Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 18

The Lord appears to Abraham. (1-8) Sarah's unbelief reproved.
(9-15) God reveals to Abraham the Destruction of Sodom. (16-22)
Abraham's intercession for Sodom. (23-33)

1-8 Abraham was waiting to Entertain any weary traveller, for
inns were not to be met with as among us. While Abraham was thus
Sitting, he saw three men coming. These were three heavenly
beings in human bodies. Some think they were all created angels;
others, that one of them was the Son of God, the Angel of the
Covenant. Washing the feet is customary in those hot climates,
where only Sandals are worn. We should not be forgetful to
Entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels
unawares, Heb 13:2; nay, the Lord of angels himself; as we
always do, when for his sake we Entertain the least of his
brethren. Cheerful and obliging manners in showing kindness, are
great ornaments to Piety. Though our condescending Lord
vouchsafes not personal visits to us, yet still By his Spirit he
stands at the door and knocks; when we are inclined to open, he
deigns to enter; and By his gracious consolations he provides a
rich Feast, of which we partake with him, Re 3:20.

9-15 Where is Sarah thy Wife? was asked. Note the answer, In
the Tent. Just at Hand, in her proper place, occupied in her
household concerns. There is nothing got By gadding. Those are
most likely to receive comfort from God and his promises, who
are in their proper place, and in the way of their duty, Lu
2:8. We are slow of Heart to believe, and need line upon line to
the same purport. The blessings others have from common
Providence, believers have from the Divine promise, which makes
them very sweet, and very sure. The spiritual seed of Abraham
owe their Life, and joy, and Hope, and all, to the promise.
Sarah thinks this too good news to be true; she laughed, and
therefore cannot as yet find in her Heart to believe it. Sarah
laughed. We might not have thought there was a difference
between Sarah's laughter and Abraham's, ch. 17:17; but He who
searches the Heart, saw that the one sprung from unbelief, and
the other from Faith. She denied that she had laughed. One Sin
commonly brings in another, and it is not likely we shall
strictly keep to Truth, when we question the Divine Truth. But
whom the Lord loves he will rebuke, convict, silence, and bring
to Repentance, and if they Sin before him.

16-22 The two who are supposed to have been created angels went
toward Sodom. The one who is called Jehovah throughout the
Chapter, continued with Abraham, and would not hide from him the
thing he intended to do. Though God long forbears with sinners,
from which they fancy that the Lord does not see, and does not
regard; yet when the Day of his wrath comes, he will look toward
them. The Lord will give Abraham an opportunity to intercede
with him, and shows him the reason of his conduct. Consider, as
a very bright part of Abraham's character and Example, that he
not only prayed with his family, but he was very careful to
teach and rule them Well. Those who expect family blessings must
make Conscience of family duty. Abraham did not fill their heads
with matters of doubtful dispute; but he taught them to be
serious and devout in the Worship of God, and to be honest in
their dealings with all men. Of how few may such a character be
given in our days! How little care is taken By masters of
families to ground those under them in the principles of
religion! Do we watch from Sabbath to Sabbath whether they go
forward or backward?

23-33 Here is the first solemn Prayer upon record in the Bible;
and it is a Prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed
earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous
persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what
compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we
should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent
Prayer of a righteous Man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed
in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously
delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, By Earnest Prayer, the
blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your
neighbourhood. To this End you must not only pray, but you must
live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the Earth would do
right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their
own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for
the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And
Righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did
Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not By blaming the
Divine Law, nor By alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of
human guilt; but By pleading HIS OWN obedience unto Death.