me a long time to believe that I am beautiful and of value. We all have our "off" days every once in a while, when the enemy gets us down, but how liberating it is when we realize our beauty and worth in God.

  • This post really hit home for me. I think it is interesting how we can all feel the same way…just on different levels or from a completely different perspective. While the initial thought is to relate to Leah on a physical level (i.e. beauty, weight, etc.), the way I relate to this is more work-related.

    I recently quit my job (although by choice, I was not on good terms with one administrator). I just found out that I actually know the teacher they hired for my position. She is sweet, pretty, and has a lot of connections in the community. It bothered me all day…like…OF COURSE they hired HER. It is funny to me now because, so much of my past work situation actually reminds me of a break up. Haha…nothing like feeling like not only did they REPLACE you, they also "upgraded." :(

    I need this today. Truth be told, I NEED THIS everyday. I once read (maybe it was here?) that we should approach all our situations in life as if we are really royalty….as if our father really is a KING.

    So….there are better opportunities for me ahead because my dad is The King. :)

    Surely we are ALL princesses. Children of a Heavenly King. Have a great day!

    • Rebecca

      Praying for God to open up the door to the perfect job for you, and the job YOU are perfect for :)

  • What a good word this morning. I woke up with some of the words to the hymn “tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” and it has just blessed me so much this morning! Here’s hoping that it may bless you too…happy Thursday!

    ‘Tis so sweet, to trust in Jesus. Just to take him at his word. Just to rest upon his promise…oh for grace to trust him more’

  • I'm still sad that it took me so many years after the break up of my first marriage to believe again, that I am loveable. I've learned Who loved me first and will forever. By accepting that love, I am daily becoming better at loving others. I'm amazed at how, by showing love to others, it comes back to me. I have the rest of my life now to practice loving others the way my Lord loves me! Thank you to this community for helping me practice this in my life.

    • Holly

      I really appreciated your comment, Ginger.

      He is near to the broken-hearted. :)

      Have a great day!

  • Graphics

    All I could think of the whole time I was reading about Leah and the devo was ..Psalm 45:11
    The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

    This is what our King thinks of us, His perfect creation. Grab onto that today ladies!
    THE KING is enthralled by your beauty!!!!

    Much Grace Ladies

  • Yeah, I’ve always felt an affinity for Leah–might have a little something to do with the fact that we share the same name. ;) But I’ve always identified with her sadness at being rejected and not being “the beautiful one” or “the popular one.” I listened to a great sermon by Tim Keller on this story and he points out that, finally when Leah gives birth to her 4th son, she PRAISES The Lord INSTEAD of AGAIN staking her hope on it making Jacob love her. It’s like she finally realized the love of the Lord is what she needs. And, oh boy, did The Lord bless her with Judah! There’s so much more great stuff in that sermon I wish I could post a link to it, but I get it on a podcast. Anyway, great devotion! Love the ending statement, “The truth is, we may never get our prince, but we all get our Prince.” Blessings to y’all!

  • I don't know what woman doesn't need to hear this message…especially in today's society. I would venture to bet that the majority of women reading this scripture today can relate to Leah and I would bet that the majority of young girls growing up through their teenage years all around the world can relate to Leah. Society bombardes women with what "beautiful" ought to look like, what "beautiful" clothes/jewelry/makeup/body ought to look like. I find myself being sucked into this worldly definition of beauty far too often. It is a constant struggle to remind myself that "in God's eyes, we're all stunning beauties," and that God's definition of beauty–which we all meet because we were created as beautiful by Him–is the only definition that matters. Today, I will walk with confidence knowing that I am beautiful in His eyes!

  • Candacejo

    I will be celebrating 34 years of marriage to The Sweetheart, as I lovingly refer to him on my blog (and in person!) on Saturday. I am so blessed that he has always treated me like a queen and made me feel so loved.

    But that love doesn't begin to compare to the love the Father has for me! And it has taken me years to realize and accept it…He adores me and as Sarah said this morning, "He wants us to desire HIS admiring glances above anyone else!"

    He wants us to be concerned with pleasing HIM…that's it.

    Then we will fulfill our purpose in life.

    Then we will be fulfilled.

    Then we will find ourselves beautiful.

  • drshanwalks

    This story always hits home for me because so many times I have felt like Leah, second best. Even now there are times when I feel like her. I am beautiful, successful and still no husband. Then I remember that I have also done things like the other women we have studied in trying to take things into my own hands. This has led to a failed marriage and a broken spirit. By my God! He loves me and He has not forgotten me. He spoke yesterday through a friend who shared a beautiful dream she had about me. She talked about how healthy and happy I was married. She stated that the dream brought her so much joy that she was laughing in her sleep and her husband asked her what she was dreaming about. I am resting in the faith that God will bless me as He did Leah and as He always does. I am not second best, I am the best! I am wanted! I am loved! I am God's royal child!

    • Rebecca

      I am brought to tears of joy because I can invision the dream your friend had. Don't you just love prophetic dreams, thank you Lord for the dreams you give us. I have no idea who you are or what your whole story is but I am really excited for you. I know that God is preparing your man right now and He is preparing you as well. Get ready girlfriend because the marriage that God has for you is going to be "off the chain". You may think I'm so crazy right now but I just feel like God wants you to have this confirmation. You two will be that couple that makes those looking on smile because the joy that you will have will overflow into others lives and you will so beautifully reflect Christ in your relationship.

  • Love, perfect love, true love comes from God and God alone, and we are children of God, joint heirs with His son Jesus Christ. No matter what difficult circumstances we find ourselves in , we must make God our priority. Come,come sisters,let us rest our souls in Him. Have a beautiful day in the Lord,as we are loved with an everlasting LOVE.

  • Lauren Williams

    I love the message behind this devotion today. On days when I am working hard and dont have time to exercise or eat right I know that God still sees me as Beautiful. I am happy to also have found a husband that sees me as beautiful even on my worst days. I know that the opinion of my husband is nothing compared to the wonderful love my Creator has for me and how perfect he sees me as.

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