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Abraham's Suspicion of Abimelech

Abraham's Suspicion of Abimelech

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Published by glennpease
BY JOB ORTON


Genesis xx. 11.

And Abraham said, Because I thought, surely the fear of God is
not in this place ; and they will slay me for my ivifes sake.
BY JOB ORTON


Genesis xx. 11.

And Abraham said, Because I thought, surely the fear of God is
not in this place ; and they will slay me for my ivifes sake.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 19, 2013
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ABRAHAM'S SUSPICIO OF ABIMELECHBY JOB ORTO Genesis xx. 11. And Abraham said, Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place ; and they will slay me for my ivifes sake. When the Psalmist was devoutly recollecting and celebrating God's wondrous works and providential appearances for the patriarchs, he observed, that " when they went from one nation to another, and from one kingdom to another people, he suffered no man to do them wrong ; yea he reproved kings for their sakes, saying. Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm," Ps. cv. 14. We have a remarkable instance of this, in the chapter where our text is. It is part of the history of Abraham, the father of God's ancient people. He came to Gerar, a city of the Philistines, south of Canaan. There, as he had done before in the land of Egypt, he said of Sarah his wife, " She is my sister;" lest, being a beautiful woman, she should be taken from him, and he be destroyed or injured on her account. It was true in some sense that she was his sister ; some suppose that she was really his sister ; others, more probably, that she was his half-niece, daughter of Haran, his half-brother; so near a female relation being commonly called a sister among the He- brews. But he concealed part of the truth, namely, that she 252 orton's practical works, was also his wife. This he thought he might lawfully do, as it was the probable means of saving his life. But as this manner of speaking carried a plain intimation that she was not his wife, it was deceiving the Philistines, as well as distrusting God. Abimelech, king of Gerar, took Sarah, intending to make her his wife. God informed him in a dream, that she was another man's wife. He pleads his ignorance of this. The Lord ac-
 
cepted the plea, and commanded him to restore Abraham his wife, because he was a prophet. This Abimelech did ; but he expostulates with Abraham for deceiving them, and exposing him to the displeasure of God, and the whole nation to his plague (v. 9), "What hast thou done unto us? And in what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and my kingdom a great sin ? Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done." Seeing Abraham confused with this expostulation, and unable to make a ready answer, he puts the question home to him in the next verse, " What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?" What impurity or indecency hast thou perceived in me or in my people, that led thee to take such a step ? These Philistines looked upon adultery with great horror. Abimelech would never have taken Sarah, if he had known she had been another man's wife. Therefore he highly resented the imposi- tion. Our text is Abraham's reply, and excuse for his weak and unbecoming behaviour, " And Abraham said, Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake." A poor excuse indeed ! but the best he could make. However, in the connexion in which it stands, it suggests to us two remarks; which, if they engage our attention and influence our practice, will be of the greatest service to us in future life. I. The fear of God is the most effectual restraint from sin. II. Persons may have more of the fear of God in them than others are ready sometimes to imagine. I will consider each of these remarks, and endeavour, by divine assistance, to persuade you to fear God and honour all men. I. The fear of God is the most effectual restraint from sin. Abraham imagined that the fear of God was not among the Philistines. He therefore concluded that they were capable of any mischief, and would stick at nothing to compass their impure and wicked designs. The fear of God frequently signifies in scripture, the whole of religion. But in the text and many other places, it seems to denote that part of it which immediately relates to God ; and as this is most excellent and important in itself, and the foundation of the other branches of religion, it is
 
often put for the whole. Hence it is called, " the beginning of wisdom." It signifies a constant, serious regard to God, as the governor of the whole world ; which so influences the mind, as Dis. XXX.] Abraham's suspicion of abimelech. 253 to excite in it an habitual concern, not to do any thing offensive or displeasing to him, and a solicitous care to please him in all things. This disposition is founded on right notions of God ; as a being of perfect holiness ; who loveth righteousness and beholdeth the upright with approbation ; but must abhor and punish the wicked. It is founded on a persuasion of his uni- versal presence, and perfect knowledge of all his creatures; of all their actions, thoughts, and designs. The man who feareth God, not only beheves in general that he searcheth and seeth him; but he sets the Lord always before him, as the object of his constant regard; and his heart is filled with an humble reverence and a filial awe of liim. But let it be observed, that this is not a sudden passion, excited now and then by some awful rep-e- sentation of the terrors of the Lord, or affecting displays of his power and justice ; but it is a settled temper ; a prevailing, governing disposition in the heart. It is a temper nearly re- sembhng that of a dutiful child to a wise and affectionate father. From a reverence of God's authority, a fear of displeasing one to whom he is so highly obliged, on whom he constantly depends, and who hath it in his power to punish every act of contempt and disobedience, he endeavours to know and to obey his will. But a sense of God's paternal goodness, and a hope in his favour, prevent this fear from becoming servile and painful, and make it quite easy and agreeable to the mind. This is a brief account of the nature of the fear of God. Where this principle doth not prevail, no good can be expected. The want of it introduceth all manner of confusion among intelligent creatures, renders them the very reverse of what they should be, and is indeed the chief cause of all the sins that are in the world. Thus David observes, " The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes," Ps. xxxvi. 1. When I see their transgressions, I naturally con-

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