|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:23-33 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.
Verse 23. - And Abraham drew near. I.e. to Jehovah; not simply locally, but also spiritually. The religious use of יִגַּשּׁ as a performing religious services to God, or a pious turning of the mind to God, is found in Exodus 30:20; Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 30:21; and in a similar sense ἐγγίζω is employed in the New Testament (cf. Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8). The Jonathan Targum explains, "and Abraham prayed." And said. Commencing the sublimest act of human intercession of which Scripture preserves a record, being moved thereto, if not by an immediate regard for Lot (Lange), at least by a sense of compassion towards the inhabitants of Sodom, "communis erga quinque populos misericordia" (Calvin), which was heightened and intensified by his own previous experience of forgiving grace (Keil). Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? The question presupposes that God had, according to the resolution of Ver. 17, explained to the patriarch his intention to destroy the cities of the plain. The object the patriarch contemplated in his intercession was not simply the preservation of any godly remnant that might be found within the doomed towns, but the rescue of their entire populations from the impending judgment, - only he does not at first discover his complete design, perhaps regarding such an absolute reversal of the Divine purpose as exceeding the legitimate bounds of creature supplication; but with what might be characterized as holy adroitness he veils his ulterior aim, and commences his petition at a Point somewhat removed from that to which he hopes to come. Assuming it as settled that the fair Pentapolis is to be destroyed, he practically asks, with a strange mixture of humility and boldness, if Jehovah has considered that this will involve a sad commingling in one gigantic overthrow of both the righteous and the wicked.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Abraham drew near,.... To the Lord; he approached nearer to him, to have more close and intimate conversation with him on the subject of the destruction of Sodom, which he perceived, by what had been said, was like to be; he drew nigh to God in prayer; so the Targum of Jonathan,"and Abraham prayed and said;''he drew nigh with faith and freedom, and an holy boldness and confidence, and yet with great reverence of the divine Majesty, and in all humility, under a deep sense of his own meanness and unworthiness:
and said, wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? having in his mind righteous Lot, who dwelt in Sodom, whom he knew to be a just man, though he had departed from him, and was dwelling in such a wicked place; and he might charitably hope there were more in so large a city and in the parts adjacent, at least that were not so flagitious and abominably wicked as the greater part were, and who, in comparison of them, were sober and moral people.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ge 18:23-33. Abraham's Intercession.
23. Abraham drew near, and said, &c.—The scene described is full of interest and instruction—showing in an unmistakable manner the efficacy of prayer and intercession. (See also Pr 15:8; Jas 5:16). Abraham reasoned justly as to the rectitude of the divine procedure (Ro 3:5, 6), and many guilty cities and nations have been spared on account of God's people (Mt 5:13; 24:22).
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