“And Abraham said of Sarah, his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ And Abimelek, king of Gerar, sent and he took Sarah.”
Uh, Abraham, haven’t we been through this once before when you were back in Egypt? What happened to honoring, cherishing, shepherding, and protecting your wife? How is it that the man who led 318 men against four armies has now succumbed to his old fears? This repetition is such that it has caused many Bible scholars to treat this as the same story as was told in Genesis 12, just in Canaan and not Egypt. They assume that the Bible is not a historical document and they assume that the stories are just a compilation of folk stories that have been sloppily combined by editors and redactors.
The reality is that those scholars that think that this is but a retelling of the Egypt story betrays their lack of understanding of Hebrew narrative and their lack of understanding of sin. This is certainly the same sin as Abraham had committed back when he was in Egypt—and we will find out later in the chapter that the sin was committed for the same motivations—he was afraid for his life, though this time Abraham justifies (or tries to) his sin. The nature of sin is just that, though. It comes back, often over and over, until it is deliberately put to death. The style of the Hebrew narrative is such that the text is intentionally written in such a way that the connections between this sinful event in Abraham’s life can be seen for the repeated sin it is. Moses (who authored the text of Genesis) is making it crystal clear that this man of faith is a man who still struggles against sin. One of the remarkable things about the Bible is that you find all of the saints portrayed in all of their weaknesses; it is a reminder that God is the great protagonist and not man.
Such is no different in life. God is still the hero of the story and we are still the bumbling and sinning fools. God patiently rebukes us and preserves us though we deserve judgment. And despite our failings, He delivers us from our enemies. This chapter is preeminently about God and his faithfulness despite the failings of Abraham. Yet, that is the theme of God’s hand in all of our lives. How far short we fall of the mark, yet God consistently and faithfully guides us along the pathway, slowly conforming us into his image for his glory. Men love to bask in their glory, yet how paltry the feign glory of man is compared to magnificent glory of God. We, like children, are excited about the little plastic baubles that we may earn in this world, yet in God’s hands are genuine gold, silver, and pearls. Abraham is indeed the father of the faithful (Romans 4:16), but it is God who made him so.