Leah and Rachel: A lesson in Marriage

Leah and Rachel’s struggles have much to teach us about being a wife. I want to first explore each woman and her struggle separately and then conclude with how the Lord has used these two women to teach a lesson I did not anticipate.

Let’s take our first look at Leah.

I think it is important to point out that her name means “weary”. Leah was not a chosen wife but one thrust upon her husband out of trickery. In those times, it was proper for the older daughter to marry before the younger. However, in this case the groom preferred the younger daughter. As a result, Leah felt unloved. She spent her entire marriage desperately trying to get her husband to love her. Once she gave birth to her son she felt as if finally her husband would love her.  She was so confident of this that she named her son Reuben which means “the Lord has seen my affliction”. Sadly, she was wrong. As we see today having a child does not heal a marriage. I suppose the idea that women will do anything to gain the love of a man is not a new concept.  Poor Leah, tried so hard to gain the love she was missing by continuing to provide sons for her husband yet she was never successful. She was a faithful woman who prayed to God and leaned on him for answers. Yet even that did not change her pain or her situation. She had the love of the Lord and that was the only love that she needed yet she could not give her quest to make Jacob love her.

She did not know it then but God did have a reason for her to be in this marriage. She did serve a purpose through her pain. Leah is the mother of Judah which in turn makes her the ancestral mother of the Davidic line which is the line of Christ. God proves to us that despite the agendas of man or woman His will cannot be altered. This also teaches that we cannot always see the purpose in our struggles yet we still need to trust in the Lord’s plan.


Rachel, on the other hand, is the beautiful woman whom Jacob truly loves. Due to her father’s plot, Rachel is denied Jacob only to later share him with her sister. One would think that even through this difficulty Rachel would be happy in her marriage. What woman would not be honored and blessed to have a man that loves her as much as Jacob loved Rachel? However, Rachel had a problem that colored everything. As you may remember, Rachel was barren; however this was not the root of her problem as she believed.  The root of her problem was her jealousy toward her sister. Rachel may have had  Jacob’s love but Leah had his sons. The green eyed monster of jealousy began to rear its ugly head and consume Rachel. This beauty would soon turn into a beast.

The Lesson

Leah was not immune to this contest as she took great pride in her ability to provide sons for Jacob. Leah was so jealous of her sister having Jacob’s love that she threw Rachel’s barrenness in her face. Rachel was seeing so much green that she lost her way and forgot about the Lord. She went to Jacob and demanded that he provide her a son. How often do we make irrational demands based solely on our own insecurity? Jacob was not to blame for her inability to conceive a child. Yet, forgetting her duty to submit and respect her husband she blamed him. A frustrated Jacob responds in anger and tells her that he cannot change the will of God.  Now, when was the last time the will of God stopped a determined woman from at least trying to do what she thought was best? Rachel was surely not taking no for an answer.   She did not turn to the Lord. She had a better idea. Rachel tired to circumvent the Lord by having her maidservant bare a son in her place.  Soon Rachel learned that going outside the will of God afforded her nothing. Leah matched and beat Rachel at every turn in the area of maternity. Rachel was so jealous and obsessed with HER goal that she fell away from the Lord and discounted the love of her husband.

Leah and Rachel were so involved in their own individual quests and jealous contest that each failed to see the love in front of them. Rachel had the love of Jacob. Leah had the love of the Lord. Each could have had love for one another. The sisters could have joined together for support instead of tearing each other down.  In the midst of all this both suffered in their marriage. Each allowed their own agenda and suffering to be a shadow over their duty as wives and women of faith.

One last point I wanted to make is another aspect that the Lord has taught me concerning these two women. Leah was not the intended wife, yet she was ever present and impacted the relationship of the intended wife. Jacob would never say he loved Leah yet he was powerless to give her up.  She also provided him with something he needed; his sons.  Are you sharing your husband with another? Is your Leah in the form of his family, his friends, sports, his job, an addiction, or video games?  Could it be that you are currently involved in a struggle so intensely that you are loosing sight of what you are fighting for?  Do you feel your husband has a need being provided for by another source?  If you feel you are not the object of your husband’s love you may fight against yourself to the point that you can’t see the love in front of you. Are you the woman spoke of in Proverbs who tears down her house with her own hands? Whatever the case maybe Leah and Rachel proved that this battle has no victor. They showed us how we can easily get so caught up in our own insecurity that we loose sight of what is important. When struggles come, and they will, we need to cling to the Lord for guidance. It can be tempting when you want something so badly to circumvent the Lord to achieve your purpose.  During times of struggle we become impatient and self centered. The Lord has His own timetable and  when it appears to conflict with our own we need to trust and obey. The Lord is interested in the success of our marriages. He is the only one who can change hearts and heal the wounded. Turn to the Lord and be patient and trust that he does have a plan for your life and your marriage.

Copyright © Richele McFarlin, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved

Leave a Comment