Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Isaac

Lesson 4: Isaac Deceives King Abimelech

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 26:1–25)

Today’s study illustrates the truth of the old saying, “Like father, like son.” Many years before, Abraham had twice lied about his relationship with Sarah when in the presence of foreign kings (Genesis 12:1-13; 20:1-18). Now Isaac used the same ruse when famine in Canaan forced him to take his family to the Philistine city of Gerar, along the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

There are many coincidences between Abraham’s and Isaac’s experiences in Gerar, including a king with the same name. But these two incidents were about ninety years apart, and it is possible that Abimelech was a royal title (it means “my god is king”), much like Pharaoh or Caesar, rather than this king’s name. The amazing thing is that, despite this lapse in Isaac’s faith, God still blessed him in accord with His promises. (For further insight into Isaac’s favored status, read verses 26-35.)

Study Questions

  1. In verses 1-5, God restated His great promises to Isaac once again. Why did Isaac need reassurance at this particular time?
  2. Explain how Isaac’s lie about Rebekah could have led the men of Gerar to dishonor her and commit a sin without knowing it.
  3. Isaac became so powerful that the Philistines feared him. But what events in verses 16-22 show that Isaac had no intention of harming them?
  4. From whom did Isaac learn the importance of building an altar to worship God when He appeared to the patriarch at Beersheba (vv.24-25)?

Something to Think About

God blessed Isaac despite the fact that he deceived the king about his true relationship to Rebekah. God does not bless falsehood, but He is faithful to care for His people as He has promised-sometimes in spite of ourselves!

The Bible indicates that instead of being aggressive and demanding his own way, Isaac was a “peacemaker” with an agreeable spirit who sought to accommodate others as much as possible. His example is a good one for us to follow in the everyday conflicts that are inevitable in life.