And the men turned their faces from there, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.…
Next to being concerned about his own safety, a good man will be anxious that others should be saved. The Bible contains several examples of this benevolent anxiety. Thus Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17), Isaiah (Isaiah 23:4), Lot (2 Peter 2:7, 8), &c., &c. The reasons are clear.
1. A good man cannot forget his own past life.
2. He has now a clear view of the nature and effects of sin.
3. He desires the extension of the kingdom of God. Hence his intercession for Sodom was —
I. MARKED BY GREAT IMPORTUNITY. Importunity an element of successful prayer. Jacob wrestled till the break of day. The blind man (Mark 10:48) cried "so much the more." Our Lord enforced importunity in His teachings (Luke 18:1; see also Luke 11:5; Luke 21:36; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Abraham was importunate. Prayed six times, and obtained six distinct answers.
II. CHARACTERIZED BY WONDERFUL HUMILITY.
1. Did not presume upon the distinguished relation in which he stood to God. Always referred his request to the will and character of God. He prayed because a good man ought to pray; not because being good he deserved to be answered.
2. Acknowledged he was but "dust and ashes" in the presence of God. The Pharisee and the Publican.
III. FILLED WITH LOFTY REGARD FOR THE CHARACTER OF GOD.
1. He assumed that the wicked ought to be punished. Of this he expresses no doubt. Adopts this as the inevitable determination of infinite justice. Yet earnestly desires that the righteous may be spared. Would have men know that the righteous God distinguished between the good and the bad. Would rather the wicked should be mercifully spared than that the righteous should be unrighteously destroyed.
IV. SIGNALIZED BY A WIDE CHARITY. Would fain believe that there were fifty righteous souls even in Sodom (com. with those who thought that nothing good could come out of Nazareth). Still clung to the hope that there might be some, however few, good men in that vile place. Charity hopeth all things. Would sooner believe too much that was good of Sodom than too little.
V. DISTINGUISHED BY PROFOUND ACQUIESCENCE IN THE WILL OF GOD. Was afraid to go beyond that will. "Suffer me to speak," &c. Went as far as he felt that he dared. Found, as he proceeded, that God would be merciful as well as just; even to the worst. Was willing to save many for the sake of a few (see Matthew 13:28, 29). LEARN —
1. TO pity sinners, and hate sin.
2. To prize the righteous. "The salt of the earth."
3. To intercede for one's own house especially (Job 1:5).
(J. C. Gray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.