"Seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:12
Being a peacemaker not just a peace lover. Peaceful relationships provide a platform for worship and proclaiming god!
Vv. 22-23 – Abimelech saw God's hand on Abraham and wisely wanted a peaceful relationship with this man of God. He had seen God intervene to protect Sarah and Abraham from their fearful scheming; how God opened the wombs of the women through Abraham's intercession; how God had provided water for Abraham's people, flocks and herds even as an alien in the land, and God's supernatural intervention to bring forth a child at their old age. It is wise to seek friendships with people of God. (Psalm 119: 63, 74, 79)
"God is with you in everything you do." V. 22 God is always at work in us, on us and through us to reveal Himself to others. When others see God in our lives they may be drawn to Him. "Then Moses said to him (God), "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Ex. 33:15-16)
"Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me." V.23 Abimelech had been deceived by Abraham (Gen. 20) and wanted to make sure their covenant of peace would be based on truth, that he could trust Abraham. (This is the same problem they are having in the mid-east today; i.e., can you trust the people with whom you are signing a peace treaty?) We cannot have true peace and trust in a relationship without the truth. "Trust is the currency of relationships." (Andy Stanley)
"Abraham said, "I swear it." V.24 Back in those days a man's word was his bond and God calls us to that kind of integrity today. "LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He who keeps his oath even when it hurts." (Psalm 15: 1, 4)
"Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech's servants had seized."V.25 Now Abraham had to confront Abimelech with an issue between them. "If your brother sins against you go and show him his fault, just between the two of you."
(Matt. 18:15) Peaceful relationships in a fallen world take hard work. We are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) not just peace lovers. Look at what it cost God to make peace with us – the death of His Son: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith (in the cross of Christ) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1)
"So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty. Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock." Vv.27-28 It seems Abraham is making restitution for his earlier act of deception to show his sincerity in his covenant with Abimelech. Sometimes restitution (not just asking forgiveness) is needed to restore a broken relationship you may have caused that was costly to the other person. (Ex. 22: 3, 5, 12-13)
"So that place was called Beersheba." V.31 The seven ewe lambs were set apart as a reminder to Abimelech of the treaty they had made and to note that the well belonged to Abraham. Beersheba means both the well of the oath and the well of seven. The number seven in Scripture often symbolizes completion or perfection.
"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time."
Vv. 33-34 Planting the tamarisk tree seems to symbolize a sense of permanence and rest for the sojourner (trees live for a long time); a sign of security and provision (water); and a memorial to God who was with him in the land. He had peace with his neighbors as an alien; this was part of the promise land that now belonged to the Philistines (from which we get Palestine). And he used this time of rest and provision from God to worship Him and to proclaim Him to his neighbors. Peaceful relationships provide a platform for worship and proclaiming god.
Abraham obeyed the teachings of Jesus that had yet to be spoken. He first made peace with his brother and then worshiped the Lord. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matt. 5: 9; 23-24)
"the LORD, the Eternal God ." V. 33 This is the first time this name for God has been used and seems to imply that God will care for us both now and forever. It also may mean that He is the Lord of all (not just the Jews) as Abraham proclaimed God's Name to the Gentiles as God said he would. (Gen. 12:3) "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)
"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." (Eph. 4:15) In a politically correct world, even among our friends, speaking truth can be risky and difficult. Love without truth isn't love. Yet truth without love can be harsh and wrong-spirited. Jesus combined them perfectly and calls us to do the same.
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Rom. 12:18
"Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:12 NASB)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
What did the Lord say to you through this message?
It is wise to seek friendships with people of God. (Psalm 119: 63, 74, 79) How can we seek out people of God?
God is always at work in us, on us and through us to reveal Himself to others. When others see God in our lives they may be drawn to Him. "Then Moses said to him (God), "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Ex. 33:15-16) What difference has God made in your life that others may see?
"Trust is the currency of relationships." (Andy Stanley) Do you agree with this and why or why not? What makes a person trustworthy? 1 Chronicles 29:17 "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." Also see Psalm 15:4 above.
Peaceful relationships in a fallen world take hard work. We are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) not just peace lovers. Part of the hard work is forgiveness. Use the questions below (from Joyce Meyer Ministries) over the next few days to search your heart regarding unforgiveness and/or judgment.
Who specfically hurt you and what specifically did they do that you have not forgiven? Why have you chosen not to forgive them? What specifically has God forgiven you of? How does God's forgiveness make you feel? How would your forgiveness make your "enemy" feel?
What situations from your past feel unresolved? If you were God how would you justly resolve them? Do you believe that God will one day justly resolve every situation in your life? Does it give you a sense of freedom to know that you don't have to settle the score on these situations to see that everyone gets what they deserve?
Another part of the hard work of peacemaking is confronting those who sin against us and yet speak the truth in love. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." (Eph. 4:15) With whom do you need to do this?
Do you need to seek peace and pursue it with someone in your life?
How and when will you do this?
Scripture Memory verse: "Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it."
(Psalm 34:12 NASB)