Daily Devotion for July 11, 2017
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This beautiful setting of Ave Maria, from “The Passion of the Christ,” should temper the ugly scene described in today’s Scripture.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer to Grow Closer to God
Dear Lord, I am trying to do better and better each day; I am trying to walk with you and do your will, but sometimes it seems like I am slipping backwards no matter how hard I try. And I get confused sometimes; even if I want to do the right thing, I don't always know what it is.
So this is my prayer, heavenly Lord, for your help in straightening out my mind and straightening out my life. Lead me, Lord, and let your Holy Spirit guide me. Even if the correction is painful, help me to keep my mind open to your truth. Let me do your will in my every action, and know your will, that I might do it. Help me not be deceived by false assertions or glib intelligence, by those who would excuse or promote sinful actions, by those who simply do not know; and above all, help me not to deceive myself. Guide me away from excuses and rationalizations when I have sinned, but into your holy truth, that I might know my sin, and correct what I can, and ask forgiveness for what I cannot. By the grace and mercy of holy Christ, I ask this,
[Giving thanks for our creation.]
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
"There are many elements that go into the total concept of fellowship, as it is described in the New Testament, but the sharing together in suffering is one of the most profitable. It probably unites our hearts together in Christ more than any other aspect of fellowship."
~ Jerry Bridges
Genesis 34 (TLB)
The Story of Jacob  - The Rape of Dinah
One day Dinah, Leah’s daughter, went out to visit some of the neighborhood girls, but when Shechem, son of King Hamor the Hivite, saw her, he took her and raped her. He fell deeply in love with her, and tried to win her affection. Then he spoke to his father about it. “Get this girl for me,” he demanded. “I want to marry her.”
* * *
Then Shechem addressed Dinah’s father and brothers. “Please be kind to me and let me have her as my wife,” he begged. “I will give whatever you require. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will pay it—only give me the girl as my wife.”
Her brothers then lied to Shechem and Hamor, acting dishonorably because of what Shechem had done to their sister. They said, “We couldn’t possibly. For you are not circumcised. It would be a disgrace for her to marry such a man.
* * *
So all the men . . . were circumcised. But three days later, when their wounds were sore and sensitive to every move they made, two of Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, took their swords, entered the city without opposition, and slaughtered every man there, including Hamor and Shechem. They rescued Dinah from Shechem’s house and returned to their camp again. Then all of Jacob’s sons went over and plundered the city because their sister had been dishonored there. They confiscated all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the city and outside in the fields, and took all the women and children, and wealth of every kind.
Then Jacob said to Levi and Simeon, “You have made me stink among all the people of this land—all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will come and crush us, and we will all be killed.” “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?” they retorted.
Notes on the Scripture
he main artwork today, a depiction of the rape of Dinah, painted by Florentine artist Giuliano Bugiardini, is ridiculous in one sense: the characters and cityscape are all, well, a depiction set in 16th-century Florence. The artist, however, does get the essence of the story correct. Dinah is not raped in a completely modern sense, because it seems to have been a public abduction; there was neither law nor power to stop a king’s son from taking a foreign woman right off the street. Dinah herself is treated largely as an object. Shechem seems to think that an offer to make her a wife, together with extravagant payment, will excuse the underlying sex-by-force.
The reason that Bugiardini’s painting rings so true, is that a story like this might well have come from Renaissance Italy!
Compare this, however, to the treatment of Rebekah by Abraham’s servant. (Genesis 24) It would be a mistake to see a wholesale objectification of women in Genesis, for Rebekah is treated as if she must consent to her marriage to Isaac, whatever her father and brother might want.
We have seen Jacob’s courage, in wrestling with God. We have seen his treacherous side, also, time and time again. But somehow, his courage fails him here. There is no explanation, simply a picture of a man afraid to protect his daughter from the powerful Canaanite peoples.
Her brothers, on the other hand, will not accept payment for the rape of their sister, for they see this as nothing more than complicity in her prostitution. Instead, they show they are Jacob’s true sons by devising a plan worthy of their father for deceit, and then avenge and recover Dinah from Shechem.
A feminist cynic might say that this had nothing to do with Dinah as a person, and everything to do with Levi and Simeon’s pride; her rape offended them only because, as her brothers, she was “their” property. (In fact, some of them, without any textual foundation, claim that Dinah was not raped, but rather fell in love with Shechem, and her brothers are acting as misogynistic brutes by interfering with her choice of lovers!) But Genesis does now allow such cynicism, for we do not see the mistreatment of women sanctioned by Abraham or his heirs; we see, instead, a respect for women that was rare in the time.
We will see these tribes again. God gives over the Perizzites, Hivites, and Canaanites to the sword of the Hebrews, with instructions to destroy them utterly. (Exodus 23:23-24.) (It is not until Solomon, however, that they are fully conquered. 1 Kings 9:21.) Thus, in the destruction of Shechem, we see the hand of God in an early presage of the Hebrews as the chosen people of Yahweh, who are destined to struggle with and destroy the other tribes of Canaan.