And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.…
The genesis of intercourse and controversy between the kingdom of God and the world power, as represented in the great southern kingdom of Egypt.
I. THE PRESSURE OF EARTHLY NECESSITIES FORMS THE OCCASION OF THE SOJOURN IN EGYPT. We are not told that Abram was sent by Divine direction amongst the temptations of the South; still there is providential protection even where there is not entire Divine approval. The Lord suffers his people to mingle with the world for their trial, and out of the evil brings ultimate good. Abram went for corn, but obtained much more - the wealth and civilization of Egypt.
II. SOJOURN IN THE MIDST OF WORLDLY POWER GENERALLY INVOLVES SOME COMPROMISE OF SPIRITUAL LIBERTY, some lowering of spiritual principle. Jehovah's servant condescends to prevarication and dissembling not for protection only, but "that it may be well with him." The danger to Sarai and to Abram was great. All compromise is danger.
III. IN THE SUBORDINATE SPHERE OF SOCIAL MORALITY THERE HAVE BEEN MANY INSTANCES OF CONSCIENCE ACTING MORE POWERFULLY WHERE THE LIGHT OF TRUTH HAS SHONE LESS CLEARLY. Pharaoh was a heathen, but he compares to advantage with Abram. Notice that these early plagues of Egypt mentioned in ver. 17 were very different from the later, although they illustrate the same truth, that by means of judgments God preserves his people and carries forward his kingdom, which is the truth exhibited in every apocalypse.
IV. The dismission of the little company of believers from Egypt was AT THE SAME TIME JUDGMENT AND MERCY. The beginning of that sojourn was wrong, the end of it was disgraceful. A short stay among the world's temptations will leave its results among the people of God, as the subsequent history testifies. Abram became very rich, but his riches had been wrongly obtained. There was trouble in store for him. God's method is to perfect his people not apart from their own character and ways, but by the gracious ordering of their history, so that while good and evil are mingled together, good shall yet ultimately be triumphant. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.