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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

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Verses 1-6

The LORD Appears to Isaac

Isaac never left the land like Abraham, he never went to Egypt. He has been in the neighborhood of it, in Gerar, that is the part of the land where the Philistines have a say. He goes to Gerar because there is hunger in the land. Hunger is often a trial from God to see how we react (cf. Genesis 12:10; Ruth 1:1), to see where our heart is. Blessings carry the danger of forgetting their source, which is God.

Isaac moves into the sphere of influence of the Philistines, who are a picture of the nominal Christians. With this he repeats the mistake of his father Abraham (Genesis 20:1). If his trust had been in the LORD, he would not have gone there. Isaac stays in the border area. There the LORD appears to him and tells him what He will give him. He does not have to go to the Philistines. The LORD reminds him of the blessing he has in the land which he has sworn to Abraham to give him.

He also confirms the promise, and now to Isaac personally, that his descendants will be like the stars of heaven. The promise is based on Abraham’s obedience to God’s orders, above all that he offered his son, a picture of Christ’s offer. Despite everything the LORD says, he remains in Gerar.

Verses 7-11

Lie of Isaac

That Isaac is not in the right position is clear from his denial of his relationship with Rebekah. This is also the result with Abraham, if he is not there where God has sent him. The picture of Abraham denying his relationship with Sarah is the picture of someone who gives up the living by grace. Isaac’s denial of his relationship with Rebekah gives the picture of someone who abandons the principles of the church.

Isaac who adapts to the life of Gerar, the Philistines, is the picture of someone who adapts to the life of the nominal Christians. Life on earth occupies a large place, while the heavenly life of the church is not lived.

Yet he is ‘caught’ in his true relationship with Rebekah. In his heart he has not given up that connection. A ‘secret’ confession is not appropriate for a Christian, nor is it appropriate for Isaac. Inner desires and outer behavior should match. What the mouth confesses should reflect what is present in the heart. Isaac is reprimanded for it, which means a reproach to him.

Verses 12-22

Wells of Water

It is remarkable that the LORD blesses Isaac in Gerar. He has His aim with that. It is His way of letting Isaac leave Gerar.

Because of his many possessions there is jealousy among the Philistines and battle for wells of water. The wells dug up by his father Abraham have been stopped up by the Philistines. Wells of water, a picture of the versatile Word of God, from which believers have drawn in the past, are stopped up by filling them with earth, the things of life. When life is full of all that the world has to offer, there is no desire to read the Bible, the well of water is stopped up. Also what believers in earlier days have dug up for us from God’s Word and written down in comments, remains closed for us. There is no interest in God’s Word or in books that explain and apply God’s Word.

Isaac digs the stopped-up wells again. In this way it is also possible for us to reopen closed wells in personal faith. Then we must first remove from our lives ‘the earth’, with which the wells have been stopped up. That means that the earthly things that fill our lives no longer have that dominant place.

This opens the way to make use of what others have discovered and dug from the Word (Job 8:8; Job 8:10). Although we have to make use of the light of previous times, that does not mean that we have dwell there. We will have to do our own research, by which the knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4). The discoveries we make then are new to us, but they are the same things that believers have discovered in earlier times. The truths we learn from God’s Word must always be mentioned by the same names – “he gave them the same names which his father had given them” – neither give them another meaning.

If the digging of wells takes place in the land of the Philistines, Christianity, where nominal Christians are in charge, quarrel is the result. Nominal Christians claim the truth, but then indeed their own idea about the truth, while they reject the truth of God’s Word. If we come up with the truth of God’s Word, they will quarrel over it.

In order not to have that quarrel anymore, separation is necessary. Isaac moves from there and goes somewhere else. As a result, he digs another well and they do not quarrel over it. He acknowledges in this the good hand of the LORD and gives the well a name that speaks of the room given to him by the LORD. Separate from evil means to break free from human bonds in order to serve the LORD in freedom by the power we may draw from His Word in ever new ways.

Verses 23-33

Covenant of Isaac with Abimelech

When Isaac has separated himself from the Philistines, he leaves their country and goes to live in Beersheba, just across the border in the far south of the promised land. There the LORD appears to him, there he is encouraged by the LORD, there he builds an altar, there he pitches his tent, and there his servants dig a well. The appearance of the LORD and what He says to Isaac makes Isaac a worshipper (altar), a conscious pilgrim (tent) and a seeker of more of the truth (digging a well). What a special recovery after his deviation!

If Isaac lives with the Philistines, there are reproaches against him. His life does not testify there that the LORD is with him. After he has separated himself from the Philistines, there is recognition from the side of the Philistines that the LORD is with him (cf. Proverbs 16:7).

Verses 34-35

Esau and his Wives

Esau resembles Cain. Both state that they take themselves a wife. Both Adam and Isaac receive his wife from the LORD. Esau chooses his wife from one of the nations of the land of whom the LORD says He will destroy them and drive them out (Exodus 23:23; Exodus 23:28Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11). This shows that the birthright does not play any role for him, he does not take it into account.

Esau’s own will in the choice of his wife(s) is a great sorrow for his parents. Today it is also a great sorrow for many parents when their children in their partner’s choice do not care about all they have heard about this from God’s Word at home.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 26". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-26.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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