Dave Burnette's Commentary

Genesis Chapter 17

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: To Record God's Creation and Identify His Plan (c 1-22)
Theme: The Story of Abraham (c 12-25)
Message: The Terms of the Promise (v 1-27)

Genesis 17 Commentary

(17:1) The Lord Speaks to Agram -  The Lord told Abram, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." God has the same message for us today. We are to obey the Lord in every respect because he is God. That is reason enough. If you don't think the benefits of obedience are worth it, consider who God is--the only one with the power and ability to meet your every need.

(17:2-4) God Repeats His Covenant to Abram -  Why did God repeat his covenant to Abram? Twice before, he had mentioned this agreement (Genesis 12; 15). Here, however, God was bringing it into focus and preparing to carry it out. He revealed to Abram several specific parts of his covenant: (1) God would give Abram many descendants; (2) many nations would descend from him; (3) God would maintain his covenant with Abram's descendants; and (4) God would give Abram's descendants the land of Canaan.
(17:5) God Changes Abrams Name - In the Bible, people's names were very important--a name often described a person's character or experience. Therefore, shortly before the promised son was conceived, God changed Abram's name (which means "exalted father") to Abraham (which means "father of many'). From this point on, the Bible calls him Abraham.

(17:6-8) God Makes a Promise - God was making a covenant, or contract, between himself and Abraham. The terms were simple: Abraham would obey God and circumcise all the males in his household; God's part was to give Abraham heirs, property, power, and wealth. Most contracts are even trades: We give something and, in turn, receive something of equal value. But when we become part of God's covenant family, the blessings we receive far outweigh what we must give up.

(17:9-10) God Required a Circumcision -  Why did God require circumcision? (1) As a sign of obedience to him in all matters. (2) As a sign of belonging to his covenant people. Once circumcised, a man would be identified as one of God's chosen people (eventually the Jews) forever. (3) As a symbol of "cutting off" the old life of sin, purifying one's heart, and dedicating oneself to God. (4) Possibly as a health measure. Circumcision separated God's people from many of their pagan neighbors. In Abraham's day, this was essential to develop the pure worship of the one true God.

(17:17-27) Abraham Doubts God -  How could Abraham doubt God? It seemed incredible that he and Sarah, in their advanced years, could have a child. Abraham, the man God considered righteous because of his faith, had trouble believing God's promise to him. Despite his doubts, however, Abraham followed God's commands. Even people of great faith may have doubts. When God seems to want the impossible and you begin to doubt his leading, be like Abraham. Focus on God's commitment to fulfill his promises to you, and then follow through and complete the task he has given you.

(17:20) God Remembers Ishmael -  God did not forget Ishmael. Although he was not to be Abraham's heir, he would also be the father of a great nation. Regardless of your circumstances, God has not forgotten you. Obey-him and trust in his plan.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Making the Impossible-Possible

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. There are many applications we can make from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Genesis with Chapter 17, and in today's text, we see the promises of God come to pass. Abram becomes Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah. Twice before, in chapters 12 and 15, God tells Abraham of His plan for Abraham's life, but now the promise comes to light. Abraham failed to believe that God would do what he said, and it appeared the circumstances around him made it impossible, but God made the impossible possible. He delights in showing us that He is God. He is the Lord. Abraham does learn from his sinful attitude, and in the upcoming chapters, he demonstrates this change in his life. We see that we should not put God in a box when making an application. If he has promised something to you through His Word, he will make it come to pass. We don't need to take things into our own hands. We must trust Him daily, making decisions according to His Word and Spirit. How about you? Are you making decisions based on His promises for your life? Let us learn from our text today and the example of Abraham to Wait on the Lord, for He makes what we think impossible - Possible.


Genesis 17

Genesis 17

 1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

 2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

 3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

 4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

 5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

 6And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

 7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

 8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

 9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

 12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

 13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

 14And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

 15And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

 16And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

 17Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

 18And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

 19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

 21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

 22And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

 23And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

 24And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

 26In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.

 27And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.