I know I have read this particular chapter more times than I care to count. The first time I paid attention to it was a couple of years ago at a Torah study group where the moderator just glossed over it.I thought at the time that there was more to the story but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I came across the passage again most recently a few days ago when I was listening through a recording of the American Standard Version of the Bible.
I still don’t have a handle on this passage of Scripture.
Let me see if I can give a synopsis of the story here. Abraham has just died and Isaac has taken the reins of the great ranching empire. He is living in the lands of the Philistines and they are getting a little ticked off because he is actually stronger financially than the whole Philistine nation. The Philistines plug up all the wells that Abraham had dug and threw Isaac and his people out. Isaac moves on and re-digs the wells. At the first two wells, named Esek and Sitnah, Isaac’s cowboys fought with the cowboys of Gerar. Isaac then re-dug a well and named it Rehobath and they didn’t have to fight the Philistines over this one.
Then in verse 23 of the narrative God blesses Isaac with the covenant and promises of Abraham and he digs another well.
After this the Philisitines meet with Isaac and sign a peace treaty. Of course, after this Isaac digs yet another well and names it Shibah and this is in the neighbouhood of Beersheba.
Now I understand the need for wells. Israel is desert country and the flocks and crops need water to survive but this story is weird to me. Why is it in the narrative?
The Messianic/Hebraic roots folk would say that this passage shows one more example of how God in his wisdom preserved the seed of Christ. Typical Christians would run through a hoop or two and say that this is a picture of Jesus being the well of living water as he is described in John 4.
Maybe they are both right. Like I said I can’t help but feel that there is more to this passgage than a simple pat answer can satisfy. I hate pat answers anyway.
I believe there is a message for me in here somewhere but I am having a tough time hearing it. I see Isaac living in the land promised to his people. I see him working it as if it were his own. This is an act of faith on Isaac’s part because the land really isn’t his yet. I see God taking care of is end of the deal. I can even see the connexion with water and good spirituality…
…but I can not find the life application yet.