Verses 15–23

1. With what a gracious violence Lot was brought out of Sodom, Gen. 19:16. It seems, though he did not make a jest of the warning given, as his sons-in-law did, yet he lingered, he trifled, he did not make so much haste as the case required. Thus many that are under some convictions about the misery of their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, yet defer that needful work, and foolishly linger. Lot did so, and it might have been fatal to him it the angels had not laid hold of his hand, and brought him forth, and saved him with fear, Jude 1:23. Herein it is said, The Lord was merciful to him; otherwise he might justly have left him to perish, since he was so loth to depart. Note, (1.) The salvation of the most righteous men must be attributed to God’s mercy, not to their own merit. We are saved by grace. (2.) God’s power also must be acknowledged in the bringing of souls out of a sinful state. If God had not brought us forth, we had never come forth. (3.) If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin.

2. With what a gracious vehemence he was urged to make the best of his way, when he was brought forth, Gen. 19:17. (1.) He must still apprehend himself in danger of being consumed, and be quickened by the law of self-preservation to flee for his life. Note, A holy fear and trembling are found necessary to the working out of our salvation. (2.) He must therefore mind his business with the utmost care and diligence. He must not hanker after Sodom: Look not behind thee. He must not loiter by the way: Stay not in the plain; for it would all be made one dead sea. He must not take up short of the place of refuge appointed him: Escape to the mountain. Such as these are the commands given to those who through grace are delivered out of a sinful state. [1.] Return not to sin and Satan, for that is looking back to Sodom. [2.] Rest not in self and the world, for that is staying in the plain. And, [3.] Reach towards Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not take up.

II. The fixing of a place of refuge for him. The mountain was first appointed for him to flee to, but, 1. He begged for a city of refuge, one of the five that lay together, called Bela, Gen. 14:2; 19:18-20. It was Lot’s weakness to think a city of his own choosing safer than the mountain of God’s appointing. And he argued against himself when he pleaded, Thou hast magnified thy mercy in saving my life, and I cannot escape to the mountain; for could not he that plucked him out of Sodom, when he lingered, carry him safely to the mountain, though he began to tire? Could not he that saved him from greater evils save him from the less? He insists much in his petition upon the smallness of the place: It is a little one, it is not? therefore, it was to be hoped, not so bad as the rest. This gave a new name to the place; it was called Zoar, a little one. Intercessions for little ones are worthy to be remembered. 2. God granted him his request, though there was much infirmity in it, Gen. 19:21, 22. See what favour God showed to a true saint, though weak. (1.) Zoar was spared, to gratify him. Though his intercession for it was not, as Abraham’s for Sodom, from a principle of generous charity, but merely from self-interest, yet God granted him his request, to show how much the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails. (2.) Sodom’s ruin was suspended till he was safe: I cannot do any thing till thou shalt have come thither. Note, The very presence of good men in a place helps to keep off judgments. See what care God takes for the preservation of his people. The winds are held till God’s servants are sealed, Rev. 7:3; Ezek. 9:4.

III. It is taken notice of that the sun had risen when Lot entered into Zoar; for when a good man comes into a place he brings light along with him, or should do.