And the LORD appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;…
I. THE FRIENDLY VISIT.
1. Abraham's hospitality.
2. God's gracious acceptance. A singular instance of Divine condescension — the only recorded instance of the kind before the Incarnation.
II. THE FRIENDLY FELLOWSHIP. In the progress of the interview, as well as in its commencement, the Lord treats Abraham as a friend.
1. He converses with him familiarly, putting to him a question which no stranger in the East would reckon himself entitled to put. He inquires into his household matters, and asks after Sarah, his wife (ver. 9).
2. Then in the pains He takes, by reiterated assurances, to confirm the faith of Abraham and to overcome the unbelief of Sarah — in the tone of His simple appeal to Divine omnipotence as an answer to every doubt, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" — and in His mild but searching reproof of the dissimulation to which the fear of detection led Sarah, "Nay, but thou didst laugh," — in all this, does it not almost seem as if by anticipation we saw Jesus in the midst of His disciples, stretching forth His hand to catch the trembling Peter on the waters, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" or, after the denial, turning to look on Peter, so as to melt his soul to penitence and love!
3. It is chiefly, however, in the close of this interview that Abraham is treated by God as His friend; being, as it were, admitted into His deliberations, and consulted in regard to what He is about to do.
III. THE FRIENDLY AND CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION.
1. The Lord refers to the honour or privilege already granted to Abraham, as a reason for having no concealment from Him now (ver. 18).
2. The Lord, in communicating His purpose to Abraham His friend, refers not only to the high honour and privilege which that relation implies, but also to its great responsibility (ver. 19).
IV. THE LIBERTY OF FRIENDLY REMONSTRANCE.
1. There is no attempt here to pry into the secret things which belong to the Lord our God (Deuteronomy 29:29); no idea of meddling with the purposes or decrees of election, which the Lord reserves exclusively to Himself.
2. Nor in this pleading does Abraham arrogate anything to himself. He has boldness and access, with confidence, by the faith of Jesus. He has liberty to converse with God as a friend, to give utterance to his feelings and desires before Him, to represent his own case and the case of every one for whom he cares; and not for himself only, but for others, yea, indeed for all, to invoke the name of Him whose memorial to all generations is this: "The Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:6, 7).
3. Abraham's expostulation, accordingly, proceeds upon this name of the Lord, or in other words, upon the known and revealed principles of the Divine administration. Aspiring to no acquaintance with the secret decrees of God, and standing upon no claim of merit in himself, he has still warrant enough for all the earnestness of this intercessory pleading, in that broad general aspect of the character and moral government of God, to which he expressly refers. For he knows God as the just God and the Saviour; and on this twofold view of the ways of God he builds his argument in his intercessory prayer.
4. Such is the principle of Abraham's intercession for Sodom. And as it is founded on a right understanding of the nature and design of God's moral government of the world, in this dispensation of long-suffering patience, subordinate to a dispensation of grace, and preparatory to a dispensation of judgment, so it is combined with a spirit of entire submission to the Divine sovereignty.
(S. R. Candlish, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;