When Strength And Weakness Become One

Abraham sends his servant, to find a wife for his son Isaac.  The servant journeys out to the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia and stops at a well when he has reached the outskirts of the city.

Isaac’s servant tying the bracelet on Rebecca’s arm by Benjamin West (1738-1820)

Genesis 24v11-15:

11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this[b] I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah,

Let us now flash-forward to a another scene which also takes place at a well. This one concerns Jacob, right after he has stolen Esau’s birthright and has had to run from him because Esau was contemplating taking Jacob’s life. Lets flash-forward to Genesis 29

Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, …

Jacob said to them, … “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

Jacob and Rachel by William Dyce(1806-1864)

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud.

~ Theres a lot of drama in the latter scene, but I won’t get into all of that. What I want to point out is that the Jacob scene contrasts markedly from the scene with Abraham’s servant.

The first instinct of Abraham’s servant is to pray. He prays and behold! Rebekah shows up. The first instinct of Jacob however is to put on a macho show. Rachel shows up and he flexes his muscles and rolls away the stone. Then within an instant he is surely in her arms weeping. High drama.

What I want to point out that one person – the servant – operates on the basis of weakness. Another operates on the basis of strength – fleshy, human strength.

~ The weakness of the servant is however really strength. It is really an acknowledgement that the servant – of his own self cannot do anything. However as he prays and waits upon God, God’s strength comes to the fore.

Cutting to the chase… What I am trying to say:

~ There is (1) strength and there is (2) weakness, both of which which differ, one from the other and then finally there is also (3) a strength which is the very same as weakness itself and vice versa.  This (3) weakness/strength is different from the strength and weakness of (1) and (2). SW

In the Jacob well scene we see a display of this natural, fleshy, human strength.

In well scene of Abraham’s servant, we see a display of a weakness that really is strength.

And while I have not illustrated (2) weakness, it is found all over the Bible and life. Solomon seems to have had a weakness in the area of materialism.  David in his weakness lusted after Bathsheba.  In everyday life, some people find it difficult not to gamble. That is a form of sinful weakness. This is not the form of weakness that is really God’s strength.

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Cor. 12:9-10