Verse 20. "Commanded his men concerning him" - Gave particular and strict orders to afford Abram and his family every accommodation for their journey; for having received a great increase of cattle and servants, it was necessary that he should have the favour of the king, and his permission to remove from Egypt with so large a property; hence, a particular charge is given to the officers of Pharaoh to treat him with respect, and to assist him in his intended departure.
THE weighty and important contents of this chapter demand our most attentive consideration. Abram is a second time called to leave his country, kindred, and father's house, and go to a place he knew not. Every thing was apparently against him but the voice of God. This to Abram was sufficient; he could trust his Maker, and knew he could not do wrong in following his command. He is therefore proposed to us in the Scriptures as a pattern of faith, patience, and loving obedience. When he received the call of God, he spent no time in useless reasonings about the call itself, his family circumstances, the difficulties in the way, &c., &c. He was called, and he departed, and this is all we hear on the subject. Implicit faith in the promise of God, and prompt obedience to his commands, become us, not only as HIS creatures, but as sinners called to separate from evil workers and wicked ways, and travel, by that faith which worketh by love, in the way that leads to the paradise of God.
How greatly must the faith of this blessed man have been tried, when, coming to the very land in which he is promised so much blessedness, he finds instead of plenty a grievous famine! Who in his circumstances would not have gone back to his own country, and kindred? Still he is not stumbled; prudence directs him to turn aside and go to Egypt, till God shall choose to remove this famine. Is it to be wondered at that, in this tried state, he should have serious apprehensions for the safety of his life? Sarai, his affectionate wife and faithful companion, he supposes he shall lose; her beauty, he suspects, will cause her to be desired by men of power, whose will he shall not be able to resist. If he appear to be her husband, his death he supposes to be certain; if she pass for his sister, he may be well used on her account; he will not tell a lie, but he is tempted to prevaricate by suppressing a part of the truth. Here is a weakness which, however we may be inclined to pity and excuse it, we should never imitate.
It is recorded with its own condemnation. He should have risked all rather than have prevaricated. But how could he think of lightly giving up such a wife? Surely he who would not risk his life for the protection and safety of a good wife, is not worthy of one. Here his faith was deficient. He still credited the general promise, and acted on that faith in reference to it; but he did not use his faith in reference to intervening circumstances, to which it was equally applicable. Many trust God for their souls and eternity, who do not trust in him for their bodies and for time. To him who follows God fully in simplicity of heart, every thing must ultimately succeed. Had Abram and Sarai simply passed for what they were, they had incurred no danger; for God, who had obliged them to go to Egypt, had prepared the way before them. Neither Pharaoh nor his courtiers would have noticed the woman, had she appeared to be the wife of the stranger that came to sojourn in their land. The issue sufficiently proves this. Every ray of the light of truth is an emanation from the holiness of God, and awfully sacred in his eyes. Considering the subject thus, a pious ancient spoke the following words, which refiners in prevarication have deemed by much too strong: "I would not," said he, "tell a lie to save the souls of the whole world." Reader, be on thy guard; thou mayest fall by comparatively small matters, while resolutely and successfully resisting those which require a giant's strength to counteract them. In every concern God is necessary; seek him for the body and for the soul; and do not think that any thing is too small or insignificant to interest him that concerns thy present or eternal peace.