Hagar

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Genesis 16:1-16, Genesis 21:8-21, Psalm 56:8

I have a very little baby right now. I spend most of my hours nursing her or holding her. And when she finally happens to be sleeping somewhere that’s not my arms I’m able to do other things. But the problem is my list of “necessaries” has become so long and so urgent that I can’t even decide where to begin. I lay the baby down and just stand still with glazed-over eyes, thinking, Where do I begin? This morning while she napped, I gaped at my list with sheer, uncomprehending panic. I couldn’t set myself on a course. And if you can’t find a place to start, and then stick with your plan, nothing ever gets done. I spend the moments in between nursing sessions drifting from task to task. Homeschooling, housecleaning, writing, trying to be present and available. But these responsibilities stack on top of each other, and I inevitably find my mind aimlessly wandering.

Even the most focused among us are prone to wander. We allow ourselves little, innocent wanderings (like idly wondering if hummingbirds fly to Puerto Rico in the winter) or wide, damaging veers off the course (like refusing to forgive). And sometimes we flat-out run away. That’s what Hagar did. Sarai, later renamed Sarah, treated her maidservant harshly, and pregnant Hagar ran from her, into the wilderness. But the Lord saw her. He gives grace to those who can’t seem to take anymore.

Do you find yourself in her shoes sometimes? Not, ahem, the impregnated maidservant of a biblical patriarch so much, but by yourself in the wilderness? Those who stray, those who run, are nevertheless beloved by Him. He still attended and cared for Hagar in the desert, and He does the same for us.

God sees us even when we can no longer see straight. His providence encompasses us no matter where we go. This is not a reason to excuse and condone waywardness, but it’s a reminder of the goodness and graciousness of God, a provocation to gratefulness and an exhortation to run to Him.

He didn’t see Hagar because of anything she’d done. We aren’t told she had faith like Abraham’s. We read nothing about her devotion to God or to righteousness. As Sarai’s maidservant, she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter when it came to bearing Ishmael. And when Sarai was mean to her, she ran off in disobedience. Of course, we can all empathize with her, but the fact of the matter is, God saw Hagar and comforted her in the desert because He is good, not because Hagar was. And that is good news for all who wander.

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82 thoughts on "Hagar"

  1. Curious says:

    I understand God’s goodness.

    Hagar’s story isn’t comforting. Life was cruel to her no fault of her own. She was forced into every situation.

    What exactly became of her? It seems her worth still limited to her male child’s legacy.

    Did Hagar ever enjoy a full life: Freedom, Financial independence, requited love and social stability?

    We know that Sarai got to rejoice. Did Hagar?

  2. Shonda T says:

    I’m in need of God’s Grace on today, and I am so grateful HE SEES ME!!!

  3. Natalie H says:

    I think it would be good for everyone to realize that slavery in the Old Testament was much different then the 17th and 18th century slavery we are more familiar with. If one fell on hard time you would go work for a household as a slave. In return for your good service, the masters would take very good care of you. Feed , cloth and house you. Hagar would have had a good relationship with her masters and have been treated very well, just like family. And she could’ve left at any time and that’s why when she was being mistreated she decided to leave, and she had the right to leave. The Bible never says that Abraham forced himself on her, so we cannot assume that she was raped. It’s very possible that she agreed to be taken as a wife, like the scripture says, and maybe planned on staying apart of the family for the rest of her years. Hopefully this will help put a lot of you at ease. You’ve got to now the culture at the time to fully understand what is happening.

  4. Amber Trimble says:

    Thank you Lord for loving me, not because of who I am, but because of who you are!

  5. Ava Anderson says:

    “You are a God of seeing”, is what really relates to me…at times I may feel forgotten, but I will always remember He is a seeing God…Amen

  6. Jamie Chapman says:

    I love this so much. Such beautiful insight. Thank you. You are seen!

  7. Maggie Kirby says:

    What strikes me every time when I read this section is how Sarai is jealous of Hagar even though it was her idea! She forces Hagar into a marriage where she’s raped and then Hagar gets abused and flees. I’m so thankful that God was with Hagar during these times, because, while we don’t know for sure, she was struggling mentally and physically.

  8. Sophy Joseph says:

    I love this reminder on how faithful, good, merciful, and a God of provision, our God is. Thank you for reminding us of God’s providence in this story. Also, love the verse that reminds us God stores our tears. How good is our Father! Needed this today.

  9. Emily Terwilliger says:

    This isn’t a story I’ve spent much time thinking about, but it’s cool to see God in this part of the story- for all the human error, he still cares for his people.

  10. Bethany Lynch says:

    Amen! Needed this today!

  11. Paige Bennett-Primke says:

    Oh my mama heart aches for both Sarah and Hagar. I can empathize with Sarah on how hard it must have been to see Hagar pregnant when Sarah yearned to be pregnant for so long. And I ache for Hagar sitting in the desert watching her son waste away. The messiness of this story is a reflection of how messy my own life is and yet God still sees me.

  12. Heather Noble says:

    Hi sisters. I just feel that we can’t get caught up on the specific wording of every little thing. The point is that we are not “good people”. Abraham sinned, Sarah sinned, Hagar although maybe not described in today’s reading had sinned as well. Just like the rest of us. But we are still ALWAYS met by God and forgiven when we cry out. It’s a difficult story to understand, but I encourage you to tackle any Old Testament story with New Testament eyes.

  13. Aiyana Berryhill says:

    Unmerited/ undeserving grace! It’s comforting to know that we don’t have to do works to gain God’s acceptance such as how we have been conditioned in the world (parents, significant others, work, school etc.)

  14. Ilyse Valdes says:

    God is good

  15. Monica Davis says:

    Amen

  16. Angela Goetz says:

    Oops make that Sarah’s contempt lol!

  17. Kathy T says:

    Good morning friends. This is my first online Bible study and I am joining late. I liked the idea of looking for God more than the people as I study. So rather than focusing on Hagar and seeing her struggles, or on Sarah and seeing her pain of now being despised because the second wife has given the child she couldn’t produce, I find myself seeing God in a deeper way. The compassionate God, the merciful God, but also the Almighty God foreshadowing the greatest blessing for all of mankind.
    Here is the contrast of the old law (Hagar) and the new covenant. A picture is given of the works of the flesh verses faith in the promise. If we are children of faith, we are heirs and inherit the blessing. If of the flesh, we are cast out. It really happened, and yet as God tells us in Galatians 4:21-31(read it!) it is an allegory to compare the two covenants. The beautiful part is, that as I feel for both Sarah and Hagar, I see that this story(true) points the way to salvation, even to the multitudes of descendants of Hagar! God be praised.

  18. Chris Jolly says:

    “He gives grace to those who seem unable to take anymore.” I felt that.

  19. Claire VonderMehden says:

    God saw and cared for Ishmael and Hagar in spite of his life being unplanned. Man sometimes bares children in the context of sin, and here God demonstrates how we are to love every unplanned life.

  20. Kathryn Liggitt says:

    Paul redeems this story by pointing it to the Gospel in Galatians 4 : 22 – 31.

    vs. 23 “the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise…these women are two covenants.”

    We are not made alive by our choice or by works of the flesh, but through the a promise that brings freedom.

    1. Laurie Crary says:

      You are absolutely correct!!!

    2. Kimber Strawbridge says:

      Thank you for the additional verse!

  21. Susan Merritt says:

    Today’s reading helped me to be mindful that God is aware of me. If he was aware of Hagar when she went to the well then he is aware of every second, moment, breath of my life. I think we can all relate to Hagar, she felt broken and downtrodden. I have felt like that many times! Jesus Christ cares about everyone not just the righteous but even those who struggle in sin and trials. Blessed be our Lord who is merciful to all!

  22. Charlotte Lepp says:

    I haven’t seen this mentioned in any of the comments, unless I’ve missed it. To me, the most important part of this story is the incredible fact that Hagar is the only person noted in the Bible that gives God a name. Everywhere else God tells people what his name is, yet here, a woman, a slave, abused and rejected, is able to give God a name. He sees me! What a redeeming part of Hager’s story and one I remember often when I feel overwhelmed by life.

    1. Elisha DeHaan says:

      Amen!

    2. Elisha DeHaan says:

      Amen

  23. Alexandria says:

    First off, Hagar despises Sarai first before Sarai has anything against her. Heart issue. We don’t know how Hagar may have treated or responded to Sarai before Sarai “dealt harshly” with her. Hagar had to do something in order for Sarai to respond. And who are we to assume it was abuse or what actually went on between these lines? We don’t know what happens between the lines of this short passage. I’ll play the advocate that both may have been in the wrong. It starts in the heart and Hagar’s heart seems to be against Sarai and may have neglected basic responsibilities of a mindset any or treated her poorly and so Sarai returns with her own heart upset and deals harshly. We are getting in a tizzy over what we don’t truly know or if anyone some how knows what went on exactly with them between the lines then please enlighten me with biblical and historical proof. She ran away and the angel said return and submit and obey, running away was disobedience despite how she was treated (I’m not in agreement with the harsh treatment but we don’t even know what that harsh treatment was!) but I believe the author is making the point there was disobedience and God still goes after us with grace. We’re just looking to be offended these days. Of course abusive situations should be fled and put to and end. But here we are criticizing the sins of old when we have been harsh with our children or someone else and expected complete obedience and so on in the pain and have sinned ourselves! I urge you all to consider we don’t know what all went on between the lines and to see the main theme is God’s grace and presence in this story. They both were in the wrong in the end. So have some grace for someone who in her time of post-pregnancy saw the situation as so, tried to write, handle a newborn and a household of 5 more, and may have missed what others can see (because come on being a Mom is hard) but that’s what’s so beautiful is how God made us with different minds and in different seasons to point out different lessons.

    1. Donna Hethcock says:

      Thank you for your clear words. Agree! With ❤️

    2. Kimber Strawbridge says:

      Well said

  24. Afua Tobigah says:

    I have always pondered about this part of the scripture, Hagar was the one who lifted up het voice but God heard the voice of Ishmael. Today I ask myself where have I seen this before, I believe the Holy Spirit reminded me that when I pray God hears the voice of Jesus my advocate. Hager’’s voice was heard through a covenant son , because God had decided to bless Abraham ‘s offspring, He Kept his promise despite the situation. The same way my voice is heard despite my sins because of Jesus . I love Hagar , I see her as one of the first proper gentile . At the time that God was only speaking to “His People “ he spoke to Hagar the Egyptian . And she obeyed and Listened . She also called God my favourite name for him . El roi. As a person who often feels I’m overlooked and leaving in a country other than mine . I can relate to her so much . . Thank God for crafting me into the family through Jesus as he created Hagar into it through Ishmael 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not 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? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.

  25. Terri says:

    Abraham was rich! He sends Hagar out with some bread and water. No money. No donkey. Essentially nothing! Ever wonder how she survived. God only gave her water.

  26. DebRN says:

    The strength of this group is the focus on God’s Living Word and the willingness to admit where we are struggling on the journey. the story of Hagar is a difficult one. I am blessed to read all the responses. The God Who Sees loves and provides for us thoroughly.

    1. Donna Hethcock says:

      Amen!

  27. Bonnie says:

    I agree with Mandy. I think suggesting that Hagar was being disobedient glosses over several things, such as her being a slave and being raped. We don’t condemn those who took part in the underground railroad because slavery is wrong. Just my thoughts. I still agree that he is a great, loving God who comes to us in our most dark moments.

  28. Lizzieb85 says:

    SRT just posted a blog with 6 things we need to remember when reading scripture. I encourage everyone to read it, it will help with this passage I think.

    I think it is important to note that Hagar was not a wife, she wasn’t even a concubine. She was a slave who was raped & because of the sin committed against her, she reacted in kind (by harboring resentment & running away from her boss). We are all sinful. We hurt each other & get hurt back. Each person has to own their own sin in this passage. None are blameless. The whole history of humanity is us destroying each other, but God. God comes in to comfort & redeem & turn ashes to beauty. The whole Bible is God coming in & cleaning up people’s messes.

  29. Mandy says:

    I’m really struggling with seeing how a woman fleeing an abusive situation is “disobedient”. Yes, the time was different than today. But I definitely disagree with this view on this story. To be fair, I have a ton of issues with this story. But let’s not forget that Hagar was essentially powerless, and yet she found the courage somewhere within her (in my view, God) to leave a terrible situation. And God found her and comforted her by telling her she was going to be the mother to a great generation.

    It’s really difficult to read this story knowing how many centuries of enmity and hate have sprung up out of this situation. I wish we had looked at this piece of it a bit more closely this morning instead of just skirting over it.

    1. Emily Barritt says:

      Thank you for saying this Mandy.

    2. Melyssa Zurasky says:

      I agree with this, I’m struggling it’s the idea of her being “disobedient” as well.

    3. Bree Green says:

      I love this perspective! I agree.

  30. Jennifer Smith says:

    He confronted Hagar because he is good. It’s not because of Hagar. Such good news!

  31. Christel Duff says:

    Such a great reminder that God sees us no matter where we are at! Such a good deal this morning.

  32. Courtney says:

    I agree with the sentiments above. Do we really see Hagar? But do we really see the Palestinians in the same way that we see the Jewish people? After all, doesn’t Ishmael represent the Arab nations? Is there plight or pain real to us? One has to wonder?

  33. Grace says:

    It seems like Sarai was abusing Hagar. This is puzzling to me as to why God would ask her to go back to an abusive situation. To the point she and her son was kicked out and on the verge of death. I think I’m missing something here. Sarai’s actions should be condemned

    1. Nicole Degnan says:

      I agree with your statement here. I believe we are missing the context of the time. Although I do struggle with these readings at times for this

    2. Amy D says:

      Yes, I’m struggling too that God would ask her to go back to the abuse/mess of Abraham & Sarah’s home.

    3. Felicia Bergman says:

      I wonder if God told Hagar to go back so that Abraham could give her the provision to survive in the wilderness. When she ran the first time, perhaps she only took her son and they would have died without the water sack.

  34. Hayley says:

    I agree with feeling that calling Hagar “disobedient” is a little misleading in this story and not what the focus should be at all. I went over to He Reads Truth today, and like how that writer put it: “However, when Abram and Hagar bore a son, tension in their household heightened. Hagar’s ability to provide Abram a son caused Sarai to look down on her and treat her harshly. Understandably, Hagar fled from Sarai.”
    Sarah is not just being “mean.” And we should not judge Hagar for fleeing. If you feel this particular write up to feel a little off for you – definitely recommend reading the He Reads Truth today instead.

    1. Jennifer DeGirolomo says:

      Thanks Hayley! I never would have thought to read the He Reads Truth but today that was what I needed. Thank you!

  35. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for making this important distinction, Val.

  36. Jenn Batey says:

    Yes, I agree with some of the prior mentioned sentiments…calling it disobedience for running away for an abusive situation is unjust and dishonoring. I think it’s important to give Hagar some compassion and dignity in our remembrance of her, her station in life, and consider that she might not have even wanted to bear a child with Abraham, in the first place.

  37. Churchmouse says:

    El Roi. The God Who Sees.
    This is my favorite name /characteristic of God. It’s my favorite for precisely the reason Rebecca mentions here : God saw and cared for Hagar “because He is good, not because Hagar was.” God sees us in our difficult situations. He sees us in our loneliness. He sees us in our confusion. He sees us in our unfair circumstances. He sees us when we struggle to stay. He sees us when we run. And greater than His seeing, He pursues us. He comes to us. He meets us wherever we are. He sees and He cares. Because that’s the kind of God He is. I’m so grateful.

    1. Dorcas B says:

      Yes! I love this too. And I love the echos, when the Lord Jesus met the woman of Samaria at a well. She too went away saying, ‘come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ’. When you realise how much God sees and knows us and then still loves us through Christ – you’ve just got to say it out loud! El roi, He sees me – I love to join in with these two women’s testimonies!

    2. Laurie Crary says:

      Thank you for your post.

    3. Merdi Lutete says:

      I love this, thank you for your post.

  38. Kristi L says:

    This has been a tough week for me, with lots of prayers and tears. But as I read this passage, what stood out is that God sees and hears. He hears us as we cry out to Him and sees us in our affliction. What a comfort to me this morning! “Indeed, the Lord’s arm is not too weak to save, and his ear is not too deaf to hear.”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭59:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬

  39. Bailey Braden says:

    Thank you, God, for protecting us and caring for us, even when we do not ask or even believe in your grace. When I wander or flee or thirst for healing, thank you for your unconditional love. Amen ♡

  40. anne jones says:

    We all have wandered from God ( a little or alot) and when I read this story I see that Abraham and Sara did as well. God made a promise to them to give them children but they were inpatient….like I can be….Sara made her own way and Abraham followed. Thank you God for Jesus birth and death to save me from wandering from you and calling me back to you.

  41. Bessie says:

    In the quiet of the morning I come to God in repentance for the many times I failed Him in the day before. I have been coming in a spirit of shame and sadness. I am sorry that I have let Him down and wandered from the path as I got caught up in the business of the day.

    This morning He showed me that is what He desires. Jesus said to take up your cross DAILY. It is not a one and done deal. Each day we are to surrender, confess, repent and start afresh. Yes, I wander, but I return to the throne of God. I fall, I fail, but God loves me and forgives me. His faithfulness is new every morning. He doesn’t call for me to be perfect. He wants a relationship with me. God is my friend and my King.

    Wandering happens. My mind wanders when I pray. I get distracted when I’m studying the Bible. What is important is that we return. God is waiting with open arms to welcome us back. There is no limit to His love and forgiveness. I stand in awe.

    You dear ladies help me in my journey. I love to open up this app in the morning and connect not only to my Savior, but with you. Hearing your joys, struggles and insights are precious to me.

    Thank you for being faithful.

    1. SONYA Andres says:

      Bessie,
      This was so beautifully written. I loved your reminder of repenting on a daily basis. The rest was great as well. Could I possibly share your words on our church’s women study group fb page? Thanks

      1. Bessie H says:

        Well of course. I’m touched that you would ask. It is a joy to know we are on this journey together.

  42. Carrie W says:

    Same can be said for Abraham & Sarah — God’s blessing certainly didn’t hinge on their righteousness or merit. They were a MESS! What a beautiful angle on the Lord reaching in unexpectedly to a horrible situation.

  43. Val says:

    I don’t understand why a woman who has been essentially raped, is escaping her abuser and protecting her baby is “disobedient” for running away. We can sit in our cushy homes with all the comforts, safety and protection this girl never had and then compare our “desert” wanderings to hers? More like God sees the broken-hearted and downcast and abused and provides for them when his “followers” don’t. Is it any wonder she wanted nothing to do with Abraham & Sarah’s God? I think this has way more to say to us about how we treat the marginalized, the world’s poorest, the immigrants escaping harsh circumstances, the unwed mother, the addict, the prostitute, the people who are very different from us. Let’s not pretend we really have any idea what Hagar was experiencing. Instead let’s be God’s hands and feet providing care for those who do.

    1. Linda G says:

      AMEN!

    2. Dorcas Baxter says:

      Yes, this puzzled me too. The Angel of the Lord doesn’t call her disobedient. instead, just like the Lord did with Adam and Eve, He asked her where she was at. Then He instructed her to submit – asking her to do the seemingly impossible! And then He gives her a wonderful life giving promise to give her strength to do the impossible! I’m not convinced what she did was disobedient, but I’m convinced of Gods goodness to her.

    3. Rachiel Soliz says:

      Amen

    4. Jennifer Anapol says:

      I totally agree Val. I think it is so easy to misjudge the people of the Bible and not truly understanding what they went through.

    5. Natasha R says:

      I agree Val. I don’t see Hagar as disobedient. I see her as an abused woman trying to protect her son.

    6. Darlene Lugo says:

      I agree Val I see Hagar as a much stronger woman not one who is disobedient its like saying every battered woman who is beat and mistreated from their husband are disobedient because they chose not to submit themselves to such abuse. It’s a harsh statement or rather opinion to state.

    7. Coral Wonderly says:

      Amen! I always feel bad for Hagar. Forced into this situation by Sarah (due to her lack of trust in God) and then abused by Sarah.

    8. Amity Wyss says:

      Amen!

    9. Allie G says:

      I agree with all of you!

  44. Karen says:

    Cheryl and Darlene,
    When I have read this story, what has struck me is how God reaches out to each of us wherever we are at in life. Hagar can represent so many women and men over the course of history who have suffered at the hands of others. Hagar must have felt so defeated, unloved, and so alone when she wandered into the desert. But I think being in the desert gave her the opportunity to meet God and realize she is KNOWN by Him, that she is valued no matter what her life had been like up until that point. To me, that is the hope of this story.

  45. Anna M says:

    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
    Prone to leave the God I love
    Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
    Seal it for Thy courts above

    1. Angela Goetz says:

      So good! Totally agree with all points made above. I was struck by how the scripture describes Hager’s contempt after she conceived. I wonder if that contempt was a form of pride in a way because in society at that time fertile women were considered worthy . In fact it could even be said that Sarah and Abraham were so prideful in taking matters into their own hands. I could be way off. But perhaps Hagar going back and submitting was the lord asking her to humble herself and return ( even though it was a terrible situation for her) . And thru her humility he blessed her. My pride can take on so many forms and robs me of the ability to trust in the lord.
      May I be reminded daily to stay humble and
      move only with my God. Thank you for prompting so many good thoughts ! Love this ministry

      1. Sherrie Bender says:

        My thoughts and feelings exactly, Angela. God calls us to be servants. Pride and demanding respect make that difficult. The Lord sees the bigger picture and always has our back, no matter how mistreated we feel in a given situation.

    2. Katherine Riling says:

      Thank you Anna! A favorite hymn of mine and definitely on my mind as I reflect on my own waywardness and God’s Grace towards me.

  46. Cheryl says:

    While I rejoice that God is good and sees us even when we wander, this story still leaves me with so many questions about the treatment of Hagar and the behaviour of Abraham and Sarah. I don’t feel we can ignore the way that they treated Hagar as a piece of property, often calling her ‘slave’ and not even dignifying her with her name. If we believe God sees Hagar then we have to ask whether we see her too. If we are refusing to see her because she is different or because her treatment is too appalling for us to face, then we have some repenting to do. And if God is inviting us to see her, how will we respond when we do?
    (and in case you are wondering I am middle-aged, white skinned and English)

    1. Darlene Lugo says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth lol. Every time I come across this story it bothers me a little because we never read about how Sarai was dealt with with all of this not sure if I missed something but she took matters into her own hands then dealt with Hagar harshly and finally sent her away. Yes she was baren but theres no excuse for what she did.

    2. Jenn Batey says:

      I agree…I wouldn’t necessarily call her running away ‘disobedience’…

    3. Cristy Harris says:

      Their relationship was first and foremost an employment (which looked different in that day, obviously). When Hagar she found she was pregnant she DESPISED Sarai, she fled and God told her to return and SUBMIT (likely because she had not been). The message of submitting to those in authority over us has never changed. The fact that she was also a wife (albeit a second class one with less rights), and was turned out is hard to swallow. Hagar already despised Sarah and now that Isaac was on the scene and the recipient of the promise, I believe God foresaw the issues that would arise. It’s a reminder of why we don’t take matters into our own hands. Abraham and Sarah were not saints … the Bible bears that out … but God gave permission and reassurance to send her away. This wasn’t something they did apart from God’s plan. I pity Hagar and can’t imagine how scared she was, but I don’t believe she was a blameless victim either.

  47. Kristen says:

    Kayla, thank you for this comforting reminder. What a beautiful picture to ponder. He comforted Hagar, because He is good. It’s not because Hagar was. That is good news!
    On the First 5 app, from Proverbs 31 Ministry, the current study is called Prone to Wander. It is a study of the Psalms. If anyone wants to join in, you can also go back to the previous devotionals too.
    @First5App @Proverbs31org