Scripture Union taught me the discipline of daily Bible reading..."John Stott,
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.
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.