Isaac had every right to contend with the servants of Gerar for the wells that he opened. These wells had been dug by his father Abraham years before. The Philistines had closed those wells up after Abraham’s death. Isaac went back and cleaned those wells out, giving them the same names his father had given them. The servants of Gerar soon came and claimed that the water in the well Esek was theirs.
Isaac moved along and opened up another well, which he named Sitnah. The same servants of Gerar claimed this water was theirs also! (There’s a word for that, by the way: selfishness.) You can read the entire story here.
This time, Isaac moved away and dug another well. He called this well Rehobeth, meaning “for now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”
Sometimes when God blesses us, other folks are resentful. Rather than being joyful for God’s provisions, they try to steal our joy and (in this case, the water from the wells.) These wells, dug by Abraham years before, were not being used by anyone. It seems rightful that Isaac should be able to use water from those wells.
Rather than joining the contention, Isaac simply moved on and dug another well. He did that twice. Isaac kept on digging and eventually the Philistine shepherds ran out of reasons to fight with him.
Isaac gave up his rights to the water from his father’s wells in order to have peace with his enemies.
He moved on to Beersheba where God told him He was going to bless him – giving him many descendants and much wealth. Isaac’s servant came and told him that they had found water. This well was called Sheba.
Interestingly, it wasn’t long until he had a visitor: Abimelech, the man who had sent him away earlier.
Abimelech and his cohorts had seen the hand of God on Isaac and wanted to be his friend. Actually, what they really wanted was for God to not become their enemy. Abimelech asked Isaac to make a covenant with him so that neither would harm the other. Abimelech wasn’t as afraid of Isaac as he was of Isaac’s God!
So many wells, and so much water. So many shepherds looking after their sheep. So much jealousy and selfishness. So many opportunities to respond correctly or to fight back. So many chances to turn the other cheek.
Isaac won on the well-warfare. He won because he didn’t fight back. He won because he didn’t give up. He just kept moving on and opening other wells.
During the night, God spoke to Isaac. He gave him this promise:
“I am the God of your father Abraham;
Do not fear, for I am with you.
I will bless you, and multiply your descendants,
For the sake of My servant Abraham.”
With a promise like that, Isaac had no reason to be afraid.
With a God like that, we can quit quarreling and start digging new wells.