This chapter contains articles of agreement betwixt the great Jehovah, the father of mercies, and pious Abram, the father of the faithful.Mention was made of this covenant, chap. xv. 18.
but here it is particularly drawn up.Here are,
- The circumstances of the making of this covenant, the time and manner, ver. 1.
and the posture Abram was in, ver. 3.
- The covenant itself, in the particular instances.
- That he should be the father of many nations, ver. 4. 6.
and in token of that his name was changed, ver. 5.
- That God would be a God to him and his seed, and would give them the land of Canaan, ver. 7, 8.
and the seal of this part of the covenant was circumcision, ver. 9 - 14.
- That he should have a son by Sarai, and in token of that her name was changed, ver. 15, 16.
This promise Abraham received, ver. 17.
And his request for Ishmael, (ver. 18.) was answered abundantly
to his satisfaction, ver. 19 - 22.
- The circumcision of Abraham and his family, according to God's appointment, ver. 23 - 27.
|17:1||And when Abram was ninety nine years old - Full thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael. So long the promise of Isaac was deferred; |
But the covenant is mutual, walk before me, and be thou perfect - Thatis, upright and sincere. Observe,
|17:3||And Abram fell on his face while God talked with him - Either, ||17:4||The promise is here introduced with solemnity: As for me, saith the Great God, Behold, behold and admire it, behold and be assured of it, my covenant is with thee. And thou shalt be a father of many nations - This implies, ||17:5||In token of this, his name was changed from Abram, a high father, to Abraham, the father of a multitude. This was to confirm the faith of Abraham, while he was childless; perhaps even his own name was sometimes an occasion of grief to him; Why should he be called a high father, who was not a father at all? But now God had promised him a numerous issue, and had given him a name which signified so much; that name was his joy.||17:7||And I will establish my covenant - Not to be altered or revoked; not with thee only, then it would die with thee but with thy seed after thee; and it is not only thy seed after the flesh, but thy spiritual seed. It is everlasting in the evangelical meaning of it. The covenant of grace is everlasting; it is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it; and the external administration of it is transmitted, with the seal of it, to the seed of believers, and the internal administration of it by the Spirit to Christ's seed in every age. This is a covenant of exceeding great and precious promises. Here are two which indeed are all - sufficient, that God would be their God. All the privileges of the covenant, all its joys, and all its hopes, are summed up in this. A man needs desire no more than this to make him happy. What God is himself, that he will be to his people: wisdom to guide and counsel them, power to protect and support them, goodness to supply and comfort them; what faithful worshippers can expect from the God they serve, believers shall find in God as theirs. This is enough, yet not all.||17:8||And I will give thee Canaan for an everlasting possession - God had before promised this land to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 15:18.But here, it is promised for an everlasting possession, as a type of heaven, that everlasting rest which remains for the people of God. This is that better country to which Abraham had an eye, and the grant of which was that which answered the vast extent of that promise, that God would be to them a God; so that if God had not designed this, he would have been ashamed to be called their God, Hebrews 11:16. As the land of Canaan was secured to the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh; so heaven is secured to all his spiritual seed for a possession truly everlasting. The offer of this eternal life is made in the word, and confirmed by the sacraments, to all that are under the external administration of the covenant, and the earnest of it is given to all believers.||17:10||The token of the covenant, is circumcision, for the sake of which the covenant is itself called the covenant of circumcision, Acts 7:8. It is here said to be thecovenant which Abraham and his seed must keep, as a copy or counterpart, it is called a sign and seal, Romans 4:11, for it was.||17:15||Sarah shall her name be - The same letter is added to her name that was to Abraham's. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only: Sarah signifies a princess, viz. of multitudes.||17:17||Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed - It was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day, now he saw it and was glad, 8:56, for as he saw heaven in the promise of Canaan, so he saw Christ in the promise of Isaac, and said, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? - He doth not here speak of it, as at all doubtful, for we are sure he staggered not at the promise, Romans 4:20, but as wonderful, and that which could not be effected but by the almighty power of God.||17:18||And Abraham said, O that Ishmael might live before thee! - This he speaks nor as desiring that Ishmael might be preferred before the son he should have by Sarah, but as dreading lest he should be forsaken of God, he puts up this petition on his behalf. The great thing we should desire of God, for our children, is, that they may live before him, that is, that they may be kept in covenant with him, and may have grace to walk before him in their uprightness. God's answer to this prayer, is an answer of peace. Abraham could not say he sought God's face in vain.||17:20||As for Ishmael, I have heard thee; I have blessed him - That is, I have many blessings in store for him.||17:21||He names that child, Isaac - Laughter, because Abraham rejoiced in spirit when this son was promised him.|