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
a constant pilgrimage (
southern district of Palestine (ch. 12:9; 13:1); the central region of
called Hahor, or the Highlands; the
eastern, towards the
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
That Abraham should a second time have resorted to this ignoble expedient after
the hazardous experience of
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
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.
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.”
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 ἀποθνήσκεις – su apothnaeskeis – you 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
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
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
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,
(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,
(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 ἀλήθευσον – kai 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)
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,
have done so unless he had believed it to be very different from
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
is a bright spot in the terrible picture of evil and its consequences. By 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)
· THE SIN OF THE HEBREW PATRIARCH
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
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
expedient of the patriarch was in both places equally ineffectual. (As
usually the case! CY – 2019) 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;
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)
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
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.
· THE SIN OF THE HEATHEN PRINCE.
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.
· GOD’S DEALINGS WITH THE PRINCE AND WITH THE
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
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
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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