For all aging parents who love their children and hope they will carry forward their legacy, this week’s verses in Genesis and their companion piece in I Kings are just for you. My hope is that there is something in both of these complex stories that will “turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” Let’s take a look.
“Abraham was old, advanced in years, and blessed by God in all things.” One of Abraham’s more challenging “blessings” must have been a deep anxiety about the security and wellbeing of his son, Isaac. It was through Isaac, after all, that God’s covenant promise of the land would pass on to his descendants. Yet, Abraham certainly knew that Isaac, living apart, had been hurt and weakened at Moriah and then upon the news of his mother’s death.
As a result, after burying Sarah, Abraham pours much of his remaining life energy into preparing his servant to find the right wife to accompany Isaac and help lead their way in the future. Abraham’s hope is powerful, yet his body is so frail he doesn’t live to see the results of the mission he initiates.
As the text tells of his servant’s work, our hearts go out to the worrying and waiting Abraham who sent him and the wounded and lonely Isaac who has yet to sense the blessing that will come his way. We enjoy the tale of Rebecca and her family, but our emotions go to the peace that will be restored to Abraham’s soul as well as optimism for the future of Isaac and Rebecca.
With the certainty of perpetuating God’s way in the next generation assured, life on this earth for Sarah and Abraham ends. Yet, we sense their enduring presence in the lives that follow.
How fitting it is that our accompanying story tells of the end of David’s life. David, too, is ill, cold, and indeed unable to become warm. Yet, he summons the energy to assure that his successor will pass on the destiny of the people.
One of David’s sons seeks to seize the throne, though it had been sworn to Solomon. Upon hearing the news of this plot, David acts immediately to effect Solomon’s succession.
In gratitude, Bathsheba bows down, prostrates herself before the king, and says, “May my lord King David live forever!” Though David dies shortly thereafter, it is true with him, as it was with Sarah and Abraham, that a person who extends God’s ways to the next generation lives on.