The Abrahamic Covenant Enriched (17:1-8)
The name of Almighty God has the thought of special strength on behalf of those who are called by Him; i.e. power and provision for His people. It is a special name of character and relationship with those to whom God was revealed as such. God was revealed under the name "El Shaddai" first to Abraham, when he said "I (Jehovah) am El Shaddai; walk before me" (Gen. 17:1; Exodus 6:3). Again, He revealed Himself to Jacob (Gen. 35:11) as the Almighty God. The name is found forty-eight times in the Old Testament. The name El Shaddai is connected with the dispensational principle of calling.Read more… It wasn’t merely that God would Abram’s shield and exceeding great reward, but that He was mighty on behalf of all those who trust in Him. This is the highest revelation yet that God had made to Abram.1 The command “walk before my face, and be perfect” is full of instruction. The higher our relationship with God, the higher our conduct ought to be. This is what God desires. Are you walking before God’s face, or before the face of man? We should live for God’s approval alone; not the world’s approval, and not even our fellow believers’ approval. Note that the word “perfect” does not have the sense of literal moral perfectly, which would be impossible for Abram to do. Rather, it has the sense of walking blamelessly (Luke 1:6; Phil. 2:15; 3:6; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Tim. 3:2). The call to walk before God’s face is coupled with an enhancement of the promise.
Circumcision: The Sign of the Covenant (17:9-14)
As we find in Genesis 17, circumcision was the sign of God's covenant with Abraham, just as the rainbow was the sign of God's covenant with Noah. Circumcision itself did nothing inward for the soul. It was an outward sign of God's covenant pertaining to outward blessing. The sign was consequent on God’s unconditional promises made to Abraham and his descendants. Those promises will be fulfilled ultimately by Christ, because God is faithful. The sign of circumcision was not given to Abraham as a legal thing, but rather how Abraham might respond to the grace of God.2 Many years later, when the law was given with its conditional promises, it included circumcision as part of the ceremonial law. This linked circumcision with the moral law; "for I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. 5:3). Israel, in breaking the law, disqualified themselves from any outward blessing, and so circumcision became of no profit, and has no place in Christianity.Read more…
Sarai’s Name Changed, the Promise of a Son (17:15-22)
Abraham Circumcises His Household (17:23-27)
- God therefore imparts the richest revelation ever made known up to that time. “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” – Kelly, W. Abraham, the Friend of God.
- Circumcision here [Genesis 17] accordingly is not introduced in a legal way, any more than the sabbath in Genesis 2. It is really the answer in man to the grace of God. - Kelly, W. Abram: The Friend of God.
- Abraham’s was the laughter of joy, I believe; but Sarah was ashamed of her laughing, because it was unbelief. – Darby, J.N. Hints on the Book of Genesis.
- Abraham’s faith was too weak to accept what God had positively spoken. He laughed inwardly, just as Sarah did later (Gen. 18:12). – Grant, L.M. The Book of Genesis.