And Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah and took Rebekah as his wife. And Isaac loved her and was comforted after his mother's death.
I. A GODLY HABIT INDICATED. "Went out to meditate" - to pray. There is a great difference between reverie and meditation. The one is aimless dreaming, the other, thought tending to an object. Prayer is the thought expressed. Meditation is the "nurse of prayer." Meditation stirs up the spiritual fire within. It brings us nearer to the Divine. It should be cultivated as a habit rather than be left to spasmodic impulses.
II. A PLACE WELL ADAPTED TO PRAYER SELECTED. The field or open country, where we can get away from men, is the place for fellowship with God. A free prospect lets God's power be more plainly seen. It is an advantage to get out to sea, and, leaning over the bulwark of a vessel, to realize the width of the world, the vastness of the universe and greatness of God. We should seek some place where we can specially realize the presence and power of God. "Enter into thy closet" is a command which many find it difficult to obey. At school, in business houses, there is little or no provision for solitary meditation; but with a book in hand the believer may in spirit get alone with God.
III. THE TIME CHOSEN FOR PRAYER WAS MOST FITTING. Isaac went into the field at eventide. When the fret and toil of the day were over; when the sun was setting, glorified by crimson clouds, or shaded by the purplish haze; when the blossoms were closing, and flocks were being folded; when the moon was just showing, and the stars beginning to shine out; when a hush was over nature and entering into the soul - then Isaac sought to pray; then he sought to realize the certainty of the Divine promises and the faithfulness of the Divine performance. The time accorded well with his own feelings. He still mourned for his mother (ver. 67). Sorrow makes solitude congenial. Moreover, he was anticipating a change of state. He knew his father had sent Eliezer to seek for him a wife from among his own kindred, and he may have been praying that God would send him a suitable partner for life. While he was praying the answer was approaching. By prayer Isaac was prepared also to bear with the selfishness and wrong-doing of others. In Genesis 26. we see how he avoided quarrelling with the Philistines. Gentleness made him great, and that gentleness was intensified by prayer. - H.
I. THIS NEW HOME IS FILLED WITH LOVE. "Isaac loved her," and it is but fair to infer that she loved him. This love is not mere romance or sentiment. It is better than a transient conceit, and is that kind which only deepens and strengthens, as the ideal and the fanciful vanish away. It stands the strain of trial, and falters not before affliction, and what is more wonderful yet, it seems to be only purified by the mutual revelation of every phase of character and every mood of temper, and all the relations and duties of the household. There may be such a thing as "love at first sight," and if it be genuine it only gets more hallowed and more tender as the years roll; but if it is not genuine, if it be only a fancy, a dazzling flash, a temporary spell of lovely witchery, then you soon find either the divorce court in session or the domestic court disagreeing and contending with sensitive intolerance. In the case of the young couple before us, we find that their love, which seems to have been at "first sight," was deep and fond and lasting, and that it was ennobled and blessed with that piety which, like a divine chemistry, made even life's cares and annoyances a means of grace and gracious growth. What a beautiful spectacle this! Two frail natures on their way to the unknown land, maintaining a moral and life-long unity, proving a mutual blessing, constituting an affectionate representation of Christ and the Church, a bulwark for society, and a compound factor in the world's destiny.
She became his wife.I. ITS SIMPLICITY.
II. ITS PURITY.
III. ITS GODLINESS.
IV. IT ILLUSTRATES THE PRINCIPLE OF UNITY IN DIVERSITY. The characters of Isaac and Rebekah were most diverse. They were truly complements of each other, and when brought together made a complete whole.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. THIS HOME, AS TIME WORE ON, MADE UP FOR MUCH PAIN AND LOSS. "Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." Comforted! The record is not that he forgot her. Ah! he could not possibly do that, and doubtless the bereaved Abraham and he frequently talked about the precious dead! But such was Rebekah's influence, such her delicate and efficient ministry, such her care and company, that the heart of her husband began to heal, and the shadow of the sepulchre to shorten. Every human home ought to be a place of comfort. It is rough enough outside. The especial shade of that which I desire you to see now is this filling the place of the dead, this making up, in a measure, for their loss. These practical hints I have given, are essential elements; but then there is something beyond and more! The home should not only be one of comfort, but COMFORTING! Death is a strange magician even to the believer. He cannot do any real harm to my loved one, and yet he makes me tremble and cry out, as I imagine, say my mother, cruelly smitten and changed. And the wand is still further powerful in making me forget all her blemishes, all her weaknesses, all her failings. I only think of the virtues, the excellences, the splendid qualities of head and heart, and my loss seems irreparable. In many a home there is need for a bright, fresh, loving, tender Rebekah; Heed for a hen]lug and restoring ministry. Your hand is like God's when it wipes the tear off the cheek; your heart is Christ-like when it makes the grave ring with prophecies of resurrection; your effort is angelic when you whisper comfort in the moonlight, under the olives, to some prostrate, bleeding form at your feet. No matter what relationship the bereaved one in your home sustains to you, the thought of the text holds good — be a comfort; be neither indifferent nor intrusive; do not drawl a saintly lecture, nor grieve with a reckless folly; be all you can of that which is missed!
III. THIS PARTICULAR HOME HAD ITS TRIALS. It would be passing strange if it had not. It would straightway become one of the world's wonders. If every heart knoweth its own bitterness, certainly every house has its own anxieties and adversities. Try to meet them with the grace of Him who was the friend and trust of Isaac.
(J. R. Kerr.)
I. SOME TYPICAL VIRTUES OF MAIDENLY CHARACTER ESSENTIAL TO GOOD WIVES AND MOTHERS. Rebekah's name is significant. It means a cord with a noose at the end of it — that which can both catch and hold fast. An old Hebrew writer says, with a biting scorn and sarcasm — "Not unfit as the name of a girl who ensnares men by her beauty." It is a most unworthy saying, and it misses the very point and meaning of the designation, as such sayings generally do. Rebekah means winning in character and fast in friendship. It is the opposite of the shallow, frivolous, and changeful butterfly beauty, as destitute of power as of sincerity. What was the attraction of Rebekah? what was the force by which she held those who yielded to her influence?
1. There was a deep religious basis on which her life was built up. You can never be what you ought to be unless you have possession of that pearl of great price, true religion, the friendship and favour of God. Commit thy way unto the Lord, young woman! Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
2. There was in Rebekah calmness and self-control. Considering the general seclusion of Eastern women, there is a remarkable absence of excitement, flurry, and confusion in presence of the stranger and his attendants when she was accosted at the well. She had all her wits about her; had herself in hand, reined in and guided by true judgment; saying right words, doing right actions. This is a grace which comes of nature often, but may come of culture when nature has withheld the boon.
3. There was in Rebekah courteousness. There was a polish and refinement of manner about her which indicate the genial influence of true education. She was considerate of the rights and of the feelings of others; she endeavoured to put them at their ease; she tried to promote, and was pleased in their happiness.
4. Another grace in Rebekah's character was modesty. She was calm, ready-witted; but she was without forwardness, self-assertion, loudness. Nothing is lost to a true modesty, either of right or the respect of others. It is better to be retiring than self-demonstrative. Power is with the former and not with the latter.
5. Another point in her character was readiness to oblige. The stranger had not to ask twice; he received more than he asked. She was mindful to entertain strangers; ready to communicate; hospitable. Where need was she hastened to supply it. She had the happy art and faculty of making strangers feel at home. There was a wise sympathy in her heart which taught her what to do, and how to do it well.
6. And, last of all, she had great strength and decision. When she was asked whether she would go with the steward to Abraham's residence to be Isaac's wife, there was no hesitation about her, and no desire to tarry. She said, "I will go." Isaac was a quiet, yielding, contemplative-natured man; she was his very counterpart and help-meet. Decision of character is essential to all noble life. There are innumerable failures and innumerable evils attendant upon its absence. They who lack moral strength are open to all manner of evil inducements and temptations. The fierce conflicts of the flesh can only be maintained through resoluteness. To hesitate is to be lost.
II. THERE ARE CERTAIN PRINCIPLES AND LESSONS ASSOCIATED WITH AND GROWING OUT OF REBEKAH'S LIFE AND HISTORY WHICH NAY BE SUGGESTED FOR QUIET HOME THINKING.
1. The elevated distinction of the wife in the kingdom of God. Any woman would not do to be Isaac's wife. She had to be sent for from afar. Shehad to be richly endowed and beautiful. She had to be a woman of exalted character and capability. This was so because there was to be a typal life in the believing home, and because the regeneration of society was to go out from it. If women be not noble, homes cannot be pure and strong to withstand the deteriorating influence of the world on character and life. As the homes are, society must be. In Christianity the home virtues have a high, if not the highest, place. To rule the home a woman needs to possess abundance of grace.
2. The importance of strong-minded, strong-hearted, pious mothers in the kingdom of God. The great men of the Bible were all endowed with the greatness of their mothers. They owed to them what was best and brightest in their heart and lives. It was through them they achieved their successes. Never had women greater responsibilities thrust upon them than had the mothers of Moses, Jacob, Samuel, David, and Jesus Christ. Never did women more nobly fulfil their trust. It is of immense importance to a man, the first and most formative and lasting influence which moulds his character and directs the bent and tendency of his nature.
3. All social ties and relationships should be sanctified, consecrated, by prayer. The prayer of Eliezer, the prayer of Isaac — here called his eventide meditation — and the prayer of Rebekah's relatives, all suggest and convey the lesson that there is a religious aspect and element of those relationships of affection on which homes are to rest and be built up. If anywhere Divine direction should be sought, it is in connection with steps which are irrevocable — which once taken cannot be retraced.
4. The last word must be a word of caution. It is the temptation of the strong to be impatient of Divine delays. It was Rebekah's.
(W. H. Davison.)
(A. Fuller.)1. Honourable and due reception is but due to a wife sent from God.
2. Solemn taking of a wife as well as consent, is requisite for perfecting marriage.
3. Conjugal love must follow in all marriages made by God.
4. A wife's comfort may supply a mother's loss. So God makes up creature losses with creature revivings sometimes.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Dods, D. D.).
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