Verses 1–5

Here is, I. Isaac’s design to make his will, and to declare Esau his heir. The promise of the Messiah and the land of Canaan was a great trust, first committed to Abraham, inclusive and typical of spiritual and eternal blessings; this, by divine direction, he transmitted to Isaac. Isaac, being now old, and not knowing, or not understanding, or not duly considering, the divine oracle concerning his two sons, that the elder should serve the younger, resolves to entail all the honour and power that were wrapped up in the promise upon Esau his eldest son. In this he was governed more by natural affection, and the common method of settlements, than he ought to have been, if he knew (as it is probable he did) the intimations God had given of his mind in this matter. Note, We are very apt to take our measures rather from our own reason than from divine revelation, and thereby often miss our way; we think the wise and learned, the mighty and noble, should inherit the promise; but God sees not as man sees. See 1 Sam. 16:6, 7.

II. The directions he gave to Esau, pursuant to this design. He calls him to him, Gen. 27:1. For Esau, though married, had not yet removed; and, though he had greatly grieved his parents by his marriage, yet they had not expelled him, but it seems were pretty well reconciled to him, and made the best of it. Note, Parents that are justly offended at their children yet must not be implacable towards them.

1. He tells him upon what considerations he resolved to do this now (Gen. 27:2): “I am old, and therefore must die shortly, yet I know not the day of my death, nor when I must die; I will therefore do that at this time which must be done some time.” Note, (1.) Old people should be reminded by the growing infirmities of age to do quickly, and with all the little might they have, what their hand finds to do. See Josh. 13:1. (2.) The consideration of the uncertainty of the time of our departure out of the world (about which God has wisely kept us in the dark) should quicken us to do the work of the day in its day. The heart and the house should both be set, and kept, in order, because at such an hour as we think not the Son of man comes; because we know not the day of our death, we are concerned to mind the business of life.

2. He bids him to get things ready for the solemnity of executing his last will and testament, by which he designed to make him his heir, Gen. 27:3, 4. Esau must go a hunting, and bring some venison, which his father will eat of, and then bless him. In this he designed, not so much the refreshment of his own spirits, that he might give the blessing in a lively manner, as it is commonly taken, but rather the receiving of a fresh instance of his son’s filial duty and affection to him, before he bestowed this favour upon him. Perhaps Esau, since he had married, had brought his venison to his wives, and seldom to his father, as formerly (Gen. 25:28), and therefore Isaac, before he would bless him, would have him show this piece of respect to him. Note, It is fit, if the less be blessed of the greater, that the greater should be served and honoured by the less. He says, That my soul may bless thee before I die. Note, (1.) Prayer is the work of the soul, and not of the lips only; as the soul must be employed in blessing God (Ps. 103:1), so it must be in blessing ourselves and others: the blessing will not come to the heart if it do not come from the heart. (2.) The work of life must be done before we die, for it cannot be done afterwards (Eccl. 9:10); and it is very desirable, when we come to die, to have nothing else to do but to die. Isaac lived above forty years after this; let none therefore think that they shall die the sooner for making their wills and getting ready for death.