Assumptions (or Ooops Again!)
1From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar.
2And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
3But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
4Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people?
5Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”
6Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.
7Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid.
9Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.”
10And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see that you did this thing?”
11Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
12Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.
13And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
14Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him.
15And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.”
16To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.”
17Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.
18For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Abraham disappoints again. He is willing to throw Sarah under the bus when he enters Philistine territory. “Tell them you’re my sister so they won’t kill me.” He still allows his fear to take mastery over his trust in God’s ability to protect him. And really – Sarah is 90 years old by this point in the story! She must have been an incredible (well preserved) beauty. Not only did Abraham make the mistake of treating his wife poorly, he also misjudges Abimelech, assuming he’s hostile. Abraham’s assumptions lead him astray, just like they do for us.
There’s a cliché about assuming that I won’t repeat here, as it is rather crude, but you probably already know it. When we assume we know what others will do we are often mistaken and risk hurting them. We also assume all kinds of things about God that are usually not true. Unless you are gathering your assumptions from His behavior in the Scripture, you are going to be wrong. God will surprise you every time because of His infinite creative ability to do the unexpected. Abraham had already seen that in action, but chose to go his own way rather than waiting to see what God would do. If we assume that God always does the right thing at the right time, we’re good. That clearly hard to do, but it is a great thing to practice.