1407.) Genesis 16

“Hagar,” a chromogenic print by Israeli photographer Adi Nes, 2006

Genesis 16  (NRSV)

The Birth of Ishmael

(Once you are on the DWELLING home page, you can click on the pictures and see them larger — enjoy!)

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, 2and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.”

Poor Sarai!  All these years of childlessness had convinced her it was her fault.  So she comes up with a solution.  After all, isn’t it true that “God helps those who help themselves”?  But she is within her legal rights to secure a substitute to bear a child for her.  Other ancient cultures had such provisions in their legal codes.  The wife would maintain controlling authority over the concubine and the child — but we will see that things do not work out so easily for this threesome.

And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.

“Sarah Presenting Hagar to Abraham” by Louis Lagrenee (1725-1805),

***

"Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham" by Matthias Stom, 1639 (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

“Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham” by Matthias Stom, 1639 (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

4He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl 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!”

6But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.”

What a mess!

I became despised in her eyes:  Hagar’s contempt for Sarai started the problem. She couldn’t resist displaying an inappropriate haughtiness, thinking her pregnancy somehow showed her to be better than Sarai.

My wrong be upon you!  Sarai blamed the whole situation on Abram, and for good cause. He should have acted as the spiritual leader and told his wife God was able to perform what He promised, and they didn’t need to try to “help God out” in the works of the flesh.

Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please:  Abram seemed to make a bad situation worse by turning the situation over to Sarai and not taking care of the child he is father to. Yet, in this, he also puts his relationship with Sarai first, and that is good.

These terribly complicated and difficult situations often arise out of our sin. All in all, it is much easier to live life trusting in the Lord.

–David Guzik

Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her. 7The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.

“Hagar and the Angel in the Desert,” by James Tissot, 1896 (The Jewish Museum, New York)

8And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”

She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”

9The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.”

Reflection:

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”
How would you answer the angel of the Lord’s question if it were addressed to you?

“Return to your mistress, and submit to her.”
What difficult situation are you facing which requires that you persevere and see it through?

“You have conceived and shall bear a son.”
What gracious hope is God offering you?

10The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” 11And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. 12He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

13So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi” meaning “You are the God who sees me”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” 14Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Genesis 16:13-14 — And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God sees me.  Thou God of Vision.  Wherefore the well was called The well of Him that lives and sees me.  The well of the Life of Vision.

Thou God sees me, Thou God of Vision.  These words were spoken by Hagar who had been utterly discouraged but now was encouraged.  Sarah had been very unkind to her, but the angel of the Lord did not say to her, “Poor Hagar!”  The sympathy of the Lord our God is never weakening, it is bracing.  Hagar had run away, so the angel said Return.  God’s love is always brave love. 

He said more.  Perhaps Hagar had thought He did not care much about her.  He cared for Sarah of course, but she was only Hagar.  So the angel put her right about that, and told her how the Lord would bless her, because He had seen and heard her affliction.

Awed and heartened, Hagar called the name of the Lord Thou God that sees me, Thou God of Vision.  The well nearby was named “The well of Him that lives and sees me.”

Thank God for that well in the wilderness.  If we are discouraged or tired or hurt today, one long drink from that well will give us new life, new courage, new patience to return to running the race set before us, even to the end.

from Rebecca — This story of Hagar and this teaching from Amy Carmichael have been profoundly influential in my life. The fact that “You are the God who sees me” (verse 13) is an encouraging thought in every situation. 

Am I tempted to do wrong?  God is watching me, giving me strength to resist sin and choose righteousness. 

Am I ill-treated and hurt or angry about it?  God sees, God knows, and he will take care of me, so I can stop feeling sorry for myself (Choose NOT to be offended!) and live in kindness to all. 

Am I in need?  God sees my lack and will provide according to his riches in glory. 

Am I in a perplexing situation and do not know what to do next?  God understands and day by day will work all things together for good for me. 

Am I counting my blessings and praising the Lord?  God sees and hears and rejoices with me. 

As Amy Carmichael says, the love of God is “bracing” and I commend it to you!

15Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

_________________________

Music:

In honor of Hagar and all the people who feel beaten down, whose home is a wreck, who are so tired that even their soul is weary —  HERE  is “Who will comfort me?”  by Melody Gardot.  Lyrics follow.

My soul is a weary
My soul is a weary
My soul is a weary
I said my soul is a weary
My soul is a weary and beaten down from all of my misery
Oh Lord who will comfort me
My soul is a weary and beaten down from all of my misery
Oh Lord who will comfort me
.
Got a hold on my heart that keeps me bound
When the whole wide world is free
Oh Lord who will comfort me
Got a hold on my heart that keeps me bound
When the whole wide world is free
Oh Lord who will comfort me
.
My home is a wreckage
A family drowned in flight and poverty
Oh Lord who will comfort me
My home is a wreckage
A family drowned in flight and poverty
Oh Lord who will comfort me
Oh Lord who will comfort me

_________________________

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.

Images courtesy of:
Hagar photograph.  http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/files/2011/01/adi-nes-hagar.jpg
Lagrenee.  http://conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/sarah-presenting-hagar-to-abraham.jpg
Stom.    http://uploads4.wikiart.org/images/matthias-stom/sarah-leading-hagar-to-abraham-1639%281%29.jpg
Tissot.  http://oneyearbibleimages.com/hagar_desert.jpg
El Roi.  http://backgrounds.crossmap.com/christian-backgrounds/wallpaper1353_1600x1200.jpg
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