Abraham and Abimelech pledge honesty between them and their offspring. This is the same man that Abraham deceived regarding Sarah his wife.
Abimelech asked for a treaty with Abraham. I think it is interesting that he approaches Abraham with his military commander in tow. Would there have been trouble if Abraham refused? Was the commander there for Abimelech’s protection or a show of force?
The first statement out of Abimelech’s mouth sets the tone. “God is with you in all that you do” (verse 22b). Abimelech had witnessed this in his own life through his troubles with Sarah. Abimelech had given Abraham free rein in his land in exchange for Abraham interceding on his behalf with God for forgiveness.
Abimelech doesn’t ask for a “peace treaty” with Abraham or an alliance. Instead he asks for an “honesty agreement.” A “Don’t trick me anymore” kind of treaty. This was to be a generational treaty too. This pact would include honesty between Abraham’s and Abimelech’s descendants. The final part of this new pact was to include an agreement to treat Abimelech, and his descendants, with the same kind of kindness Abimelech had shown to Abraham. These terms were agreeable to Abraham.
Did you notice that Abraham didn’t consult God before agreeing to Abimelech’s conditions? I think that was because Abraham KNEW in his heart that God didn’t approve of his deceptions. Later on in Proverbs we hear directly that God “detests lying lips, but He delights in those who speak the truth” (Proverbs 12:22). Even BEFORE God wrote the ten commandments, it was clear to His people that deceit a sin. Abimelech wasn’t asking anything more of Abraham than God already had.
If Abimelech had asked for a lasting “peace treaty” Abraham wouldn’t have been free to make that promise. God told him that ALL of the land he could see would one day be his descendants, so the people currently in the land would HAVE to be removed. This is not a treaty that would have remained true. But an honesty treaty WAS a treaty that should stand the test of time. Even when David, MANY generations later, fought against and with the Philistines he did so in integrity and honesty. He never hid which side he was fighting on. (Spoiler alert: this treaty gets broken in just one generation!)
I’m not sure if Abraham’s first complaint was registered right after the agreement was struck or happened some time later. There was a dispute about a well. BOTH parties claimed they had dug it and therefore had rights to it. Because of Abraham’s agreement to the terms of their bargain, his story was taken as truth by Abimelech. But he wanted to prove his point even beyond that. He gave the lives of his best ewes in order to add weight to his claim. This wasn’t required of him but Abimelech didn’t refuse the gift either. After this point, it would be forever known that Abraham dug this well.
The two groups would live peaceably beside each other for some time. And they would live without deception even longer. Something God calls us to do at all times.
Father God, thank You for granting forgiveness and “second chances.” Thank You that You even allow this to happen between men. Abraham could have been “black balled” forever by Abimelech because of his deceit but YOU granted him favor instead. YOU wiped the slate clean. Abimelech forgave Abraham but he didn’t forget the offense. He felt he needed to protect himself from a “repeat” offense. And he knew that Abraham valued his relationship with You. That gave him a starting point.
I have dealt deceitfully in my past too. I won’t go into time and date but You already know each instance. You have “wiped the slate clean” on my behalf too, at least between us. But I have garnered my own consequences as a result of my actions. MANY of those times You have orchestrated “second chances” for me too. THANK YOU for each of those times. Thank You also for the lessons I learned from ALL of the experiences. Help me walk in integrity from this point forwards too Lord. It has been some time since I fell into the well of deceit, but I want to recommit myself to stay away from those waters again.