THE WELLS OF ISAAC
WELL OF CONTENTION
“And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley,
and found there a well of springing water.
And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen,
saying, The water is ours:
and he called the name of the well Esek;
because they strove with him”
Within the life and the journey of God’s people come trials of various magnitudes. Isaac had now moved from his father’s tent into his own land and experiences. Just prior to this Isaac had set his sights on the former wells that his father had dug. This is the natural thing to do but in the journey of every believer there must come a time for NEW WELLS to be dug; new experiences and new enemies must be faced. The new things in God are found in leaving the former. As Isaac dug new wells he found not only a well of water but a spring that flowed on its own accord. How good are God’s ways and provisions!
It would be all well (no pun intended) and good if the story had ended there. The wells in those days were extremely laborious to dig and the ability to find water was rather hit and miss. Even though he found such a wonderful resource of water we see the enemies of God coming to steal this precious thing from Isaac and his company. Isaac is now confronted with the truth that there is an ever present enemy who would seek to cause us to contend and strive for these gracious provisions. As it was with Isaac so it is with all who walk in the faith and the way of Abraham.
The name of the city where this first episode took place is Gerar which comes from the root word in the original language meaning to “turn back, to tarry or fear” (such is their intended purpose upon our lives). Gerar was an ancient city built and inhabited by the exiled Philistines* of that day. Throughout most of the history of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) they were consistent in their opposition to God’s purposes. At times our enemies seek to bring weariness and discouragement into our lives through the medium of strife and conflict. Our enemies in this day are not natural but spiritual and so we need the spiritual weapons and armor (2 Corinthians 10:4 and Ephesians 6:13-16) to battle and gain the victory. Isaac called the name of the well “Esek”, meaning strife and contention. Sadly, in our own lives, we have times when it is much too easy to get involved with the contention and the heat of the situation. The outcome of such a choice usually results in long-lasting and bitter feelings that can take many years to work through. Timothy was entreated of Paul to not be found striving with the people of God.
“…the servant of the Lord must not strive”
2 Timothy 2:24
Isaac’s response to the men of Gerar was to simply remove himself from the point of contention and go and dig another well. This may sound simple but, speaking from experience, the heart is easily drawn into the fray and the consequences are sure to follow…the lessons and the discipline of His Ways. These are all combined with the teaching of the scriptures to bring us to the place of maturity and wisdom.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works”
2 TIMOTHY 3:17
Truth is not truth until it becomes our own. Contention is a good school master and teacher for in it we discover our own lack of graces and His provisions and patience. There is no way to avoid the strife and contentions of this world and, sadly, in God’s House. Paul spoke of these things in his day; not as a surprising thing but as a thing of necessity for our learning and progress.
“For there must be also heresies* among you,
that they which are approved may be made manifest among you”
1 CORINTHIANS 11:19
“The spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something
but to make us something”
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)
Philistine in the original language means to “roll or wallow in self-pity”. It speaks of the ministration of the enemy to wear down, discourage and dishearten the people of God. As in the days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Israel they were ever present and seeking to oppose God’s people and their progress; so also in ours.
* NOTE: (as used in this scripture) G139. αἵρεσις hairesis; gen. haireseōs, fem. noun from haireō (G138), to choose, select. Heresy, a form of religious worship, discipline, or opinion (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5; 28:22; 1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20; 2 Pet. 2:1). In contrast to schisma (G4978), schism which is an actual tearing apart, hairesis may represent a divergent opinion but still be part of a whole. One can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body, but he is a heretic (hairetikos [G141]). However, when he tears himself away (schizō [G4977]), then he is schismatic. Heresy may lead to schism which is when actual tearing off and separation occur. (THE COMPLETE WORD STUDY DICTIONARY: NEW TESTAMENT)