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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Hagar—Genesis 16:13

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"And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth; for she said, Have I even here looked after Him that seeth me?"-Gen 16:13., R.V.

Hagar was born a slave. She was an Egyptian, and probably came into the possession of Sarah, Abraham's wife, during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. In any case, we find her living as Sarah's attendant. When Sarah, in her impatience, gave Hagar to her husband to wife, she neither consulted God nor yet the interest of her handmaid; she acted from selfish motives, and trouble, disunion, envy, and jealousy were introduced into her formerly peaceful tent.

Hagar had learnt to despise her mistress, and when Abraham, in his kingly spirit, had trusted Sarah into God's hands, and had recognised his wife's authority over Hagar, saying: "Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee,"-Hagar had "fled from her face." (Gen 16:8.)

It would seem to human eyes as though Abraham ought to have taken up the cause of his maid, and, had he given way to pure natural feeling, he would have done so; but, like his God, Abraham looked at things from above. Probably already he had begun to see that the step he had taken was one of unbelief; and he knew his God and his own heart too well to think he could extricate himself from such a dilemma, so he threw himself upon the mercy of his God, and trusted all consequences to Him.

But what about Hagar? Would God forsake her when Abraham, His faithful servant, so implicitly trusted Him with her? Impossible. Our holy God "has not forsaken them that seek Him." (Psa 9:10.)


-implying that he had been seeking after her. He found her "by a fountain of water in the wilderness." (Gen 16:7.) He addressed her thus:

"Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou?" (Gen 16:8.)

If Hagar had been wronged, her retaliation in escaping from Sarai was also a wrong. When God is dealing with a soul, the sin of that soul must be put right, before God can deal with another party who has injured this one. Hagar must recognise that she was Sarai's maid. While considering her own cause, she must consider also her own responsibility as handmaid. She could have no sympathy from God independently of the position in the family where God had placed her. The Lord would have nothing to say to her as other than "Sarai's maid."

O how wonderful it is that God enters thus into family circumstances! Let a wife be a true helpmeet to her husband, and then God will put His hand upon that husband, and deal with him, if the wife suffers wrong through words or deeds of his. Let the child submit to his parents, and then if the parents wrong him, God shall be his defence. Let the servant place her cause in the hands of God, and He will deal with the mistress; but when she does so, it must be as the servant who serves "not with eye‐service, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God." (Col 3:22.)

"Whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?"

Poor Hagar was wandering in the wilderness.


Whenever we get out of the line of God's direct leading, we are in a pathless wilderness; we do not know our way. The only answer that Hagar could give was this:

"I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai." (Gen 16:8.)

"And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands." (Gen 16:9.)

It seemed unkind; it seemed impossible; but the true way of conquest is by submitting. Jesus through death destroyed him that had the power of death. (Hbr 2:14.) If we yield for God's sake to the "all things" which "work together" for our good, we then become in everything masters of the situation.

But the angel of the Lord did not finish with this word about submission. He continued: "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude…thou shalt bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction." (Gen 16:10-11.) It was as though the angel would say to her: "If Abram does not hear, if Sarai does not hear, if nobody understands how deeply thou hast been wronged, and how unjust is the treatment to which thou art subjected, I, thy God, have heard; thy cause is in My hands." What a word of comfort for those who suffer unjustly!

Hagar came into the liberty which belonged to those who recognise the presence of God, "She called the name of the Lord that spake to her,


for she said, "Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me?" (Gen 16:13., R. V.) It was a revelation to Hagar that God took in all the circumstances, and weighed them in the balances of the sanctuary. Before God, she was no bond slave, but the Lord's dear child. She was servant before men, but she was the Lord's precious charge before God. Hope came into her heart, and in the fulness of her confidence, she gave a name to the fountain of water near which the angel had found her, and called it, "The well of the Living One who seeth me." (R. V.)

Hagar's child was born; Abraham became, very naturally, attached to his son. But while that son and his mother still remained in the family, all was not right with Abraham, because they were the proof of his unbelief. The time must come when wrong things are put right; and so it came to pass in Abraham's tent when Isaac was born.

A great feast was made on the day that Isaac was weaned. "And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which had been born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham,

"Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." (Gen 21:10.)

It was a bitter moment for Abraham; little sleep did he have that night. God was speaking, to him, and He showed him that that bondwoman and her son must no longer find room in his tent: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed!"

Abraham, once clear about the will of God, made no delay. He "rose up early in the morning "to do the will of his God. In spite of his unrest for the suffering of Hagar, in spite of the bitter pang of parting with his boy, Abraham "took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away." (Gen 21:14.).

Poor Hagar! she had once at her own will wandered in the wilderness, but now, by the will of God, and by the will of her master, Abraham, she wandered again in the wilderness of Beer‐sheba. Abraham knew his God too well to distrust Him. But when Hagar aimlessly went to and fro in the wilderness, O, how Abraham must have borne her up in prayer, and how his heart must have gone out for that beloved Ishmael, whom he would hardly in this world see again!

Hagar must be tried to the utmost. The water in the bottle was spent. The burning lips of Ishmael and his drooping limbs told of approaching fever; and in her despair Hagar "cast him under one of the shrubs," (Gen 21:15.) where she found a little shade, "and she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow‐shot; for she said "Let me not see the death of the child." (Gen 21:16.) Had Hagar forgotten the name she had given to the well? Had God ceased to be "the Living One?" Had He ceased to be "Thou God seeth me?" (Gen 16:13.) Surely not; but Hagar was looking another way, looking at her wrongs, looking at her fainting child, instead of looking to God. "She sat over against him, and lifted up her voice and wept."

But it was not in vain that Ishmael had heard his father's prayers, and learnt to know that there was power in Israel's God.


When the mother failed to pray, the lad himself became an intercessor. "And the angel of the Lord called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her.

What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation." (Gen 21:17.)

God had not ceased to look after her, but her eyes were holden that she could not see. Then God opened her eyes, and close at hand she saw a well of water.

There is no possibility for a child of God to be in such a position that there is no provision of God to help. The well of water is always nearer than we know, nearer than we see. Jesus is ever at hand. Is it forgiveness we need, He has purchased it for us, and waits that we shall accept His gift. If it is power over sin, He has equally provided. If it is healing for sickness, if wisdom in perplexity, or relief in a strain of temporal need,-the Lord, our Shepherd, is at hand, and His provisions fail us only when we are unbelieving.

Hagar went "and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink." (Gen 21:19.) It was the turning point. From this time "God was with the lad," Ishmael, as well as Hagar, was acquainted with his God. And Hagar learnt, outcast as she was from Abraham's family, that the Lord had taken her in, and would never cease to befriend her. Let us learn from Hagar's history how near to us and how true to us is the living God.

Sarah. Part 2—Hebrews 11:2 ← Prior Section
Rebekah. Part 1—Genesis 24. Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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