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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.


vs. Faith.

Genesis 26:12–16

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

The parenthetical comment about the wells feels off topic. Why does scripture drop that in here?

To explain the Philistines’ hostility. We already know that they’re a rough crowd, but trashing all of Abraham’s wells seems so senseless and self-defeating. Why would they do that?

To keep people like Isaac away. A place without wells is like a highway exit with no food or gas—no one stops there. These folks don’t want neighbors.

And there is a reason for that; grazing land is limited. A neighbor’s flocks and herds won’t just drink the water; they’ll eat the vegetation. This is an arid region, and their irrigation technology is hauling water up out of a well by hand. There isn’t an abundance of food for the animals.

Except for Isaac’s. The LORD blesses him. His neighbors are so envious that Abimelech has to ask him to leave. Abimelech uses diplomatic words, but he’s hinting that he can’t continue to guarantee Isaac’s safety.

This is striking, coming immediately after he announced special protected status for Isaac and Rebekah.

Abimelech’s grip on power doesn’t seem to be all that solid.

Notice how the Philistines view blessings. They’re more interested in making sure no one else gets them than in their getting them. So they destroy wells and expel anyone who’s successful.

This is “competition.” For them, life is all about comparing yourself to others. Being dirt poor is just fine as long as you’re richer than everyone else. How well off you are in absolute terms isn’t their yardstick.

This stands in stark contrast to the eyes of faith. Seeing others benefit is a cause for joy; it’s a beautiful thing, which glorifies God. Our own benefit is great too, but it mustn’t come at the expense of others. Those who know God love goodness and beauty—and they love their neighbors.

But this attitude doesn’t come completely on the day we’re converted. Our old sinful nature is still resident. We often resent things we shouldn’t. We need to grow—and we need to ask His help in this.

It’s a strange (even frightening) prayer request, but it’s good to ask the LORD for humility.

Ask Him for a more loving spirit toward everyone else.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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