43 Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters. The children are my children. The flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine? What can I do about the children they’ve had? 44 Come now. Let’s make a formal agreement, you and I. Let it be a witness between us.” 45 So Jacob set up a stone as a way to remember. 46 He said to his relatives, “Get some stones.” So they took stones and put them in a pile. And they ate there by it. 47 Laban named the pile of stones Jegar Sahadutha. Jacob named it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness between you and me today.” That’s why it was named Galeed. 49 It was also called Mizpah. That’s because Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50 Don’t treat my daughters badly. Don’t get married to any women besides my daughters. There isn’t anyone here to see what we’re doing. But remember that God is a witness between you and me.” 51 Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this pile of stones. And here is this stone I’ve set up. I’ve set them up between you and me. 52 This pile is a witness. And this stone is a witness. They are witnesses that I won’t go past this pile to harm you. And they are witnesses that you won’t go past this pile and this stone to harm me. 53 The God of Abraham and Nahor is also the God of their father. May their God decide which of us is right.” So Jacob made a promise using the name of the God his father Isaac worshiped. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country. And he invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. 55 Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters. He gave them his blessing. Then he left and returned home. 32 Jacob also went on his way. The angels of God met him. 2 Jacob saw them. He said, “This is the army of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.
When I was young, it was a popular thing for girls to give their best friend a “Mizpah” necklace. It was a coin that was cut in half and each half was hung on a necklace for the best friend to wear. On it was the inscription that we read from this passage “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other”.
While this may sound like a lovely sentiment between friends, when you read it in this context it actually is a statement of distrust- and for good reasons!
Jacob and Laban had a very difficult relationship with multiple layers of deception and poor treatment of each other over many years. Here we see that Laban and Jacob are finally separating for good, and Jacob is taking Laban’s daughters and grandchildren away with him. So Laban is basically saying to Jacob – God is watching you so you’d better not mess up and mistreat my daughters!
Mistrust in a relationship is a sad thing. Most of us would have experienced the disappointment (anger, sadness…) of having a friend that we trusted let us down or behave in a very selfish way towards us. And then, of course, how many times have I behaved selfishly and disappointed someone who trusted me?
Isn’t it so good that we have one perfect friend that is utterly trustworthy? Jesus, our advocate, is always completely for us and completely consistent in His goodness. And no matter how many times I fail Him or fail others, He is always perfectly faithful in all His ways.
Today I find comfort and reassurance knowing that in a world of faithlessness (my own included), my God completely faithful.
Written by Shelley Witt