Genesis 16

Genesis 16

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Sarai and Hagar

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her,

  “Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
  You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the LORD has listened to your affliction.
  He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
  and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.


Genesis 16 Commentary

by Hank Workman

“God helps those who help themselves” – a statement nowhere found in Scripture yet often quoted. This came from good old Benjamin Franklin… not our God.

10 years had passed since the initial promise God gave Abraham of having many descendants. Sarah was still barren, he was still fatherless. Discouragement ran amok in the camp. Consequently, things were taken into their own hands first initiated by Sarah. Customs of that day provided her to give her servant Hagar to Abraham to have a child with. This surrogate child would in her eyes bring the joy she had wanted all her life. This of course, was not what God had promised as a child would come through both their union not Abraham’s with a servant.

We can become incredibly impatient on matters and all too often take these into our hands. She decided to “help God out.” This accomplishes nothing and sometimes even can prolong the promise of God and its fulfillment. Jacob had to live as an exile for 25 years because he decided to “help God out”. Moses had to live in the desert tending sheep because he decided to “help God out” in the murder of the Egyptian.

Abraham agreed to the suggestion of Sarah and slept with Hagar to which she became pregnant and gave birth. Realizing the issue of their inability to conceive rested on Sarah at this point, she became embittered toward Hagar mistreating her terribly. Eventually, Hagar could take the abuse no longer and ran away. Sarah blamed Abraham.

It was a messy situation. And it always is when we take things into our own hands. Always. In all this, God would still work his miracle in His time – but the fallout of the mess in the everyday lives of these 3 would be brutal.

Where is God asking you to hold tight to the promise He’s given you even though nothing is on the horizon? Where is God moving within you to stand firm despite the temptation to give in to taking matters into your own hands?

Genesis 16 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Think about all the stressful situations that Abraham, Sarai, and Hagar now faced from one sinful decision. Does Sarai have a right to be mad at Abraham and to despise Hagar? Should Abraham raise his child with Hagar? Will Abraham end up treating Sarai as a second priority if he commits to raising Ishmael with Hagar? Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing God puts us in situations where we must choose the “lesser of two sins.” In reality, this all started with not trusting God’s promises from the beginning.

Today, we can look back and understand that the battle between Jews and Arabs began with the sins of Abraham and Sarai trying to take matters into their own hands. The Arabs can trace their roots back to Ishmael while the Jews come from Isaac. Just think about the gravity of their one decision to try and “help God.”

“The wrong that they committed by Abram taking Sarai’s maid Hagar was a sin, and God treated it as such. But today we reverse the emphasis and say that taking a concubine is a sin, but we do not pay too much attention to the unbelief. Yet the unbelief was the major sin here; that is, it was lots blacker than the other.”

J. Vernon McGee
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