“What can you give me, since I am childless?”

These are the words of Abraham, spoken to the Lord. He is essentially saying, “What good are all your promised blessings when I don’t even have a son?”. Clearly, at this point in his life, he believes that God’s promises will amount to naught.

As Ellicott notes in his Bible commentary, there is a slight tone of complaint in these words but, as Matthew Henry comments, although we must never complain of God, we do have leave to complain to Him and to state our grievances. He says “It is ease to a burdened spirit to open its case to a faithful and compassionate friend”. Abraham's complaint is that he had no child, that he was never likely to have one and that the want of a son was so great a trouble to him that it took away all his comfort.

This misfortune of having no child was acutely felt by Abraham but his fear was not only that he should not have children but that the repeated promises by God of blessings to his descendants and to the nations should never be accomplished. 

Until Abraham had evidence from God of some sort of fulfilment of His promise, he would not be satisfied.

How true is that of many people today? They expect tangible evidence from God before they can begin to consider Him seriously. They are unable to make a leap - even a small one - of faith; are unable to see beyond their immediate concerns and to appreciate that God’s canvass stretches far beyond their own immediate horizons. 

© Richard Farquharson, Maulden, Bedfordshire June 2017