Historical Context: This portion of our history, takes place at approximately 3'000 B.C.
Authorship: The Torah books are all attributed to the authorship of Moses, which he most probably wrote during Israel's forty-year period of wandering in the desert. Some editorial remarks were later added to these books by priests and other divinely inspired writers, such as Joshua and Samuel.
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
What was the promise God made to Abram? God had promised to give Abram descendants (15:4). Do you think Sarai has faith in God's promise at this point? Sarai believes that God is not keeping His promise or is too slow in keeping His promise. She therefore takes matters into her own hands. This is reminiscent of Abram's taking matters into his own hands when they went to Egypt, instead of allowing God to protect them. And we remember that when Abram did that, he just made matters worse.
Let's see what the affects are of Sarai's idea to take matters into her hands rather than wait on God's timing. Negative consequence number one is that in taking matters into her own hands, Sarai and Abram have a problem in their marriage because now Abram is having sex with another woman besides just Sarai.
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
What is the negative effect toward Hagar in Sarai's decision? Hagar is a slave and now she is being taken advantage of by having to have sex with Abram against her will. Basically, Hagar is being raped because as a slave, she cannot disobey the order to have sex with Abram. Secondly, even if Hagar does have a child, the child is not going to be hers. As a slave, any child that Hagar has will belong to Sarai and Abram. That's why Sarai said in verse 2, " Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."
What are negative effects happening now between Hagar, Sarai, and Abram? Hagar begins to think that she's better than Sarai because Hagar can do something that Sarai can't; have children. So Hagar begins to disrespect Sarai and Sarai gets mad, blaming Abram for it. So now Hagar and Sarai are fighting and Sarai and Abram are fighting.
6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
What's the negative effect toward Hagar in this verse? Sarai was so mean to Hagar because Hagar was disrespecting her, thinking that she was better than her because she could get pregnant, that Hagar ran away.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?" "I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered. 9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." 10 The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."
The angel of the Lord is Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity before He was born as a human. We know this because He speaks in the first person for God and later we'll see that Hagar calls the angel of the Lord God and is not corrected for it. Whenever you see "Angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament, that is an appearance of Jesus before Jesus was born to Mary.
What does Jesus tell Hagar? First of all, He addresses Hagar by name. God cares enough about this slave to know her name. Think about that. Abram and Sarai don't care about Hagar. They'll use her and rape her and mistreat her, but God cares enough about her to call her by name. The huge, awesome God of the universe knows your name too.
We would probably think that God would encourage Hagar to keep running away. Why would God want anyone to be a slave? But He tells Hagar to go back and obey Sarai. Yet He also makes a promise to Hagar to bless her. Now that Hagar has seen Jesus and heard His promise to her, she is able to return to that difficult situation with Sarai and Abram and deal with it because she has been given new hope from God.
This is what happens in our life. We have difficult situations, but if we have had an experience of Jesus in our life, we can face those difficult situations with strength and hope.
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."
Hagar's son is to be named Ishmael and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. His brother is soon going to be Isaac, the father of Jacob, the father of the Israelites, or the Jews. Ishmael is the ancestor of the Arabians, or the Muslims. So when God says that Ishmael and his brothers will be fighting, God is predicting the way that Jews and Muslims and Christians have always fought and are always fight now.
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi ; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Hagar called God, "the One who sees me". That's important. Think about it. Even though Hagar was going through a really tough time, God had His eye on her. He knew what was happening and He was looking out for her. That's important for us to remember. The huge, awesome God of the universe always sees us, no matter what we're doing, whether we're going through a bad time or a good time. God always cares about us enough to keep His eye on us. He sees us and He's always looking out for us.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.