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.
So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech.
Abraham's prayer for the doomed cities was not granted, but his prayer for Abimelech was answered in full. "God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maid-servants." But in the present instance we can see some reasons why it was likely that this prayer should be answered.
I. BECAUSE FAITH WAS MAINTAINED NOTWITHSTANDING PAST FAILURES. Persevering faith, which is superior to all discouragements, must be rewarded.
II. BECAUSE THE OBJECTS OF IT WERE DISPOSED TO RECEIVE THE BLESSING. The hindrances to the gracious effects of prayer lie in man's rebellious heart. There must be a Godward direction imparted to souls which are to be blest. God meets those who are looking towards Him. Abimelech and his household had this receptivity.
III. BECAUSE GOD DELIGHTS TO PUT HONOUR UPON HIS SERVANTS. God had entered into covenant with Abraham. He was God's prophet and faithful friend. God will set His visible marks of approval upon His own appointed means of blessing. Learn the importance of the prophet to mankind.
1. He makes known the will of God. He is a messenger who has received instructions from the Supreme Ruler of all mankind.
2. He is the human channel of spiritual blessings. He teaches men the way of righteousness, how they may find the chief good and reach true blessedness.
, Shur Desert
TopicsAbimelech, Abim'elech, Gerar, Sarah, Sister, Taketh, Wife
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 20:2
6146 deceit, and God
8279 innocence, examples
1020 God, all-knowing
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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