We read about this situation in Scripture. The man of God, Abraham moved to a “bad” area. He made a judgment about the heart of the people of the land (especially it’s government), he fostered fear in his thoughts and the fruit of these actions was that he began to lie.
One night Abimelech, the King of Gerar had a dream in which he was told that Sarah was married to Abraham. Abraham had lied and said Sarah was his sister. Abimelech, the “ungodly one” told the Lord that he had acted with a clear conscience. The Lord replied saying that this is why he had prevented Abimelech from acting inappropriately towards Sarah. Abimelech rose early the next morning, called his official then immediately made it right with Abraham and Sarah. He then asked Abraham why. Why did you lie? Why did you this?
The man of God, Abraham, responded. “‘I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.‘ ” (20:11).
The reality was quite the opposite. While Abraham was caring about himself instead of his wife, passing judgment on what he saw, walking in fear, lying to leadership and generally going against God, Abimelech showed the opposite. He valued a clean conscience, responded immediately to the Word of God, he made it right by Sarah giving 1000 shekels and then sent them on their way. Then he later made a treaty of peace with them and did right by them. No fear of God, thought Abraham? Actually quite the opposite. Maybe Abimelech didn’t know the specifics of righteousness, but he knew fear of the Lord. Where as Abraham? He had some growth opportunities yet ahead.
As if this were not enough, a number of years later it happened again. This time it was Isaac who lied about his wife. And once again it was Abimelech who took the initiative to make it right.
Abraham (and Isaac) assumed that there was no fear of the Lord in a Philistine king’s heart. But we never know what is in the heart of man. Sometimes it’s the people we least expect that actually have the stirring of God deep within.