The purpose of a well is to provide access to a natural source of water. Water is the one thing all of nature needs to survive and thrive. While most of us have no need for this method of accessing water today, wells are still used in underdeveloped countries to acquire this life-giving liquid. Water is essential for drinking, irrigating, and industrial uses; in a word, water is necessary for life.
We know that Jesus is the Living Water, providing for us the only thing that can give us an eternity of life and not death. He flows through us, providing for our every need and leaving us wanting for nothing more than Him. He is our provider in every way. He is our well of provision. While He is our everlasting, never-ending well of Life that we trust to lead and guide us, we have to learn to dig wells ourselves. We need His water giving blessing and abundance.
In Genesis 26, we see this demonstrated in the life of Isaac.
For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. (Genesis 26:14-18 KJV)
Many times, God will test us through relationships with others. Isaac had been blessed by God and his prosperity got the attention of his neighbors and turned them into enemies. Even good relationships can turn sour. God doesn’t cause it, but He uses those relational problems to get our attention and to test our attitudes. Isaac’s five wells represent various tests in our relationships.
The First Well: Jealousy – (Genesis 26:14)
For no apparent reason, the Philistines began to act strangely toward Isaac. Once they had been open and friendly, but now their attitudes changed. They became jealous and felt threatened by the blessing of God upon Isaac’s life. Many relationship problems stem from jealousy. When you are blessed, you seem to be growing while others are diminishing.
The Philistines decided to “sling mud” into Isaac’s wells. David faced the problem of jealousy with Saul, Abel with Cain, Hagar with Sarah, and Joseph with his brothers. When a person “throws dirt,” it is usually because he is jealous. It would be so easy for us to retaliate and do the same in return, but we must fight that urge. Acknowledge what the cause is and move past it. While it is our job to build others up, it is not our responsibility to give up our calling and success in the Kingdom to make others feel better about themselves. Isaac seemed to pay no mind to what they had done to him; rather, he just “brushed the dirt off” and moved forward. He had no intention of correcting them for their wrong doings but channeled his focus on what he needed to do in order to continue in his blessings.
The Second Well: Arguments – (Genesis 26:20)
Jealousy can be subtle, causing one to withdraw. Or, as in this section of Genesis 26, jealousy can turn into opposition and even open arguments. “Esek,” the word used in the original text, can mean a “lawsuit.” Envy brings strife, and strife brings contention. A person you never quarreled with before will suddenly begin to act like your enemy, openly challenging you for no apparent reason. In these cases, it is important to remember it is best not to engage in senseless squabbles. Realize that the issue is within the person exhibiting jealousy or envy and must be dealt with by them. All we must do is continue in the will of God.
The Third Well: Accusation – (Genesis 26:21)
Isaac dug another well, and again, it was contested. He named it Sitnah, which means “Satan,” or “accuser.” This is the third level of relationship problems. At this point, the problem has gone beyond jealousy to opposition and accusation. The person involved in the test has now begun to spread things against your character and is slandering you to others for no reason. At this point, we have the urge to attempt to defend ourselves, and in many cases, this can make things worse for us. Once we begin to try to fight our battles instead of allowing God to do so, we can cause all sorts of problems for ourselves and for others. It is best for us to allow the Lord to defend us. All truth comes to light eventually.
The Fourth Well: Room Enough – (Genesis 26:22)
At last a breakthrough came! Because Isaac “acted” and didn’t “react,” the enemy finally had to leave him alone. He outlasted all his critics, opponents, and accusers. This is an important lesson. Our human nature likes seeing results, even if those results are negative. Because Isaac did not give into his enemies’ quest for a fight, they grew bored with him. When people realize that they are not going to gain the satisfaction they seek in the destruction of another, they tend to move on. God will see us through and bring us out into a place of prosperity. The fourth well was uncontested. Isaac named it Rehoboth, which means “wide open spaces,” or “room enough.” No longer was everything he did controversial and contested. Now it was prosperous and abundant.
The Fifth Well: Restoration – (Genesis 26:23-33)
Now came a strange turn of events. Out of nowhere, his enemies appeared and asked for his forgiveness and blessing. Isaac had not concerned himself with his enemy’s agenda; instead he focused on his task, his goal, and his God. By doing so he retained his good witness, allowing God to be seen through him. Isaac could have turned them away when they came to make amends, but rather he made them a feast, and their relationship was permanently restored with a covenant. That day, they hit another well. Isaac named it Shebah, which means “seven” or “oath.” The Lord will cause your enemies to restore back seven times what has been stolen from you (Proverbs 6:30-31)!