Some modern scholars have a warped way of understanding the Bible. They begin by denying that it is inspired by God and insisting that it was written solely by men. They then assert that these human authors pepper their writings with their own personal opinions and comments, which can be ignored as unimportant theologically because they are just the opinions of men. Since these are just the opinions of men, they conclude that the Bible is not inspired by God. Thus, they use circular reasoning to prove the presupposition that they had to start with in order to reach their conclusion! How exhausting!
It would be much easier if you just accepted the Bible for what it claims to be: the Word of God. While some books of the Bible do contain their authors’ personalities (think of the difference in language between Peter's and Paul’s letters for instance, or the different ways that Luke, Matthew, and Mark describe the same events), they are all written under the inspiration of God, and every word is useful for the church. These men use their own personalities, culture, language, history, and insight as they write Scripture, but every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In general, the Holy Spirit does not dictate the exact wording to the human authors of Scripture, but allows them complete freedom while still guiding what they write so that every word is exactly the word that God wants.
However, some passages of Scripture leave out the insight of human authorship altogether and are dictated directly by God. These include among others, parts of Revelation, the prophets, and Genesis. Remember that Moses spoke with God on the mountain, where God revealed to him all that he recorded in Genesis. So, the passage that we are about to read is not man’s perspective, it’s not folklore, it’s not someone’s opinion; it’s God’s own account of what happened in the lives of Jacob and Leah. Keep that in mind as you read.
Please read Genesis 29:31-35.
Some people have spent a lot of time writing about the importance of the names of Leah’s children, and feel free to refer to their work if that’s what you’re interested in. My focus is on the simple fact that God tells us that He is the reason that Leah got pregnant so many times, and He is the reason that Rachel did not.
“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”
This is a one-time event, and one should always be cautious when taking a one-time event as normative. But statements such as this are prevalent throughout Scripture. In the Book of Genesis alone: God closed the wombs in Abimelech’s house because of Sarah (20:18); God grants Isaac’s prayer by having Rebekah conceive (25:21); Eve credits the birth of her first child to God (4:1); God told Abraham that He would give him a son through Sarah within the year (17:16, 21); and God will later remember Rachel and open her womb (30:22).
Clearly, God’s account of the events in Genesis indicate that God is the one who opens and closes the womb. God is the one who grants life to every child, and who keeps children from being conceived. Every child who is conceived is a gift from God. Every child who is conceived has a purpose from God. Every child who is conceived is made in the image of God. For every child who is conceived, God should be praised.
Leah finally understands this with the birth of her fourth son, when she says, “This time I will praise the Lord,” and names her son like the Hebrew word for ‘praise.’
Every child should cause us to praise the Lord. He is the author of each individual life, and the reason that each child is conceived.