“Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak and Shuah.”
Genesis 25: 1-2
King James Version
“When You Aren’t Number One”
Keturah, the Second Wife
“Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences – the experience which, above all others, strips us of our needs, our values, and ourselves.”
W. H. Vanstone
Is there a time in my life when I have had to wait for something I longed for?
How did I handle having to wait?
“We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait.”
“Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed….”
Psalms 25: 3
King James Version
If we go back in Genesis to the time when God called Abram to be the father of a great nation, we see that over and over again, Abram and Sarai faced one big problem in their lives. They couldn’t seem to wait for anything. As a pair they were constantly running ahead of God while they tried to work everything out for themselves. It is this, “I can do it on my own” attitude that led them to Egypt, that brought Hagar into their lives, and that finally led to the birth of Ishmael.
Time and again though, our gracious God, rather than turning His back on His two headstrong children, worked with them, leading them over some of the same territory as He gently taught both Abraham and Sarah that following God is the only way to a truly happy and harmonious life. In the wonderful words of R. C. Sproul, “We are called to live in the presence of God, under the authority of God and to the glory of God.”
No where is this truth lived out so well as in the life of Abraham when he obeyed God’s request to give his only, promised son as a sacrifice. This time, instead of going it alone, Abraham waited for God to “provide a lamb,” which God did.
But there’s one more experience hidden away in Scripture that warrants our attention for this is just one more example which shows us that Abraham had learned it is better to wait than wander.
In Genesis 25:1, we find that after Sarah died, Abraham married again. Most likely, like many individuals who have lost a mate, Abraham found himself lonely. But here’s an important lesson for us to learn. Before Abraham ran off into the arms of a new woman, he made certain Sarah had a proper burial and that Isaac was comforted and also that he had found a wonderful woman in Rebekah to be the mate for his only son, Isaac. Abraham tended and cared for his first family before he took on the responsibilities of a second family.
I find this to be a wonderful lesson because Abraham waited to bring someone new into the family mix until the healing had taken place after Sarah’s death, not only in his own life, but in the life of his child, Isaac.
Over the last few years, as I have watched friends lose a parent and then have their surviving parent remarry, I’ve watched as severe rifts have developed when individuals haven’t waited for healing before plunging into a new relationship and bringing a new person into a family unit that still may be fractured by pain. Abraham’s waiting shows he had learned that he needed to follow God rather than impetuously rush ahead even in matters of the heart.
There’s more we can learn as well. And it is from Keturah, the second wife in Abraham’s life.
Keturah, being wife number two, was not to be envied. Memories can be difficult to live with, especially if those memories are held up as an example for wife number two.
In Abraham’s case, historians believe Keturah to have been fairly young. She has been described as a beautiful Hittite woman, who married an elderly rich man. Living in the shadow of the beloved wife and mother, Sarah, certainly had to be difficult indeed. It would be for any woman in such a situation.
But counselors offer this advice for all “Keturahs.”
Advice #1: Remember that negative thoughts and feelings like jealous insecurity will only be like gasoline poured on a fire.
Advice #2: Acknowledge the past but live in the present. I believe this is great advice for all “Keturahs” who find they are not number 1.
As we learn, Keturah had six sons that we know about, and interestingly enough, we don’t read about any painful battles or jealous outbursts between family #1 and family #2. I believe this is because Abraham learned that waiting on God brings true happiness into our lives.
“When we fail to wait prayerfully for God’s guidance and strength, we are saying with our actions if not our lips, that we do not need Him.”
“Lord, I am yours, I was born for you;
what is your will for me
Let me be rich or beggared,
exulting or lamenting
comforted or lonely;
since I am yours, yours only,
what is your will for me?
St. Teresa of Avila
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