Why Have You Come To Me?

Imagine what types of contexts you might ask, “Why have you come to me?”

Does a positive or negative context come to mind first? Why do you think that is?

Have you ever asked this question of someone? Or maybe someone asked you this question?

Why did the question need to be asked in either situation?

Join me in looking at a time Isaac asked this question in Genesis 26:27.

Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” (Gen 26:27 ESV)

During a time of famine, Isaac had determined to leave Beersheba and head to Egypt after stopping at Gerar, where his father Abraham had previously sojourned and established a treaty with the reigning king of the day. But the Lord appeared to Isaac and instructed him to not go to Egypt but to stay where he was. (See Gen 26:1-6 and Gen 21:22-34)

Unfortunately, after responding with obedience to God’s command, Isaac lied to the men of Gerar about his wife, telling them she was his sister. After discovering Isaac’s lie, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, confronted Issac but also extended grace by issuing an edict of protection for Isaac and his wife. (See Gen 26:7-11)

On the heels of Abimelech’s grace and provision, we learn the Lord blesses Isaac so abundantly with crops, herds, and servants that Abimelech’s people, the Philistines, began stopping up Isaac’s water wells out of envy. Abimelech’s solution to this development was to ask Isaac to move away from Gerar, stating that Isaac was growing too powerful. (See Gen 26:12-16)

Isaac moved away, but only to the Valley of Gerar. He and his servants reopened old water wells that his father Abraham had previously used, which the Philistines had also filled in after Abraham had died. (See Gen 26:17-18

The Philistines were still unhappy with Isaac, claiming that a source of freshwater discovered by Isaac’s servants after digging a new well in the Valley of Gerar belonged to the herdsmen of Gerar. (See Gen 26:19-20)

In response, Isaac named the well Esek, which means “dispute”, and had his servants dig yet another well. Isaac named this well, Sitnah, which means “opposition”, because the herdsman of Gerar argued with them again. (See Gen 26:21)

In response to this second dispute, Isaac realizes he needs to move further away from Gerar. Finally, after digging yet another well in this new area, no one complained. Isaac named this new well, Rehoboth, which means “room”, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (See Gen 26:22)

Even though the relational struggle had calmed down between him and the Philistines, for some untold reason, Isaac travels back to Beersheba. (See Gen 26:23)

The first night he was in Beersheba, the Lord appeared to Isaac:

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Gen 26:24 ESV)

Isaac responds to the Lord this time by building an altar to praise the Lord, pitching his tent, and digging yet another well. (See Gen 26:25)

Now that Isaac had received assurance from the Lord a second time and the quarreling over water wells with the Philistines has subsided, we are told Abimelech came to visit Isaac in Beersheba. And not just Abimelech, but Abimelech’s personal adviser, Ahuzzath, and the commander of his army, Phicol, came as well. (See Gen 26:26)

This prompts Isaac to question them:

Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” (Gen 26:27 ESV)

Remember, prior to all this relational struggle with the Philistines, Isaac received a promise from the Lord:

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham, your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Gen 26:3-5 ESV)

And the Lord repeated his assurance of blessings once Isaac had returned to Beersheba in Gen 26:24. Yet here is King Abimelech with two of his officials in tow.

Isaac had admitted to his lie about Rebekah and had obeyed Abimelech’s request to move away. Yet, relational struggles continued to plague the relationship between Isaac and Abimelech’s people. Now, after a time when Isaac thought that the quarreling had ended, and he had moved even further away from Gerar, Abimelech and his two officials arrive at Isaac’s dwelling.

Given the tenuous relationship Isaac experienced with the people of Gerar and now this potential show of force, I can understand the emotion prompting Isaac to ask, “Why have you come to me?” 

But should Isaac question Abimelech in this manner? 

How had Abimelech treated Isaac throughout their relationship?

Had Isaac misunderstood God’s promises? Why or why not?

What is God revealing about Himself in this story of Isaac’s quarrel with the Philistines?

We will look at Abimelech’s response to Isaac’s question next time.

Meanwhile, consider the following personal application questions.

Have you experienced an ongoing quarrel? If so, what started the quarrel?

What actions did you and the person you were quarreling with take to resolve the issue?

If the quarrel is still active, is there anything that depends on you that might bring reconciliation?

Do you have a friend who is dealing with an ongoing quarrel? If so, what from this study on Isaac’s situation can you share to encourage your friend today?

Do you agree quarrels can happen because of a lack of discernment by either party of the quarrel? Why or why not?

How can the following verses from the New Testament help you avoid or resolve quarrels?

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. (Phi 1:9 ESV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1Jo 4:1 ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (Jam 1:5 ESV)

Heavenly Father, we praise You for sharing this example of Isaac and Abimelech’s tenuous relationship to guide us in our earthly relationships. Even with the promises you gave Isaac, he, like us, struggled in his earthly relationships. Sometimes, right when we think our struggles are over, You allow someone or something to show up in our lives, which triggers a defensive response in our hearts. Help us receive Your teaching in these moments of struggle. Alert us to the presence of the Holy Spirit when we falter so that we may receive the Spirit’s fruit in our earthly relationships: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control. Amen.


Barbara Lynn

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