Today’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 6-7
Today’s Reflection: 1 Chronicles 7:20-23
1 Chronicles 7:20-23 – 20) The sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, and Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, 21) Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead, whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to raid their livestock. 22) And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. 23) And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah, because disaster had befallen his house.
The genealogies that start the books of Chronicles 1 and 2 are filled with many small stories, some stories of happiness and victory, but many more of tragedies and challenges. I find that the attention paid to details like this show that God is very concerned not only with what we do, but with why we do it. Whenever God pays close attention to something we should too.
The story of how Beriah got his name is one such story. The terrible experience of a father losing his sons was so great it moved Ephraim to commemorate this ‘disaster’ in the naming of his next child. Perhaps it was to explain to those questioning his decision to have another child later in his life that Beriah was a replacement for his slain brothers Ezer and Elead. Perhaps it was out of concern for Beriah’s safety that his name was itself essentially a warning for him to stay away from trouble.
From an outsider’s perspective, naming a child ‘disaster’ seems cruel, and perhaps it is. But given Ephraim’s experience, and the customs of his time and place in history, his actions are understandable. I suspect Beriah didn’t appreciate it at first, but perhaps as he grew and he came to understand his place in his family’s history and the name that came with it. In truth it would be unfair to judge Ephraim’s behaviour or his motives without first understanding his backstory.
Everyone we meet has things about them that we will dislike. It may be our natural inclination to judge people on the basis of these unlikable attributes, to question their character, their faith, their morals, their intelligence, and so on. But each and every person is the sum of their experiences. A person’s behaviour may not be justified, but it does have a cause. Without taking the time to hear and get to know a person’s history we are in no place to understand them, much less to judge their actions.
Clearly from the example of Ephraim, God takes the time to understand each of our stories and factor it into judging each of us.
John 7:51 – “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”