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Genesis 17:1

In the Presence of El Shaddai

1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."


The notes from the Scofield Bible offer us the following important information:

Almighty God (Heb. El Shaddai)

(1) The etymological signification of Almighty God (El Shaddai) is both interesting and touching. God (El) signifies the "Strong One" …The qualifying word Shaddai is formed from the Hebrew word "shad," the breast, invariably used in Scripture for a woman's breast; e.g. Gen 49:25 Job 3:12 Ps 22:9 Song 1:13 4:5 7:3,7,8 8:1,8,10 Isa 28:9 Ezek 16:7. Shaddai therefore means primarily "the breasted." God is "Shaddai," because He is the Nourisher, the Strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the Satisfier, who pours himself into believing lives. As a fretful, unsatisfied babe is not only strengthened and nourished from the mother's breast, but also is quieted, rested, satisfied, Song El Shaddai is that name of God which sets Him forth as the Strength-giver and Satisfier of His people. It is on every account to be regretted that "Shaddai" was translated "Almighty." The primary name El or Elohim sufficiently signifies almightiness. "All-sufficient" would far better express both the Hebrew meaning and the characteristic use of the name in Scripture.

(2) Almighty God (El Shaddai) not only enriches, but makes fruitful. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the first occurrence of the name (Gen 17:1-8). To a man ninety-nine years of age, and "as good as dead" (Heb 11:12). He said: "I Am the Almighty God [El Shaddai] . . . I will . . . multiply thee exceedingly." To the same purport is the use of the name in Gen 28:3,4.
It had been thirteen years since the birth of Abram's only son Ishmael when the Almighty God appeared to him again. The appearance was both by vision and by word, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Hebrews 10:17) It is certainly Abram's faith that the Almighty came to nourish and to strengthen.

Had Abram become satisfied with Ishmael, believing him to be the son whom God had promised? Had he given up hope of having a legitimate heir? If he had, God was there to tell him once more that He would make him fruitful.

God called Himself "El Shaddai" to emphasize to Abram that there was nothing beyond His power. Even at the age of ninety-nine years Abram could father a child, if God desired it. However, there was something that God wanted Abram to do: "Walk before me, and be thou perfect."

"Walk in My presence." This is a difficult thing to do. It means that one must be constantly aware of God's presence in his or her life and live accordingly. There are no private or secret moments; there are no unnoticed thoughts; and there will be no hidden emotions. El Shaddai knows all, hears all, and sees all, and he will not tolerate sin in His presence. There are no hypocrites walking in God's presence. Their secret sins separate them from Him, although they may think that no one sees them.

Yet, to anyone who seeks a relationship with God, walking in His presence is a blessing and not an invasion of privacy. Walking in His presence is an assurance that He is there to help us, guide us and protect us. Jesus promised that He would never leave those who had committed their lives to Him. He is present in our daily routines and He is there when we gather for prayer. He is also there when his enemies come to do us harm by persecuting us and making false accusations against us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

But how can God expect Abram or any of us to be perfect? Many people strive so very hard to be perfect in everything they do, yet we know that they fall far short of the mark. Musicians cannot be anything but perfectionists. Mistakes made during live performances can never be taken back. They will ring in the listener's mind every time he thinks about our music. One mistake will be remembered more than a thousand notes played without error. Yet a perfect performance has never been accomplished.

All of life is like a musical performance. The harder one tries to be perfect in God's eyes, the more likely he is to realize his own shortcomings. We cannot escape the hard truths of Romans 3:23, which tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There has never been a perfect performance except in the life of Jesus Christ, who also called on us to be as perfect as our Father in heaven is (Matthew 5:48).

Abram believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3) Righteousness is sinless perfection! It is by faith in Jesus Christ, the seed that was promised to Abram, that we are able to walk in the presence of God as perfect individuals. With Christ as our Mediator, we can offer our lives to God and they are accepted as perfect; we can offer our praises in song and have them accepted as perfect; and with Christ as our Mediator, our prayers are not only perfected but answered.
Our God is El Shaddai!

Before The Throne:

Thank God for the promise of His eternal presence in your life. Ask Him to help you to live by faith as Abram did. Pray that He would help you to live a righteous and holy life. Submit yourself to Him entirely, acknowledging that holiness is only from Him. Seek to spend more time with Him. Pray for the other leaders of your church to walk in perfection and holiness before the Lord.

For Further Study:

** was. Gen 16:16; ** the Lord. Gen 12:1; ** Almighty. Gen 18:14; 28:3; 35:11; Ex 6:3; Nu 11:23; De 10:17; Job 11:7; Ps 115:3; Jer 32:17; Da 4:35; Mt 19:26; Eph 3:20; Php 4:13; Heb 7:25; ** walk. Gen 5:22,24; 6:9; 48:15; 1Ki 2:4; 3:6; 8:25; 2Ki 20:3; Ps 116:9; Isa 38:3; Mic 6:8; Lu 1:6; Ac 23:1; 24:16; Heb 12:28; ** perfect. Gen 6:9; De 18:13; Job 1:1; Mt 5:48;

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