Mothers in the Bible – Hagar

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'”  Genesis 16:13

It seemed to me to be a little odd to consider Hagar as the second mother in this series, but she is the second mother chronicled in the Bible.

Hagar was the personal maid of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.  When Abraham was promised a son by God in his old age and it didn’t look possible for the 75-year-old Sarah to bear that son, Sarah suggested to Abraham that he try to conceive a son with Hagar.  In those days, a maid was the personal property of her mistress, and any child born to her would have been considered as belonging to the mistress.  Therefore, Sarah could give her maid to her husband and claim the child as her own.

Hagar did conceive, and the fact that she was able to get pregnant while her mistress was barren made her despise her mistress.  Apparently, she made this feeling very well known, as it wasn’t long before Sarah was complaining about it to Abraham, and Abraham told her to do what she pleased with the maid.  Sarah was harsh with Hagar, to the point where Hagar ran away.

There must have been some desperation on Hagar’s part to run away!  It wasn’t like they were living in a populated area, but out in the wilderness.  A young woman alone would have been easy prey for anyone who happened to find her – man or beast.  She likely had no skill or weapons for hunting, and there were no nearby towns where she could go for help.

Imagine the shock this young woman got when the Angel of the Lord appeared to her out in the wilderness by a spring of water and asked her where she was going!  I don’t know if Hagar knew at first that this wasn’t a mere man, but we do know that she figured it out pretty quickly.  In fact, Hagar recognizes that this wasn’t even just an angel, but the Lord Himself, when she refers to Him as “the God who sees”.

The Lord told Hagar to return to her mistress and submit herself to her.  Furthermore, He told her that she would give birth to a son and was to name him Ishmael.  As far as we can tell, Hagar obeyed, because we read that Hagar bore Abraham a son, but we don’t read any more of her for more than 15 years.

Sarah did bear a son to Abraham, as promised by the Lord, and named him Isaac.  There was a celebration held on the day that he was weaned, and on that day, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her son.  That was the last straw for her, and Hagar soon found herself in the wilderness again – this time with a teenaged Ishmael after they were sent away by Abraham at Sarah’s request.

Whereas the first time, Hagar had found a spring of water, this time they wandered around until their water supply was used up and Ishmael became faint with thirst.  Hagar put Ishmael under the shade of a bush and went a distance away, because she could not stand to watch him die.  Once again, she was found by an angel of God.

The angel told Hagar that God was going to make Ishmael a great nation, and then opened her eyes to a well of water.  Hagar gave her son a drink, and he revived.  The only other thing we read about Hagar is that she found a wife for Ishmael.

How is my attitude?  Do I, like Hagar, ever think I am better than someone else because … I homeschool … I try to serve healthy meals … I have been married over 20 years … I have older children … I have a dog … I make my own hummus … I have younger children … I use a different curriculum … I drive a Ford … I have Boy Scouts … I like kale …?  I don’t have to say anything for a better-than-you attitude to come through.  Worse yet, I can pass that attitude on to my children, so that they display it toward others, as well.

On the other hand, am I obedient to submit even when circumstances are hard?  There are certainly times when I feel like running away from it all, just as Hagar did when Sarah treated her harshly.  Some days, I just don’t want to be the mother.  The job is too hard, the children aren’t getting along, the laundry is unending, no one likes the dinner I have worked hard to serve, I’m tired – you get the picture.  Hagar did go back to Sarah and submit herself to her for more than 15 years.  Am I willing to continue to submit to the occupation the Lord has given to me?

Finally, no matter how bad things get, I can trust the Lord to provide.  When Sarah finally had Abraham send Hagar away because of Ishmael’s behavior, the Lord met her and assured her of his plan for her son.  It certainly wasn’t because Hagar was such a wonderful person, but the the Lord is a God of grace and mercy.  He had promised Abraham that Ishmael would become the father of a great nation, and He made provision to bring that to pass.  I have been promised an inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ – not because of anything I have done, but because of Christ’s work on the cross, and I can trust that the God of grace and mercy will provide for me, as well.


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