We are introduced to Hagar ten years after Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) moved to Canaan. We are not told much about her, just that she was Sarah's maidservant.
Sarah had become impatient waiting for God to fulfill His promise of a son, so she decided to have a child through Hagar. Hagar was given to Abraham to marry, but, because she was a servant, she had no say in the matter.
When Hagar became pregnant, Sarah realized her mistake. She complained to Abraham and he told her, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please." (Genesis 16:6) In the same verse we are told that Sarah "dealt harshly" with Hagar, forcing her to run away.
She ran into the wilderness where an angel came and told her to return to Sarah. The angel told her to name her son Ishmael and that the Lord would multiply her descendants. Hagar returned to Sarah, and soon Ishmael was born.
Hagar's story is "picked up" fourteen years later in Genesis 21. By that time, Abraham and Sarah had Isaac, the son promised to them many years earlier. Abraham held a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. Sarah saw Ishmael scoffing at Isaac at the feast and again went to complain to her husband. Abraham was troubled because of the problems between Sarah and Hagar, but the Lord told him, "I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed." (Genesis 21:13) So, Abraham gave Hagar some bread and water, and she left with her son to wander in the wilderness.
When the bread and water were gone, Hagar decided to simply sit down and wait for Ishmael to die. An angel visited her a second time and told her, "Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is." (Genesis 21:17) Again she is told Ishmael will be a great nation. When the angel left, Hagar saw a well and gave Ishmael a drink of water. No more is written of Hagar's story in the Old Testament.
Hagar is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, but she is an example of great trust in God. Twice she was visited by an angel and told to do something difficult. The first time she was told to return to her mistress. She had to know that as a servant she could be severely punished for running away, but she trusted that God would protect her and went back to Sarah. The second time the angel visited, she was in the middle of the wilderness with no water while waiting for her son to die, and she was told not to give up all hope. We know she trusted God this time as well because in Genesis 21:20-21 we are told he grew up and eventually married.
It is interesting to note that Hagar was an Egyptian and most likely did not grow up believing in God. It is possible that she overheard Abraham and Sarah talking about God, but there is no record of anyone actually talking to Hagar about the Lord. Perhaps she saw how Sarah was blessed with a child in her old age and this gave her the faith to know that God always keeps his promises. We may not know why, but for some reason Hagar did not question the angel either time he appeared to her. She did not try to argue with the angel or offer alternative ideas, as we so often try to do. She simply did as she was told, and God watched over her each time.
What if Hagar had not listened to the angel and trusted that God would take care of her? How would things have changed? We do not know, but we can guess that her life would have turned out differently. Because she did do as she was told, she became an example to her son as well as a wonderful example for us to follow.
If Hagar was able to completely trust in God even though she had very little knowledge of Him, how much more should we put our trust in Him when we have the Bible, His complete word. We can read of many examples of faithful people in the Bible putting their trust in the Lord during difficult times. Why are we not able to do the same?
Proverbs 29:25 says, "Whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe." We should believe these words and put our trust in God, as did Hagar, and know that God will take care of us. 421 Jonathan Dayton Way, Galloway, OH 43119.
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