Genesis 17:4
"As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.
Distrust of God's PromiseGurnall, WilliamGenesis 17:3-8
Faith in God's Naked WordGurnall, WilliamGenesis 17:3-8
God Talked with HimE. Payson, D. D.Genesis 17:3-8
God's Everlasting CovenantJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Genesis 17:3-8
The Ratification of the CovenantThe Congregational PulpitGenesis 17:3-8
The Second Stage of the CovenantT. H. Leale.Genesis 17:3-8

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. In what sense are we to take this? None can keep God's law perfectly (Romans 7:23). And why at this point in Abram's history the emphatic "I am?" &c. The character of his life was faith (cf. Hebrews 11:6) resting on the promises made him (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5). The last of these was a special instance of faith. But the triumph was followed by a fall - impatience, would not wait God's time (cf. Psalm 27:14; Psalm 31:15). An instance of a common fault - partial faith (cf. Matthew 4:4; Matthew 14:28-31). The result was disappointment. Thirteen years passed. Must we not connect this with his fault? Want of faith delayed the blessing (cf. Numbers 14:33). Then came the word of the Lord - a gentle rebuke (cf. Matthew 8:26), and a precept: "Walk before me," &c. Return to thy first faith; let it be perfect, not partial (cf. Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 17:20).

I. A LESSON FOR BELIEVERS. Watch lest faith grow cold. Some like not to retain God in their thoughts. They hide themselves from him amid the vanities of the world. But his people, who have known his love (1 John 3:1), why should they ever shrink from opening their whole heart to him? Yet, imperceptibly perhaps, there is a change. The faith is held, but the sunshine is gone. The desire to tell all to God is not there. Why? The man has set his heart upon something, and cannot trust God's love; or he is drawn to something he cannot approve, and listens to what can be said for it (cf. Romans 14:4); or he has fallen into self-sufficiency. Then reserve towards God. The hidden life becomes disordered. No longer the desire that he should know all and guide all. And thus uneasiness, reserve, distance. Then follow plans to quiet the uneasiness - business, ceremony, theology, or work in some other direction. But no real communion with God in all this.

II. THE REMEDY. "Walk before me." Recognize the evil. Believe the cause. Be not faithless. Bear in mind God's presence (cf. Psalm 62:1-7). Seek not to hide from him, or to justify self. And "be perfect," i.e. matured; not in any high or strange attainment, but in that which a child may learn in trusting God's truth and love; in bringing thoughts, wants, and wishes before him. Towards this active obedience and following Christ are means; and, above all, sincerity, and a real definite dedication of the life to God.

III. ENCOURAGEMENT. "I am the Almighty God" - all-powerful (Isaiah 59:1; Luke 1:37) and all-loving (Psalm 37:5; Romans 8:32). This, really believed, would remove anxious care. What is it that leads thee to seek another way? The consciousness of having wandered. Has he not made provision for this? (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 2:1). Or is it that the blessing long desired is not given? Some power, some opportunity for God's work, and still the door is closed; or it may be some spiritual gift, some token of growth in grace, and still the evil of thy nature is unsubdued. Be patient (James 1:4). Thy Father in heaven will not fail thee (Romans 6:14). Walk before him. Tell him all that is in thy mind. In his time thou shalt find peace (Philippians 4:6; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 21:7). - M

My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Already Jehovah, the Covenant God, had appeared thrice to Abram.

1. Simply to assure him that he should be blessed, and become a blessing (Genesis 12:7).

2. To give him the promise of a numerous progeny, as the dust of the earth for multitude (Genesis 13:16).

3. To repeat this assurance, but now likening the number of his seed to the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5). This third vision was confirmed by a solemn sacrifice. In it God stands clearly out as the contracting party, conveying certain blessings to Abram, and requiring the performance of no distinct conditions on His part. Now the covenant has moved forwards another stage, and Abram is to take his own part in it by receiving the appointed sign — "the sign and seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised" (Romans 4:11). This second stage of the covenant was marked —

I. BY MORE DEFINITE AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL PROMISES. This law of progressive revelation has an illustration in the case of Abram. The original promise is renewed, but spread more out into details. Consider these promised blessings —

1. In their natural greatness. Though they have a higher meaning and importance, yet there are aspects of them which belong entirely to this present world.

2. In their spiritual significance. Their ultimate reference is above and beyond the things of time and sense. The sands on the sea shore, and the multitude of the stars, speak to us Christians of the number and extent of the true Church of God.

II. BY A CHANCED NAME. Abram had reached a new stage in his history, and this is indicated by a new name. With God, names are not empty designations, but represent the truth of things. To Abraham it was as a new life to find the promises growing more clear, the gifts of God's goodness more palpable and evident.

III. BY SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT ON THE PART OF GOD. God is the fountain of the blessing, and the sole proposer of the terms. His covenant is the only foundation of all our hope. We can look for nothing but what is thus assured to us. To believers in covenant, God conveys the riches which are in Christ. They are bound to a life of faith and love, and He engages Himself to impart His fulness,

1. This should excite our gratitude.

2. It should stimulate our faith.

3. It should excite our reverence.

(T. H. Leale.)

The Congregational Pulpit.

1. His revelation of Himself.

2. He changes the names of the patriarch and his wife.

3. An enlarged promise.

4. The promise of a son to Sarah.

5. Yet Ishmael is remembered for good.


1. He readily entered into the covenant.

2. He instantly submitted to the prescribed rite.

3. He included in the covenant all whom he could influence.

III. APPLICATION. God proposes to enter into covenant with us. He has given His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, and made us the most gracious and abundant promises. Now, we are required to take up the covenant and accept the conditions of it.

1. Look at the covenant on God's part.

(1)He reveals Himself to us as the Almighty. Think of His greatness and power.

(2)He gives us a new name, He calls us His sons. He changes our nature, and makes us partakers of His own.

(3)He appoints us the sign and seal of baptism and the Lord's Supper, in token of our covenant relation to Him.

(4)He then lays upon us His great and holy command, in keeping of which we shall realize perfect safety and immortal blessedness.

2. Our duty.(1) We are to walk before God, the Almighty.

(a)Remember His presence.

(b)Seek His guidance and approval in all we do.

(c)Look to Him for protection and reward.(2) In this way we shall be perfect. Sincere and upright. Happy. Safe.

(The Congregational Pulpit.)


II. THIS COVENANT IS A PERPETUAL COVENANT. "Everlasting" is the period of its duration. It is for all ages, all dispensations, all believers in all the world to the end of time.

III. THIS COVENANT WAS MADE WITH ABRAM AND HIS SEED AFTER HIM. Parents do not make enough of it, or plead it with sufficient faith and persistency.


(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

The more entirely thou canst rely on God's naked word and promise, the stronger is thy faith; for then thou trustest Him on His own credit, without any bond from another; and this is faith indeed. He that walks without staff or crutch, is stronger than he that needs these to lean on.

( W. Gurnall..)

The awkwardness of our hearts to suffer comes much from distrust. An unbelieving soul treads upon the promise, as a man upon ice; at first going upon it he is full of fears, lest it should crack.

( W. Gurnall..)

I. SATISFACTORY COMMUNION. The Rev. James Owen, of Shrewsbury, being asked, when on his death bed, whether he would have some of his friends sent for to keep him company, replied, "My fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, and he that is not satisfied with that company doth not deserve it."

II. DEGREES OF COMMUNION. Some value the presence of their Saviour so highly that they cannot bear to be at any remove from Him. Even their work they will bring up, and do it in the light of His countenance, and, while engaged in it, will be seen constantly raising their eyes to Him, as if fearful of losing one beam of His light. Others who, to be sure, would not be content to live out of His presence, are yet less wholly absorbed by it than these, and may be seen, a little farther off, engaged here and there in their various callings, their eyes generally upon their work, but often looking up for the light which they love. A third class, beyond these, but yet within the light-giving rays, includes a double multitude, many of whom are so much engaged in their worldly schemes, that they may be seen standing sideways to Christ, looking mostly the other way, and only now and then turning their faces toward the light.

(E. Payson, D. D.)

Abram, Isaac, Ishmael, Sarah, Sarai
Agreement, Behold, Covenant, Hast, Multitude, Nations
1. God renews the covenant with Abram,
5. and changes his name to Abraham, in token of a greater blessing.
9. Circumcision is instituted.
15. Sarai's name is changed to Sarah, and she is blessed.
17. Isaac is promised, and the time of his birth fixed.
23. Abraham and Ishmael are circumcised.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 17:4

     1443   revelation, OT

Genesis 17:1-7

     5686   fathers, examples

Genesis 17:1-8

     1335   blessing
     5076   Abraham, life of
     6667   grace, in OT

Genesis 17:1-22

     5467   promises, divine
     7915   confirmation

Genesis 17:3-8

     5044   names, giving of

Genesis 17:4-6

     5424   nationalism

Genesis 17:4-7

     6160   fathers, sin of

Genesis 17:4-8

     5701   heir

Genesis 17:4-14

     1348   covenant, with Abraham

Consecration to God --Illustrated by Abraham's Circumcision
Let me remind you of the order in which these blessings come. If we should speak of sanctification or consecration, it is not as a first thing, but as an elevation to be reached only by preceding stepping-stones. In vain do men pretend to be consecrated to God before they are called of God's Spirit; such have yet to be taught that no strength of nature can suffice to serve the Lord aright. They must learn what this meaneth, "Ye must be born again," for assuredly until men are brought into spiritual
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 14: 1868

(First Sunday in Lent) GENESIS xvii. 1, 2. And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. I have told you that the Bible reveals, that is, unveils the Lord God, Jesus Christ our Lord, and through him God the Father Almighty. I have tried to show you how the Bible does so, step by step. I go on to show you another step which the Bible takes, and which explains much that has gone before. From
Charles Kingsley—The Gospel of the Pentateuch

With, Before, After
'Enoch walked with God,'--GENESIS v. 22. 'Walk before Me.'--GENESIS xvii. 1. 'Ye shall walk after the Lord your God.'--DEUTERONOMY xiii. 4. You will have anticipated, I suppose, my purpose in doing what I very seldom do--cutting little snippets out of different verses and putting them together. You see that these three fragments, in their resemblances and in their differences, are equally significant and instructive. They concur in regarding life as a walk--a metaphor which expresses continuity,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Balaam's Prophecy. (Numb. xxiv. 17-19. )
Carried by the Spirit into the far distant future, Balaam sees here how a star goeth out of Jacob and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and how this sceptre smiteth Moab, by whose enmity the Seer had been brought from a distant region for the destruction of Israel. And not Moab only shall be smitten, but its southern neighbour, Edom, too shall be subdued, whose hatred against Israel had already been prefigured in its ancestor, and had now begun to display Itself; and In general, all the enemies of
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Birth and Early Life of John the Baptist.
(Hill Country of Judæa, b.c. 5.) ^C Luke I. 57-80. ^c 57 Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her [mercy in granting a child; great mercy in granting so illustrious a child] ; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass on the eighth day [See Gen. xvii. 12; Lev. xii. 3; Phil. iii. 5. Male children were named at their circumcision, probably
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Circumcision, Temple Service, and Naming of Jesus.
(the Temple at Jerusalem, b.c. 4) ^C Luke II. 21-39. ^c 21 And when eight days [Gen. xvii. 12] were fulfilled for circumcising him [The rite was doubtless performed by Joseph. By this rite Jesus was "made like unto his brethren" (Heb. ii. 16, 17); that is, he became a member of the covenant nation, and became a debtor to the law--Gal. v. 3] , his name was called JESUS [see Luke i. 59], which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. [Luke i. 31.] 22 And when the days of their
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
God's procedure when imitable forms a peculiar argument for duty. That is made known for many reasons; among which must stand this,--that it may be observed and followed as an example. That, being perfect, is a safe and necessary pattern to follow. The law of God proclaims what he wills men as well as angels to do. The purposes of God show what he has resolved to have accomplished. The constitutions of his moral subjects intimate that he has provided that his will shall be voluntarily accomplished
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Power of God
The next attribute is God's power. Job 9:19. If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong.' In this chapter is a magnificent description of God's power. Lo, he is strong.' The Hebrew word for strong signifies a conquering, prevailing strength. He is strong.' The superlative degree is intended here; viz., He is most strong. He is called El-shaddai, God almighty. Gen 17:7. His almightiness lies in this, that he can do whatever is feasible. Divines distinguish between authority and power. God has both.
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Confessing Christ an Indispensable Duty.
"--If we deny him, he also will deny us." This is predicated of Christ; and looks forward to the day when all mankind will stand before him as their judge. Denying Christ is here declared to be a mortal sin. Those found guilty of it will hear that sentence--"Depart ye cursed!" But this is to be understood only of a persevering denial of him. Those who turn by a timely repentance, will find mercy. This is true of every sin. But repentance may be too late. It must antecede death, or it will be of
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer
CHAPTER I The Universal Call to Prayer What a dreadful delusion hath prevailed over the greater part of mankind, in supposing that they are not called to a state of prayer! whereas all are capable of prayer, and are called thereto, as all are called to and are capable of salvation. Prayer is the application of the heart to God, and the internal exercise of love. S. Paul hath enjoined us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. v 17), and our Lord saith, "I say unto you all, watch and pray" (Mark xiii.
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

All are Commanded to Pray --Prayer the Great Means of Salvation
CHAPTER I. ALL ARE COMMANDED TO PRAY--PRAYER THE GREAT MEANS OF SALVATION, AND POSSIBLE AT ALL TIMES BY THE MOST SIMPLE. Prayer is nothing else but the application of the heart to God, and the interior exercise of love. St Paul commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. v. 17). Our Lord says: "Take ye heed, watch and pray." "And what I say unto you, I say unto all" (Mark xiii. 33, 37). All, then, are capable of prayer, and it is the duty of all to engage in it. But I do not think that all are
Jeanne Marie Bouvières—A Short Method Of Prayer And Spiritual Torrents

Nature of Covenanting.
A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions. It may be made between superiors and inferiors, or between equals. The sentiment that a covenant can be made only between parties respectively independent of one another is inconsistent with the testimony of Scripture. Parties to covenants in a great variety of relative circumstances, are there introduced. There, covenant relations among men are represented as obtaining not merely between nation and nation,
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Covenant of Grace
Q-20: DID GOD LEAVE ALL MANKIND TO PERISH 1N THE ESTATE OF SIN AND MISERY? A: No! He entered into a covenant of grace to deliver the elect out of that state, and to bring them into a state of grace by a Redeemer. 'I will make an everlasting covenant with you.' Isa 55:5. Man being by his fall plunged into a labyrinth of misery, and having no way left to recover himself, God was pleased to enter into a new covenant with him, and to restore him to life by a Redeemer. The great proposition I shall go
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them,' &c. Matt 28: 19. I. The way whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemptions, is, in the use of the sacraments. What are the sacraments in general? They are visible signs of invisible grace. Is not the word of God sufficient to salvation? What need then is there of sacraments? We must not be wise above what is written. It is God's will that his church
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

An Exposition on the First Ten Chapters of Genesis, and Part of the Eleventh
An unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among the author's papers after his death, in his own handwriting; and published in 1691, by Charles Doe, in a folio volume of the works of John Bunyan. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR Being in company with an enlightened society of Protestant dissenters of the Baptist denomination, I observed to a doctor of divinity, who was advancing towards his seventieth year, that my time had been delightfully engaged with John Bunyan's commentary on Genesis. "What,"
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Supplementary Note to Chapter ii. The Year of Christ's Birth.
The Christian era commences on the 1st of January of the year 754 of the city of Rome. That our Lord was born about the time stated in the text may appear from the following considerations-- The visit of the wise men to Bethlehem must have taken place a very few days after the birth of Jesus, and before His presentation in the temple. Bethlehem was not the stated residence of Joseph and Mary, either before or after the birth of the child (Luke i. 26, ii. 4, 39; Matt. ii. 2). They were obliged to
William Dool Killen—The Ancient Church

Peaceable Principles and True: Or, a Brief Answer to Mr. D'Anver's and Mr. Paul's Books against My Confession of Faith, and Differences in Judgment About Baptism no Bar to Communion.
WHEREIN THEIR SCRIPTURELESS NOTIONS ARE OVERTHROWN, AND MY PEACEABLE PRINCIPLES STILL MAINTAINED. 'Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?'--Psalm 58:1 SIR, I have received and considered your short reply to my differences in judgment about water baptism no bar to communion; and observe, that you touch not the argument at all: but rather labour what you can, and beyond what you ought, to throw odiums upon your brother for reproving you for your error,
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Influences that Gave Rise to the Priestly Laws and Histories
[Sidenote: Influences in the exile that produced written ceremonial laws] The Babylonian exile gave a great opportunity and incentive to the further development of written law. While the temple stood, the ceremonial rites and customs received constant illustration, and were transmitted directly from father to son in the priestly families. Hence, there was little need of writing them down. But when most of the priests were carried captive to Babylonia, as in 597 B.C., and ten years later the temple
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

John Bunyan on the Terms of Communion and Fellowship of Christians at the Table of the Lord;
COMPRISING I. HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH, AND REASON OF HIS PRACTICE; II. DIFFERENCES ABOUT WATER BAPTISM NO BAR TO COMMUNION; AND III. PEACEABLE PRINCIPLES AND TRUE[1] ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. Reader, these are extraordinary productions that will well repay an attentive perusal. It is the confession of faith of a Christian who had suffered nearly twelve years' imprisonment, under persecution for conscience sake. Shut up with his Bible, you have here the result of a prayerful study of those holy
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Promise to the Patriarchs.
A great epoch is, in Genesis, ushered in with the history of the time of the Patriarchs. Luther says: "This is the third period in which Holy Scripture begins the history of the Church with a new family." In a befitting manner, the representation is opened in Gen. xii. 1-3 by an account of the first revelation of God, given to Abraham at Haran, in which the way is opened up for all that follows, and in which the dispensations of God are brought before us in a rapid survey. Abraham is to forsake
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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