Genesis 21 (NRSV)
The Birth of Isaac
The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised.
Sarah and Abraham had waited a very long time for this child—but God’s promise is sure!
2Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. 4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Galatians 4:28 (New Living Translation)
And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac.
Another Isaac . . . Isaac Watts
Watts was born July 17, 1674 at Southampton, England, the eldest of nine children. His father was a Dissenter from the Anglican Church and on at least one occasion was thrown in jail for not following the Church of England. Isaac followed his father’s strongly biblical faith. Isaac was a very intelligent child who loved books and learned to read early. He began learning Latin at age four and went on to learn Greek, Hebrew, and French as well. From an early age Isaac had a propensity to rhyming, and often even his conversation was in rhyme.
Because Isaac would not follow the national Church of England, he could not attend the Universities of Cambridge or Oxford. Instead, he attended an academy sponsored by Independent Christians. After completing his formal schooling, Watts spent five years as a tutor. During those years he began to devote himself more diligently than before to the study of the Scriptures. In 1707 he published his first edition of Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
For a few years Watts served as pastor to an Independent congregation in London. A violent and continual fever from which he never recovered forced him to leave the pastorate. Sir Thomas Abney received Watts into his home, and Sir Thomas’ family continued to provide a home and serve as Watts’ patrons for the next 36 years.
Watts’ most published book was his Psalms of David, first published in 1719. In his poetic paraphrases of the psalms, Watts adapted the psalms for use by the Church and made David speak “the language of a Christian.” Examples of Watts’ method can be seen in his paraphrases of Psalm 72 into the hymn “Jesus Shall Reign Wher’er the Sun,” Psalm 90 into “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and Psalm 98 into “Joy to the World.”
Benjamin Franklin first published Watts’ psalm paraphrases in America in 1729. They were well-loved by Americans of the Revolutionary period.
After his death on November 25, 1748, a monument to Watts was erected in Westminster Abbey.
And HERE is his greatest hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (based on Galatians 6:14). Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in no small part so that centuries later, Jesus could be born to die for our sins.
Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book I, Chapter 2 “Take Now thy Son”).
Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
8The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. 10So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.”
11The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. 12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. 13As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”
14So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
Not easy to be Hagar. Brought out of her homeland in Egypt as a slave to foreigners, forced to have sex with her owner and bear his son, then tossed out of that wealthy family (given only a little bread and water) when the new little heir came along. But God kept his eye on Hagar, and sent an angel to her — twice! — to assure her that she and her son were loved by God. Here in the wilderness she can say again, “You are the God who sees me.”
15When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
17And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”
Arabs trace their lineage back to Abraham through Ishmael.
19Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. 21He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
HERE is a fascinating collection of Abraham-Sarah-Hagar paintings from various artists and periods. Please comment below and share your reaction to one or some of the pieces of art!
by Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849)Lone in the wilderness, her child and she,
Sits the dark beauty, and her fierce-eyed boy,
A heavy burden and no winsome toy
To such as she, a hanging babe must be;
A slave without a master–wild, nor free,
With anger in her heart! and in her face
Shame for foul wrong and undeserved disgrace.
Poor Hagar mourns her lost virginity!
Oh woman fear not–God is everywhere;
The silent tears, thy thirsty infant’s moan,
Are known to Him whose never-absent care
Still wakes to make all hearts and souls his own;
He sends an angel from beneath his throne
To cheer the outcast in the desert bare.
Abraham and Abimelech Make a Covenant
22At that time Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army, said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do; 23now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but as I have dealt loyally with you, you will deal with me and with the land where you have resided as an alien.”
24And Abraham said, “I swear it.”
25When Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, 26Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.”
27So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock. 29And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?”
30He said, “These seven ewe lambs you shall accept from my hand, in order that you may be a witness for me that I dug this well.”
31Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there both of them swore an oath. 32When they had made a covenant at Beer-sheba, Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army, left and returned to the land of the Philistines.
33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. 34And Abraham resided as an alien many days in the land of the Philistines.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.