THE SHIELD OF FAVOUR
Favour is such a powerful phenomenon and its benefits cannot be exhausted in this one article.
I have been spending some time lately studying the life of our Patriarch, Abraham and I have seen clearly that favour is one of his very many blessings that eventually rubbed off on his descendants. I found one of the definitions from The Britannica Dictionary very interesting as a definition of favour. It goes like this: “to prefer (someone) especially in an unfair way: to show that you like or approve of (someone) more than others.” Favour could also simply mean “approval, support or popularity.” How do you prefer someone in an unfair way? It could be that they get what they have not earned or that what is not due to them is handed over to them on a platter, especially where many others who are more fitting for the position or for the role and who have actually worked hard to earn such promotions are easily and unapologetically bypassed. From the above description it follows that favour is not about one’s performance.
One story that particularly touched me was the story of Jacob (a descendant of Abraham) and Esau his twin brother. Most of us know the story. Jacob with the help of his mother Rebecca, deceived their aged and blind father Isaac, to cheat his twin brother Esau of his birthright. Such treachery and betrayal became the foundation of a family feud that is ongoing even to this day. Esau was enraged and vowed to kill Jacob as soon as their father Isaac died. “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching, then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” Genesis 27:41 English Standard Version
As soon as Rebecca overheard Esau, she got Jacob out of the way by sending him off to live with her own brother Laban. After about twenty odd years, two wives, two servant wives and eleven children, Jacob decided to go back home to face his brother whom he had cheated out of an inheritance and who as a result had harboured murderous intentions towards Jacob. Now he was going to meet with this brother after all these years and Jacob had no idea what to expect. So out of fear he sent ahead gifts and gifts and more gifts to his brother Esau to try and appease him for the wrong he had done many years ago hoping to find favour with him. “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.” Genesis 32: 11, 14,15 New International Version The quantity of livestock sent to Esau was alarming!
Well what a reunion it was! The reception from Esau was such a favorable one. “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” Genesis 33:4 New International Version It was so unbelievable that Jacob began to entertain some doubts wondering if it was a trick from Esau to eventually carry out the death threat of decades ago. And so he found a way to resist all offers from Esau to allow his men protect and watch over Jacob and his family. As Jacob found favour with his brother he was shielded from what might have ended up a real tragedy.
Suddenly the hunted became the beloved! Only favour can make that happen. Favour is a shield. Favour shielded Esther from the King’s wrath when he raised his golden scepter to allow her into his court when she was not expected. “For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favour as with a shield.” Psalms 5:12 English Standard Version Favour shielded Abraham himself and Isaac from pagan kings who might have harmed them, for lying that Sarah and Rebecca were their sisters instead of their wives. Favour shielded Ruth from the reproach of being childless when Boaz married her.
Favour is still available as a shield today. We must lay hold of it by trusting God completely and believing Him when He says it is through Abraham that all persons on earth will be blessed. If Abraham was blessed with favour, then so are we today; because ALL his blessings are for us too.
LET THE SHIELD OF FAVOUR ENCOMPASS US ALL!