Ge 17:1-27. Renewal of the
1. Abram … ninety years old and
nine—thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael [Ge 16:16]. 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 effulgence.
I am the Almighty God—the name by
which He made Himself known to the patriarchs (Ex 6:3), designed to convey the sense of
"all-sufficient" (Ps 16:5, 6; 73:25).
walk … and …
perfect—upright, or sincere (Ps 51:6) 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 reverence.
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
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 Re 2:17).
8. I will give unto thee … the
land—It had been previously promised to Abraham and his
posterity (Ge 15:18).
Here it is promised as an "everlasting possession," and was, therefore,
a type of heaven, "the better country" (Heb 11:16).
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" (Ac 7:8; Ro 4:11). 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 event (Ro 4:20).
18. O that Ishmael might live before
thee—natural solicitude of a parent. But God's thoughts are
not as man's thoughts [Isa 55:8].
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