Genesis 20



1 “And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and

dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.”

And Abraham journeyed (see ch. 12:9) from thence. Mamre (ch. 18:1).

In search of pasture, as on a previous occasion (Keil); or in consequence of

the hostility of his neighbors (Calvin); or because he longed to escape from

the scene of so terrible a calamity as he had witnessed (Calvin, Wilier, Murphy);

or in order to benefit as many places and peoples as possible by his residence

among them (A Lapide); or perhaps being impelled by God, who designed thereby

to remind him that Canaan was not intended for a permanent habitation, but for

a constant pilgrimage (Poole, Kalisch). Toward the south country. Ne-gob, the

southern district of Palestine (ch. 12:9; 13:1); the central region of Judaea being

called Hahor, or the Highlands; the eastern, towards the Dead Sea, Midhbar; and

the western Shephelah (Lange). And dwelled between Kadesh and Shur (see

ch. 16:14 and Genesis 16:7), and sojourned in Gerar (see ch.10:19).


2 “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech

king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.”  And Abraham said of Sarah his wife,

She is my sister. As formerly he had done on descending into Egypt (ch. 12:13).

That Abraham should a second time have resorted to this ignoble expedient after

the hazardous experience of Egypt and the richly-merited rebuke of Pharaoh,

but more especially after the assurance he had lately received of his own

acceptance before God (ch. 15:6), and of Sarah's destiny to be the mother of

the promised seed (ch. 17:16), is well nigh unaccountable, and almost

irreconcilable with any degree of faith and piety. Yet the lapse of upwards of

twenty years since that former mistake may have deadened the impression of

sinfulness which Pharaoh's rebuke must have left upon his conscience; while

altogether the result of that experiment may, through a common misinterpretation

of Divine providence, have encouraged him to think that God would watch over

the purity of his house as He had done before. Thus, though in reality a tempting

of God, the patriarch's repetition of his early venture may have had a secret

connection with his deeply-grounded faith in the Divine promise. And Abimelech

i.e. Father-king, a title of the Philistine kings (ch. 21:22; 26:1; Psalm 34:1), as

Pharaoh was of the Egyptian (ch. 12:15), and Hamor of the Shechemite (ch.  34:4)

monarchs; compare Padishah (father-king), a title of the Persian kings, and

Atalik (father, properly paternity), of the Khans of Bokhara (Gesenius, p. 6) –

king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. I.e. into his harem, as Pharaoh previously

had done (ch. 12:15), either having been fascinated by her beauty, which,

although she was twenty years older than when she entered Egypt, need not

have been much faded (see ch. 12:11; Calvin), or may have been miraculously

rejuvenated when she received strength to conceive seed (Kurtz); or, what is

as probable, having sought through her an alliance with the rich and powerful

nomad prince who had entered his dominions (Delitzsch).



                        Falsehood the Fruit of Unbelief (v. 2)


“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister.” Notice how imperfectly

the obligation of truth recognized in Old Testament times. Not only among

heathen, or those who knew little of God (Joshua 2:5; II Kings 10:18), but godly

men among God’s own people (ch. 26:7; I Samuel 27:10). Yet the excellence of

truth was known, and its connection with the fear of God (Exodus 18:21; Psalm

15:2). Not until manifested in Christ does truth seem to be fully understood

(compare John 8:44; I John 3:8). This gives force to “I am the truth.” (John 14:6)

Some see in the text an act of faith; trust that God would make the plan (v. 13)

successful.  But faith must rest on God’s word. Trust in what God gives is no

warrant for believing is not faith but fancy, e.g. to attempt what we have no

reason to believe we can accomplish, or to incur liabilities without reasonable

prospect of meeting them. More natural and better to look on it as a breach

of truth under temptation; the failure Of a godly man under trial. His words

were true in letter (v. 12), but were spoken to deceive, and did deceive.


  • ROOT OF HIS FAULT — UNBELIEF; the want of an all-embracing trust.

            His faith was real and vigorous (compare I Corinthians 10:12), but partial

            (compare ch. 27:19; Matthew 14:28). Abraham shrank from trusting God

            fully. He turned to human devices, and thus turned out of the way

            (Proverbs 3:5). Partial distrust may be found even where there is real faith .

            A very common instance is trusting in God for spiritual blessings only. A

            large part of our actions, especially in little things, springs not from

            conscious decision, but from habitual modes of thought and feeling. We act

            instinctively, according to what is the natural drift of thought. Abraham

            had so dwelt on the danger that he forgot the help at hand (Psalm 34:7;

            Romans 8:28). Bold in action, his faith failed when danger threatened.

            To endure is a greater trial of faith than to do. To stand firm amid

            secularizing influences, ridicule, misconstruction is harder than to do some

            great thing. Peter was ready to fight for his Master, but failed to endure

            (Mark 14:50-71; Galatians 2:12). So to Paul’s “What wilt thou

            have me to do?” the Lord’s word was, “I will show him how great things

            he must suffer.”


  • FORM OF HIS FAULT — UNTRUTH. Contrary to the mind of

            Christ. May be without direct statement of untruth. May be by true words

            so used as to convey a wrong idea; by pretences, e. g. taking credit unduly

            for any possession or power; by being ashamed to admit our motives; or by

            untruth in the spiritual life, making unreal professions in prayer, or self-

            deceiving.  Every day brings numberless trials. These can be resisted only

            by the habit of truthfulness, gained by cultivating “truth in the inward

            parts,” aiming at entire truthfulness. Nothing unpractical in this. May be

            said, Must I tell all my thoughts to every one? Not so. Many things we

            have no right to speak; e.g. things told in confidence, or what would give

            unnecessary pain. Concealment when it is right is not untruth. No doubt

            questions of difficulty may arise. Hence rules of casuistry (clever but

            unsound reasoning). But a Christian should be guided by principles rather

            than by rules (Galatians 5:1); and wisdom to apply these rightly is to be

            gained by studying the character of Christ, and prayer for the Holy Spirit’s

            guidance (Luke 11:13; John 16:14).


3 “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him,

Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken;

for she is a man's wife.”  But God - Elohim; whence the present chapter,

with the exception of v. 18, is assigned to the Elohist (Tuch, De Wette, Bleek,

Davidson), and the incident at Gerar explained as the original legend, of which

the story of Sarah's abduction by Pharaoh is the Jehovistic imitation. But:


(1) the use of Elohim throughout the present chapter is sufficiently accounted

for by observing that it describes the interaction of Deity with a heathen

monarch, to whom the name of Jehovah was unknown, while the employment

of the latter term in v. 18 may be ascribed to the fact that it is the covenant

God of Sarah who there interposes for her protection; and:


(2) the apparent resemblance between the two incidents is more than

counterbalanced by the points of diversity which subsist between them –

came to Abimelech in a dream - the usual mode of self-revelation

employed by Elohim towards heathen. Compare Pharaoh's dreams

(ch. 41:1) and Nebuchadnezzar's (Daniel 4:5), as distinguished from the

visions in which Jehovah manifests His presence to His people. Compare

the theophanies vouchsafed to Abraham (ch. 12:7; 15:1; 18:1) and to Jacob

(ch.28:13; 32:24), and the visions granted to Daniel (Daniel 7:1-28; 10:5-9)

and the prophets generally, which, though sometimes occurring in dreams,

were yet a higher form of Divine manifestation than the dreams - by night,

and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, - literally, behold thyself

dying, or about to die - σὺ ἀποθνήσκειςsu apothnaeskeisyou are a

dead man (Septuagint).  Abimelech, it is probable, was by this time suffering

from the malady which had fallen on his house (see v. 17) - for (i.e. on account

of) the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife - literally,

married to a husband, or  under lordship to a lord (compare Deuteronomy 22:22).


4 “But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay

also a righteous nation?”  But Abimelech had not come near her. Apparently

withheld by the peculiar disease which had overtaken him. The statement of the

present verse (a similar one to which is not made with reference to Pharaoh)

was clearly rendered necessary by the approaching birth of Isaac, who might

otherwise have been said to be the child not of Abraham, but of the Philistine

king. And he said, Lord, - Adonai (see ch.15:2) - wilt thou slay also a righteous

nation? Anticipating that the stroke of Divine judgment was about to fall upon

his people as well as on himself, with allusion to the fate of Sodom (Knobel),

which he deprecates for his people at least on the ground that they are innocent

of the offence charged against him (compare II Samuel 24:17). That Abimelech

and his people, like Melchisedeck and his subjects, had some knowledge of the

true God, and that the Canaanites generally at this period had not reached the

depth of moral degradation into which the cities of the Jordan circle had sunk

before their overthrow, is apparent from the narrative. The comparative virtue,

therefore, of these tribes was a proof that the hour had not arrived for the infliction

on them of the doom of extermination.


5 “Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said,

He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands

have I done this.”  Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she

herself said, He is my brother. From which it is clear that the Philistine monarch,

equally with the Egyptian Pharaoh, shrank from the sin of adultery. In the

integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. I.e. he assumes

the right of kings to take unmarried persons into their harems,


6 “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the

integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me:

therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.”  And God said unto him in a dream, -

"It is in full agreement with the nature of dreams that the communication should

be made in several, and not in one single act; compare ch. 37, and 41; Matthew 2.

(Lange) - Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart - i.e. judged

from thy moral standpoint. The words do not imply a Divine acquittal as to the

essential guiltiness of the act, which is clearly involved in the instruction to seek

the mediation of God's prophet (v. 7). For I also withheld thee from sinning

against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her (see on v. 4).


7 “Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray

for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou

shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.”  Now therefore restore the man his

wife. Literally, the wife of the man, God now speaking of Abraham non tanquam de

homine quolibet, sod peculiariter sibi charum (Calvin). For he is a prophet. Nabi,

from naba, to cause to bubble up; hence to pour forth, applied to one who speaks

by a Divine inspiration (Deuteronomy 13:2; Judges 6:8; I Samuel 9:9; I Kings 22:7).

The office of the Nabi was twofold:


·         to announce the will of God to men Exodus 4:15; 7:1), and

·         to intercede with God for men (here;  Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).


The use of the term Nabi in this place neither proves that the spirit of prophecy

had not existed from the beginning (compare ch. 9:25-27), nor shows that the

Pentateuch, which always uses this term, cannot be of greater antiquity than

the time of Samuel, before which, according to I Samuel 9:9, the prophet was

called a seer (Bohlen, Hartmann). As used in the Pentateuch the term describes

the recipient of Divine revelations, and as such it was incorporated in the

Mosaic legislation. During the period of the Judges the term Roeh appears

to have come into use, and to have held its ground until the reformation of

Samuel, when the older theocratic term was again reverted to (see Havernick,

§ 19). And he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live. Literally, live thou,

the imperative being used for the future in strong prophetic assurances

(compare Psalm 128:5; see Gesenius, § 130). And if thou restore her not,

know thou that thou shalt surely die, - literally, dying thou shalt die (compare

ch. 2:17) - thou, and all that are thine.


8 “Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his

servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore

afraid.”  Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, - an evidence of

the terror into which' he had been cast by the Divine communication, and of

his earnest desire to carry out the Divine instructions - and called all his servants,

and told all these things in their ears: - confessed his fault, explained his danger,

and affirmed his intention to repair his error; a proof of the humility of this

God-fearing king (Lange) - and the men were sere afraid. It spoke well for the

king's household that they received the communication with seriousness.


9 “Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou

done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on

me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that

ought not to be done.”  Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him

(in the presence of his people), What hast thou done unto us? - identifying

himself once more with his people, as he had already done in responding to God

(v. 4) - and what have I offended thee (thus modestly allowing that he may himself

have unwittingly occasioned the sin of Abraham), that thou hast brought on me

and on my kingdom a great sin? The gravamen (most serious part of his

accusation) of Abimelech's accusation was that Abraham had led him and his to

offend against God, and so to lay themselves open to the penalties of wrong-doing.

Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. Literally, deeds which

ought not to be done thou hast done with me (compare ch. 34:7; Leviticus 4:2, 13;

see Glass, 'Philol. Tract., 1. 3. t. 3. 100. 6.). The king's words were unquestionably

designed to convey a severe reproach.


10 “And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast

done this thing?”  And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, -

either, What hadst thou in view? (Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Murphy, et alii), or,

What didst thou see? Didst thou see any of my people taking the wives of

strangers and murdering their husbands? (Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary') –

that thou hast done this thing?


11 “And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this

place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.”  And Abraham said (offering as

his first apology for his sinful behavior the fear which he entertained of the depravity

of the people), Because I thought, - literally, said (in my heart) - Surely the fear of

God is not in this place; - otherwise, there is not any fear of God, רק having usually

a confirming sense with reference to what follows (compare Deuteronomy 4:6;

I Kings 14:8; see Gesenius, p. 779) - and they will slay me for my wife's sake.


12 “And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not

the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.”  And yet indeed she is my

sister. This was the second of the patriarch's extenuating pleas, that he had not exactly

lied, having uttered at least a half truth. She is the daughter of my father (Terah),

But not the daughter of my mother. That Sarah was the grand-daughter of Terah,

i.e. the daughter of Haran, and sister of Lot, in other words, Iscah, has been

maintained (Josephus, Augustine, Jerome, Jonathan). That she was Terah's niece,

being a brother's daughter adopted by him, has received some support (Calvin);

but there seems no reason for departing from the statement of the text, that she was her

husband's half-sister, i.e. Terah's daughter by another wife than Abraham's mother

(Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Keil, Knobel). And she became my wife.


13 “And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house,

that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every

place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.”  And it came to pass,

when God caused me to wander (or to go on pilgrimages) from my father's house, -

Elohim, usually construed with a singular verb, is here joined with a verb in the

plural, as an accommodation to the polytheistic stand-point of Abimelech (Keil),

as a proof that Elohim is to be viewed as a Pluralis Majes-taticus (Kalisch), as

referring to the plurality of Divine manifestations which Abraham had received

(Lange), as showing that Elohim here signifies angels (Calvin), or, most likely,

as an instance of the literal meaning of the term as the supernatural powers

(Murphy. Compare ch. 35:7; Exodus 22:8; II Samuel 7:23; Psalm 58:12.

- that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt

show unto me. The third plea which the patriarch presented for his conduct;

it had no special reference to Abimelech, but was the result of an old compact

formed between himself and Sarah. At every place whither he shall come,

say of me, He is my brother (compare ch.12:13).


14 “And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants,

and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.”And Abimelech

as Pharaoh did (ch. 12:18), but with a different motive - took sheep, and oxen, and

men-servants, and women-servants. The Septuagint and Samaritan insert "a thousand

didrachmas" after "took," in order to include Sarah's present, mentioned in v. 16; but

the two donations are separated in order to distinguish them as Abraham's gift and

Sarah's respectively (Rosenmüller, Delitzsch), or the sum of money may indicate

the value of the sheep and oxen, &c. which Abraham received (Keil, Knobel,

Lange, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And gave them unto Abraham. To propitiate

his favor for the wrong he had suffered. Pharaoh's gifts were "for the sake of Sarah"

(ch. 12:16). And restored him Sarah his wife.


15 “And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth

thee.”  Literally, in the good in thine eyes; the generous Philistine offering him a

settlement within his borders, whereas the Egyptian monarch hastened his departure

from the country (ch. 12:20).


16 “And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces

of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee,

and with all other: thus she was reproved.”  And unto Sarah he said, Behold,

I have given thy Brother a thousand pieces of silver. Literally, a thousand of silver,

the exact weight of each piece being uncertain. If sacred shekels (Gesenius, Keil,

Kalisch) their value would be over £130, if shekels ordinary somewhat less.

Behold, he - i.e. thy brother; or it, i.e. the present (Septuagint, Vulgate, Targums,

Syriac) - is to thee a covering of the eyes. כְּסוּת עֵינַיִם (from a root signifying to

cover over) has been understood as


(1) a propitiatory gift - τιμὴ - timae (Septuagint), or


(2) a veil for the protection of the face;


and, according as the subject of the sentence has been regarded as Abraham

or the sum of money, the sense of the clause has been given as either


(1) he, i.e. thy brother, will be to thee a protection, hiding thee like a veil, from

      the voluptuous desires of others (Aben Ezra, Cajetan, Calvin, Kalisch); or


(2) it, i.e. this present of mine, will be to thee a propitiatory offering to make thee

      overlook my offence (Chrysostom, Gesenius, Furst, Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil,

      Murphy); or


(3) a declaration of thy purity, and so a defense to thee against any calumnious

      aspersions (Castalio); or


(4) the purchase-money of a veil to hide thy beauty, lest others be ensnared (Vulgate,

     Amble, Kitto, Clark); or


(5) the means of procuring that bridal veil which married females should never lay

      aside (compare ch. 24:65; Dathe, Vitringa, Michaelis, Baumgarten, Rosenmüller).

      The exact sense of this difficult passage can scarcely be said to have been

      determined, though of the above interpretations the choice seems to lie between

      the first and second. Unto all that are with thee, and with all other. I.e. in

      presence of thy domestics and of all with whom thou mayest yet mingle, either

     Abraham will be thy best defense, or let my gift be an atonement, or a veil, etc.


Thus she was reproved. וְנֹכָחַת. If a third person singular niph. of יָכַח (Onkelos,

Arabic, Kimchi, Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Furst), then it is the historian's statement

signifying that Sarah had been convicted, admonished, and left defenseless

(Gesenius); or, connecting the preceding words וִאֶתאּכֹּל, that, with regard to all,

right had been obtained (Furst), or that all had been done that she might be righted

(Murphy); but if a second person singular niph. (Septuagint, Vulgate, Delitzsch, Keil,

Lange, Murphy, Kalisch), then it is a continuation of Abimelech's address, meaning

neither καὶ πάντα ἀλήθευσονkai panta alaetheuson - (Septuagint), nor memento

te deprehensam (Vulgate), but either, "and thou art reproved" (Wordsworth), or,

"and thou wilt be recognized" (Kalisch), or, again connecting with the preceding

words, "and with all, so thou art justified or set right" (Delitzsch, Keil, Lange),

 or, "and all this that thou mayest be righted " (Murphy) or "reproved" (Ainsworth).




                                    Abraham and Abimelech at Gerar (vs. 15-16)


  • THE UNIVERSALITY OF DIVINE GRACE. The varieties in moral

            state of nations is a testimony to God’s forbearing mercy. There was

            evidently a great contrast between such people as dwelt under Abimelech’s

            rule and the cities of the plain, which helps us to see the extreme

            wickedness of the latter. It was probably no vain boast which the king

            uttered when he spoke of “the integrity of his heart and innocency of his

            hands.” Moreover, God appeared to him by dreams, and it is implied that

            he would have the greatest reverence for Jehovah’s prophet. Abraham

            testified the same; although he declared that the fear of God was not in the

            place, still he sojourned in Gerar, and after Lot’s experience he would not

            have done so unless he had believed it to be very different from Sodom.



            GROUND OF THEIR ACCEPTANCE WITH HIM. It is strange that the

            Egyptian experience should not have taught the patriarch simply to trust in

            God. But the imperfect faith justifies; the grace of God alone sanctifies.

            The conduct of Abimelech is throughout honorable and straightforward.

            Abraham’s equivocation is not excusable. It sprang from fear, and it was

            no sudden error, but a deliberate policy which betokened weakness, to say

            the least.


  • THE LORD BRINGS GOOD OUT OF EVIL. Abimelech’s character

            is a bright spot in the terrible picture of evil and its consequences. By the

            discipline of Providence the errors and follies of men are made the

            opportunities for learning God’s purposes and character. The contact of

            the less enlightened with the more enlightened, though it may humble both,

            gives room for Divine teaching and gracious bestowments. Again we are

            reminded “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16)

            not because he is himself righteous, but because he is the ‘channel of

            blessing to others, chosen of God’s free grace.


17 “So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife,

and his maidservants; and they bare children.”  So Abraham prayed unto God.

Literally, the Elohim, the personal and true God, and not Elohim, or Deity in general,

to whom belonged the cure of Abimelech and his household (Keil), as the next clause

shows. And God (Elohim, without the art.) healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his

maid-servants; - i.e. his concubines, as distinguished from the women servants

(v. 14) - and they bare children. The verb may apply to both sexes, and the malady

under which they suffered may be here described as one which prevented procreation,

as the next verse explains.


18 “For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech,

because of Sarah Abraham's wife.”  For the Lord (Jehovah; see on v. 3) had fast

closed up all the wombs - i.e. prevented conception, or produced barrenness

(compare ch.16:2; Isaiah 66:9; I Samuel 1:5-6; for the opposite, ch. 29:31;  30:22);

"poena convenientissima; quid enim convenientius esse poterat, quam ut amittat,

qui ad se rapit aliena" (Musculus). See Havernick, § 19 - of the house of Abimelech,

because of Sarah Abraham's wife - the motive obviously being to protect the purity

of the promised seed.



Abraham in Gerar, or Two Royal Sinners (vs. 1-18)




Ø      An old sin repeated. “Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister.”

Twenty years before the same miserable equivocation had been circulated

in Egypt. A sin once committed is not difficult to repeat, especially if its

legitimate consequences, as in the case of Abraham and Sarah, have been

mercifully averted. One is apt to fancy that a like immunity will attend its



Ø      A worthless lie propagated. Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took

Sarah.” Designed for protection in both Egypt and Gerar, the ignoble

expedient of the patriarch was in both places equally ineffectual. (As

usually the case!  CY2019)  So does all sin tend to outwit itself,

and in the end generally proves abortive in its designs.


Ø      A deliberate fraud practiced. As Abraham explained to Abimelech, it

was no sudden impulse on which he acted, but a pre-conceiveded scheme

which he had put in operation. Intended for the extenuation (the action of

lessening the seriousness of guilt or an offense) of his fault, this was in reality

an aggravation. Sin leisurely and knowingly gone about is ever more

heinous than that into which the heart and will are surprised.  (“Sin will

take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay,

and cost you more than you want to pay.”- R. G. Lee; Adrian Rogers;

Robbie Zacharias)


Sin will take you farther than you want to go,

keep you longer than you want to stay, and

cost you more than you want to pay.


Not only does sin have consequences,

but also each time we sin,

we reinforce a pattern that

becomes harder and harder to break.


If we persist in sin with the thought that

one day we will get right with God,

we should remind ourselves

that God may still be there to forgive and restore

but we may not be.


Ø      An unjustifiable suspicion entertained. All the preceding sins had their

origin in what the event proved to be an altogether unwarranted estimate

of Abimelech and his people. The patriarch said to himself, “Surely the fear

of God is not in this place, and they will slay me for my wife’s sake,”

without reflecting that he was not only deciding without evidence, but

doing an injustice to the monarch and the people into whose land he was

crossing.  (Often the best policy is to give our fellow man the “benefit

of the doubt.”  a condensed version of a quote from

Dr. Charles Stanley – CY – 2019)


·         LEARN:


Ø      How hard it is to lay aside one’s besetting sin. The character of the

patriarch, otherwise so noble, appears to have had a natural bias

towards deception.

Ø      How difficult it is to lead a life of faith. One would have thought that by

this time every vestige of carnal policy would have been eliminated from

the walk of Abraham.

Ø      How possible it is for an eminent saint to relapse into great sin. If

Abraham illustrated the virtues, he likewise remarkably exemplified the

weaknesses of God’s believing people.

Ø      How wrong it is to cherish and act upon uncharitable views of others.

True religion always leans to the side of charity in judging of the

Characters of men.




Ø      A common sin. The popularity of an action, though not sufficient to

make it good, may serve, in some degree, to extenuate its guilt where it is



Ø      An unconscious sin. The narrative distinctly represents Abimelech as a

prince who feared God and shrank from incurring His displeasure — a

character which all kings should study to possess. Abimelech himself

claimed to have perpetrated no offence against the law of God in acting as

he did, which shows that the voice of conscience always speaks according

to its light. The avowal which he makes of his integrity is admitted by

Jehovah as correct — a proof that God judges men according to their

privileges. Yet it was:


Ø      A great sin. Implied in the Divine direction to seek the friendly

intercession of the patriarch, it was admitted by Abimelech when once

his mind was enlightened as to the true character of the deed he had



·         SEE HERE:


Ø      A lesson of charity concerning peoples and individuals outside the visible


Ø      A proof that men are not necessarily free from guilt because their

consciences fail to accuse them.

Ø      A good sign of true contrition, viz., the acknowledgment of sin when it

is pointed out.





Ø      With the prince.


o        Restraining grace. God withheld him from proceeding to further

      sin by doing injury to Sarah, the means employed being disease

      which was sent upon both the monarch and his house. So God

      frequently interposes by afflictive dispensations to prevent

      those who fear Him from running into sins of which perhaps

      they are not aware.


o        Illuminating grace. Appearing in a dream, Elohim disclosed the true

                        character of His offence, and quickened his conscience to apprehend

                        the guilt and danger which had been incurred. Sincere souls who fear

                        God and are faithful to the light they have are never left to wander

                        in darkness, but in God’s time and way are mysteriously guided

                        to the path of safety and duty (Psalm 25:12-14).


o        Directing grace. Finding the heathen monarch s heart susceptible of

                        good impressions, God further counseled him how to act in order to

                        obtain forgiveness, viz., to solicit the mediating services of Abraham,

                        who in this matter was a type of heaven’s great High Priest and

                        Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). Compare God’s way of dealing with

                        erring men (Job 33:14-33).


Ø      With the patriarch.


o        Protection. A second time he shielded His erring servant from the

                        consequences of his own folly. A mark of God’s tender pity towards

                        sinful men.


o        Reproof. Besides being much needed, it was exceedingly severe, and

                        must have been deeply humiliating. God often permits His people to

                        be rebuked by the world for their good.


o        Honor. God is ever better to His people than their deserts. Not

      only did He direct Abimelech to ask the help of Abraham, but He

      constituted Abraham the medium of bestowing blessings on

      Abimelech. So does God honor Abraham’s seed, Christ, by

      exalting Him in the world’s sight as THE ONE MEDIATOR

      BETWEEN GOD and Abraham’s children, the Church,

                        by making them the instruments of drawing down blessings on

                        the world.


·         LEARN:


1. That God’s dealings with sinning men are always adapted to the peculiar

    characters of their respective sins.  (A man’s ways coming home to him –

    See Spurgeon Sermon Proverbs ch14 v14 – Spurgeon Sermon – How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him

    - this website # 1246 – CY – 2019)

2. That God never chastises men, either by affliction or rebuke, for His

    pleasure, but for their profit.

3. That God never pardons sin without bestowing blessing on the sinner.




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