It has always mystified me why Jacob, in Genesis 28, used a stone for a pillow. He had been sent by his father on a journey to find a wife, so it is assumed he was equipped with supplies for travel, including bedding. So why a stone for a pillow?
I have a personal theory. He believed he deserved nothing better than a stone for a pillow. Jacob was also fleeing from his brother, Esau, whom he had tricked out of receiving their father, Isaac’s blessing of the first-born. His mother had talked him into the deception, for which he was likely suffering much remorse.
Jacob laid his head upon a stone, and in that hard place he encountered God. In the midst of his regret, loneliness and uncertainty, he was visited in a dream by God Himself, who promised him, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.” (Gen. 28:14-15 NIV)
Now the stone which had been Jacob’s self-punishment, became a stone of commemoration. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel. (house of God)” – (Gen. 28:16, 18-19)
I have often laid upon a stone pillow, blindly unaware of God in that hard place, only to be met by Him and receive His blessing. Whether the stone pillow is there by my own doing or because of outside circumstances, it is an uncomfortable place to be.
When my thoughts tread weary circles in my mind, a stone is my pillow.
When my heart is heavy with grief and hurt, a stone is my pillow.
When sin and failure dog my steps, a stone is my pillow.
But I have discovered those hard places are where God comes to bless me with His comforting presence. Jacob heard God’s promise in a dream. I receive His promises by His Word, which I recall as I lay on my stone pillow.
~“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – (Heb. 13:5)
~“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – (John 1:9)
~“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – (John 14:2-3)
When I look back on my life path, I see the hard places of struggle and pain as standing stones commemorating where God met me, where He told me as He did Jacob, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. What was once my stone pillow, a place of pain, has now become a monument to the blessings of God on a most undeserving soul. How awesome God is to bless me in my brokenness with His very own holy presence and comfort. Someday I will discard my stone pillow for eternal rest upon His breast.