Having been sent under oath to get a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s servant sought the help of Him Who had established His covenant with Abraham and with his seed after him. Before going to look for a covenant wife for Isaac, he looked up to God on high, came before the throne of grace and sought the invaluable help of Him Who alone could make the search prosperous.
What is more, he even stipulated and presented a carefully thought out sign whereby he might be helped in getting such a wife for him in whom and around whom the covenant centered and revolved. We read inGenesis 24:12-14 that he prayed, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray Thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the city come out to draw water; and let it come to pass that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give to thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby I shall know that thou hast showed kindness to my master.”
What shall we say about this prayer? That he prayed in commendable, and truly it is recommended to all God’s people in all their trials and difficulties. There is no better way than to look unto the everlasting hills from whence cometh all our help, every bit of it. But can we approve of stipulating a sign for God? And what is more, can we approve of this sign and these characteristics which he wishes to find in that wife for Isaac? Was he merely expressing what kind of wife he would like to find for himself? Is there really anything spiritual in all this that he insists on being found in the wife he will bring back for Isaac? What shall we say about this prayer? That he prayed in commendable, and truly it is recommended to all God’s people in all their trials and difficulties. There is no better way than to look unto the everlasting hills from whence cometh all our help, every bit of it. But can we approve of stipulating a sign for God? And what is more, can we approve of this sign and these characteristics which he wishes to find in that wife for Isaac? Was he merely expressing what kind of wife he would like to find for himself? Is there really anything spiritual in all this that he insists on being found in the wife he will bring back for Isaac? Would it not be better for him to pray to be guided in his walk to the home of one of Abraham’s kinsmen? These he could dwell for a week of two, hide his purpose and then carefully observe the daughters in that home and see first-hand how they behaved in their father’s home? Did they honour their father and mother? Then they would honour and be in submission to Isaac as husband. Were they industrious or lazy? Did they spend the greater part of the day before a mirror preening and primping, satisfying the vanity of their eyes, or could they be expected, when the demands of the home and the children took all their time, to be content with neatness and beauty before God?
Could he not as a silent observer watch to see which of the daughters in this or that home was found praying, speaking of the things of God’s kingdom, was faithful in sacrifices to and worship of the living God? Should he not listen without appearing critical to what songs she sang or hummed in her daily tasks? (And, indeed, our young people today by the tunes they whistle or hum or sing, by the music they have on their radios, or play on their instruments show where their interests and hearts are. By the disks, or platters as they are sometimes called, they buy and by the stereo tapes for their players in their cars—and that holds true then for young men as well—they reveal a great deal about their spiritual lives, and how much they love the God of our salvation.)
Abraham’s servant seems a bit impatient and himself averse to a whole lot of work and to searching for Isaac’s wife. It seems as if it does not sit too deeply in him and that, although he prays to God, he does not take things too seriously. He seems to pray that he may have an easy time with a difficult task, that he may get it all over with in a hurry so that he may go back home and be in far more familiar territory. After all he was exhausted after what in that day was a long and wearisome trip. Before he has done any searching he wants it all to happen right here at the well where he first stopped in the land of Abraham’s kinsmen.
In answer to all this we must simply say that he chose a very beautiful sign revealing his own rich spirituality. And he was not simply looking for a hard worker, a generous, kind soul, one with whom the temperamental son of his master could get along with because she would bend and would walk two miles when he asked her to walk one, would turn the other cheek when he would strike her on the one, would sing when he was surly, and with a soft answer would turn away his wrath. All this you can find in an unbeliever. They sometimes have charming, characters and can be labeled “a peach of a fellow.” They can make some very delightful company and be so very accommodating.
He could not have had in mind those words of king Lemuel which had not yet been written: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her; so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she also bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night (Abraham’s servant could have tried to see too how long she slept in the morning), and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. . . .” The quotation is too lengthy to place here in full. But by all means read it as it is found in Proverbs 31:10-31. And though he could not have had these lines in mind, he did reveal by the things which he presented to God as the sign that he sought a woman who had strong faith in God.
No, he did not so much as mention the word faith, and yet his words spell out the evidences of faith in unmistakable terms. To mind come first of all the words of James that faith without works is dead. To mind come also the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” To this may be added the words of John in I John 3:23: “And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” Abraham’s servant was looking for a believer; and to know the tree he looked for the fruit that would tell him that this woman was engrafted into Christ by a true faith. He knew that a covenant wife for Isaac must be a believing wife; and he sought a woman who loved God and revealed this by keeping His commandment of walking in love.
Doctrinal purity is precious, but it does not tell the whole story. Solomon in his wisdom teaches us that to fear God (that is, to believe in Him; and then certainly according to pure doctrine) and to keep His commandments is the sole duty of man. We had better not stop at the fear, let it stand all by itself, and ignore the fact that we, must also love one another. This servant of Abraham, in a day when the doctrines of the church were not as highly developed as today, in a day when God had not given as much revelation as we have today, wanted a woman who feared God. But she must be a woman—and indeed will then also be a woman—who keeps God’s commandments. And faith itself is a rather difficult thing to find in one you do not know, and when, as this servant, .you are in a strange land among people you never saw before. But the works of a living faith are the same the world over, for they are works of love. A dead faith has no works of love. A dead love has no faith. And the servant seeks to know whether she has faith in God by asking her to perform a work of love.
He has his answer soon. All things went exactly as he had asked God—with the very first woman who came to the well. The works of love seem to be there. Yet we read, “‘And the man wondering at her held his peace, to whit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” Genesis 24:21. There are two things which he must still know. Unbelievers, as we said, can perform deeds that certainly look like love to the neighbor, even when these unbelievers have no love for God. This however is not the keeping of God’s commandments, for it is not doing the neighbor goodfor God’s sake. It is not then the right kind of fruit to show that one is engrafted into Christ by a true faith.
One can pick out a very likely cantaloupe or watermelon and pay a good price for it only to find at home that it is bitter and a big disappointment. Will this servant find this kind and thoughtful young woman to be an unbeliever in spite of these outward deeds? Has he found works of faith? He soon finds out that she does come from a believing family and indeed is of the kinsmen of Abraham. But one thing still stands in the way: Will she come and be Isaac’s wife? Those deeds that apparently are deeds of faith must have the love of God that will move her to leave father and mother and cleave unto her husband for God’s sake in a strange, far off land.
Yes, he finds all this also in time. But he found there at the well that God had prospered his way in sending a young woman who did exactly as he had stipulated in his sign which he asked of God. He found a believing wife.
Our youth have an advantage over this servant in that they know the families from which their friends whom they are courting come. And let it be stated with emphasis that they must be looking for a believing husband or wife. And that means that they must limit themselves to the young men and young women in the church, Spiritual compatibility comes fast on the list of requirements. It must be one who loves God and reveals this by deeds of love toward the neighbor for God’s sake and not simply for society’s sake. Such a woman will be an help meet, that is, fit, suitable, for a believing young man. Such a young man will be one with which a believing young woman can work and plan and one whom she can encourage to worship and serve the living God.
Indeed it would make it easier for us if God would let us stipulate such actions in modern life and terminology as a sign for us and then have it all work out according to these requirements which we set. But we live in a different day and age, with much more revelation, and among the people of God. We are not like Isaac, so that, by a call of God to our parents, we are born in a strange land and living as pilgrims and strangers with no young men and women of the faith living in our land. And we must not, nor must we let our young people, lose sight of the fact that they can and must in seeking a husband or wife make it a matter of prayer before the throne of grace. They may not be allowed to forget that they must look for a wife or husband who loves God out of a true faith in Him. They may never be given the impression that they may look for one, or that they will find one, in the world. When they go to college away from home and away from the churches that faithfully proclaim the truth, they must be warned and warned and warned again for their own good. We will find a husband or wife that loves God when we walk in love to God ourselves.
It is not a question of finding one that either loves Godor has faith in Him. These are always found together. What is called love but has no faith in God is actually sin. What is called faith and has no works of love for the neighbor is unbelief. Those who do not walk in lovewith the neighbor do not believe in God. In fact, such dare to defy Him and therein reveal that they do not love God.
Young people, seek a wife or husband that loves God. You will find one that has faith in Him and loves you. You will not have to “go home to mother” or, if you are a young man, go rent a hotel room. The love of God that both of you possess will hold you together and produce forgiveness and reconciliation when there is friction.