Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 7

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-10


Genesis 7:1. Righteous.] The radical notion of this important word in Hebrew is, by Gesenius and Davies, affirmed to be that of “straightness,” the quality of going evenly and directly to the end aimed at; but, by Fürst, is taken to be “firmness, hardness, hence strength, victoriousness.” Either conception is interesting, and well fitted to give food for reflection. It is, perhaps, still more significant that Fürst regards the adjective tzad-diq as derived from the PIEL conjugation of tza-dhaq viz. tzid-dêq, which signifies “to justify, make appear just, declare just;” and, hence, gives to the adjective something of the same forensic force, “justified.” The evangelical importance of this can scarcely be overstated. And there are other critical and general reasons which may be brought forward in support of this account of the formation of the word tzaddiq. 1.) The use of the “verb of becoming” (ha-yah) in ch. Genesis 6:9, should be noticed: “Noah had become a righteous and complete man.” He had become so—how? 2) The writer to the Hebrews (ch. Genesis 11:7) says that Noah “became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Plainly then Noah was justified by faith. From this point of view we can welcome the comment of Murphy: “To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty, this epithet implies pardon of sin, among other benefits of grace. It also presupposes that spiritual change by which the soul returns from estrangement to reconciliation with God. Hence Noah is not only just but perfect:”—perhaps we might more exactly say, “complete,” “ready.” He was ready for the future, ready for the flood; it was meet that he should escape the flood, and become the progenitor of a new world. From this point of view, we can apprize the dicta of those who presume to attempt to set the Bible against itself by affirming that this story of Noah knows nothing of a fall!—



The ark was now finished, and Noah was commanded to enter it. Unless the good man had obeyed the Divine call and gone with his family into the ark, all his labour would have been in vain, he would have perished in the deluge. Christian service makes many demands, and to fail in one, is often to fail in all, it needs great fidelity and care from the time the first board of the ark is placed, till the last nail is struck, and the door is shut by heaven. It is not enough for man’s salvation that provision is made for it, he must, by practical and personal effort, avail himself of it, or he will perish within its reach. The completion of the ark was:—

I. The termination of an arduous work. Now for nearly one hundred and twenty years, Noah had been engaged in building this wondrous floating chest in which he and his family were to be sheltered during the impending deluge:—

1. This termination would be a relief to his physical energies. There can be little doubt that the building of this ark was a great tax upon the physical energy of Noah, it would involve the putting forth of every muscular activity within him, and day by day he would go home wearied with his toil. And this had been repeated day by day for over a century of time. Surely then the end of the enterprise would be gladly welcomed by him as a relief from such constant and arduous labour. And frequently the service of God requires great physical energy on the part of those to whom it is entrusted, it often requires a strong body as well as a strong soul to do the work of God efficiently, and hence its triumphant finish is welcome to the tired manhood. For the divinity of the service is no guarantee against the fatigue experienced in the lowest realm of work. The activities of men weary in spiritual service as in the most material duties of life. Moral service has a material side, for though it requires faith in God as a primary condition, it also requires the building of the ark, and it is here that fatigue overtakes the good man. This is a necessary consequence of our mortal circumstances, and in heaven will be superseded by an endurance which shall never tire.

2. This termination would be a relief to his mental anxieties. Truly the building of the ark in such times, under such conditions, and with the thoughts which must have been supremely potent within the mind of Noah, would be a great mental anxiety to him. He would not contemplate the mere building of the ark in itself, but in its relation to the world which was shortly to be destroyed. The moral condition of those around would be a continued pain to him. Then in the building of the ark, he would require all his mental energies, so that he might work out the design given to him by God, that he might make the best use of his materials, and that he might so control those who joined him in his labour that they might continue to do so to the end. It would be no easy matter to get fellow-helpers in so unpopular a task, hence his anxiety to retain those he had. In fact, it is impossible for us in these days to estimate the mental anxiety through which this good man passed during these years of extraordinary service; hence we can imagine the completion of the ark would be a welcome relief. The service of the Christian life does involve much anxiety as to the rectitude of the conscience, and the bearing of its issue upon our eternal destiny, and especially when it is connected with the retributions of God. Its completion in heaven will be a glad relief to the anxious soul.

3. Its termination would inspire a sad but holy pride within his heart. When Noah saw the ark completed before him in its rude strength, we can imagine that a feeling of sacred pride would arise within his heart, but soon would sorrow mingle with it as he thought of the doom so near at hand, which would sweep the unholy multitudes, and, amongst them, some of his own relatives, into a watery grave. And so Christian service often reviews its work, its calm faith, its patient energy, and its palpable result, with sacred joy, but when it is associated with the judgments of heaven upon the ungodly, the joy merges into grief and prayer. The best moral workman cannot stand unmoved by his ark, when he contemplates the deluge soon to overtake the degenerate crowds around, whom he would fain persuade to participate in the refuge he has built. Thus we see that the completion of service is the end of arduous work, and is succeeded by the rest of the ark. But this rest is only comparative and temporary. Providence never allows a great soul to be long idle. There is too much in the world for it to do, and there are but few to do it. There is only one Noah in a crowd.

II. The indication of abounding mercy. “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights, &c., (Genesis 5:4). Here we find that God did not send the flood upon the ancient and degenerate world immediately the ark was built, but gave seven days interval between the completion of the ark and the outpouring of the final and terrible doom; in this we see a beautiful and winning pattern of the Divine mercy. The sinners of the age had already had one hundred and twenty years’ warning, and had taken no heed of it, yet God lingers over them with tender compassion, as though He would rather their salvation even yet. Even now they might have entered the ark had any been so disposed. Thus the completion of the ark was made the occasion of a sublime manifestation of the compassion of God toward the sinner. And so the moral service of the good, when retributive in its character, is generally the time when Divine mercy makes its last appeal to those who are on the verge of the second death.

1. This indication of mercy was unique. Its occasion was unique. Neither before or since has the world been threatened with a like calamity. And the compassion itself was alone in its beauty and meaning.

2. This indication of mercy was pathetic.

3. This indication of mercy was rejected. The people regarded not the completion of the ark, they heeded not the mercy which would have saved them at the eleventh hour.

III. The signal for a wondrous phenomenon.—“Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of everything that creepeth upon the earth, there went in two and two unto Noah into the ark.” (Genesis 7:8-9). Soon upon the completion of the ark, the animals which are to be preserved from the ravages of the deluge, are guided by an unseen but Divine hand, to the ark. A powerful and similar instinct takes possession of all, and guides them to the scene of their intended safety. Some critics are unable to account for this strange phenomenon, they are at a loss to comprehend how animals of varied dispositions and habits should thus be brought together. This was the design of God, and was no doubt accomplished by His power. And so the completion of christian service is often followed by the most wondrous and inexplicable events, strange to men, understood by the good, arranged by God. Who can predict the mysterious phenomena which shall follow the completion of all the christian service of life; then the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the rocks will cover the world in their ruins!

IV. The Prophecy of an important future.—The completion of the ark, and the entrance of Noah and his family into it, is a prophecy of important things to come, when the ark of the world’s salvation shall be finished, when the last soul shall have entered, and when eternity shall take the place of time. Then Christ shall yield up the tokens of His mediatorial office to the Father of the universe, the good shall enter into their eternal safety, and the threatened retribution shall come upon the wicked. LESSONS:

1. Let the good anticipate the time when all the fatigue and anxiety of moral service shall be at an end.

2. Let them contemplate the joy of successful service for God.

3. Let them enter into all the meaning and phenomena of christian service.



Genesis 7:1.

I. That the families of the good are exposed to moral danger. They live in a degenerate world which is threatened by the retributions of God; they are surrounded, in all the enterprises and relations of life, by unholy companions; they are charmed by the pleasures of the world; they are tempted by the things they see, and their moral welfare is imperilled by the tumult of unhappy circumstances. Especially are the young members of the families of the good exposed to moral danger, through the vile publications of the press, the corruptions of the age, and through the passionate impulses of their own hearts.

1. This danger is imminent.

2. It is alarming.

3. It should be fully recognised.

4. It should be provided against. God sees the perils to which the families of the good are exposed through the conditions of their earthly life and temporal circumstances.

II. That the families of the good are invited to moral safety.

1. They are invited to this safety after their own effort, in harmony with the Divine purpose concerning them. Noah and his family had built the ark of safety they were invited to enter. They were not indolent in their desire to be saved from the coming storm. And so, there is a part which all pious families must take, a plan with which they must co-operate before they have any right to anticipate the Divine help. The parent who does not, by all the means in his power, seek the moral safety of his children, by judicious oversight, and by prayerful instruction, cannot expect God to open a door into any ark of safety for them. He can only expect that they will be amongst the lost in the coming deluge.

1. The purpose concerning them was Divine in authority.

2. It was merciful in its intention.

3. It was sufficient to its design. This purpose of salvation toward Noah and his family was from heaven; men can only keep their families from the evil of the world as they are Divinely instructed. It was full of mercy to the entire family circle, and exhibited the wonderous providence of God in His care for the families of the good.

III. That the families of the good should be immediate in their response to the Divine regard for their safety. How often do we see amongst the children of the best parents an utter disregard of all religious claims; it may be that the parents have not sought to turn the feet of their children toward the ark.


I. An exhibition of Divine care. It was entirely an exhibition of Divine care that the ark was built and in readiness for this terrible emergency, as Noah would never have built it but for the command of God. So when we see a whole family walking in the paths, and enjoying the moral safety, of religion we cannot but behold and admire the manifold mercy and care of God.

II. A manifestation of parental love. Parents sometimes say that they love their children, and certainly they strive to surround them with all the temporal comforts of life, and yet neglect their eternal welfare. How is such neglect compatible with real love? A parent whose love for his children is true and worthy, will manifest it by a supreme effort to awaken within them desires and thoughts after God and purity.

III. The ideal and joy of domestic life. When the entire family and household is in the ark of moral safety, then domestic life reaches its highest dignity, its truest beauty, and its fullest joy. Is your house in the ark?


For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

I. True moral rectitude maintained in degenerate times. Noah had retained his integrity of soul when the world beside him was impure. A pure soul can maintain its integrity against the multitude who go to do evil. Sinful companions and degenerate times are no excuse for faltering moral goodness. The goodness of Noah was

(1) Real.

(2) Unique.

(3) Stalwart.

II. True moral rectitude observed by God.

1. It is personally observed by God. “For thee have I seen righteous before me.” Though the Divine Being has the vast concerns of the great universe to watch over, yet He has the disposition and the time to observe solitary moral goodness. God’s eye is always upon the good, to mark the bright unfolding of their daily life.

2. It was observed by God in its relation to the age in which the good man lived. “In this generation.” The darkness of the age enhanced the lustre of Noah’s rectitude. Every good man’s life bears a certain relation to the age and community in which its lot has fallen. No man liveth unto himself. We should serve our generation by the will of God.

III. True moral rectitude rewarded by God.

1. Rewarded by distinct commendation. God calls Noah a righteous man. And to be designated such by the infallible Judge were certainly the greatest honour for the human soul.

2. Rewarded by domestic safety. The moral rectitude of the good exerts a saving and protective influence on all their domestic relationships. It environs the home with the love of heaven. Are you a righteous man, not before men, but in the sight of God?

1. God speaks to the good.
2. About their families.
3. About their security.

A righteous man:—

1. A pattern.
2. A possibility.
3. A prophecy.
4. A benediction.

A righteous man:—

1. Heaven’s representative.
2. The world’s hero.
3. The safety of home.

The call itself is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children, to come in-doors when he sees night or a storm coming, come thou, and all thy house, that small family which thou hast, into the ark. Observe Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him; though he knew it was designed for his place of refuge, yet he waited for a renewed command, and had it. It is very comfortable to follow the calls of Providence, and to see God going before us in every step we take.—(Henry and Scott.)

Commands for duty Jehovah giveth, that His servants may see the performance of His promise.
The use of means must be, as well as having means, in order to salvation.
All souls appointed to salvation must enter the ark.
Providence of grace maketh souls righteous by looking on them. It giveth what it seeth.
That is righteousness indeed which standeth before God’s face.

Genesis 7:2-3. It is God’s prerogative only to judge creatures clean or unclean.

The distinction of clean and unclean among creatures is from special use, not from nature.
Clean and unclean creatures have their preservation from the word of God.
The certain number of creatures is given by God in the preservation of them.
God’s aim is in seven to two, that he would have cleanness outgrow uncleanness.
Beasts and fowls of heaven are God’s care, to keep them for man.
This is plainly not the first appointment of a difference between clean and unclean beasts. The distinction is spoken of as, before this time familiarly known and recognized. And what was the ground of this distinction? It could not certainly be anything in the nature of the beasts themselves, for we now regard them all indiscriminately as on the same footing, and we have undoubted Divine warrant for doing so. Nor could it be anything in their comparative fitness for being used as food, for animal food was not yet allowed. The distinction could have respect only to the rite of sacrifice. Hence arises another irresistible argument for the Divine origin and the Divine authority of that rite, and a proof also of the substantial identity of the patriarchal and the Mosaic institutions. The same standing ordinance of animal sacrifice—and the same separation of certain classes of animals from others as alone being clean and proper for that purpose—prevailed in both. The religion, in fact, in its faith and in its worship was exactly the same. In the present instance, in the order given to save so many of these clean beasts, there may have been regard had to the liberty which was to be granted to man after the flood to use them for food, as well as to the necessity of their being a supply of sacrifices. And in general, the clean beasts, and especially the fowls, were those which it was most important for the speedy replenishing and quickening of the earth, to keep alive in the greatest numbers.—(Dr. Candlish.)

Natural propagation by sexes is the ordinance of God.
God giveth the quickening power to all creatures on the earth.
God warns in season whom he means to save.


Genesis 7:4.

I. Very soon to be executed. “For yet seven days,” etc. The deluge, which had been predicted for nearly one hundred and twenty years, was near at hand. The immediate preparations were being completed. God’s threats of judgment upon the sin of man are frequent, and repeated at important intervals. In one brief period the world would become silent as the tomb. Yet there was time for safety.

II. Very merciful in its commencement. “I will cause it to rain upon the earth.” Thus the fountains of the great deep were not to be broken up at the onset, there was to be a progress in the impending doom. The judgments of God are gradual in their severity. Even during the continuance of the rain there would be time to repent. How men reject the mercy of God.

III. Very terrible in its destruction. “And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.”

1. The destruction was determined.

2. The destruction was universal.

3. The destruction was piteous. If we could have surveyed the universal ruin, how forcibly should we have seen the retributive providence of God and the fearful destiny of sin.

IV. Very significant in its indication. Men appeal to the Fatherhood of God as a reason why the wicked should not meet with continued punishment in the future; what do they say about the punishment which was inflicted upon the world in olden times? Men might have argued that such a destruction would be repugnant to the Divine Fatherhood. Yet it occurred. And what if the continued punishment of the finally impenitent should ultimately prove to be a fact?


Genesis 7:5.

I. It was obedience rendered under the most trying circumstances. Noah was now on the threshhold of the doom threatened upon the degenerate world. He knew it. God had told him. The good man’s heart was sad. He was full of wonder in reference to what would be his future experiences. He had not succeeded as a preacher. He had no converts to share the safety of his ark. But these sentiments of grief and wonder did not interrupt his loyal obedience to the commands of God. His earnest labours gave him little time to indulge the feelings of his heart. He walked by faith and not by feeling or sight.

II. It was obedience rendered in the most arduous work. It was no easy task in which Noah’s obedience was remarkable. His was not merely the obedience of the ordinary Christian life; but it was the obedience of a saintly hero to a special and Divinely-given duty. He had obeyed God in building the ark; he had now to obey Him in furnishing it for the exigencies of the future. His obedience was co-extensive with his duty.

III. It was obedience rendered in the most heroic manner. Noah was a man capable of long and brave endurance; the energies of his soul were equal to the tasks of heaven. It required a brave man to act in these circumstances.


Genesis 7:6.

I. Sublime in its rectitude. Noah was now advancing into old age. Yet as his physical energy declines, the moral fortitude of his nature is increased. He was righteous before God. He was a pattern to men in wicked times. He was an obedient servant of the Eternal. The purity, strength, and nobleness of his character were brought out by the wondrous circumstances in which he was called to be the chief actor.

II. Active in its faith. Noah believed God. Believed His word concerning the threatened doom. He relied upon the character and perfections of God. Thus faith was the sustaining principle of his energetic soul. And but for it his advancing age would not have been so grand and dignified as it was. Faith in God is the dignity of the aged.

III. Eventful in its history. The entire life, but especially the advancing age of Noah, was eventful. The building of the ark. The occurrences of the flood. Men sometimes become heroes in their old age. The greatest events come to them late in life. So it was with Noah.

IV. Regal in its blessing. Noah was blessed with the favour of Heaven, with the commendation of God, and with safety in wondrous times of peril. Old age, when obedient to the command of God, is sure to be rich in benediction. It shall never lack due reward from approving heaven.


Genesis 7:7. “Because of the waters of the flood.” There are many motives urging men to seek the safety of their souls.

I. Because religion is commanded. Some men are good, because God requires moral rectitude from all His creatures, they feel it right to be pure. They wish to be happy, and they find that the truest happiness is the outcome of goodness.

II. Because others are Religious. Multitudes are animated by a desire to cultivate a good life because their comrades do. They enter the ark because of the crowds that are seen wending their way to its door.

III. Because religion is a safety. We are told that Noah’s family went into the ark “because of the waters of the flood.” Many only become religious when they see the troubles of life coming upon them; they regard piety as a refuge from peril.

Genesis 7:8-10. Times of forbearance and vengeance are surely and distinctly stated by God.

God’s time of patience being expired vengeance will come. “They went in two and two,” of their own accord by divine instinct. Noah was not put to the pains of hunting for them, or driving them in. Only he seems to have been six days in receiving and disposing of them in their several cells, and fetching in food. When God bids us to do this or that, never stand to cast perils; but set upon the work, yield “the obedience of faith,” and fear nothing. The creatures came in to Noah without his care and cost. He had no more to do but to take them in and place them [Trapp].

Divine Threatenings:—

1. That they will surely be executed.
2. At the time announced.
3. In the manner predicted.
4. With the result indicated


Submission! Genesis 7:1. Oaks may fall when reeds brave the wind. These giants fought the winds of Divine Judgment and fell; while Noah—like the bending reed so slight and frail—escaped the storm:—

“And every wrong and every woe, when put beneath our feet,
As stepping-stones may help us on to His high mercy-seat.

Earnestness! Genesis 7:1. Robert Hall, in his Village Dialogues, refers to a Mr. Merriman, a preacher, who used to be seen at every fair and revel, but was seldom to be found in the pulpit. When he was converted he began to preach with tears running down his cheeks. He could not contemplate unmoved the pitiable condition of many of his hearers—unprepared to die. Fleming mentions one John Welsh, who was often found on the coldest winter nights weeping on the ground, and wrestling with the Lord on account of his people. When his wife pressed him for an explanation of his distress, he said: “I have the souls of three thousand to answer for; while I know not how it is with many of them.” No doubt Noah had his thousands, over whom he wept—with whom he pleaded—for whom he prayed, that they might be persuaded to participate in the Refuge-Ark.

“He spread before them, and with gentlest tone,
Did urge them to the shelter of that ark
Which rides the wrathful deluge.”—Sigourney.

Antediluvians! Genesis 7:4. These men were very anxious about the body, but troubled themselves but little about the soul. How foolish for a man, who has received a richly-carved and precious statue from abroad, to be very much concerned about the case in which it was packed, and to leave the statue to roll out into the gutter. Every man has had committed to him a statue moulded by the most ancient of sculptors—God. What folly then for him to be solicitous about the case in which God has packed it—I mean the body, and to leave the soul to roll into the mire of sin and death? Is it wise,

“Or right, or safe, for some chance gains to-day,
To dare the vengeance from to-morrow’s skies?”

Gospel-Light! Genesis 7:6. This thrilling event loses well-nigh all its interest for us apart from Christ. He is in this incident as the sunlight in the else-darkened chamber; and this incident is in Him bright as the cold green log, which is cast into the flaming furnace, glows through and through with ruddy and transforming heat:—

“And it will live and shine when all beside
Has perished in the wreck of earthly things.”

Parental Piety! Genesis 7:7. Among those who rose for prayers one night at a school-house meeting were three adult children of an aged father. The old man’s heart was deeply moved as he saw them rise. He was now to reap the fruit of all his years of sowing principles of piety in their youthful minds. when he rose to speak, the room was silent, and many cheeks wet with tears. With a full heart and tremulous voice the aged father once more urged his offspring, with a simple earnestness that thrilled every heart, to give their hearts to the Lord. And as they rode home at night along the prairie slopes in the beautiful moonlight, his quivering voice could still be heard proclaiming the blessings of Christ to his children:—The sound was balm,

“A seraph-whisper to their wounded heart,
Lulling the storm of sorrow to a calm.”—Edmeston.

Righteous! Genesis 7:1. Francis de Sales remarks that as the mother-o’-pearl fish lives in the sea without receiving a drop of salt water, so the godly live in an ungodly world without becoming ungodly. As towards the Chelidonian Islands springs of fresh water may be found in the midst of the sea—and as the firefly passes through the flame without burning its wing, so a vigourous Christian may live in the world without being affected with any of its humours.

“Some souls are serfs among the free,

While others nobly thrive.”—Procter.

Home Piety! Genesis 7:7. At the time of the recent Indian outbreak, the missionary among them was advised of his danger, just as his family were engaging in prayer. They went through their united devotions as usual; and before they were done, the savages were in the house. Taking a few necessaries, they hastened to conceal themselves. Though often in sight of the Indians and of burning buildings, they escaped all injury, and made a long journey in an open country without hurt. Doubtless the God whom they honoured sent an angel-guard to defend them against all their enemies. And such a guard had the devout family of Noah. Many a time did his words fret and irritate the workmen and neighbours, until they were well-nigh ready to stone him; but as God preserved Enoch in one way, and David in another, so did He protect this pious household—shutting the mouths of the lions.

Forbearance! Genesis 7:4. As an old thief who has a long time escaped detection and punishment is emboldened to proceed to greater crime, thinking that he shall always escape; so, many impenitent go on in sin, thinking that—because God does not at once punish them—therefore, they shall escape altogether.

“Woe! Woe! to the sinner; his hopes, bright but vain,
Will turn to despair, and his pleasures to pain;
To whom in the day of distress will he fly?—Hunter.

Instruction! Genesis 7:5. As to the antediluvian sinners, the 120 years were designed as a breathing time for repentance, so God made it a period of instruction for Noah. During all that time, he was learning—learning more about God, about His holiness and grace—about, it may be, His sublime scheme of redemption in Christ. Noah, like all saints, had to be schooled. He had to get new gleams of practical wisdom throughout those years—gleams which were to lighten the gloom of the weary and monotonous sojourn in the ark. No doubt, like ourselves, he did not relish the schooling. Perhaps he was angry rather than thoughtful when some new thought came to him, or some new truth flashed its bull’s-eye glare upon him; just as when one gets a new piece of furniture, all the other pieces have to be arranged and re-arranged in order to make it straight. Noah had a long education for the ark-life; and no doubt he appreciated its advantages while the huge, rude pile floated amid showers and seas, and chanted the grand anthem:—

“’Tis glorious to suffer,
’Tis majesty to wait.”

Endurance! Genesis 7:5. A virtuous and well-disposed person is like a good metal—the more it is fired, the more it is fined. The more Noah was opposed, the more he was approved. Wrongs might well try and touch him, but they could not imprint on him any false stamp.

“Content all honour to forego,

But that which come from God.”—Kelly.

Obedience! Genesis 7:5. Is there not one force which goes far to throw down the dark barriers that separate man from man, and man from woman—one mighty emotion, whose breath makes them melt like wax, and souls blend together, and be one in thought and will—in purpose and hope? And when that one uniting force in human society—love built upon confidence—is diverted from the poor finite creatures, and transferred from one another to Him, then the soul cleaves to God as ivy tendrils to the oak, and the soul knows no higher delight—no supremer ecstasy than to do His will. As Bishop Hall says, there is no perfume so sweet as the holy obedience of the faithful. What a quiet safety—what an heavenly peace doth it work in the soul, in the midst of all the inundations of evil.

“I run no risk, for come what will,

Thou always hast Thy way.”

Animal Life! Genesis 7:9. In the morning, writes Spurgeon, when the ark-door was opened, there might be seen in the sky a pair of eagles and a pair of sparrows—a pair of vultures a and pair of humming-birds—a pair of all kinds of birds that ever cut the azure, that ever floated on the wing, or that ever whispered their song to the evening gales. Snails came creeping along. Here a pair of snakes—there a pair of mice presented themselves—behind them a pair of lizards or locusts. So there are some who fly so high in knowledge that few are ever able to scan their great and extensive wisdom; while there are others so ignorant that they can hardly read their Bibles. Yet both must come to the ONE Door—Jesus Christ, who says: “I am the Door.”

“Blest Saviour, then, in love,

Fear and distress remove;

O bear me safe above,

A ransomed soul.”—Palmer.

Verses 11-24


Genesis 7:11. Great deep.] “The great abyss—the mighty roaring deep:” Heb. tehôm—same word as in Genesis 1:2; Proverbs 8:24, &c: Sept. and Vulg. “abyss.” Broken up.]—Or, “burst open.—Windows.] Prop. “the latticed, enclosed; hence gen. window, flood-gate;” but Sept. “waterfalls.”—

Genesis 7:16. Shut him in.] Lit. “Then does Jehovah shut up round about him.” How touchingly beautiful! “Then”—a closing act, as when a mother closes up about her dear ones for the night: “Jehovah,”—the God of covenant grace, the Becoming One, ever becoming some further and something fresh to those who trust in him. It is He who performs this graceful and gracious act.



There are some who regard the deluge as the outcome of the natural workings of physical laws, and not as a miraculous visitation of heaven; they intimate that it was the ordinary result of flood and rain, so common in those Eastern climes. We think, however, that the supposition is far from being satisfactory, and is inadequate to the requirements of the case. It was evidently the result of supernatural intervention. The ordinary floods and rains of these Eastern countries have never exercised such a destructive influence upon the lives of men and animals either before or since. It was unique in its effects. And certainly if it had been the ordinary outcome of natural laws, it would have been of frequent occurrence. It is true that God sometimes sends his retribution through the ordinary workings of nature, thus rebuking and punishing the sin of man; but the deluge is no instance of this method of retribution. We are inclined to think that the flood occurred about April; certainly before Autumn. Both the time of its advent, the effect of its working, and the purpose of it, mark it as a miracle of heaven. As such Noah would regard it, and as such it is full of significant teaching to human souls.

I. That the chronology of the Divine judgments is important, and should be carefully noted and remembered. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”

1. The chronology of Divine retribution is important as a record of history. Some men are accustomed to regard historic dates as of very little importance, as things only to be learnt by the schoolboy. And certain it is that dates are not as important as facts or principles, but they have a significance peculiarly their own, and are generally evidences of credibility and certainty. We cannot afford to neglect them. History is full of them. They remind us of great transactions, of battles won. They are also important in the domestic life. They chronicle events both joyous and sad; the birth of a child, the death of a parent. They are useful in the Church, either to recall days of persecution, acts of heroism, and times of emancipation from the power of evil. It is well that the exact dates should be assigned to the judgments of heaven, that men may study and remember them, and that their anniversary may be hallowed by becoming reverence and prayer. In those primitive times the long lives of the greatest men were as calendars for the chronicle of important events, they denoted the progress of the world. And it is better to fasten history to the life of an individual than to the dead pages of a book, as men make the record they chronicle. We ought to be more minute students of the histories of God, and of His judgments upon the sin of man, as they relate to the inner life of the soul, and record a history no unaided human pen could write.

2. The chronology of Divine retribution is important as related to the moral life and destinies of men. The deluge is not merely a cold record of history, a transaction of the hoary past, but an event of more than ordinary moral meaning. It contains a great lesson for humanity to learn, and ought to be the continued study of men. It announces the terrible ruin which sin irretrievably works to the life and commerce of countries; that it destroys a multitude of lives, and renders the material universe a desolate watery grave. It shows that the judgments of God are determined, and that they are not deterred by consequences. How many souls would be hurried into an unwelcome eternity of woe by the deluge. Hence the date of such a calamity should never be obliterated from the mind of man; but should be the portal to all the great verities of which it is the symbol.

3. The chronology of Divine retribution is important, as the incidental parts of Scripture bear a relation to those of greater magnitude. We are not to regard the events and parts of Scripture as unrelated to each other; but as blending in one sublime harmony and purpose. The blade of grass is related to the tree. The flower is related to the star, and we are not to neglect the former because it is not of equal size to the latter. We must pay heed to the incidental and lesser portions of sacred history, even to its dates, as parts of a great and sacred whole, needful and useful.

II. That God hath complete control over all the agencies of the material universe, and can readily make them subserve the purpose of His will. “The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up.”

1. The Divine Being can control the latent forces and the unknown possibilities of the universe. Man is ignorant of the grand and untoward possibilities of the created world. He beholds things, announces their properties, defines their spheres of action, proclaims their names, and vainly imagines that he has exhausted their capability. Thus he views the sea and the dry land. But the most elementary forms of matter are unknown even to the most industrious investigator and to the most learned in scientific discovery. Men may write books about the wonders of the great deep, but their pages are as the mutterings of a child. Science cannot tabulate the resources of the earth; they are only seen by the eye of the Creator. They are only responsive to the touch of omnipotence. This consideration should make men reverent in mood when they speculate as to the future of the material structure in which they now reside. The, as yet, undrilled, yea, almost unknown, legions of the material world are ready at the call of heaven to rebuke and punish the misdoing of man.

2. The Divine Being can control all the recognized and welcome agencies of the material universe, so that they shall be destructive rather than beneficial. The agencies now brought into the service of Divine retribution were, in the ordinary method of things, life-giving and life-preserving. But immediately upon the behest of God they became most destructive in their influence. When Jehovah would reprove the sin of man He can easily change His choicest blessings into emissaries of pain and grief. He can make the fertilizing waters to overflow their banks and to drown the world they were intended to enrich.

3. That the agencies of the material universe frequently co-operate with the providence of God. The world in which man lives is so arranged that it shall minister to his need, enrich his commerce, and delight his soul. It was made for man. But not less was it made for God, primarily to be the outlet of His loving heart, but often to manifest His repugnance to moral evil. All the forces and agencies of nature are arranged on the side of moral rectitude under the command of the Eternal King of heaven and earth. They will reward the good. They will punish the wicked. They re-echo the voices of inspired truth. The waters of the mighty deep catch their rhythm from the truth of God. The Spanish armada was defeated by a storm more than by the arms of men. Providence is on the side of rectitude and truth.

III. That the retributive judgments of God are a signal for the good to enter upon the safety provided for them. “In the self-same day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark.” It was not enough for Noah to build an ark for his safety during the coming deluge; he must also enter it. And when the good man saw the rain falling upon the earth, he felt that the threatened judgment was near, and that the closing scenes had come upon the degenerate multitude. This was the signal for his final entrance into the ark. And so when the predicted end of the universe shall come, and all things are about to be destroyed by fire, then shall the good enter into the permanent enjoyment of the heavenly rest and condition, and the wisdom of their conduct will be acknowledged. But in that day men will stand in their own individuality, they will not be saved, as were the sons and relatives of Noah, because they belong to pious families. There will be many holy parents in the ark, while their wicked sons will be carried away by the great waters.

IV. That in Divine judgments, the agencies of retribution, which are destructive to the wicked, are sometimes effective to the safety and welfare of the good. “And the waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.” Thus we find that the same waters which were destructive to the wicked inhabitants of the ancient world, were in harmony with the provision made by Noah, and so enhanced his safety in these perilous times. And so it has sometimes occurred that the retributive events of Providence, which have been injurious to the sinful, have been a means of benediction to the good. The cloud may be a guide to the Israelites, whereas to the Egyptians it may only be a great darkness, or a wild flame. The rod of heaven may smite the evil and the good, but to the latter it blossoms and brings forth fruit.

V. That in the retributive judgments of God wicked men are placed without any means of refuge or hope. “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven, were covered.” The degenerate multitudes of that wicked age had no method of escape in the time of this terrible retribution. They had made no provision for the deluge; they had rejected the warnings of Noah. They might climb the tall trees, and ascend the high mountain, but the rising and angry tide soon swept them from their refuge. Men cannot climb above the reach of the judgment of God. They can only be saved in the appointed way, according to the Divine invitation. Those who despise the ark can be saved in no other manner. And so in the judgments which shall come upon the world in its last days, then those who have rejected the offers of mercy urged upon them by a faithful gospel ministry, will be without hope and without refuge amidst the terrible doom.

VI. That the measure and limits of the retributive judgments of God are divinely determined. “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail.” “And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.” The judgments of God are marked and definite as to their duration. They are determined beforehand in this respect, and are not left to wild caprice, or uncertain chance. The Divine Being determines how high the waters shall rise, and how long they shall prevail. He only knows the entire meaning of sin, and therefore alone arranges its punishment. God knows the measure of all human sorrow. LESSONS:

1. That the judgments of heaven are long predicted.

2. That they are commonly rejected.

3. That they are wofully certain.

4. That they are terribly severe.

5. They show the folly of sin.


Genesis 7:11-12. It is the Spirit’s purpose that the Church should keep a true chronology of God’s works.

Admirable is God’s providence in keeping souls alive between waters above and beneath.
It is God’s word alone to break and bind the fountains of the great deep, shut and open the windows of heaven.
At God’s word heaven and the deep are both ready to destroy sinners.
In the second month.” In April, as it is thought, when everything was in its prime and pride; birds chirping, trees sprouting, &c., nothing less looked for than a flood; then God “shot at them with an arrow suddenly,” (Psalms 64:7), as saith the Psalmist. So shall “sudden destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) come upon the wicked at the last day, when they least look for it. So the sun shone fair upon Sodom the same day wherein, ere night, it was fearfully consumed. What can be more lovely to look on than the cornfield a day before harvest, or a vineyard before the vintage?—(Trapp).

Genesis 7:13-15. An important and eventful day:—1 The fulfilment of promise.

2. The commencement of retribution.
3. The time of personal safety.
4. The occasion of family blessing.

Polygamy was not in the church saved from the waters.
Some of all kinds of creatures hath God’s goodness saved in the common deluge.
The breath of life is in God’s hand to give or take.
The animals:—

1. Their number.
2. Their order.
3. Their obedience.


Genesis 7:16. “And the Lord shut him in,Genesis 7:16. Noah could build the ark, could preach to the people, could bear all manner of scorn and contempt, but I conceive, strong man as he was, there was one thing he could not do, that was to shut the door of the ark against the people who in a few hours would clamour for admittance. We can readily picture to ourselves this great-hearted man as he receives the last creature into the ark, looking round on the crowd who wondered and scoffed at his procedure. There he sees his old workmen, young wives leaning on their strong husbands; little children playing with simple gladness; old men and women leaning on their staffs; perhaps distant relatives and friends. What conflict must have raged in his bosom at the thought of cutting them off from the only means of salvation, from the awful and impending doom which awaited the world. It was too much for Noah to do, so the Lord shut him in! Let us meditate on the significance of this act.

I. It teaches us, as God is the author so also is he the finisher of our work. God implants in the mother’s heart the desire to teach her children of Himself, but He must apply the instruction. Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God must give the increase. The seeker after salvation may pray, and read the word, and attend the means of grace, but God only can save the soul. We may speak words of comfort to the distressed, the Holy Spirit must convey the message to the heart.

II. It teaches that they who do His will shall not go unrewarded. Noah built the ark, so God insures his safety therein. Paul may fear lest after doing God’s will in preaching to others, that he shall be a castaway; but he has no ground for alarm. Paul was never less like himself than when he said those words, or rather when he was distressed with that fear. The righteous cannot know the misery of rejection. Those who put their trust in God shall never be confounded.

III. It teaches that those who do God’s will are preserved from all dangers. The Lord shut him in! so that he might not perpetrate any rash act. Had he possessed the power of opening the door, he might have jeopardized the safety of the whole family by bringing down the vengeance of God. Noah’s had been a critical position but for this. Think of him as he hears the rush of waters; the shrieks of the drowning; the cries of the young and old. If you had been in his position, with the knowledge you could open the door, and take some in, would you not have been tempted to do so? But God shut him in, and when He shutteth no man can open. So shall God fortify the soul at the great day of final judgment. Mothers, fathers, children, shall see their relatives cast out, and yet be preserved from one rash word, or unbelieving act.

IV. It teaches that those who do God’s will must not expect immediate reward. Noah becomes a prisoner—for five months he had no communication from God—for twelve months he resided in the ark. But God remembered Noah and brought him out into a wealthy place.

V. It teaches that the hand which secures the saint destroys the sinners. As God shut Noah in, insuring his safety, He shut out the world to experience the fearful doom of their sin. Hereafter the door shall be shut. On which side will you be.—[Stems and Twigs.]


Genesis 7:16. “As God had commanded him.

I. The Divine commands are severe in their requirements, Noah was required by them to build an ark, which would involve him in much anxiety and labour. He was exposed to the ridicule and fanaticism of men in so doing; for the commands of God relate to unseen things and to future events, and are not understood by the wicked. The commands of God often impose a great and continuous service, somewhat difficult to be performed. They sometimes place men in important and critical stations of life.

II. The Divine commands are extensive in their requirements. They relate not merely to the building of the ark as a whole, but to every minute detail in the great structure; and so in the moral life of man, the commands of God have reference to all the little accidents of daily life. They extend to the entire manhood—to its every sphere of action. If we offend in little, we are verily guilty of sad disobedience.

III. The Divine commands are influential to the welfare of man. Through obedience to the commands of God, Noah was preserved from the deluge; and if men would only obey the voice of God in all things, they would be shielded from much harm, and many perils. Obedience renders men safe, safe from the guilt of sin, and from the woe of Divine retribution. Thus the commands of God, though they may involve arduous service through many years, and though they extend to the entire life of man, are nevertheless influential to the temporal and eternal welfare of obedient souls.


Genesis 7:17. “And the waters increased.

I. That affliction is progressive in its development and severity. In the first place the rain is sent, then the fountains of the great deep are broken up, and then the high hills are covered with water. “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” (Psalms 42-7). Sorrow does not generally advance upon men all at once, its cold wave gradually rises and chills their hearts. How many souls in the wide world could write a mournful comment on the gradual increase of human grief.

II. That increased affliction is the continued and effective discipline and punishment of God. The waters of the deluge were designed to exterminate the sinful race which had corrupted the earth, and hence they covered the highest mountains, that all life should be destroyed. Augmented affliction is often occasioned by sin, and is intended to punish and remove it.

Every word of vengeance must exactly be fulfilled which God hath spoken.
God’s judgments are gradual on the wicked.
Waters of death to some, are made waters of life to others by the word of God.

Genesis 7:19-24. The bounds of nature cannot keep water from destroying, when God makes it to overflow.

Not a word of God falls to the ground concerning those whom he appoints to ruin.
No kind of life can be exempt from death, when wickedness giveth up to vengeance.
The times of increasing and perfecting vengeance are determined by God. He measures waters and numbers days.


Genesis 7:23. “And Noah only remained alive and they that were with him in the ark.

I. Then moral goodness is sometimes a safeguard from the imminent perils of life. The Christian Church is constantly being reminded that the good share the dangers and calamities of the wicked, and that the same event happens to all irrespective of moral character. But this statement is not always true, for even in the circumstances of this life moral goodness is often a guarantee of safety. Heavenly ministries are ever attendant upon the good, to keep them in all their ways. God often tells good men of the coming woe, and also shows them how to escape it. Purity is wisdom.

II. Then moral goodness is signally honoured and rewarded by God. Of all the inhabitants of that ancient and degenerate world, many of them illustrious and socially great, only Noah and his relatives were saved from the destructive deluge. In this we see the true honour which God puts upon the good, as well as the safety by which He environs them. It is honourable to be morally upright.

III. Then moral goodness may sometimes bring a man into the most unusual and exceptional circumstances. It may make a man lonely in his occupation and life-mission, even though he be surrounded by a crowded world; it may make him unique in his character, and it may render him solitary in his preservation and safety. Noah was almost alone in the ark; he would be almost alone in his occupation of the new earth on which he would soon tread. And thus goodness often makes men sublimely unique in their circumstances. It requires a brave heart to be equal to the requirements of such a position.


Flood! Genesis 7:11. The scientific man asserts as the latest generalization of his science, that there is in nature the uniformity of natural sequence, in other words, that nature always moves along the same path, and that law is a necessity of things. He thus indirectly asserts the probability of miracles, indeed, he admits them. For, where there is no law, there is no transgression; and the very belief in miracles depends upon this uniformity. In nature we and deviations from this law of uniformity; and so it is in the region of providence and grace. God has a certain course of dealing generally with man, and He is pleased to diverge from that course at times, as in this instance of the flood, of Sodom’s miraculous overthrow, and of Pharaoh’s destruction in the Red Sea. Thus—

“Nature is still as ever
The grand repository where He hides
His mighty thoughts, to be dug out like diamonds.”—Bigg.

Lessons! Genesis 7:11. It is not enough to follow in the track of the deluge, and listen to the wail of the antediluvians; it is not enough to analyse philosophically the causes of the earth’s upheaval and overflow; it is not enough to regard the narrative as a school for the study of Noah’s character, and to gaze with an admiration that is almost awe upon one of the stalwart nobility of mankind. We must draw the lessons which the record is designed to teach, how abhorrent sin is in the sight of God in all ages, how earnest He is in the preservation of His saints to the end of time, how He shapes the things of time and sense for the evolution of His own design, educing order from its vast confusions, and resolving its complications into one grand and marvellous unity, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and how He can and will accomplish all that He has purposed in spite of wrath of men, or rage of seas:—

“For what He doth at first intend,

That He holds firmly to the end.”—Herrich.

Divine Dates! Genesis 7:12. Man’s dates are often trivial, as we see in the pages of an almanac or diary. Not so with the Divine chronology. His dates stand out like suns amid encircling stars. Around them human dates must constellate. Therefore He does not despise them. With Him they are no trifle; and He would have us view them in the same light, regarding each date in the Divine chronology as the poet expressed himself of nature, that—

“Each moss,

Each shell, each crawling insect, holds a rank
Important in the plan of Him who framed
This scale of beings.”—Thomson.

Helplessness! Genesis 7:18. “A man overboard!” is the cry! Then the passengers lean over the bulwarks with eyes riveted on the spot where a few rising airbells tell his whereabouts. Presently the head emerges above the wave, then the arms begin to buffet the water. With violent efforts he attempts to shake off the grasp of death, and to keep his head from sinking. He makes instinctive and convulsive efforts to save himself; though these struggles only exhaust his strength, and sink him all the sooner. When the horrible conviction rushed into the souls of the antediluvian sinners that the flood had really come, how they must have struggled, clutching at straws and twigs in the vain hope of physical salvation. Yet, though the bodies of all perished; shall we doubt that the spirits of many were pardoned? As it is at times with the dying sinner, when the horrible conviction rushes into his soul that he is lost, when he feels himself going down beneath a load of guilt, he grasps that which before he despised; so these drowning wretches clutched at the saving truth of Noah’s preaching. They were saved, yet so as by fire, as—

“With failing eye, and thickening blood,
They prayed for mercy from their God.”—Studley.

Chronology! Genesis 7:12. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun. Spring clothes the earth with verdure; summer develops this verdure into its highest beauty and luxuriance; autumn crowns it with ripeness and fruitfulness; but Winter comes with its storms and frosts apparently to destroy all. Yet this apparently wanton destruction tends more to advance the progress of nature than if summer were perpetual. Just so with the Divine retribution of the deluge. As the wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about to the north; as it whirleth continually, and returneth again according to his circuits; so with the flood of waters. It was a part of the Divine plan, by which moral progress should be made, so that creation might by retrogression rise to a higher platform of inner life. Schiller says that the Fall was a giant stride in the history of the human race. So was the Divine retribution at the deluge. A wise and benevolent purpose lay hid under the apparently harsh and severe judgment. It was not only a terrible remedy for a terrible disease, but also a lever by which humanity was raised nearer to God. Dark as it was, the darkness was needed to display the lights, in it we see the sable robe,

“Of the Eternal One, with all its rich,

Embroidery and emblazonment of stars.”

God’s Door! It was shut as much for the security of those within, as for the exclusion of those without. When the father nightly bars the house-door, he does it for the protection of his family who are safely slumbering. God shut the door not merely to signify that the day of grace was past, but to secure the comfort and safety of Noah and his family from perishing by water. For this then was it that

“The ark received her freightage, Noah last,
And God shut to the door.”

Security! Swinnock says of travellers on the top of the Alps that they can see the great showers of rain fall under them—deluging the plains and flooding the rivers—while not one drop of it falls on them. They who have God for their refuge and ark are safe from all storms of trouble and showers of wrath. Noah and his family had no wetting though the windows of heaven yawned wide enough for seas to descend.

“Yes! Noah, humble, happy saint,

Surrounded with the chosen few,

Sat in his ark, secure from fear,

And sang the grace that steered him through.”

Troubles! Genesis 7:18. An old Puritan said that God’s people were like birds: they sing best in cages. The people of God sing best when in the deepest trouble. Brooks says: The deeper the flood was, the higher the ark went up to heaven. God imprisoned Noah in the ark that he might learn to sing sweetly. No doubt the tedium of their confinement was relieved by many a lark-like carol. The elements would make uproar enough at the first; but God could hear their song as well as when the commotion in nature ceased, and

“None were left in all the land,

Save those delivered by God’s right hand,

As it were in a floating tomb.”

Graduation! Genesis 7:19. Sorrows come not single spies, but in battalions. This gradual increase of human grief—this progressive rise of the waters of affliction is doubtless designed to lead men to repentance. It is said that when a rose-tree fails to flower, the gardener deprives it of light and moisture. Silent and dark it stands, dropping one faded leaf after another. But when every leaf is dropped: then the florist brings it out to bloom in the light. God sought by the graduation of the waters of the flood—by the progressive loss of each foothold, to awaken men to repentance. Over the result He has cast a veil; but hope prompts the thought that some sought and obtained mercy, before—

“Beast, man and city shared one common grave,
And calm above them rolled the avenging wave,
Whilst yon dark speck, slow-floating, did contain
Of beast or human life the sole remain.”—Procter.

Judgment! Genesis 7:20. The men of the age of Noah were not more taken by surprise when the windows of heaven were opened to rain upon the earth—the men of Jerusalem were not struck with greater consternation when the eagles of Rome came soaring towards them, bearing on their wings the vengeance of one mightier than Cæsar—than the men of the last day shall be. Signs and wonders shall, no doubt, precede the coming of that day; but the men then living will fail to take note of these signs! But why is it thus? Has Providence any delight in snaring the sinner? No; but he is blinded and infatuated by his own sin. No matter how plain the warnings of approaching doom may be, he passes on with an eye that will not see! No matter how terribly it may lighten and thunder, he has no ear to hear; until at length he is taken and destroyed—receiving as he sinned

“The weight

And measure of eternal punishment
Weigh’d in the scales of Perfect Equity.”—Bickersteth.

Divine Care! Genesis 7:23. A pious old man, who had served God for many years, was sitting one day with several persons, eating a meal upon the bank near the mouth of a pit in the neighbourhood of Swansea. While he was eating, a dove, which seemed very tame, came and fluttered in his breast and slightly pecked him. It then flew away, and he did not think much about it; till in five minutes it came again, and did the same. The old man then said: “I will follow thee, pretty messenger, and see whence thou comest.” He rose up to follow the bird; and whilst he was doing so, the banks of the pit fell in. On his return he discovered that all his companions were killed. Thus was Noah preserved!

“Who then would wish or dare, believing this,
Against His messengers to shut the door?”—Lowell.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/genesis-7.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Ads FreeProfile