The Philistines Envied Isaac

Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.

13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.

15 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

Joseph’s Brethren Envied Him

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Saul Envied David

I Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.

7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?

9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.


MEMORY VERSE: But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. —James 3:14, 16


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The lessons from the lives of Isaac, Joseph and Saul reveal that envy brings strife and division between close friends and brothers.




Genesis 26:12 “An hundredfold”: A hundred measures of barley for every measure he sowed; an exceptional return—the usual rate in Palestine was thirty to a hundred-fold.




In Genesis we learn that Isaac’s father Abraham had enjoyed good relationships with the Philistines among whom he sojourned. The king, Abimelech, was actually a God-fearing man of integrity. He and his chief captain entered into a covenant with Abraham that neither of them would harm or deal falsely with the other. Sadly, however, when Abraham’s son Isaac began to prosper greatly, we read that the Philistines “envied” him. This began a long, tempestuous, warring relationship between the Israelites and the Philistines. Historically, it seems they spent all their time and resources trying to get the best of the Israelites. In recent archaeological finds there are hints as to how much their strife and rivalry affected their lives. While they had a few war champions of great height, many of their remains show signs of malnourishment and stunted growth. They produced and consumed great amounts of fermented beverages . )

Both Zephaniah and Zechariah later prophesied of their complete annihilation, which was fulfilled around the 5th century BC. While reading these verses and learning of the discoveries, this verse came to my mind: “Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). What a grim reminder!

There are also great lessons to be learned from the story of Jacob’s sons. Because he unwisely favored Joseph, the older sons plotted to kill him, then changed their minds and sold him into Egypt, a move that was surely turned into good by God, who was with Joseph and used him as an instrument to save the world from starvation in the time of famine. Envy between brothers certainly had tragic consequences in this story, until God moved upon them and through Joseph’s forgiveness and reconciliation, things ended well.

A tragic end to King Saul was also the result of envy that he allowed to grow in his heart toward young David, who had courageously faced the giant and wrought a great deliverance for Israel. Saul, also angry because God had chosen David to be Israel’s next king, tried to kill David many times, was taken over by an evil spirit, and died a gruesome death, forsaken by God.

The memory verse from James reminds the New Testament church that envy and strife brings confusion and division, in contrast to godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable and gentle.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



  1. Trouble’s Beginnings: What seems to be the reason for years of strife between the Philistines and the Israelites?
  2. Triumph: What brought an end to the strife between Joseph and his brethren?
  3. Tragic Consequences: What was the end result of Saul’s envy?




Envy seems to follow closely behind attitudes of superiority and respect of persons. It is the carnal response to being made to feel “less than” and must be dealt with—crucified. Envy will destroy relationships if allowed to remain. If someone else has humbled themselves and is experiencing the grace of God working in his or her life, the carnal reaction of envy is to criticize or belittle the good things that are being manifested. Financial blessings in one’s life can be a secret—or not so secret—source of envy in another. If God has placed an individual in a place of responsibility that may have been the secret ambition of someone else, envy in the heart will resent that one and bring opposition. It may be subtle; it may be quite open, but it’s still ugly.

Humility is truly the end of strife; both sides—the one who has been put in a position of leadership and the one who feels “less than”—need the grace of humility to enjoy the peaceful unity God intended to be in His church. This humility can only come through the Holy Spirit of God filling, refining, purging of all carnality and self-interest. How we need to be filled with the Spirit! If the Word given in this lesson has spoken to our hearts and revealed a need, let us diligently, earnestly make a full consecration and cry for His power!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




We have been richly blessed in so many different ways. It hardly seems possible that we would be tempted to be envious, but we see it on every side. It seems to be at the bottom of almost every crime committed: drug dealing, gambling, and murder. Envy also plays a role in jealousy, contention, discontentment, and greed. It has been personified as a green-eyed monster.

I remember listening to a lesson in our children’s library that dealt with envy. It gave a good solution called T.T.Y.O. Tend To Your Own. If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then water and fertilize the grass on your side of the fence. A cup of contentment goes a long way towards eliminating this menacing foe. Take time to assess the blessings the Lord has given you.

—Sis. LaDawna Adams