The following is an excerpt from Jean Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis – Chap. 15. I need to think about it later.
8.Lord God, whereby shall I know. It may appear absurd, first, that Abram, who before had placed confidence in the simple word of God, without moving any question concerning the promises given to him, should now dispute whether what he hears from the mouth of God be true or not.
Secondly, that he ascribes but little honor to God, not merely by murmuring against him, when he speaks, but by requiring some additional pledge to be given him.
Further, whence arises the knowledge which belongs to faith, but from the word?
Therefore Abram in vain desires to be assured of the future possession of the land, while he ceases to depend upon the word of God.
I answer, the Lord sometimes concedes to his children, that they may freely express any objection which comes into their mind. For he does not act so strictly with them, as not to suffer himself to be questioned.
Yea, the more certainly Abram was persuaded that God was true, and the more he was attached to His word, so much the more familiarly did he disburden his cares into God’s bosom.
To this may be added, that the protracted delay was no small obstacle to Abram’s faith. For after God had held him in suspense through a great part of his life, now when he was worn down with age, and had nothing before his eyes but death and the grave, God anew declares that he shall be lord of the land. He does not, however, reject, on account of its difficulty, what might have appeared to him incredible, but brings before God the anxiety by which he is inwardly oppressed.
And therefore his questioning with God is rather a proof of faith, than a sign of incredulity. The wicked, because their minds are entangled with various conflicting thoughts, do not in any way receive the promises, but the pious, who feel the impediments in their flesh, endeavor to remove them, lest they should obstruct the way to God’s word; and they seek a remedy for those evils of which they are conscious.
It is, nevertheless, to be observed, that there were some special impulses in the saints of old, which it would not now be lawful to draw into a precedent. For though Hezekiah and Gideon required certain miracles, this is not a reason why the same thing should be attempted by us in the present day; let it suffice us to seek for such confirmation only as the Lord himself according to his own pleasure, shall judge most eligible.
I am interested in what Calvin says about God’s concession. This is important bec we are to “reason with God” in our prayers. It seems that sometimes prayer involves making a case before God. This seems to be the case often in the Scriptures as we see the Psalmist or Abraham or Amos or Isaiah, often doing this.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18
However if you think about it – what argument can we feeble humans produce before God that is surely a “winner”!?!
However God is gracious and in spite of our bad arguments, He sometimes actually obliges. This may be because our very act of turning to God in prayer and with our minds is an act of faith that pleases Him.