Genesis 21

* Birth of Isaac, Sarah's joy. (1-8) Ishmael mocks Isaac. (9-13)

Hagar and Ishmael are cast forth, They are relieved and

comforted by an angel. (14-21) Abimelech's covenant with

Abraham. (22-34)

1-8 Few under the Old Testament were brought into the world

with such expectations as Isaac. He was in this a type of

Christ, that Seed which the holy God so long promised, and holy

men so long expected. He was born according to the promise, at

the set time of which God had spoken. God's promised mercies

will certainly come at the time which He sets, and that is the

best time. Isaac means "laughter," and there was good reason for

the name, ch. #17:17; 18:13|. When the Sun of comfort is risen

upon the soul, it is good to remember how welcome the dawning of

the day was. When Sarah received the promise, she laughed with

distrust and doubt. When God gives us the mercies we began to

despair of, we ought to remember with sorrow and shame our

sinful distrust of his power and promise, when we were in

pursuit of them. This mercy filled Sarah with joy and wonder.

God's favours to his covenant people are such as surpass their

own and others' thoughts and expectations: who could imagine

that he should do so much for those that deserve so little, nay,

for those that deserve so ill? Who would have said that God

should send his Son to die for us, his Spirit to make us holy,

his angels to attend us? Who would have said that such great

sins should be pardoned, such mean services accepted, and such

worthless worms taken into covenant? A short account of Isaac's

infancy is given. God's blessing upon the nursing of children,

and the preservation of them through the perils of the infant

age, are to be acknowledged as signal instances of the care and

tenderness of the Divine providence. See #Ps 22:9,10; Ho

9-13 Let us not overlook the manner in which this family matter

instructs us not to rest in outward privileges, or in our own

doings. And let us seek the blessings of the new covenant by

faith in its Divine Surety. Ishmael's conduct was persecution,

being done in profane contempt of the covenant and promise, and

with malice against Isaac. God takes notice of what children say

and do in their play; and will reckon with them, if they say or

do amiss, though their parents do not. Mocking is a great sin,

and very provoking to God. And the children of promise must

expect to be mocked. Abraham was grieved that Ishmael should

misbehave, and Sarah demand so severe a punishment. But God

showed him that Isaac must be the father of the promised Seed;

therefore, send Ishmael away, lest he corrupt the manners, or

try to take the rights of Isaac. The covenant seed of Abraham

must be a people by themselves, not mingled with those who were

out of covenant: Sarah little thought of this; but God turned

aright what she said.
14-21 If Hagar and Ishmael had behaved well in Abraham's

family, they might have continued there; but they were justly

punished. By abusing privileges, we forfeit them. Those who know

not when they are well off, will be made to know the worth of

mercies by the want of them. They were brought to distress in

the wilderness. It is not said that the provisions were spent,

or that Abraham sent them away without money. But the water was

spent; and having lost their way, in that hot climate Ishmael

was soon overcome with fatigue and thirst. God's readiness to

help us when we are in trouble, must not slacken, but quicken

our endeavours to help ourselves. The promise concerning her son

is repeated, as a reason why Hagar should bestir herself to help

him. It should engage our care and pains about children and

young people, to consider that we know not what great use God

has designed them for, and may make of them. The angel directs

her to a present supply. Many who have reason to be comforted,

go mourning from day to day, because they do not see the reason

they have for comfort. There is a well of water near them in the

covenant of grace, but they are not aware of it, till the same

God that opened their eyes to see their wound, opens them to see

their remedy. Paran was a wild place, fit for a wild man; such

as Ishmael. Those who are born after the flesh, take up with the

wilderness of this world, while the children of the promise aim

at the heavenly Canaan, and cannot be at rest till they are

there. Yet God was with the lad; his outward welfare was owing

to this.
22-34 Abimelech felt sure that the promises of God would be

fulfilled to Abraham. It is wise to connect ourselves with those

who are blessed of God; and we ought to requite kindness to

those who have been kind to us. Wells of water are scarce and

valuable in eastern countries. Abraham took care to have his

title to the well allowed, to prevent disputes in future. No

more can be expected from an honest man than that he be ready to

do right, as soon as he knows he has done wrong. Abraham, being

now in a good neighbourhood, stayed a great while there. There

he made, not only a constant practice, but an open profession of

his religion. There he called on the name of the Lord, as the

everlasting God; probably in the grove he planted, which was his

place of prayer. Abraham kept up public worship, in which his

neighbours might join. Good men should do all they can to make

others so. Wherever we sojourn, we must neither neglect nor be

ashamed of the worship of Jehovah.
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