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by professing Christians, is reproyed by the more open and manly dealing of
many who have enjoyed no religious adyantages. 2. Their distrust of Provi-
dence. Surely the patriarch and his wife had sufficient proof already of the
Kwer and willingness of God to protect them, and bring them out of every
nger. They imperiled the truth to^ prevent (as they considered) worse con-
sequences ; and thus they took refuge in a human expedient instead of trusting
in Ood. Surely the heathen have reason to reprove us when we cannot trust
our God, in whom we profess to believe, in the time of periL In so far as we
act as ^ we had no Divine director, we belie our profession of religion. There
are actions in the life of many, who are yet true members of the Church, which
really show a practical disbelief in the help and guidance of Providence. 3.
Their religious prtjudices. Abraham excuses his conduct by saying, "Because
I thought ; surely, the fear of God is not in this place." (verse 11.) He con-
sidered, that those not so favoured of GKkI as himself were without any just
ideas of duty and of the purpose of life. He took it for granted that men who
had no special revelation must, of necessity, be without moral principle, and not
to be trusted. How incorrectly do the best of men often junge of those who
are outside their own nale ! Men find it hard to believe in the goodness of those
whose views on the subiect of relidon are essentially different from their own.
Some narrow-minded Christians selfishly rest in the thought that they are the
special favourites of God, and form harsh and uncharitable judgments of all the
rest of mankind. We have no right to limit the gra^DS of God by confiding its
operation to the Church only. The revelation of Christianity may be the privi-
lege of the few, but the dispensation of it is intended for the benefit of all The
hindrances to the universal sway of God's truth and righteousness arise from
man. His infinite goodness would bless alL His grace can raise the fruite of
righteousness even where there is no open vision, and where religious minds
think His fear does not exist. We are not to despise human goodness because
it has not been nourished in the Church.



aUQQBaTIVB OOMMENTB ON THB YBBSBB.

Verse 8. It is wise to act promptly ignorance. When men begin to fear

upon Divine warnings. 1. As tney they are ready to listen to tiie voice of

concern ourselves. Abimelech had wisdom.

taken a wrong step, but by the grace Nature taught infidels to take care

of God was prevented from rushing of their own families. Socrates is said

into greater evil. His was the fault, to have called philosophy down from

and the matter concerned himself first heaven to earth ; that is, to have

of all. 2. As they concern others, directed men to be good at home.

The king announced the fact to his The malicious Pharisees could object

household, for he could not transgress it to our Saviour — " Thy disciples wash

the moral law without bringing upon not," *' Thy disciples fast not," etc. ;

them also the effects of his great sin. as if He were much to blame for suf-

Human interests are so related that the feringsuch things. And surely, he is

results of a man's sin must spread far not a complete Christian, walks not

beyond himself. " in a perfect way," that is not good

There is hope for men who are afraid " at home." (Psa. ci. 2.) The fifth

of the judgments of God. It shows commandment is called by Philo a

that their minds are fully alive to mixed commandment, and made a part

their real situation. There is a courage of the first table. It is therefore set

of open defiance which only comes of betwixt both tables of the law, saith



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another, because all we get from God
or men we bring it home to our houses
—as Abimelech here relates his divine
dream to his servants — the place of
well employing it. — {Trapp,)

The prompt obedience of this heathen
king reproves us who have greater
privilegea God appeared to him only
m a di^m, but us He calls daily by
Moses, by the prophets, by apostles,
and bjT His only-oegotten Son. Should
all this convergence of testimony and
spiritual force have less effect upon us
tnan a single vision had upon this man ?

Verse 9. A heathen king reproving
the Father of the Faithful ! The better
the man who is subjected to such re-
proach, the more shameful the position.

The dangers of life's pilgrimage are
80 great that believers are tempted to
adopt worldly policy and scheming for
their own safety, but when such devices
are discovered they bring shame and
contempt.

Were we to judge simply from this
portion of the sacred narrative we
should be ready to think that Abraham
had been the heathen and Abimelech
the prophet of the Lord. In this
offended king's reproof we see much to
admire and to commend* Considering
the injury he had sustained, and the
danger to which he had been exposed,
it is truly wonderful that he should
express himself with such mildness and
moderation. The occasion would
almost have justified the bitterest re-
proaches ; and it might well have been
expected that Abimelech would cast
reflections upon the partriarch's re-
ligion, condemning that as worthless
or him as hypocritical He never once
complained of the punishment which
he and his family had suffered, nor of
the danger to which they had been
exposed, but only of their seduction into
sin. He considered this as the greatest
injury that could have been done to
him, and inquires with artless but
earnest anxiety what he had done to
provoke Abraham to the commission
oi\\u—{Bmh,)

There are moral properties belonging
to human actions by which they are



referred to an eternal law of right and
wrong. The heathen have a conscience
which pronounces upon the character
of their actions.

The sense of moral obligation makes
religion possible to man.

Verses 10, 11. Under the influence
of fear Abraham could not see his own
conduct in the right lisht ^ Abimelech
now bids him consider it with the
coolness and severity of reason.

Prejudice.— I, It is often strong in
those who enjoy high religious privi-
leges. Abraham thought himself so
highlv favoured of Gc^ that he was
unwilling to admit that any goodness
could be found among those who were
less fayoured. The pride of our
superior position renders us indisposed
to believe in the virtues of those who
by their nrovidential position are
ignorant of the written Word. 2.
The evils of it are great (1) It limits
the power of the ^ce of God. He
can fulfil Himself m many ways and
work by many methods. He is not
confinea to one mode of making Him-
self known. (2) It is a sin against
charity. Chanty inclines to hope for
the best, and is most at home with
large views. (3) It issues in com-
mitting wrong against others. Abra-
ham greatly wronged this man. Those
hasty judgments of mankind, which
have their root in our own pride and
self-importance, cause us to sin against
others.

Could not that God who had brought
him out from an idolatrous country,
and preserved Lot and Melchizedek m
the midst of the most abandoned
people, have some " hidden ones " in
Gerar also ? Or, supposing that there
were none who had truly feared God,
must they therefore be so impious as
to murder him in order to possess his
wife? There can be no doubt that
many who are not truly religious have
well-nigh as high a sense of honour
and as great an abhorrence of atrocious
crimes as any converted man can feel ;
and therefore the reproach which he
so unjustifiably cast on them returned
deservedly on his own head. — (Bush.)

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The doctrine of hninan depravity
does not oblige us to believe tiiat all
men are vicious.

The fear of God may exist among
tliose who have had no special revela-
tion of His will

The historv of the first formation of
the Church does not shut out hope of
the salvability of the heatlien.

The fear of God is tiie best founda-
tion for the stability and the prosperity
of nations.

The fear of (Jod is the best curb to
restrain from evil, and spur to incite to
^ood. All honesty flows from this
holy fear. It is a problem in Aristotle»
why men are trusted in more than
other creatures ? The answer is, " Man
only reverenceth God ; " therefore you
may trust in him, therefore you may
commit yourself to him. He that
truly feareth God is like unto Cato, of
whom it is said, ''He never did well
that he might appear to do so, but
because he could do no otherwise.''
You need not fear me, said Joseph to
his brethren, for I fear God, and so
dare do you no hurt. Ought ye not
to have feared God? said Nehemiah
to those usurious Jews (Neh. v. 9). —

*' They will slay me." The tendency
of selfisnuess is to lead men to lean
upon their own wisdom and to distrust
God The thought of our own safety
may so absorb us, that we become
unmindful of what is due to God's
honour.

Verse 12. The slight semblance of
truth by which the falsehood was
upheld only testified that it was
known to be a falsehood in the
conscience. — (Al/ard.)

The root of bitterness, in this me-
lancholy instance, was an evil heart of
unbelief. The element of unbelief
enters into all sins — and into none
more than into this sin of conceal-
ment or disguise. To dissemble before
men is to distrust God. Had Abraham
been exercising his faith in God, as
simply and as implicitly, in reference
to the providence which watched over
him, as in reference to the righteousness
438



which justified him, he would not have
thought of resorting to any carnal or
crooked policy. The i>articular measure
of precaution which be did adopt might
seem the most prudent and tlie best,
as well for his partner as for himself.
If he was to do anything for himself in
this matter, perhaps nothing else could
be suggested than what he actually did.
But the evil was that he did any-
thing ; that he did not leave the entire
maniu^ement of the affair to God ;
that he did not resolve to stand still
and see the salvation of the Lord. —
{Candlish,)

Abraham failed where many believers
are so likely to fail. I. Not in wrong
views of their covenant relations with
God. In this Abraham was correct to
the revealed will of the Almighty.
He had not fallen into any doctrinal
error. So believers mav commit serious
faults while they still hold the great
verities of religion. 2. Not in wrong
views of the requirements of the godly
life. Abraham, all the time, well knew
what was required of him in the service
of his God. He would have shrunk
from any act of open disobedience.
But, 3. Believers often fail where
Abraham failed, in the practical appli"
cation of principles to the duties and
difficulties of common life. We may
be right in our views of doctrine and
dutv, and vet make serious mistakes in
applying them to special cases arising
from the complicationsof human afiiiirs.

The immease power of evil which
is in the world is a strong temptation
to the people of God, by leading them
to resort to worldly devices in order to
meet that evil.

Scripture history shows that many
of the saints of God failed exactly in
those graces for which they were
chiefly distinguished. Thus Moses, the
meekest man, spake unadvisediv with
his lips. Eliiah the brave showed him-
self a coward and was ready to give up
his work in despair. Abraham was
renowned for his faith. At the call of
God, he went forth not knowing whither
he went. When God promised him a
son, against hope he believed in hope.
When afterwaras he offered np that



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son, lie accounted that Ood was able
to raise him from the dead. He lived
by faith, ordering all his public and
private affairs by the thought that he
was inlmediately under the eye of God.
Yet in that which was the strength of
his spiritual character, he failed.

Verse 13. He was sent forth to go he
knew not whither, and in allusion to
this he is said to have "wandered."
But what is " wandering " to us, when
led by Divine guidance, is a definite
course of journeying to the omniscient
eye that watches over and orders our
steps. The fact which Abraham here
mentions of an early precautionary
arrangement between him and Sarah,
would go far to set him right in
Abimelech's esteem, as it would prove
that he did not resort to the expedient
because he thought worse of him and
his people than of the other nations
among whom he expected to sojourn.
Neither the king nor people of Gerar
were at all in his view when he pro-
posed to adopt the artifice in question.



That which may seem to be kind-
ness, in its effects upon others, may be
done at the expense of our Godward
duties.

Here is a man who lives a life of
faith, and in all sincerity intends it,
yet employs a carnal device, which is
inconsistent with the idea of such a
life. What contradictions there are,
even in the best of saints 1

Human prudence may be disloyalty
to God.

Verse 14. Abimelech bestows his
royal bounty, the prophet gives his
prayers. Each makes such restitution
as he can for his fault.

Abraham by his conduct had exposed
another man to the danger of a great
sin — ^he had made a fatal impression
and exercised an evil influence. Oppor-
tunities were lost, and mischief done, as



it seemed, beyond all repair. But
prayer sets all right.

In restoring Sarah to her husband,
Abimelech obeyed the command of
God. (Verse 7.)

To make restitution is one of the
conditions by which we obtain the
gifts which come by prayer.

Verse 15. Acts of kindness towards
those whom we have justlv reproved
show that we love them still

Pharaoh complimented Abraham out
of his land (en. xiL 20) ; Abimelech
gives him leave to dwell where he
pleases. The one was moved only by
fear, the other had comfort with his
fear. Abimelech felt that the presence
of this good man in his land would be
a blessing to him.

We should set a value on the prayers
of others which have brought a blessing
to us, and strive to retain the benefit
of them.

Verse 16. Gentle reproofs wound not
when accompanied by deeds of kind-
ness. ^

Abimelech's high sense of justice :

1. In making atonement for the wrong
he had done — unwittingly, indeed, on
his part, but still a wrong in its effect
upon others. This large gift was for
" a covering of the eyes, t.^., for a
peace-offering to cover up the offence.

2. In vindicating Sarah's character.
^'Unto all that are with thee, and with
all other." ^ All her family would be
interested in this act of justice towards
her good name.

To render justice to^ others was a
good preparation for enjoying the full
benefits of the prophet's prayers and
intercessions.

Abimelech is afterwards greatly
blessed for his kindness to Abraham.
He had, indeed, deceived a prophet
and had a prophet's reward. (Oh. xxi.
22-34.)



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HOMILETIO COMMENTARY: GENESIS. chap. xx.

MAIN E0MILETI08 OF THE PARAQRAPff.^Vertea 17, 18.

Ah EFFiOAdons Ikteboessort Prater.

Abraham's prayer for the doomed cities was not panted, but his prayer for
Abimelech was answered in folL ** God healed Abimelech and his wife and
his uiaid-servants." Why was this prayer successful ? God has reasons for
refusing the requests of His servants, which are often hid from them ; and he
who prays best is most satisfied calmly to accept the good pleasure of the Divine
will But in the present instance we can see some reasons why it was likely
that this prayer should be answered.

I. Because faith was maintained notwithstanding past failures. Abraham
had pleaded hard for the cities of the plain, yet he had seen them swept into
destruction. His prayer had failed to save that wicked people from their doom.
A less hardier souT than his might have been discouraged, and have lost all faith
in prayer. But no difficulties daunted this believing man. It is the nature and
property of genuine faith to hold out against all discouragements, to believe
still in God both when He grants and when He denies. If we have proper con-
fidence in the Divine character we have only patiently to wait and real success
will come at last Abraham still pleaded with God, notwithstanding his failure
in a great instance. Persevering faith, which is superior to all discouragements,
must be rewarded.

II. Because the objects of it were disposed to receive the blessing. The
hindrances to the gracious effects of prayer lie in man's rebellious heart. God
willeth not the death of any sinner. Prayers for others are more likely to be
answered when, on their part, there is some disposition to receive Divine bles-
sings. There must be a Godward direction imparted to souls which are to be
blest. God meets those who are looking towards Him. Abimelech and his
household had this receptivity. % desire and submission they were prepared
for healing and blessing. How different with the people of Sodom and (Gomor-
rah 1 They maintain^ open defiance against God. In their rebellious souls
there was nothing to answer any movement of the Divine goodness towards
them. Therefore they were left to the fate of all who contend with their Maker.
Thus God's gracious purposes can be hindered by man. *' I would have gathered
thy children together, . . . and ye toould not'' (Matt, xxiii. 87).

IIL Because Ood delights to put honour upon His servants. God had
entered into covenant with Abraham. He was God's prophet and faithful
friend. It was not for nought that he was called to interpret the Divine will, and
to intercede for men. God will set His visible marks of approval upon His own
appointed means of blessing. He will not cause his servants to become ashamed
of their confidence, but will show the world that He is with them. Learn the
importance of the prophst to mankind. (1) He makes known the will of God.
He is a messenger who has received instructions from the Supreme Ruler of all
mankind. He comes to speak on behalf of God, for warning, for reproof, for
the announcement of gracious purposes. (2) He is the human channel of
spiritual blessinga He teaches men the way of righteousness, how they may
find the chief good and reach true blessedness. Who is such^ a benefactor to
the race as this — so important to the dearest interests of mankind 1 Abimelech
could bring his gold, but Abraham could put him in the way of obtaining far
better gifts.

BUGQESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES.

Verse 17. Abraham, by his prevari- lech and all his household. Being now
cation, had brought distress on Abime- humbled by the rebuke he had re«



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ceived, he prayed to God for the
removal of the judgments which be
had been instrumental in procuring.
By this means, as far as in him lay,
he counteracted and reversed the
mischief that he had done. ^ It is
but seldom that we can cancel in any
degree the evil that we have com-
mitted ; but if any way whatever
present itself, we should embrace it
gladly, and put forth our utmost
endeavours to undo the injury we may
have wrought. At all events, the
course adopted by Abraham is open
to us all. We^ may pray for those
whom we have injured; we may beg
of God to obliterate from their mincb
any bad impressions which, either by
word or deed, we mav have made on
them. And if we find in them a kind,
forgiving spirit, we should so much
the more redouble our exertions to
obtain for them the blessings of salva-
tion^ which will infinitely overbalanoe



any evils that they may have suffered
through our means. — (Btish.)

Our prayers have power to heal the
wrongs we may have done to others by
our unbelief.

The effect of Abraham's prayer is
an illustration of salvation, which is
the healing of the soul of those diseases
sin has brought upon it.

How great is the power of the inter-
cession of the believer with God, when
it can stay the hand of judgment, and
even prevail notwithstanding the infir-
mities and lapses of the intercessor I
What efficacy, then, must we ascribe
to the intercessions of that Divine
Advocate who was without sin I

Verse 18. The name Jehovah is
employed at the end of the chapter,
because the relation of the Creator and
Preserver to Sarah is there prominent.
— (ifwiyAy.)



OHAPl'BR XXL



OBmoAL Nons.— 1« TI10 Lord visited Sarah.] JehoTah, the Oovenant 6od« To '* visit,'' in
this oonnectioii, signifies dravnug near for the pnrpose of conferring a favour (Gton. L 24 ;
Rath i. 6.) The LXX. has Immu^aro, a word adopted by St Luke in two places in the song
of Zacharias (Luke L 68-78). 2. The set time. As promised iji Gen. xvii 21 ; xviii 14.
8. Called the name of his son, Isaao.] In obedience to the Divine command (Gen. zviL 19).
4. Cironmoised his son Isaao, being eight days old, as God had commanded him.] {Qen. xvii.
10-12.) 8. And the ehiid grew, and was weaned.] The weaning was often delayed tiU three
vears, or more, after birth (2 Maoo. vii 27). Samuel was not weaned tiU he was old enough to
be left with Eli, when he would, probably, be more than three years old. Made a grtatfeatt.
The occasion is stiU celebrated in the East as a family /eos^ to which friends are invited. The
child partakes of it with the rest, as it is regarded as his introduction to the customary fare of
the country. 9. Hooking*] From the same root as the name ItoMc, i.e., laughter. The word
cannot here be understood in an innocent sense. It was a bitter, sarcastic laugh. St. Paul
fastens upon it the character of persecution (GaL iv. 29). 12* In Isaao shall thy seed be called.]
Heh. In Itaae $haU tetd (posterity) ht culled to thee. Explained by the Apostle (Rom. ix. 7, 8).
The whole history is allegorised (GaL iv. 20-22). 13. Make a nation.] A renewal of the promise
made in Gren. xvi 10 ; xvii 20. Becauee he ie thy teed, ** It seemed to be a specialty of
Abraham's descendants to multiply into nations ; the very fact of descent from him is aUeged as
a reason why Ishmael should become one.'* {A{ford,) 14. Abraham rose up early in the
morning.] Hence the Divine command was given to him in the night. Bread, Used as a
general term for provisions. BotUe of vxUer. The leathern bottle of the East, made of the
whole skin of an animal In this case, probably, a kid-skin, as Hagar could not weU have
carried a goat-skin. And the cfdLd, To be connected with *' gave " in the previous dause. He
gave it (bread), and the child, to Hagar. The TiXX. and Targ. of Gnk. conv^ the meaning,
that he placed the child on hw shoulder. But this is absurd, for Ishmael would now be quite
sixteen years old. He was led by the hand (verse 18). The child. More properly a boy, or
a lad. Boys often married at that age in the East The wUdemeee, Not desert^ but open
oommons—land not profitable for cultivation, but affording pasture. Beerthtba, So named by
anticipation (verse 81). 18. Cast the child.] The Meb, word generally oowrejt the idea of

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forcible projeotion, but in this case it is to be understood of a gentle laying down, or suifering to
repose (Psa. It. 22). Language is used as if he was a mere child, and truly in his exhausted
condition he was as such, at tUs time. 16. As it were a bow-ihot] ** This is a common figure of
speech in their ancient writings, * the diBtanoe of an arrow ;" 'so far as the arrow flies.' The common
way of measoring a tkort distance is to say ' It is a eaU off* — ie., so far as a man's yoioe can reaoh"
(RoberU* Seriptwr€ lUuttrations), 17. And Ood heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God
coiled to Hagat. Elohim in both places. " The angel of Elohim, not Jehovah ; because Ishmael,
since the Divinely ordained removal from the house of Abraham, passes from under the protection
of the Covenant Gk>d to that of the leading and providence of Ood, the Ruler of all nations."
(KeiL) 18. Hold him in thine haad.] Jleb. ** Strengthen thine hand upon him," %.€,, assist and
support him. 90. And he beoame an archer.] " He grew an archer, or multiplied into a tribe of
archers." (Murphy.) The descendants of Ishmael were distinguished for their skill in the use
of the bow. (Is. xxi. 17.) 21. The wilderness of Paran.] The great desert, now called El Tih,
running from the southern border of Palestine down to the northern part of the Sinaitic penin-
sula. He adopted the habits of a wilderness man, aooording to the prophecy. (Gren. xvi 16.)



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