February 9, 2011
by Alistair Begg
One of the most important decisions we make is in our choice of a spouse. Choosing an appropriate mate takes more than finding an attractive package, and the Bible provides the best advice for those who are considering the possibility of marriage. Hear how the lessons of an Old Testament betrothal are practical and relevant for the 21st Century dating scene, and learn some valuable principles to help you make the right choice.
1Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, 3that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.
10Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia1 to the city of Nahor. 11And 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. 12And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14Let 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 this2 I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
15Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden3 whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.
22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel,4 and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?” 24She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master's kinsmen.” 28Then the young woman ran and told her mother's household about these things.
29Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”
34So he said, “I am Abraham's servant. 35The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. 36And Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. 37My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell, 38but you shall go to my father's house and to my clan and take a wife for my son.’ 39I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’ 40But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father's house. 41Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my clan. And if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’
42“I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, 43behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master's son.’
45“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels drink also. 47Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. 48Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way5 to take the daughter of my master's kinsman for his son. 49Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
50Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has spoken.”
52When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the Lord. 53And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments. 54And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” 58And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” 59So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you become
thousands of ten thousands,
and may your offspring possess
the gate of those who hate him!”6
61Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way.
62Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.