Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 21

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1

And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

The long-looked for blessing of a son to Abraham and Sarah, is at length bestowed; and Isaac, the child of promise, is born. This Chapter relates the auspicious event. The casting out of Ishmael, the Son of Hagar, the bond-woman, is also noticed, with the circumstances attending it. Some inferior matters, which occurred in Abraham's family, and a covenant of amity, which the Patriarch entered into with Abimelech; form the remainder of the particulars, related in this Chapter.

That is a precious Scripture of the prophet, Habakkuk 2:3-4 . And the apostle's comment upon it, is not less so. Hebrews 10:36 , etc. These words are not only applicable in the case of the Patriarch's trials of faith, but have been refreshing to thousands in their various exercises.

Verse 2

For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

Observe here, that it is twice mentioned by the Holy Ghost, as if to impress it more strongly on the mind, that this event, so contrary to the ordinary course of nature, was, as the Lord had said (Genesis 21:1 ) and as the Lord had spoken, (Genesis 21:2 )

Verse 3

And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

This was the name, which the Lord himself had appointed. Genesis 17:19 . Isaac signifies laughter.

Verse 4

And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.

It was proper, that he, who was equally interested in the blessings of the covenant with Abraham, should partake with him, in the seal of the covenant. Genesis 17:10-14 .

Verse 5

And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

Observe, how particular the Holy Ghost is, to mark down again Abraham's age, in order to manifest, that the mercy of a Son was not within the ordinary course of natural expectation. Galatians 4:23 .

Verses 6-7

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

Reader! Pause here to remark, that while the gift of a Son became such a subject of astonishment to Sarah; what greater cause have you and I to be astonished, that God should have given his only begotten Son, to the end, that all which believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life! Nay, to advance one step farther in the wonderful mercy, who could have believed that such a gift should have been given to you, or to me? Well may we exclaim with the prophet: Wonder, O Heavens, and be astonished, O earth.

Verse 8

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

In all seasons of enjoyment, see that they are sanctified seasons. I would desire to do as the disciples did; invite Jesus to be present. John 2:1; John 2:1 .

Verses 9-10

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

The spiritual meaning of this never could have been known, had not the Holy Ghost graciously condescended to have taught the Church, by his servant the apostle. See Galatians 4:2-31 .

Verse 11

And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.

Probably, the pious Patriarch, made it a subject of prayer. Reader! may grace enable us, in all our trials to do the same.

Verses 12-13

And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

Observe how gracious the Lord is! How sure is that promise: Deuteronomy 28:2-14 .

Verses 14-16

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

Sweet subject, spiritually considered. Is not the whole world a wilderness state? But yet, the greatest distresses will not open our eyes to discover Our relief; until the Holy Ghost performs this mercy, and directs to the Lord Jesus. And although, like the well to Hagar, he is always near us in the everlasting covenant of grace, yet we shall see him not, unless He, whose office it is, takes of the things of Jesus to shew them unto us. John 16:15 .

Verses 17-33

And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.

Observe, though Abraham is still in a pilgrimage state, yet in every place, where the Lord manifested himself to him, he sets up his Ebenezer. Isaiah 40:28 .

Verse 34

And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.


THE long exercise of Abraham and Sarah's faith respecting this child of promise, and the happy issue of it, may serve to teach us how sure God's promises are; and the certainty, that those who, with faith and patience, wait the fulfillment of the divine promises, shall not be disappointed of their hope. It is exceedingly precious upon all occasions to remark, the Lord's gracious dealings with his people. Faithful men love to dwell upon the evidences of a faithful God.

My Brother! Look, I beseech you, beyond the subject of this promised Isaac, unto Him, of whom Isaac was but a type; even unto Jesus, in whom all the promises center, and in whom they are all ye and amen. And as Sarah rejoiced in her Isaac, may it be your mercy and mine, with all the children of promise, as Isaac was, to rejoice in infinitely higher strains of joy in our Redeemer; that unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given: whose government is upon his shoulders, and whose name is Wonderful: Counsellor: the mighty God: the everlasting Father: the Prince of Peace.

When the Reader hath duly contemplated his person, of whom Isaac became a striking type, and in whom all the promises center; I would beg of him to make earnest enquiry concerning his own personal interest in this divine Saviour, Paul tells the believing church of Galatia, that as Sarah was a figure of the church, so Isaac became a figure of the children of that church. Now we, brethren, (says he) as Isaac was, are the children of promise. My brother, is this your privilege? Are you of the seed of the bond-woman or of the free? Are you one of the descendants of Hagar or of Sarah? In other words, (according to the apostle's beautiful illustration of it), do you seek favour with God from a covenant of works, which gendereth to bondage; or are your hopes of salvation founded on a covenant of grace, which maketh free. Upon the decision of this grand question will depend your everlasting welfare.

May it be the happy portion, both of the Writer and Reader, to be found as Isaac was among the children of promise! The Lord in mercy grant, that we may not be looking for justification from a covenant of works, which never did, or ever will, be able to save the soul! The law is the ministration of death. It is the dispensation of terrors from Mount Sinai. For Hagar is Mount Sinai, which is in bondage with her children, a spiritual bondage to sin, and a legal bondage to wrath. But the gospel is the ministration of life: freeing the soul, by the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the guilt and condemnation of sin, and bringing it into that liberty, wherewith the children of grace are made free. Grant, O Lord! that this may be our mercy: that in the great day it may be found that we have not been children of the bond-woman, but of the free.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/genesis-21.html. 1828.
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