Scripture Union Resources

Treaty Time

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Pray: 
Thank the Lord for the many ways he has blessed you, starting with the provision of food and water.
Read: 
Genesis 21:22-34

[22] At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do. [23] Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you." [24] Abraham said, "I swear it." [25] Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek's servants had seized. [26] But Abimelek said, "I don't know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today." [27] So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. [28] Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, [29] and Abimelek asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?" [30] He replied, "Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well." [31] So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there. [32] After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. [33] Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. [34] And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

Reflect: 
What was this dispute about and how was it settled?

Around Beersheba, water was a precious resource, so resolving issues of access and ownership was a tense business. The well signified God's blessing on Abraham, and Abimelech, having seen God's blessing on Abraham (20:18), was eager to come to a peaceful solution.

Abimelech knew two things about Abraham: first, he was blessed by God (22) and, second, he was prone to deception (23). Therefore, he needed a binding treaty to ensure peace between them, a sad reflection on Abraham's character. The treaty was agreed and the planting of the tamarisk tree (33)--used for salt, building, charcoal, shade and animal fodder--was a symbolic act showing Abraham's hope for a prosperous future in the area.

God's people live as foreigners in a kingdom that doesn't recognize his authority. Abimelech had a healthy respect for God's care of Abraham but we won't always find the same understanding. We must be aware that, for many people, God's reputation stands or falls on the actions of his followers, so we must do our best to show integrity in all our dealings.

Apply: 
How could you bring God glory by acting with integrity? Are there areas where you might be harming his reputation?
Pray: 
Mighty Lord, may all that I do and say today uphold Your good name and reputation among everyone I meet.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Judges 1,2 / Psalms 42,43

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