Isaac, because of famine, goes to Gerar. (1-5) He denies his
wife and is reproved by Abimelech. (6-11) Isaac grows rich, The
Philistines' envy. (12-17) Isaac digs wells God blesses him.
(18-25) Abimelech makes a covenant with Isaac. (26-33) Esau's
Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence upon
the Divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; and
now that there is a famine in the land, Isaac still cleaves to
the covenant. The real worth of God's promises cannot be
lessened to a believer by any cross providences that may befall
him. If God engage to be with us, and we are where he would have
us to be, nothing but our own unbelief and distrust can prevent
our comfort. The obedience of Abraham to the Divine command, was
evidence of that faith, whereby, as a sinner, he was justified
before God, and the effect of that love whereby true faith
works. God testifies that he approved this obedience, to
encourage others, especially Isaac.
There is nothing in Isaac's denial of his wife to be
imitated, nor even excused. The temptation of Isaac is the same
as that which overcame his father, and that in two instances.
This rendered his conduct the greater sin. The falls of those
who are gone before us are so many rocks on which others have
split; and the recording of them is like placing buoys to save
future mariners. This Abimelech was not the same that lived in
Abraham's days, but both acted rightly. The sins of professors
shame them before those that are not themselves religious.
God blessed Isaac. Be it observed, for the encouragement
of poor tenants who occupy other people's lands, and are honest
and industrious, that God blessed him with a great increase. The
Philistines envied Isaac. It is an instance of the vanity of the
world; for the more men have of it, the more they are envied,
and exposed to censure and injury. Also of the corruption of
nature; for that is an ill principle indeed, which makes men
grieve at the good of others. They made Isaac go out of their
country. That wisdom which is from above, will teach us to give
up our right, and to draw back from contentions. If we are
wrongfully driven from one place, the Lord will make room for us
Isaac met with much opposition in digging wells. Two were
called Contention and Hatred. See the nature of worldly things;
they make quarrels, and are occasions of strife; and what is
often the lot of the most quiet and peaceable; those who avoid
striving, yet cannot avoid being striven with. And what a mercy
it is to have plenty of water; to have it without striving for
it! The more common this mercy is, the more reason to be
thankful for it. At length Isaac digged a well, for which they
strove not. Those that study to be quiet, seldom fail of being
so. When men are false and unkind, still God is faithful and
gracious; and his time to show himself so is, when we are most
disappointed by men. The same night that Isaac came weary and
uneasy to Beer-sheba, God brought comforts to his soul. Those
may remove with comfort who are sure of God's presence.
When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his
enemies to be at peace with him,
. Kings' hearts are in
his hands, and when he pleases, he can turn them to favour his
people. It is not wrong to stand upon our guard in dealing with
those who have acted unfairly. But Isaac did not insist on the
unkindnesses they had done him; he freely entered into
friendship with them. Religion teaches us to be neighbourly,
and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceable with all men.
Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; God blessed his labours.
Esau was foolish in marrying two wives together, and
still more in marrying Canaanites, strangers to the blessing of
Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah. It grieved his
parents that he married without their advice and consent. It
grieved them that he married among those who had no religion.
Children have little reason to expect God's blessing who do that
which is a grief of mind to good parents.