Genesis 26:17-27:46; Matthew 9:1-17; Psalm 10:16-18; Proverbs 3:9-10
"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth!"
Classic movie lines, revealing tension: two sides, two realities,
two desires, two "truths."
Enter Abimelech, asking to make a treaty. Isaac is,
understandably, reluctant and suspicious: "Why have you come to me, since
you were hostile to me and sent me away?" (Gen. 26:27). There's the truth.
We saw it yesterday in God's word, and Isaac repeats it here.
Abimelech has a different story, however. His party line,
and he's sticking to it, is that "we did not molest you but always treated
you well and sent you away in peace" (Gen. 26:29).
Did not molest you? Treated you well? Sent you away in
peace? Isn't this the same Abimelech who - in yesterday's reading -
envied him, stopped up the wells of Abraham (part of Isaac's birthright), and
essentially pushed Isaac out of the area (Gen. 26:14-16)? How can
Abimelech claim that as truth and expect Isaac to agree and act on the
mis-represented reality? Abimelech did molest Isaac.
He did not treat him well or send him away in peace.
But Isaac doesn't contest Abimelech's story. "Isaac
made a feast for them, and they ate and drank....The men swore an oath to each
other....and they left [Isaac] in peace" (Gen. 26:30-31). He fed
them and honored their request and sent them off with good wishes. Isaac
denied himself the satisfaction of telling the true truth; he allowed Abimelech
the dignity of acceptance. And Isaac moved the relationship forward.
Imagine if Isaac had stonewalled and insisted on his version of the
story. Imagine the continued friction, the underhanded well-stopping, the
potential for war that could have resulted from Isaac attempting to prove his
Instead, Isaac allowed the false reality, not out of passivity or
resignation, but out of an awareness of what really mattered. He didn't
agree to Abimelech's version; he didn't assert his own rightness. He saw
what was at the heart of the situation (a treaty for mutual protection and
security) and could allow Abimelech's story to stand in order for that purpose
to be accomplished. Isaac acted for the greater good.
I find this difficult. I don't like people not seeing my
"truth," my version of reality. I want people to 'fess up to
their wrongdoing and acknowledge it as a step toward future relationship.
I want to be right, and I want everyone else to know that I'm right.
I want them to admit it! Here's a challenge from Scripture, though:
Isaac chose to be in right relationship rather than be right. He'd rather
have God's blessing for righteous living than God's mercy for selfish
The very day that Abimelech and his retinue left, Isaac's men
discovered more water. God's gift of a good, uncontested well - what need
did Isaac have to be proven right in front of Abimelech? The Lord knew
the truth, and the Lord gave blessing accordingly.
It is hard to humble ourselves before the story and desires of
other people. It is hard to let them tell their reality and not to assert
our own right back at them. But if we move toward those people, if we
offer a feast or an oath, if we send them on their way with peace, what might
God have for us? The Lord knows the truth, and the Lord gives blessings
- Sarah Marsh
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