While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Genesis 35:22
Bilhah is a woman without rights. She was Rachel’s maid all the way back before Rachel was married. She learned to obey orders very young. She never knew freedom and her life was characterized by being used by others.
When Rachel couldn’t conceive, she gave Bilhah to Jacob as a secondary wife. She used her as a surrogate to conceive babies. Once they were born, Rachel would keep them and adopt them as her own sons. Once again, Bilhah had no choice. Years later, she was victimized again as Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben, took her honor. He snuck in her tent and in the darkness, he lay with her. Bilhah could teach a class today on what it means to be victimized. Did she know God? I want to believe so. She was immersed in all the teaching, the worship, the building of altars at pinnacle moments of faith. She saw it all and probably clung to God for the strength to endure hardship.
What can be said for the Bilhah’s of this world? Perhaps you are one. From a young age, you were taken against your will, used for someone else’s pleasure. Your life was a set up and choices were made for you. How do you come to believe in a God that appears to bless some and curse others? Those with heartbreaking stories have posed the question to me on many occasions. Can He be trusted to rule fairly?
God’s feelings toward Bilhah are not revealed, nor are her feelings for God recorded. But lest God become One I stumble over, the whole context of scripture is at my fingertips. A generation earlier, Hagar was in similar circumstances. Used. Spurned. Banished. (She and her child.) But in the aftermath of man’s sin and the tragedy that had been thrust upon a young mother, God’s character shines through when He remembers her and meets her personally in an unforgiving desert. He reveals Himself as the ‘God who sees her.’ El-Roi
If I measure God’s goodness by my own story, confined to my personal lifespan, He can look pathetic and quite guilty. I must widen my view to include all of history. I must take in God’s over arching redemptive plan that included the provision of a Savior who would redeem tragic stories. I must look ahead to Paradise where faithfulness will be rewarded and where sin will be judged. There, the first will be last and the last will be first. Hagars and Bilhahs will lead the way in heaven. Ultimately, the broken are blessed. Even here. The extent to which God allows one to be crushed, alternatively, He gives that person an unequaled capacity to know Him intimately. Treasures of the darkness are promised to the one who seeks God by faith when all evidence against him seems ironclad.
For the one who is Bilhah, disclose Yourself to her today as El-Roi. Amen