Don’t fight a fight
Where winning makes you lose
19 And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 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. 21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
The herdmen who fought to take away Isaac’s well cannot be justified in their actions. Notice that they waited until he was done doing all of the work before they tried to make their claim, which shows that their motives were selfish and deceitful.
Then Isaac again dug a well and the herdmen again wrested it from him. But again, Isaac did not dwell on the matter. Instead, he left that hotly contested area and dug a third well in a new area. Finally, there was no dispute over this one, so he named it Rehoboth, which means “broad places,” because at last he had found room enough to live in.
The story of the herdmen stealing Isaac’s wells rankles me. It is in our nature to want punishment for the unjust, to see them be held accountable and pay back what they have taken. We hate to see the unfair win.
But in the long run they do not. Truly, the lazy and the indolent are their own worst punishment. Whatever happened to these herdmen who cheated to get ahead? Evidently they then led such insignificant lives that we never hear of them again, either in scripture or any other historical record. But Isaac, the one who “lost” the struggle and meekly moved onward? His fame has continued for millennia.
In the long run, it pays to be honorable.
You can beat any foe into submission
Just by standing up more times than you get knocked down
13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
This story stirs my heart! I love the image of Abram hearing that his kin is in trouble and rushing off to the rescue. Never mind the fact that the army he is pursuing just finished laying waste to the militias of Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other cities. It doesn’t matter what the difficulty of the task is, Lot needs to be rescued, so that’s what Abram is going to do!
I’m also touched by how Lot is called Abram’s “brother” here, not his nephew. I mentioned previously how after the death of Haran (Abram’s brother and Lot’s father) that the record seemed to treat Lot as if he stood in the place of his father, and this verse further reinforces that notion. Of course I’m sure this also has to do with the customs of the time, but that does not diminish the passion Abram clearly has for this “brother” as he smites the enemy, pursues the battle all the way into another land, and doesn’t let up until he has retrieved every single thing they had taken.