“At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you.” Abraham said, “I swear it.” Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized. But Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty. Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, and Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.” Gen. 21:22-31
Certainly Abimelech had no small impression of Abraham (and his God) in Genesis 20 when God threatened Abimelech’s life pending Abraham’s prayers (Gen. 20:7). And so Abimilech wanted a covenant with Abraham because ‘God was with Abraham’ (rabbi Sforno). Even though Abimelech was a king, he had a healthy fear and respect for Abraham. This is not the only time in the scriptures a man of God will hold a conversation with a king and have his words heeded though the man has no actual authority. This shows us the power and influence of God in Abraham’s life.
Abimelech is coming to Abraham to make a pact; thus Abraham has the upper hand in negotiations – he can refuse to make the pact, or add stipulations to it. Abimelech starts off by stating how Abraham was treated well in his land, when in fact there was at least one incident where he was not. Unlike God, earthly kings simply cannot know all the happenings in their land – even things done by his own servants.
Abraham chooses to offer sheep to Abimelech to prove that the well that was seized was in fact his. Abraham never told Abimelech about the well he dug that was taken from him when it happened. Since Abraham did not, he now is able to get his well back. If he had raised the issue prior, we cannot be sure how Abimelech would have reacted, for it has been some years since their encounter over Sarah (Isaac had since been born and was weaned.)
This shows us there is a time to hold our tongues from speaking against those whom we have grievances; The time may come when settlement may come about on our terms and in our favor. God knows all and certainly has the ability to repay.