BEING A WEALTHY OUTSIDER
Light of True Light, draw me to You. May I glow with the joy of Your salvation, which is the light of the world.
Read Genesis 21:22–34
The Treaty at Beersheba
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”
24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
31 So that place was called Beersheba,[a] because the two men swore an oath there.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
- Genesis 21:31 Beersheba can mean well of seven and well of the oath.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn your experience how do people treat outsiders, whether socially or on grounds of race, age, ability, or life experience?
Abraham, who was rich when he left Harran (12:5), is still resident in Philistine territory, and has become very wealthy, no doubt helped by the gifts of King Abimelek. The land is prosperous, evidenced by the location of various wells. Yet he doesn’t belong. His wealth, origins and maybe his religion make him an outsider. His God, however, is trusted and is seen as a source of the material success that has come to Abraham (22).
But Abimelek doesn’t trust Abraham. Might Abraham have ambitions to claim yet more land, as Abimelek had offered (20:15), or even threaten his family inheritance? He accuses Abraham of withholding information from him, of building wells without official permission, of making false accusations against his servants.
Abimelek needs a formal oath (31) before accepting Abraham’s truthful intentions.
Why was it only after Abimelek had departed that Abraham acknowledges God’s presence by planting possibly a whole grove of tamarisk trees – tall, shade-giving, needle-producing evergreens? Relief? Gratitude? Intention to remain?
Have you ever neglected the ‘outsider’? Can you think of someone? How can you include them today? How can you share God’s love and acceptance with them?
Thank You, Father, for Your forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love. May these gifts be actualized in my life.