Genesis 20 records the account of Abimelech, king of Gerar, Abraham, Sarah and the Lord.
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham moved South and came to dwell in Gerar, which was ruled by king Abimelech. With the misconception that there was no fear of the Lord in that place, Abraham for fear of his own life, resorts to lying again about his relationship with Sarah, calling her his sister instead of calling her his wife. Although Sarah was technically his half-sister from his father Terah, but from a different mother, the half-truth was no better than a lie, for God himself refers to Sarah as Abraham’s wife and not his sister.
Abimelech believes Abraham’s lie and takes Sarah in to be his wife. But the Lord appears to Abimelech in a dream and warns him that if he does not return Abraham’s wife, then he is as good as dead. The Lord had stopped the wombs of the women in the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. The lineage of Abimelech could not continue anymore if he did not listen to the warning of the Lord and that meant he was as good as dead.
Abimelech reasons with the Lord and states his case that it was with integrity of his heart and innocency of his hands that he took Sarah, and that his nation was indeed a righteous nation (implying that they trusted in the Lord and that the fear of the Lord was with them). The Bible also records that because of the integrity of Abimelech’s heart, the Lord had prevented Abimelech from sinning against the Lord by preventing him from touching Sarah.
Abimelech returns Sarah after questioning Abraham of how he could do such a thing and gives him many sheep and oxen, servants and silver (a thousand pieces), besides offering his land for Abraham to choose and dwell. Abraham prays for the house of Abimelech and they are healed of their barrenness.
Points to ponder:
God looks at the matters of the heart. The Psalmist declares, that God’s word has he hidden in his heart so that he may not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). When the heart is of integrity, the hands are innocent. Our actions follow our attitude and if our attitude is of allegiance to the Lord God, then he himself prevents us from sinning against him, by the presence of his Holy Spirit. Failure to have a heart after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), one that is perfect before him (2 Chronicles 16:9) can lead to sinful hands and barren lives. Is your heart one of integrity?
Genesis 20:1-18 (KJV)
1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.
9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.
10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?
11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.
12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.
15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.
16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.
17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.