Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.
7 Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” 9 Then the angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” 10 Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord said to her further,
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.
Boy, what a mess. Sarai didn't believe that all things are possible with God, assumed that she would never be able to bear a child of her own, presumed on Hagar to give her to Abram, and then mistreated her after she got the result she wanted so that Hagar would leave. Nice.
Abram went ahead and followed Sarai's bad judgement call. Now men can be weak when it comes to women, and I think there are probably quite a few men who would have gone along with a plan where they were allowed to sleep with another woman, especially since this was culturally acceptable at the time when it came to having children. If the wife couldn't have a child, it was acceptable to have a slave have a child for her. But still. Come on, Abram. If you had thought it through more carefully, you might have realized that wouldn't be the way God would go about things.
Hagar really had no rights in this, and I can't be too hard on her for obeying her mistress and then being angry with her when she got pregnant.
I really liked this excerpt from Ray Pritchard's Abraham series:
... Abraham is no longer living by faith. Both he and Sarah have decided “help God out” by concocting this scheme. But 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that “we walk by faith not by sight” This week I ran across a wonderful definition that applies to this story: “Faith is living without scheming” That’s good, isn’t it?
In his commentary on this passage, Warren Wiersbe shares four signs you are walking by faith:
1. Willing to wait
2. Concerned for the glory to God
3. Obeying God’s word
4. Peace and Joy within
Abraham and Sarah failed on all four counts. They weren’t willing to wait, they weren’t concerned for God’s glory, they weren’t obeying God’s Word, and they had no peace and joy within.
At first it may have seemed that their plan worked. But in the end, whatever we do on our own must come to a bad end eventually. Scottish novelist George McDonald put it this way: “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.” Abraham is about to miserably succeed.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 17