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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 17

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 2


‘I will make My covenant between Me and thee.’

Genesis 17:2

I. The sun, the moon, the stars, were the old gods of the East—the Elohim, the high and mighty ones, who ruled over men, over their good or bad fortunes, over the weather, the cattle, the crops, sending burning drought, pestilence, sunstroke, and those moonstrokes of which the Psalmist speaks when he says, ‘The sun shall not smite thee by day nor the moon by night.’ And these the old Easterns worshipped in some wild confused way. But to Abraham it was revealed that the sun, the moon, and the stars were not Elohim, the high and mighty ones: that there was but one Elohim, one high and mighty One, the Almighty Maker of them all.

II. Merely to believe that there is one God is a dead faith—which will never be counted for righteousness, because it will never make a man righteous, doing righteous and good deeds as Abraham did. Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness because it was righteousness, and made him do righteous deeds. (1) His faith in God made him brave. He went forth he knew not whither, but he had put his trust in God and he did not fear. (2) Faith made him high-minded, generous, and courteous; as when he bids Lot go whither he will with his flocks and herds. Abraham was a plain man, dwelling in tents, but still, as the children of Heth said of him, a mighty prince, not merely in wealth of flocks and herds, but a prince in manners and a prince in heart. (3) Faith in God made Abraham a truly pious man,—it made him the friend of God. His communion with God is the especial glory of Abraham’s character. This gave him his name, ‘the friend of God’; or, as his descendants the Arabs call him to this day, simply ‘The Friend.’

III. Abraham believed God because there was in his heart something which there is not in all men’s hearts—something which answered to God’s call, and made him certain that the call was from God—even the Holy Spirit of God. Blessed is the man who has chosen his share of Abraham’s faith: he and his children after him shall have their share of Abraham’s blessing.

Canon Kingsley.


‘ “When Abram was ninety years old and nine”—thus long had he tarried for the execution of God’s word.

Many a summer and winter had passed over him since he bade farewell to his country, and yet the hopes with which he entered Canaan seemed as far as ever from being realised. No sign had appeared of the fulfilment of the promise. Abram remained a childless man. Had God forgotten His word? And must the ownership of the land go to someone who was no blood descendant of his own?

Nay, just when his perplexity is greatest, there comes to him the definite and explicit assurance that his deepest longings are soon to be carried out. “God never is before His time, and never is behind.” When my perturbed spirit requires Him most, when the burden is heaviest to bear, when in the midnight neither moon nor stars appear, the voice of the Lord reaches me, a good and comfortable voice. Then He is a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 17". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-17.html. 1876.
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