Imagine you are watching a very intense boxing match. The bell dings for the end of the round and the referee steps in to separate the fighters, but they keep trying to throw punches even though the round has come to an end. You might hear the referee bark, “Fighters to your corners!” He knows that if they aren’t together, they can’t continue to fight. In Genesis 25 & 26, we see that same mentality from Abraham and Abimelech.
Abraham had created a bit of a mess by trying to force God’s promises to come true by his own hand rather than trusting God to fulfill His promise. Moreover, after Sarah died, Abraham had more children. (He was 100 when Isaac was born!) This resulted in a potential conflict over the inheritance. Rather than saying “I’ll be dead so it won’t be my problem,” Abraham gave gifts to the sons born to his concubines and sent them away, leaving Isaac as the only heir. If there is no one around, they can’t lay claim to Isaac’s place as the heir.
Isaac came into the land of Gerar and made the same mistake his father made of declaring that his wife was his sister. Fortunately, Abimelech figured it out before anything bad happened. However, it wasn’t without consequences. God was blessing Isaac, and Abimelech recognized that Isaac was becoming a very rich and powerful man. Rather than deal with potential conflicts, Abimelech sends Isaac away. However, just a few verses later, Abimelech sends an envoy to Isaac’s camp. Isaac asks them, “Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?” They had come out to find him and ask him not to come back and bother them.
Conflict isn’t always avoidable, and avoidance isn’t always the best way to deal with conflict. But if you are in the middle of a heated discussion, be it at home, at work, or anywhere else, sometimes stepping away can reduce the tension. At the end of the day, what is the purpose? Is it to prove that you are right? Is it a show of power? Is it because you care what other people think?
Ultimately, the Psalmist helps us to put it all into perspective. Everything needs to be done for God’s glory. “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”