Almighty God, Your presence surrounds me, Your love affirms me and Your strength sustains me. I am blessed!
Read GENESIS 26:1–33
Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family” (Matt. 5:9, The Message).
Today the spotlight is on Isaac. The events in chapter 26 probably took place after the death of Abraham (Hebrew writers often told their stories thematically rather than chronologically). The Lord appears to Isaac twice, first at Gerar (2–6) and later at Beersheba (23–25). On both occasions, God affirms the transfer to him of the blessing promised to Abraham. Isaac’s response is exemplary. At Gerar he obeys God’s command to stay in the land despite the famine (6). At Beersheba he builds an altar and calls on the name of the Lord (25). Isaac is living in close communion with God and enjoying a loving relationship with Rebekah (8).
Isaac seeks positive relations with people as well as with God. He sets an example as a peacemaker. In a context of conflict over scarce natural resources he makes room for others. In the end he concludes a treaty with Abimelech that enables Isaac’s community to settle unmolested in Beersheba (26–33).
Here is revealed a weakness in Isaac which may have contributed later to his abortive attempt to confer the blessing on Esau (Gen. 27:2–4). Isaac is surprisingly passive in dealing with Abimelech’s tribespeople. To survive in a semi-arid environment access to water is crucial. So, predictably, a series of disputes arise between Isaac’s servants and local herdsmen. These water wars are exacerbated by Isaac’s success when he branches out into agriculture (12–16). The Philistines stop up the wells irrigating Isaac’s crops. These wells—dug by his father—rightly belong to Isaac (12–15). But what does Isaac do? Rather than defend his property he moves on (17,18). He does this not once, but three times, until finally he digs a well that is undisputed (19–22). I think that Abraham’s response would have been different (Gen. 21:25–30)!
Isaac surrendered his wells, whereas Abraham defended his—both seeking peace. How can you be a peacemaker in any dispute you may be facing?
Father God, fill the wells of my heart to overflowing with the courage and determination that are necessary to meet the demands of today. Deposit in my mind the right of amount of discernment and insight that will enable me to be a peacemaker.