And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. — Genesis 26:22
Several years ago, I built a new house for our family. My wife and I were excited about our new home, but the neighbors on one side of the property were not so enthusiastic about our construction project. It seemed that every time they talked to us, it was to complain about something.
After we finished our house, the man next door complained that we had cracked his driveway with one of the dump trucks; he wanted us to pay for a new driveway. I could see that the cracks were old and had not resulted from anything we did, but I told him we would call in a professional to take a look. Later, the same neighbor complained that our fence posts were too close to the property line. We had already set the posts in concrete, but I told him we would move the posts anyway. After all, we were new to the neighborhood, and wanted to get along with everyone. Another time he complained about our sprinkler system because when the wind blew, some of the mist floated onto their car. That time I had to ask him to repeat the problem. I could not quite believe I had heard right the first time! However, I told him it was no problem and that I would adjust the sprinkler. In each case, my wife and I could have stood up for our rights, but it was our desire to live the Gospel in front of these neighbors.
Then one summer, the man said, “I need to talk to you.” I expected another complaint, but instead, he told me that the Lord had been speaking to his heart. He apologized for causing trouble, and said he wanted to have a good relationship with us. I thanked God that He had helped us to be patient during our interactions with this neighbor.
Like Isaac in today’s text, all of us will face times when people make unreasonable demands or behave unkindly toward us. Sometimes it may be a direct attack on our Christianity. In other cases, it may be simply behavior that is annoying. There is not much we can do to change the conduct of others. However, like Isaac, we have a choice in how we react. Isaac modeled a godly response when he gave up his right to the wells his father had dug and moved on in order to keep peace with the neighboring tribes. Will we follow his example? In the interest of living peaceably with others, are we willing to give up our personal “rights”?
May we learn a lesson from Isaac, and ask God for the wisdom to know how to respond rightly. He can give us the grace to be a peacemaker!
Today’s chapter gives details of Isaac’s life and of God’s assurance to him of the promises given to Abraham.
Because of a famine, Isaac and his household relocated to Gerar, a Philistine town that today is a district in south central Israel. It is possible that there was one hundred years between the famine in Abraham’s time (Genesis 12:10) and this one. “Abimelech” is thought to have been a title for Philistine rulers, so this may have been a descendent of the king which Abraham had dealt with.
God was emphatic that Isaac was not to go to Egypt; He stated that obedience would result in his seed being “as the stars of heaven” and a “blessing to all the nations of the earth.” This was the first recorded occasion when God directly gave Isaac these promises, which had initially been given to Abraham.
Out of fear for his life, Isaac hid the fact that Rebekah was his wife; he said that she was his sister. When Abimelech observed unexpected behavior for a brother-sister relationship, he challenged Isaac for the full truth, and then chastised him.
As God had promised, He blessed Isaac, giving him abundant crops and many flocks, herds, and servants. Consequently, the Philistines were afraid of him and plugged his wells. Water was a critical and precious commodity in the semi-desert, so Abimelech made it clear to Isaac that he was to move on and not settle down in that area (verse 16).
The strife continued even though Isaac relocated. This is indicated by the names Isaac used for the wells: Esek means “strife,” and Sitnah means “feud.” Even though Abraham had originally dug these wells, Isaac gave up his rights, moved again, and dug another well. Because there was no contention about this well, Isaac called it Rehoboth, which means “room.”
In Beersheba, God appeared to Isaac and restated the Abrahamic promises (verse 24). Verse 25 contains the first Biblical record of Isaac making an altar. In verses 26-33, Abimelech, his army captain Phichol (Phichol was probably a title rather than a name), and his friend Ahuzzath came seeking a treaty because Isaac had become so great. Isaac obliged them, and when his servants found water that same day, he called the well Shebah, which means “oath.”
Verses 34-35 relate how Esau disregarded his godly parents and married Hittite women. Beeri and Elon, his father-in-laws, are thought to have been influential men in the Canaanite society, and Esau may have become acquainted with them while he was hunting. Esau demonstrated no concern for Isaac and Rebekah’s feelings or values, but followed his own desires.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
9. Isaac’s deception of Abimelech (26:1-11)
10. Isaac’s fortunes in Gerar (26:12-22)
11. Isaac’s return to Beersheba (26:23-25)
12. Isaac’s covenant with Abimelech (26:26-33)
13. Esau’s Hittite wives (26:34-35)
God is pleased and honored when we make every effort to live peaceably with those about us.