So when God had me journey from my father's house, I said to Sarah, 'This is how you can show your loyalty to me: Wherever we go, say of me, "He is my brother."'"
1. It is often strong in those who enjoy high religious privileges. Abraham thought himself so highly favoured of God that he was unwilling to admit that any goodness could be found among those who were less favoured.
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
. 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.
And Abraham said, Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place.
The true fear of God was at that moment in Abimelech's heart, and not in Abraham's; it was Abimelech who was playing the Christian part, that of the child of the light and of the day; Abraham was for the moment the child of fear, darkness, night.
I. CONSIDER THE ORIGIN OF THE HABIT OF HARSH JUDGMENT. TWO main sources.
1. The first a heathen Roman can illustrate for us (Acts 22:27, 28). The thing has cost us much; we feel it is hard to believe that it can be widely shared. Abraham had made a terrible sacrifice to assure his calling. As for those easy, jovial, prosperous heathen, surely the fear of God was not there.
2. A second source of this harshness of judgment is the predominance in all of us of the natural aristocratic principle over the Christian principle of communion. Men naturally believe in election. But, with tale exceptions, they naturally believe themselves to he the elect. It is hard indeed to believe that a private possession gains instead of loses by being shared by all mankind.
II. THE HISTORIES OF SCRIPTURE ARE A PERPETUAL WARNING AGAINST NARROW AND SELFISH JUDGMENTS OF MEN. It is as if the Spirit had resolved that the virtues of those outside the pale should be kept clearly before the eyes of men. God is no respecter of persons, and He keeps hold in ways, of which we little dream, of the most unlikely human hearts.
III. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN POLICY IN JUDGING MANKIND.
1. Let your personal fellowship be based on the clear explicit manifestation of that which is in tune with your higher life and Christ's.
2. As for those who are without, believe that God is nearer to them than you wot of, and has more to do with them than you dream.
MORALITY OUTSIDE THE CHURCH MAY ATTAIN TO GREAT EXCELLENCE.
1. Belief in a moral standard of right and wrong.
2. Belief in the moral relations of human society.
3. A sense of injured moral feeling in the presence of wrong.
4. A readiness to make restitution for faults committed against others.
II. MORALITY OUTSIDE THE CHURCH MAY HAVE LESSONS OF REPROOF FOR THOSE WHO ARE WITHIN IT.
1. For their mean subterfuges.
2. Their distrust of Providence.
3. Their religious prejudices.
2. The evils of it are great.
(1)It limits the power of the grace of God. He is not confined to one mode of making Himself known.
(2)It is a sin against charity.
(3)It issues in committing wrong against others.
PeopleAbimelech, Abraham, Sarah
PlacesGerar, Kadesh-barnea, Negeb, Shur Desert
TopicsBrother, Caused, Everywhere, Father's, Household, Kindness, Love, Pass, Shew, Sign, Wander, Wandering, Wherever, Whither
Outline1. Abraham sojourns at Gerar.
2. Denies his wife, who is taken by Abimelech.
3. Abimelech is reproved for her in a dream.
9. He rebukes Abraham.
14. Restores Sarah;
16. and reproves her.
17. Abimelech and his family are healed at Abraham's prayer.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 20:13
5076 Abraham, life of
6183 ignorance, of God
LibraryThe Sick Person Ought Now to Send for Some Godly and Religious Pastor.
In any wise remember, if conveniently it may be, to send for some godly and religious pastor, not only to pray for thee at thy death--for God in such a case hath promised to hear the prayers of the righteous prophets, and elders of the church (Gen. xx. 7; Jer. xviii. 20; xv. 1; 1 Sam. xii. 19, 23; James v. 14, 15, 16)--but also upon thy unfeigned repentance to declare to thee the absolution of thy sins. For as Christ hath given him a calling to baptize thee unto repentance for the remission of thy …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Ascalon. Gerar. The Story of the Eighty Witches.
'Ascalon,' in the Samaritan interpreter, is the same with 'Gerar,' Genesis 21. The word Gerar, among the Talmudists, seems to have passed into 'Gerariku.' "Wherefore (say they) have they not determined of that country, which is in Gerariku? Because it is ill to dwell in. How far? To the river of Egypt. But behold, Gaza is pleasant to dwell in," &c. In the author of Aruch it is, Gardiki. "Bereshith Rabbah (saith he) renders Gardiki." 'The king of Gerar,' Genesis 20:2, with the Jerusalem Targumist, …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). In our last chapter we considered at some length the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither Sovereign nor free but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner's will-its servitude-is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which …
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God
And to Holy David Indeed it Might More Justly be Said...
22. And to holy David indeed it might more justly be said, that he ought not to have been angry; no, not with one however ungrateful and rendering evil for good; yet if, as man, anger did steal over him, he ought not to have let it so prevail, that he should swear to do a thing which either by giving way to his rage he should do, or by breaking his oath leave undone. But to the other, set as he was amid the libidinous frenzy of the Sodomites, who would dare to say, "Although thy guests in thine own …
St. Augustine—Against Lying
The Interpretation of the Early Narratives of the Old Testament
[Sidenote: Importance of regarding each story as a unit] Of all the different groups of writings in the Old Testament, undoubtedly the early narratives found in the first seven books present the most perplexing problems. This is primarily due to the fact that they have been subject to a long process of editorial revision by which stories, some very old and others very late and written from a very different point of view, have been closely joined together. While there is a distinct aim and unity …
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament
Meditations against Despair, or Doubting of God's Mercy.
It is found by continual experience, that near the time of death, when the children of God are weakest, then Satan makes the greatest nourish of his strength, and assails them with his strongest temptations. For he knows that either he must now or never prevail; for if their souls once go to heaven, he shall never vex nor trouble them any more. And therefore he will now bestir himself as much as he can, and labour to set before their eyes all the gross sins which ever they committed, and the judgments …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Annunciation to Joseph of the Birth of Jesus.
(at Nazareth, b.c. 5.) ^A Matt. I. 18-25. ^a 18 Now the birth [The birth of Jesus is to handled with reverential awe. We are not to probe into its mysteries with presumptuous curiosity. The birth of common persons is mysterious enough (Eccl. ix. 5; Ps. cxxxix. 13-16), and we do not well, therefore, if we seek to be wise above what is written as to the birth of the Son of God] of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed [The Jews were usually betrothed ten or twelve months …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
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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