The moment the believer takes his eyes away from God’s promises he is ready for mean devices of unbelief which bring him untold suffering.
1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4 ¶ And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7 ¶ And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
14 Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 ¶ And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Genesis 16:1-5 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 16:6-10 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 16:11-16 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 16:1-16 – Abram’s Son Ishmael
Poor Hagar! What contrasts met in her life! Bought in an Egyptian slave-mart, but destined to be the mother of a great people! She is not the last to suffer from the mistakes and sins of God’s children, but she was abundantly recompensed. Abram did her a great wrong. Human policy will often suggest a course which seems right in our own eyes, but the end is death. How remarkable is the advice given to Hagar by the angel: return and submit! Does not the child of God often seek to evade the cross! “Let me but get away from this intolerable trouble,” we cry. But God meets us. “No stranger He to all our wanderings wild!” We have to take up the cross, and sit down again on the hard stool. Some day we shall be permitted to go out, but not till we have learned our lesson perfectly. In the meanwhile, we are assured that our life shall be prolific in great results. In an outburst of awe and joy, the slave-girl learned that God sees and hears. Note II Chronicles 16:9; I Peter 3:12. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Genesis 16:8 – When no eye seeth you except the eye of God, when darkness covers you, when you are shut up from the observation of mortals, even then be ye like Jesus Christ. Remember His ardent piety, His secret devotion – how, after laboriously preaching the whole day, He stole away in the midnight shades to cry for help from His God. Recollect how His entire life was constantly sustained by fresh inspirations of the Holy Spirit, derived by prayer. Take care of your secret life; let it be such that you will not be ashamed to read it at the last great day. (Spurgeon)
Genesis 16:9 – Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
Poor Hagar! No wonder that she fled. Her proud Arab independence and the sense of coming motherhood made her rebel against Sarah’s hard dealings. We have often meditated flight, if we have not actually fled from intolerable conditions. Of course, when God opens the door out of a dungeon we need not hesitate, as Peter did, to rise and follow. But this is very different to flight from the post of duty.
Our Cross.—For Hagar, Sarah; for Hannah, Penninah; for David, Joab; for Jesus, Judas; for Paul, Alexander the coppersmith. Life assumes hard and forbidding aspects. Sometimes the cross is not a person, but a trial—the pressure of a slow and lingering disease; the demand for grinding and persistent toil; the weight of over-mastering anxiety for those dearer than life, who have no knowledge of God.
Our Demeanor.—Return and submit. We are apt to suppose that we shall get rest and peace elsewhere. It is not so, however. Nowhere else shall we find the path less rugged, or the pillow less hard. To evade the yoke will not give us heartsease. The Master’s advice is that we shall take his yoke, and bear it as He did; remain where God has put us, till He shows us another place; and bear what He ordains and permits, even though it comes through the means of others.
Our Faith.—We cannot patiently submit to our lot unless we believe that what God permits is as much his will as what He appoints. Behind Sarah’s hard dealings we must behold his permissive providence. Through all the discipline of life we must believe that God has a purpose of unfailing love and wisdom. Then our submission is not stoicism, but loving acquiescence in our Father’s will. —Our Daily Homily