Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
RENEWAL OF THE
1. Abram . . . ninety years old and nine--thirteen
years after the birth of Ishmael
During that interval he had enjoyed the comforts of communion with God
but had been favored with no special revelation as formerly, probably
on account of his hasty and blameable marriage with Hagar.
the Lord appeared--some visible manifestation of the divine
presence, probably the Shekinah or radiant glory of overpowering
I am the Almighty God--the name by which He made Himself known
to the patriarchs
designed to convey the sense of "all-sufficient"
(Ps 16:5, 6; 73:25).
walk . . . and . . . perfect--upright, or
in heart, speech, and behavior.
3. Abram fell on his face--the attitude of profoundest reverence
assumed by Eastern people. It consists in the prostrate body resting on
the hands and knees, with the face bent till the forehead touches the
ground. It is an expression of conscious humility and profound
4. my covenant is with thee--Renewed mention is made of it as
the foundation of the communication that follows. It is the covenant of
grace made with all who believe in the Saviour.
5. but thy name shall be Abraham--In Eastern countries a change
of name is an advertisement of some new circumstance in the history,
rank, or religion of the individual who bears it. The change is made
variously, by the old name being entirely dropped for the new, or by
conjoining the new with the old; or sometimes only a few letters are
inserted, so that the altered form may express the difference in the
owner's state or prospects. It is surprising how soon a new name is
known and its import spread through the country. In dealing with
Abraham and Sarai, God was pleased to adapt His procedure to the ideas
and customs of the country and age. Instead of Abram, "a high father,"
he was to be called Abraham, "father of a multitude of nations" (see
8. I will give unto thee . . . the land--It had been
previously promised to Abraham and his posterity
Here it is promised as an "everlasting possession," and was, therefore,
a type of heaven, "the better country"
10. Every man child among you shall be circumcised--This was the
sign in the Old Testament Church as baptism is in the New, and hence
the covenant is called "covenant of circumcision"
The terms of the covenant were these: on the one hand Abraham and his
seed were to observe the right of circumcision; and on the other, God
promised, in the event of such observance, to give them Canaan for a
perpetual possession, to be a God to him and his posterity, and that in
him and his seed all nations should be blessed.
15, 16. As for Sarai . . . I will . . . give
thee a son also of her--God's purposes are gradually made known. A
son had been long ago promised to Abraham. Now, at length, for the
first time he is informed that it was to be a child of Sarai.
17. Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed--It was not the
sneer of unbelief, but a smile of delight at the improbability of the
18. O that Ishmael might live before thee--natural solicitude of
a parent. But God's thoughts are not as man's thoughts
19, 20. The blessings of the covenant are reserved for Isaac,
but common blessings were abundantly promised to Ishmael; and though
the visible Church did not descend from his family, yet personally he
might, and it is to be hoped did, enjoy its benefits.