“Let’s get my son a wife,” said 140-year-old Abraham to Eleazar, his chief servant. God promised Abraham his heirs would be given the land of Canaan (present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel) and Isaac was not yet married. So Eleazar made an oath to return to Abraham’s homeland and seek a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:2-9).
Confidence in Prayer
Eleazar was the slave who would inherit all of Abraham’s fortune, until Isaac was born (15:1-5). He could resent this mission, but God chose Abraham because he would “direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” (18:19). Eleazar had observed Abraham for many years and he was very aware of Abraham’s God.
The servant loaded 10 camels with gifts for the bride and her family. Depending on the route he took, he traveled 500 to 900 miles. He arrived in the early evening at a well outside the city of Nahor (in present-day Turkey). As he was pondering how to fulfill his task, he began conversing with God in prayer.
Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a young woman, “Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,” and she says, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too”—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master (24:12-14).
Eleazar appealed to the Lord of all and prayed to the “God of my master Abraham.” He petitioned Abraham’s covenant-making God who had promised to make a nation from Abraham’s children. God’s covenant was at a defining moment because the promise of the covenant was being transferred to Abraham’s son and the woman Eleazar was seeking was the means for Isaac to fulfill this covenant.
The word kindness in Eleazar’s request to God is the Hebrew word checed. It can also mean “devout,” and “loving deeds.” Caleb Smith describes this word as a meld of “commitment and benevolence.” Eleazar was appealing to the covenant-making God to keep his commitment in his mercy and faithful love. Eleazar was saying, “In your mercy and faithful love, make my day successful by keeping the covenant you made to my master Abraham.” Eleazar was acknowledging and trusting in the faithfulness and mercy of God to effectively guide and accomplish his activities that day.
Eleazar continued his conversation with God as he stood beside a spring where the young women of the town would come to draw water. He proposed a sign from God to determine the chosen woman for Isaac. Eleazar suggested that when he asked a girl for a drink of water, she would not only offer him a drink but offer to water his 10 camels. Each camel could drink up to 25 gallons of water. Considering the normal size of a jar for drawing water, she would have to draw eight to 10 jars of water per camel or make approximately 100 trips to and from the well. This was beyond normal expectations.
Seeking God’s will by proposing a sign is not always the best option as we may bend the sign to our personal desires and will. Or, the conditions we present may not agree with God’s will. However, he did not limit God with his suggested sign, nor did he say he would not seek further if this sign was not met. He was simply praying for God to guide his actions as he sought a wife for Isaac. According to his prayer, the woman would be courteous, hardworking, unselfish, perceptive, and hospitable; all characteristics desirous in a wife.
His utmost purpose was to seek God’s will. We see this in his phrase, “let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.” The Hebrew word for chosen is yakach which means to be right, correct, or appoint. Eleazar longed for God to show him God’s right, correct, or appointed wife for Isaac. As Eleazar sought God’s will, God’s providence shone in the events and in the timing of events. Eleazar was seeking God’s providence but not forcing it.
Eleazar closed his prayer by stating that if God did as he asked, he would know that God had shown his kindness (checed) to Abraham. He was relying on the covenant-making, promise-keeping God to reveal his faithful love and mercy to Abraham by providing a wife for Isaac.
As the woman ran back and forth from the well, Eleazar silently watched to see if this was the woman God had chosen to be part of the covenant. When she had watered the camels, he asked who she was. She said she was a descendant of Abraham’s brother. Aha! Abraham instructed him to find a wife from his country and his relatives. Eleazar asked if he could spend the night with her family and she graciously offered accommodations.
Then Eleazar bowed, praising God for his kindness and faithfulness to his master Abraham and for taking him directly to the home of Abraham’s relatives (Genesis 24:26-27). Eleazar was in awe of the God who so faithfully led him in every detail of the mission.
When Eleazar reached Rebekah’s home, he recited all the events of the day to her brother, Laban, and her father. They instantly acknowledged God’s intervention and willingly offered Rebekah as Isaac’s wife. Again, Eleazar bowed before the Lord praising him for his faithfulness for connecting all the pieces of the puzzle for him and his master Abraham (24:52).
Our Faith Prayers
When the Lord called Abraham to leave Ur, his covenant with Abraham was, “I will make you into a great nation . . . and you will be a blessing” (12:2 ). God’s covenant with Abraham continued through Isaac and Rebekah and through the Jewish nation, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of all mankind. This was God’s covenant!
Eleazar prayed to the God of his master. By accepting Christ as our Savior, we can pray to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eleazar prayed for success to bring God glory, not for his own whims. We can pray for God to make our days successful as we seek to do his will. Eleazar laid his circumstances before the Lord and asked for his leading in those circumstance. We too can lay our circumstances before him for his guidance. God was faithful in fulfilling his covenant with Abraham and meeting the needs of the patriarchs through the centuries. When you pray, ask God for a successful day as he leads you through circumstances and depend on his trustworthiness, steadfast love, and mercy to meet your needs.
Gena Duncan writes religious and medical articles. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the summer and Naples, Florida in the winter.