Bible Commentaries
Genesis 21

Morgan's Exposition on the Whole BibleMorgan's Exposition

Verses 1-34

At last in God's 'Set time," and in spite of all natural difficulties, the long-promised son was born. Sarah who at an earlier point had laughed with the laughter of incredulity, now laughed with the laughter of realization.

There is something vivid and startling, even, in the story of Ishmael. It was necessary that, because of an act of unbelief, the son should be cast out in order to carry out the divine purpose. Yet in this act the tenderness of God is revealed in that He "heard the voice of the lad," and sent an angel, promising that he also should become a great nation.

The principal value of the story is that of the part it plays in the history of Abraham. In spite of personal inclination and in simple obedience, he sent forth the child of the bond-woman and leaned back wholly and only on the divine provision for the fulfillment of the promise.

The chapter closes with the account of the covenant made with Abimelech. This covenant was based on Abimelech's clear recognition of the fact that God was with Abraham. Notwithstanding the previous failure of Abraham's faith, which had brought about Abimelech's rebuke, the deeper fact of the existence of his faith had influenced this man and did bring him into covenant relationship with God through Abraham. As the story is written, there seems to be no reason to think that in this covenant made on the basis of the recognition of God there was anything contrary to the purpose of God. I prefer to think of it as revealing the influence that might have been growingly exerted by the people of faith had they been true to God.

Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Genesis 21". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.