Goodly Words

21 “Naphtali is a hind released, he gives goodly words.”

In researching this verse, a variety of opinions were given for the meaning of this. The text itself even had unusual translations: For instance, the NIV translates it as “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns,” which is very different than he gives goodly words. According to, “Some say it implied gentleness of character; others think it may have alluded to agility in battle or hastiness.” 

According to Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible, “Naphtali has clearly been the surprise among the brothers. He is like a trapped hind which has been let loose, in that he has moved from being merely the quiet one to becoming a teacher of wisdom (see Proverbs 15:26; Proverbs 16:24). Wisdom teaching was well established in Egypt. 

The beautiful song of Deborah in Judges 5:2-31 is attributed to Barak from Naphtali. Deborah called upon Barak to lead the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali against the Canaanite forces of Hazor (Judges 4-5).

So, how does all of this apply to us today? The tribe of Naphtali was small but agile, and they seemed to be good with words, whether in written or spoken form. In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote the famous adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and he could very well have been thinking of passages such as this for reference.

Again, the Kingdom of God is made up of millions of different people who have gifts that others don’t have.

Writing and speaking are two such gifts, and two such gifts that we should use if we have them.

Some have neither of those gifts, and that’s fine too.

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Name Them One by One

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king. Genesis 49:20

Leah named her son, “blessed” because she was blessed. Asher’s land allotted to him was very fertile, and indeed he was blessed.

If you are reading this, you are blessed.
If you can read and write, you are blessed.
If you have shelter, clothing, and food, you are blessed.

You see, we take for granted many of the simplest of blessings we have. 

Stop and take a moment to count those blessings. Sure, name them one by one. 

(And if you’re old enough to remember it, that song will be in your head for the rest of the day!)

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Kingdom Doers and Fighters

18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels. Genesis 49:18-19

There is quite a bit of discussion about the meaning of the prophecy to Gad.

Essentially, Jacob is calling Gad a fighter. We might even call him a scrappy fighter. In other words, he may not be the most orthodox of fighters, but he gets the job done. It may not look pretty but it will be done. In that regard, Gad’s also a doer.

The Christian world certainly needs more doers and fighters, people who don’t care about prestige or fame, money, or power. They have a job to do and nothing will stand in their way to get it done.

What does that look like in your world? I know what it looks like to me, but what does it look like from your eyes?

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Dan the Subtle Man

16 “Dan will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward. Genesis 49:16-17

Dan is one of the four sons born of handmaids. That fact certainly didn’t garner him status among his brothers, nor would his tribe be a ruling or conquering giant.

Instead, Jacob describes Dan as one who could do damage along the way but in ways that were more subtle, like a snake along the road.

Over the last few days, this theme has come through the text, that there are all kinds of people in the world. Dan, the subtle but effective disrupter is one such individual.

I’m not suggesting that disruption is a great means to an end, but that God uses all different kinds of people in ways we never imagined to accomplish his goals. Just because you are not loud and vocal about your faith doesn’t mean God can’t use you.

The only reason you hear about the loud and boisterous is because they’re loud and boisterous. Yes, he uses them but he also uses the more subtle among us.

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Hard Working Issachar

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor. Genesis 49:14-15

Issachar was Zebulun’s full brother and was the oldest of the two. Once again, we see the switch of blessing going to the younger instead of the elder of the brothers.

According to this blessing, Issachar would end up being be a farmer and not have higher aspirations. There’s nothing at all wrong with that.

I’ve known a few people like that in my life. They just get by, not at all ambitious, no motivation to better themselves. I don’t understand that necessarily, but too is fine.

As I mentioned recently, different people have different temperaments and motivations. Who am I to judge how others conduct themselves?

The important thing is how we conduct ourselves.

Are we living up to what we know God wants us to do?

Do we even know what he wants from us?

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