And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
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; 2 Kings 10:18), but godly men among God's own people (Genesis 26:7; 1 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 (cf. John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). This gives force to "I am the truth." Some see in text an act of faith; trust that God would make the plan (Ver. 13) successful. But faith must rest on God's word. Trust in what God gives 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 (Ver. 12), but were spoken to deceive, and did deceive.
I. ROOT OF HIS FAULT - UNBELIEF; want of all-embracing trust. His faith was real and vigorous (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12), but partial (cf. Genesis 27:19; Matthew 14:28). Shrank from trusting God fully. Turned to human devices, and thus turned out of the way (Proverbs 3:5). Partial distrust may be found even where 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. St. Peter was ready to fight for his Master, but failed to endure (Mark 14:50-71; Galatians 2:12). So to St. Paul's "What wilt thou have me to do?" the Lord's word was, "I will show him how great things he must suffer."
II. 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, Mast 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. 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). - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.