Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 8

God remembers Noah, and dries up the waters. (1-3) The Ark
rests On Ararat, Noah sends forth a Raven and a Dove. (4-12)
Noah being commanded, goes out of the Ark. (13-19) Noah offers
Sacrifice, God promises to Curse the Earth No more. (20-22)

1-3 The whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, were
now dead, So that God's remembering Noah, was the return of his
Mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full End. The
demands of Divine Justice had been answered By the ruin of
sinners. God sent his wind to dry the Earth, and Seal up his
waters. The same Hand that brings the Desolation, must bring the
deliverance; to that Hand, therefore, we must ever look. When
Afflictions have done the work for which they are sent, whether
killing work or curing work, they will be taken away. As the
Earth was not drowned in a Day, So it was not dried in a Day.
God usually Works deliverance for his people gradually, that the
Day of small things may not be despised, nor the Day of great
things despaired of.

4-12 The Ark rested upon a mountain, whither it was directed By
the Wise and gracious Providence of God, that might Rest the
sooner. God has times and places of Rest for his people after
their tossing; and many times he provides for their seasonable
and comfortable settlement, without their own contrivance, and
quite Beyond their own foresight. God had told Noah when the
Flood would come, yet he did not give him an account By
Revelation, at what times and By what steps it should go away.
The knowledge of the former was necessary to his preparing the
Ark; but the knowledge of the latter would serve only to gratify
curiosity; and concealing it from him would Exercise his Faith
and patience. Noah sent forth a Raven from the Ark, which went
flying about, and feeding On the carcasses that floated. Noah
then sent forth a Dove, which returned the first time without
good news; but the second time, she brought an Olive Leaf in her
bill, plucked off, plainly showing that trees, Fruit trees,
began to appear above water. Noah sent forth the Dove the second
time, Seven days after the first, and the third time was after
Seven days also; probably On the Sabbath Day. Having kept the
Sabbath with his little Church, he expected especial blessings
from Heaven, and inquired concerning them. The Dove is an emblem
of a gracious soul, that, finding No solid peace of satisfaction
in this deluged, defiling world, returns to Christ as to its
Ark, as to its Noah, its Rest. The defiling world, returns to
Christ as to its Ark, as to its Noah, its Rest. The Carnal
Heart, like the Raven, takes up with the world, and feeds On the
carrion it finds there; but return thou to my Rest, O my soul;
to thy Noah, So the Word is, Ps 116:7. And as Noah Put forth
his Hand, and took the Dove, and pulled her to him, into the
Ark, So Christ will save, and help, and welcome those that flee
to him for Rest.

13-19 God consults our benefit, rather than our desires; he
knows what is good for us better than we do for ourselves, and
how long it is fit our restraints should continue, and desired
mercies should be delayed. We would go out of the Ark before the
ground is dried; and perhaps, if the door, is shut, are ready to
thrust off the covering, and to climb up some other way; but
God's time of showing Mercy is the best time. As Noah had a
command to go into the Ark, So, how tedious soever his
confinement there was, he would wait for a command to go out of
it again. We must in all our ways acknowledge God, and set him
before us in all our removals. Those only go under God's
protection, who follow God's direction, and submit to him.

20-22 Noah was now gone out into a desolate world, where, one
might have thought, his first care would have been to build a
House for himself, but he begins with an alter for God. He
begins Well, that begins with God. Though Noah's stock of Cattle
was small, and that saved at great care and pains, yet he did
not grudge to serve God out of it. Serving God with our little
is the way to make it more; we must never think that is wasted
with which God is honoured. The first thing done in the new
world was an act of Worship. We are now to express our
thankfulness, not By burnt-offerings, but By praise, and pious
devotions and Conversation. God was Well pleased with what was
done. But the burning Flesh could No more please God, than the
Blood of bulls and goats, except as typical of the Sacrifice of
Christ, and expressing Noah's humble Faith and devotedness to
God. The Flood washed away the race of wicked men, but it did
not remove Sin from Man's nature, who being conceived and born
in Sin, thinks, devises, and loves wickedness, even from his
youth, and that as much since the Flood as before. But God
graciously declared he never would Drown the world again. While
the Earth remains, and Man upon it, there shall be summer and
winter. It is Plain that this Earth is not to remain always. It,
and all the Works in it, must shortly be burned up; and we look
for new heavens and a new Earth, when all these things shall be
dissolved. But as long as it does remain, God's Providence will
cause the course of times and Seasons to go On, and makes each
to know its place. And On this Word we depend, that thus it
shall be. We see God's promises to the creatures made good, and
may infer that his promises to all believers shall be So.