Gen. 26:12-16 – “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 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. Then Abimelech said to Isaac, 'Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.'” (emphasis added)
- Here's a little exercise that might be good to start. I've highlighted the good things in bold type, and listed the bad things below.
- Philistines envied Isaac.
- Philistines stopped up the old wells Abraham‟s servants had dug.
- Abimelech (King of the Philistines) told Isaac to leave the city of Gerar.
Gen. 26:17-22 – “So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 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. Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, 'The water is ours!' So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 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.'” (emphasis added)
- Again, I've highlighted in bold type the treasures in the midst of Isaac's garbage. It was a respectful act that Isaac reopened Abraham's wells; marvelous that God renewed the old wells' flow; a blessing that Isaac's servants found and dug new wells. However, the real treasure came from the next “garbage” heap. When Isaac faced the third confrontation over the well following “Sitnah,” he moved on and finally dug a well that no one quarreled over. It was his PERSISTENCE that became a treasure, which led to the greater treasure – finally involving God in the process! …come to think of it…though Isaac gained a wealth of persistence, what garbage might he have avoided if he called on the LORD first?
- Again, the good things are bolded, but I must admit…my heart aches a little bit for Isaac. I know he should be thankful the Lord appeared to him. I know he should be grateful that God has promised to be with him and to bless him and increase his descendants. But I'm still hurting that God says He's Abraham's God, not Isaac's – and that He's doing it all for Abraham, not Isaac. I'm having a little spiritual pity party on Isaac's behalf, and the garbage heap is getting taller by the minute! I've fallen into the too familiar trap of spiritual envy, wishing my relationship with God was like someone else's. Whether it's 2000 B.C. or 2010 A.D., the temptation toward spiritual envy lurks behind every trash pile.
- After all the abuse Isaac had taken from the Philistine herdsmen, he probably could have flung garbage all over Abimelech. Instead, he treated the Philistine king with hospitality and respect, gave himself time to sift through the ruins and find the treasure. And the next morning, Isaac made a friend instead of an enemy.
- It's interesting that Esau's two grievous Canaanite wives are mentioned here like a footnote. A footnote of refuse, I might add. No treasure listed. No children. No joy. Nothing redemptive even later in Scripture. Sometimes there is only garbage; and only grief…and at that point, there is only God.