Genesis 16 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
16:1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children:
and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name [was] Hagar.
Hagar probably was acquired during Abram's lapse of faith in Egypt (Gen 12:10-16-20).
16:2 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.
16:3 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.
16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived:
and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
16:5 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.
16:6 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.
Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children...- This fact continually challenged
the promise of seed which God had recently renewed & guaranteed to Abram (15:1-6). Sarai must have become bitter, as Abram repeatedly rehearsed this promise from the LORD. With the passing years, it was evident that she was barren. It was not possible for her to provide the son that Abram so desperately desired.
Sarai's scheme (v.2,3) for Abram to have a child by a concubine...
  1. was a plan of the flesh, not of God.-
    • Sarai's plan was an acceptable practice, according to the customs of the day. It seemed reasonable and even urgent (considering Abram's age, v.16), that this was the method intended by God. But it was not.
      Abram & Sarai acted in fleshly self-determination, rather than waiting for God's provision.
    • Sarai, apparently feeling that 'the Lord has failed me,' since she was beyond childbearing, turned to flesh for a remedy. If she had said 'Flesh has failed me, but God is my resource,' this failure of faith and its consequences might have been avoided.
    • Abram, who is our example of faith (in ch.15), fails at waiting.
      Faith requires patience. cp. Heb 6:12; 11:1; Rom 8:24,25
      ''When God makes an unconditional promise, He is resolved to fulfill it. Faith rests in Him. It needs no effort of nature to reach accomplishment. ... According to my estimate of God will be my estimate of His promise.'' [CHM]
  2. produced fruit of the flesh.- cp. Gal 6:8
    1. a physical descendant of Abram: Ishmael.
    2. trouble in the family- There would be strife between Sarai & Hagar (v.4,6); Sarai & Abram (v.5); Ishmael & Isaac (eg., 21:8,9); and heartbreak for Abram (Gen 21:9-11)
    3. trouble in the world- cp. v.12
      Strife between Ishmael (Arabs) and Isaac (Jews) continues today.
      Strife between Islam (Mohammed descended from Ishmael) and the biblical religions (Judaism & Christianity) continues today.
    4. a picture of futility-
      Because of the futile fleshly attempt (by Abram & Sarai) to accomplish God's purposes, Hagar became a type (a picture) of bondage to the Law (see Paul's allegory, in Gal 4:21-31).
      • The 'covenant of Hagar' (the 'bondwoman,' in bondage to the works of the Law) is dependent upon the ability of the flesh to please God (which it cannot do).
      • The 'covenant of Sarah' ('the freewoman,' by faith in God's Promise) is entirely dependent upon God to fulfill His promises. (Sarai would not receive that promise, until after God changed her into Sarah, in Gen 17:15.)
      The flesh cannot obtain salvation through the works of the Law. But God has provided full Salvation for those who will simply trust Him. cp. Gal 5:4-6
16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness,
by the fountain in the way to Shur.
16:8 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.
16:9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her,
Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
16:10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her,
I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
16:11 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
{meaning: 'God hears'};
because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
16:12 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.
16:13 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?
16:14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi
{lit., 'the well of Him who lives and sees me'};
behold, [it is] between Kadesh and Bered.
16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son:
and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16:16 And Abram [was] fourscore and six
{86} years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
The Lord's love for Ishmael and his descendants is seen, in that...
  1. He sought out Hagar when her situation was humanly hopeless.
    He confronted her with reality. Having fled from Sarai, Hagar had forsaken Abram's provision and protection. She was homeless in the desert, with no refuge in reach.
  2. He directed her to submit to Sarai.
    Faith, having surrendered its cause to God, is able to submit to unpleasant circumstances, knowing they are temporary. Sarai, in a lapse of faith, had not been in submission to God, when she acted harshly toward Hagar (v.6). cp. Eph 5:21,22
  3. He promised to multiply Ishmael's seed, even though He knew the difficulties that would come because of him (v.12).
Thou God seest me... (v.13,14)-
In ch.16, Hagar's faith contrasts with the failure of Abram & Sarai.
  • Hagar discovered that if one has God, it is enough.
    Hope sprang up within her, from Him who is (the previously unseen) Fountain of living waters. eg., Jer 17:13
  • She gained new insight into the reality of God and of His care for her.
  • For the believer, the fact that God 'sees' means much more than 'He observes me.' It means that God will 'provide' and 'see to it' that His promise is fulfilled. cp. Psa 11:4; Psa 139:1-12; Mat 6:6-8

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