After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field at Machpelah near Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.
1. On Mount Moriah we find Abraham doing God's will; here we find him suffering it.
I. TRUE RELIGION SANCTIFIES NATURAL RELATIONSHIPS. Those who know themselves blessed of God do not only feel that their human affections are precious and true, but do, in obedience to his will, preserve the greatest respect for their bodily frame, and for their dead who died in the Lord, and whose dust is committed tenderly to his keeping.
II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD WERE UPHELD BY FAITH IN THEIR CARE FOR THE DEAD. They looked beyond the grave. Some say there is no evidence of the doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament until after the captivity Surely Abraham's feelings were not those of one who sorrowed without hope. The purchase of the field, the securing possession for all time of the burying-place, pointed to faith, not the lack of it. Where there is no sense of immortality there is no reverence for the dead.
III. THE PURCHASE OF THE FIELD was not only its security, but a testimony to the heathen that the people of God held in reverence both the memory of the dead and the rights of the living. All social prosperity has its root in religious life. - R.
Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
I. THAT IN VIEW OF THE AWFUL FACT OF DEATH THE LITTLENESS OF HUMAN LIFE IS SEEN.
II. TO REALIZE THE FACT OF HIS OWN MORTALITY. "I may be the next to go."
III. TO FEEL THAT THERE IS A LIFE BEYOND.
IV. THE SACREDNESS OF SORROW FOR THE DEAD.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. A fellow-feeling of death with the dead.
2. An anticipation of death or a living preparation for one's own death.
3. A believing sense of the end or destination of death to be made useful to the life.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)
2. Look at Abraham buying a grave; the best man of his age here bargains for burial ground. Ponder well this transaction, and consider that in return for four hundred pieces of silver Abraham gets a burying-place.
3. The behaviour of the children of Heth calls for appreciative notice. They treated Abraham with generous pity and helpfulness.
4. Man's final requirement of man is a grave. In the grave there is no repentance; the dead man cannot obliterate the past.
5. Abraham mourned for Sarah. Consecration to God's purpose does not eradicate our deep human love; say, rather, that it heightens, refines, sanctifies it.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
I. THE DEATH.
1. Of Sarah, princess. Kings and great men die. "Wealth cannot deliver in the day of his power."
2. The wife of a great man. Derives her chief dignity from this connection. Little expected the honour that would befall her from this marriage. The source of Abraham's joy, as well as the occasion of some of his sins.
3. The mother of the free. The ancestress of Jesus, and those who believe in Him.
4. Died at Hebron = alliance. The alliance with Abraham dissolved, and her eternal alliance with Abraham's God, and one who was before Abraham (John 8:58), now inaugurated. Happy are those who compose the bride — the Lamb's wife; the day of death is with them the day of their espousals. The alliances of earth, abandoned for a better and more lasting one.
II. THE GRAVE.
1. A cave. We are of the earth, earthy. Dust, and must return to dust.
2. Purchased. Abraham selected one that would receive his own remains. ("The family meeting-place" is an epitaph at Pere la Chaise.) Men sometimes think more of their sepulchres than of death; and make greater preparation for the temporary repose of the body than the eternal rest of the soul. It was all that Abraham purchased of the promised land. The country was given to the living. The promised land of heaven for the living is a free gift, and there will be no bargaining for graves there. Man sells a place for the dead, God gives a home for the living.
III. THE BURIAL. "That I may bury my dead out of my sight." The object that once most pleased the eye must be put " out of sight," as a loathsome thing. Life, a fountain of beauty and attractiveness. How glorious that world must be where they die no more, and are never put out of sight. Those who die in the Lord, and are put out of sight, will presently be in sight for ever. The aged man before the grave of his wife. The parting is not for long. A few more steps, and he will be at home with his princess for ever. But with all this Christian hope, the loss of dear friends and the sunderings of long companionships is painful. At such times may we be able to say, "Thy will be done." Learn:
1. The great and good and best loved must die.
2. The earthly dissolution may be the beginning of our eternal union.
3. It is little the world can furnish us besides a place to lie down in at the end of the journey.
4. Happy are those who, being saved themselves, have a good hope of meeting those who are "not lost, but gone before."
(J. C. Gray.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
PeopleAbraham, Arba, Ephron, Heth, Hittites, Mamre, Sarah, Zoar, Zohar
PlacesBeersheba, Canaan, Hebron, Kiriath-arba, Machpelah, Mamre
TopicsBuried, Canaan, Cave, East, Facing, Field, Hebron, Hollow, Machpelah, Mach-pe'lah, Mamre, Opposite, Rest, Rock, Sarah, Wife
Outline1. The age and death of Sarah.
3. The purchase of the field and cave of Machpelah;
19. where Sarah is buried.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 23:3-20
7258 promised land, early history
LibraryYet it Follows not that the Bodies of the Departed are to be Despised...
5. Yet it follows not that the bodies of the departed are to be despised and flung aside, and above all of just and faithful men, which bodies as organs and vessels to all good works their spirit hath holily used. For if a father's garment and ring, and whatever such like, is the more dear to those whom they leave behind, the greater their affection is towards their parents, in no wise are the bodies themselves to be spurned, which truly we wear in more familiar and close conjunction than any of …
St. Augustine—On Care to Be Had for the Dead.
Epistle iii. To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).
Exhortations to those who are Called
Man's Chief End
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