Has Disappointment Turned to Bitterness? “Dig Another Well” (Genesis 25-26)

Heart of a Shepherd

Jun 02, 2023



کیا مایوسی تلخی میں بدل گئی ہے؟ ’’ایک اور کنواں کھودیں‘‘ (پیدائش 25-26)


A decepção se transformou em amargura? “Cavar outro poço” (Gênesis 25-26)


La delusione si è trasformata in amarezza? “Scava un altro pozzo” (Genesi 25-26)


Разочарование превратилось в горечь? «Выкопайте другой колодец» (Бытие 25-26)


Ist aus Enttäuschung Bitterkeit geworden? „Grab einen weiteren Brunnen“ (Genesis 25-26)


La déception s'est-elle transformée en amertume ? « Creusez un autre puits » (Genèse 25-26)


¿Se ha convertido la decepción en amargura? “Cavar otro pozo” (Génesis 25-26)

Has Disappointment Turned to Bitterness? “Dig Another Well” (Genesis 25-26)

Scripture reading – Genesis 25-26

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues today as we come to some significant spiritual crossroads in the Genesis account of Abraham, his chosen heir Isaac, and Ishmael, Abraham’s son born to Hagar Sarah’s handmaiden.

Genesis 25 – The Death of Abraham, and Isaac and Rebekah Become Parents

With Sarah dead and Isaac happily married to Rebekah, Abraham was no doubt lonely and took a second wife named Keturah (Genesis 25:1). The Scriptures do not say, but perhaps she was a maiden of Abraham’s household. Keturah gave birth to six sons (Genesis 25:2-4), fulfilling God’s promise that Abraham would be a father of nations (Genesis 12). Though a father of many sons, Abraham remembered that Isaac was the son God had chosen to be his heir.  Therefore, “Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac” (Genesis 25:5), his spiritual and legal heir. In addition, he sent the other sons away with gifts, settling his obligation to them as a father (Genesis 25:6).

Abraham lived an incredibly long life, and when he was a “hundred threescore and fifteen years (175 years old), [he] gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:7-8). He was content with his life and ready to entrust his spirit to the LORD.


As is so often true, the death of a loved one, especially a parent, gives an opportunity for a family to reunite. Such was the case with Isaac and Ishmael, as they gave their father a proper burial in the tomb he had purchased for Sarah (Genesis 25:9-10). Ishmael’s lineage is recorded(25:12-16), and true to God’s promise to Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 21:13, 18), his twelve sons were fathers of tribes, and nations (Genesis 25:16). Ishmael died when he was “an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people” (Genesis 25:17).

The Bible narrative now focuses on God’s providences in Isaac’s life. Isaac had taken Rebekah to be his wife when he was forty years old; however, another twenty years passed before she conceived (Genesis 25:26). Like his father, who waited years for a child to be born to Sarah, Isaac’s heart longed for children to be born to his beloved Rebekah. When she conceived, she was blessed with twin sons (Genesis 25:21). Taking her concerns to the LORD (Genesis 25:22), He revealed that the sons in her womb were opposites in almost every way imaginable (Genesis 25:23), and contrary to the culture, the older son would become a servant to the younger).


Those two sons not only struggled in their mother’s womb, but when they were born, the younger son, Jacob, took hold of the heel of his firstborn brother, Esau (Genesis 25:25-27). Esau was red-haired and stunning in his physical appearance. He preferred the outdoors and was a skilled hunter (Genesis 25:25, 27). By contrast, Jacob appeared plain and chose a quiet, pastoral shepherd’s life (Genesis 25:28).

However, we see the most striking difference in these two brothers’ spiritual values. Esau, the firstborn son, was the rightful heir of the “birthright” and was destined to be the spiritual leader and priest of the family clan. However, Esau was “a cunning hunter, a man of the field,” who placed no value on his spiritual inheritance. He proved his careless attitude when he sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34).

Genesis 26 – Famine, Conflict, a Peaceful Resolution, and Unhappy Parents

Isaac and his household faced the hardship of famine, the first noted in the Scriptures since Abraham had entered Egypt one hundred years earlier.  

Like Father, Like Son (Genesis 26:1-11)

The famine forced Isaac to move his household, and he relocated to Gerar, where the Philistines lived. Lest he be tempted to do as his father, the LORD warned Isaac that he must not go down into Egypt (26:1-2). Commanding him to remain in Gerar, God renewed his covenant promise to bless Isaac and give his lineage “all these countries” (Genesis 26:3-4).

Fearing for his life, Isaac was frightened that men in the land might look upon Rebekah’s beauty and desire her. Afraid he would be killed (Genesis 26:7), he foolishly sinned as his father before him and told others, “She is my sister” (Genesis 26:7). When his deceit was exposed, Abimelech (the title of Philistine kings) confronted him for “sporting with Rebekah his wife” (meaning the familiarity of a husband who loves the wife of his youth, (Genesis 26:8-9). Abimelech rebuked Isaac for his lie and took Isaac’s household under his protection (Genesis 26:10-11).

“Dig Another Well” (Genesis 26:12-33)

God continued to bless Isaac, and “the Philistines envied him” (Genesis 26:14). Moved by resentment, they began to stop up the wells that Abraham had dug in his days for his flocks and herds and “filled them with earth” (Genesis 26:14-15). Rather than the warring spirit with which Ishmael was born, Isaac was a peacemaker, and he moved from one well to the next, seeking peace (Genesis 26:12-22).   

Closing thoughts - Isaac’s response to the Philistines’ aggression is a worthy model to follow when conflicts arise. Freshwater wells were invaluable in a land known for its deserts, and we can imagine the hardships and personal offense Isaac felt as the wells dug by his father were destroyed. 

How did Isaac respond?  Did he become embittered?  Did he plot a way and path of revenge?  


No, he moved on and kept digging wells (Genesis 26:18, 21, 22). He not only built and repaired his father's wells, but also built “an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 26:25).

Challenge - When you face your “Philistines,” take a page from Isaac’s book and follow his example: Set aside the temptation to be bitter and “dig another well.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith


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