I always thought of Abraham as a biblical “hero”. I sang the Father Abraham song in Sunday school and thought this guy must have been pretty special for the Lord to select him to be the father of many nations. As I was reading through Genesis 20 one night, I was struck by what Abraham did. He was moving to a new region and along the way stayed in a place called Gerar. For the second time, he asked his wife Sarah to say that she was his sister (Genesis 12:10-13). This is half true because she was his half sister, but he deceived the people of this area by leaving out the fact that she was also his wife. The reason he did this was because Sarah was very beautiful and Abraham feared that if people knew she was his wife, they would kill him to have her. If they believed her to be his sister, they would treat him well.
How often do we deal in half-truths or leave out pertinent information with the intent to deceive? Even Abraham, a man God chose to be the father of nations, fell into this trap twice! He was looking out for his own well being instead of trusting that the Lord would keep him safe and fulfill His promises.
As a result of Abraham’s actions, the king there ended up taking Sarah into his harem. Before the king slept with her the Lord came to him and told him that she was married and to return her to her husband. The king was surprised by this information. He declared his innocence and that he had been deceived by Abraham. The Lord then told him that he would not be punished as long as he returned Sarah to Abraham and did not touch her. This all made sense to me until the Lord said “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.”
I stopped and thought about what this king might be thinking. In his shoes, I might think “why should I ask this man who has blatantly deceived me to pray for me?” I might have been too proud to ask for prayer when I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong. But this king, filled with fear of the Lord, humbled himself and did as the Lord said. He even went as far as to give sheep, cattle, male and female slaves and declare “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” Then he turned to Sarah and said “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
I think the true “hero” here is the king. He listened to the Lord and did what was asked of him even when he did nothing wrong. The Lord was gracious to the king and kept him from sinning and he proved his faithfulness again by keeping Abraham and his wife safe. Abraham and Sarah were not trusting that the Lord would keep them safe and fulfill His promise to make Abraham the father of nations through Sarah. In spite of their shortcomings, God richly blessed them and fulfilled all of his promises to them.
When we are weak in our faith and lose sight of the promises God has made, He is still faithful! He uses us in spite of our weaknesses, not because we are so strong!