Main Verse: Genesis 29:8
by Brian Phillips
How unusual it must have seemed to Jacob to see so many thirsty sheep . . . next to a watering hole! “Why don’t they water them?” he must have wondered. In fact, that thought didn’t just cross his mind. It festered there.
Here we find him face-to-face, in the middle of nowhere, with people who know his uncle. And his conversation begins, understandably, with questions concerning his uncle’s whereabouts and health. After all, that was why he was there in the first place. His dad had blessed him and sent him to find his uncle, and instructed him to marry one of his daughters. So, he eagerly left home in search of his uncle’s family, so he could marry someone of his own kindred and race.
And that’s how we know he was preoccupied with the sheep. Because, even though the shepherds point over his shoulder and shout out that Rachel, his cousin, is coming over the hill (she is later described as “beautiful in every way, with a lovely face and a shapely figure”), Jacob doesn’t even notice. He can’t get the sheep thing off his mind. Instead, he suddenly blurts out, “Why don’t you water your flocks!?”
The shepherds must have looked at him quizzically. Then they replied that they always wait for everyone else. A wise thing, since it’s easier to remove the heavy stone with more people. And, the fewer times you remove it, the less evaporation of precious water occurs in the desert heat.
Food for Thought
Merriam-Webster defines prudence as “skill and good judgment in the use of resources.” That is certainly what we see in this account of Jacob’s encounter with the shepherds. They exercised prudence with a precious commodity in the desert: Water.
Once, I was visiting a community called L’Abri Fellowship in England. They live a very modest lifestyle there, with few luxuries and no excesses.
I was in the cupboard one day, looking for some honey to make a sandwich. The honey in the only open jar was crystallized, so I threw it away and opened a new one.
I was mildly scolded for being so wasteful.
So What Now?
What precious resources are you wasting? Are you using the gifts God has given you for their best purposes?
Lord, show me where I am wasting the gifts and talents you have given me. Then show me where I can start using them better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.