Last week while studying Genesis 34 I just wanted to do one thing. One simple life changing thing. I wanted to cup Dinah’s chin in my hands, look into her young, no-longer-innocent eyes, and tell her – you are still lovely. You are wanted. You are not ruined. You are not forsaken. You are His cherished creation.
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 34 (Again this week because I had to.)
Key Verse: “You shall no more be termed forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married.” (Isaiah 62:4)
This girl. What did she go through? Ok yes, she was wrong for venturing into the city alone. Maybe they instructed her not to, yet she went anyway. Maybe she went at night. Maybe she’d gone before. There’s no disputing she was at fault but she did not deserve this. Rape. No one does. Verse 2 says Shechem “seized her and lay with her and humiliated her.” To humiliate means to cause a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity; mortify. Certainly not how she pictured losing her virginity.
It had been cruel and self-seeking and gross and wrong. It didn’t leave her feeling good. It left her feeling dirty. And now he, this man, who used her and abused her and hardly knew her, was her only hope for a blissful, happy marriage. Her children would grow up in Shechem. They would be Shechemites. Her father would probably disown her. Her brothers forget her. Her life forever changed because of one wrong decision.
I can’t help but wonder what Dinah thought of her brother’s response to Shechem’s marriage proposal. Circumcision? For real? Are they really going to allow this? Is this entire city really getting circumcised so Shechem can marry me? This just doesn’t sound like my brothers. (Was she happy about it?)
Then the cries. Did they come in the night or early morning? Could she hear them, one scream after another, as Simeon and Levi made their way from house to house killing each and every husband, son, and daddy. The noises of the city were new to her but this, this was different. It was the sound of mourning vaguely understood to her, until…until it was her to turn. Did they kill Shechem right in front of her? Or send her outside?
Alone. Defiled. A complete disgrace to her family, they took her home. Had her brothers just sentenced her to barrenness? No man would want her now, she was used and unsuitable. Days of endless emptiness stretched out before her. Her dreams in shards and slivers at the tender age of maybe 15. Might as well toss her in the corner as one might toss a soiled garment. Stained with shame she would never dress as a beautiful bride. Never be escorted into the arms of a bridegroom, nor be the delight of any man. She would always and forever simply be a disappointment.
Beloved, have you been there? I ache for you. I was dismayed to read that nearly 500 women are raped or sexually assaulted each day in the United States (a study done about 6 years ago I might add). That’s 182,500 women a year in this country alone. Globally? No one could tell me. The numbers are too staggering with sex trafficking victims in the 20 to 30 million range.
Truly I have no words, except His. Please drink them in deep and slow. Let them penetrate the dried up places of your heart. Look and see what God has spoken. His word is true and steadfast. Spoken by the prophet Isaiah for a people forsaken in Babylon but meant also for you as an heir. Adopted as a daughter of Abraham, He says to you today, “You shall no more be termed forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married.” (Isaiah 62:4)
The Hebrew word for “My Delight Is in Her” is Hehzibah. In the NIV the verse reads “but you will be called Hehzibah.” This my friend is not just a name for Israel. If you are in Christ, it is your name as well, for He delights in you. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is. 43:1). You belong to someone – you belong to Jesus. He has called you by name. He has called you Hehzibah.
You are not forsaken, you are wanted. You, His cherished creation, whom he has made in his image, for His glory. And my oh my how lovely you are. You are not ensnared by soiled rags of shame, you are radiant in the garments of salvation. “As a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels,” (Isaiah 61:10) he has adorned you, covering all who come to him in a splendid robe of righteousness.
He loves you my friend. Deeply. You are his delight. He came (and will come again) to bind up your broken heart and give you “ a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.” (Is. 61:1,3)
But perhaps today you are not a Dinah, grieved by sexual misconduct. Perhaps today you are an Esther facing a hard thing. Or a Leah, alone and unloved. Maybe you are a Ruth and your heart is breaking, or a Martha, overwhelmed by responsibilities. Maybe you are a Sarah, struggling to believe God’s promises. Or maybe you are simply a mom – constantly fulfilling the needs of others; a woman – longing to know you are deeply desired.
Whomever you may be, on behalf of our Father who loves you with unyielding affection, I cup your face in my hands to tell you this: You are lovely. You are wanted. You are not forsaken. You are His cherished creation. His radiant bride. Run into the open arms of Jesus and be loved. Do not fear brokenness in his presence. There is freedom and joy and new life to be lived when robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. You – Hehzibah– belong to Him.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you consider yourself a disappointment or delight to God? Why or why not?
How do you view yourself – in shabby garments of shame or ornate robes of righteousness?
With over 500 women a day victims of rape or sexual assault in the U.S. alone, who can you share this with today?
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