Genesis 21

1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had spoken. 2 Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4 Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him. 6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7 She said, “Who would have said to Abraham, that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” 8 The child grew, and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this servant and her son! For the son of this servant will not be heir with my son, Isaac.” 11 The thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. 12 God said to Abraham, “Don’t let it be grievous in your sight because of the boy, and because of your servant. In all that Sarah says to you, listen to her voice. For your offspring will be accounted as from Isaac. 13 I will also make a nation of the son of the servant, because he is your child.” 14 Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder; and gave her the child, and sent her away. She departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 The water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16 She went and sat down opposite him, a good way off, about a bow shot away. For she said, “Don’t let me see the death of the child.” She sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. 17 God heard the voice of the boy. The angel of God called to Hagar out of the sky, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. For God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him in your hand. For I will make him a great nation.” 19 God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, filled the bottle with water, and gave the boy drink. 20 God was with the boy, and he grew. He lived in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother took a wife for him out of the land of Egypt. 22 At that time, Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his army spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now, therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son. But according to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land in which you have lived as a foreigner.” 24 Abraham said, “I will swear.” 25 Abraham complained to Abimelech because of a water well, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 26 Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this thing. You didn’t tell me, and I didn’t hear of it until today.” 27 Abraham took sheep and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech. Those two made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves mean?” 30 He said, “You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.” 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because they both swore there. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Abimelech rose up with Phicol, the captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 Abraham lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines many days.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 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 11:1, 2.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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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