Genesis 16 Commentary
The story of Hagar and Sarai is interesting. We have seen previously how the Bible began to narrow down its focus on to one family. Adam had other sons and daughters but Cain was singled out for mention while actual focus was on Seth. Seth had other sons and daughters but the focus was on Enosh. With Abram we know he had other sons and daughters but the focus was on Ishmael and later on Isaac. Isaac was a product of a promise while Ishmael was a human product – chapter 16 wants to show us this picture.
The point seem to be that God’s promise was never a consequence of human effort. Abram and Sarai planned to ensure they had an offspring. True enough a child came but was never going to be God’s chosen line. The application is that God’s way was never going to be a question of descent or inheritance or indeed human effort. And God’s sympathetic approach to Hagar’s problem, and the fact that the LORD puts a blessing on Ishmael seem to suggest that the LORD treated Ishmael’s birth independent of Abram’s poor and sinful plan.
From the scripture we can speculate on certain key points based on the LORD’S response to events
(1)The LORD didn’t approve of Hagar’s disrespectful conduct towards Sarai
(2)The LORD didn’t approve of Abram’s poor plan
(3)The LORD didn’t approve of Hagar’s mistreatment
(4)The LORD did approve of Ishmael’s birth but not as planned.
(5)The LORD did think of Ishmael as Hagar’s child not as Sarai’s child. Abram’s poor plan failed heaven’s high standards and was outright stupid.
We learn from the passage here that other people cannot be used as tools for reproduction. You cannot have children on behalf of another. It’s not a shared blessing.
You would think like Hagar’s insolence would normally justify the treatment she got. No. God’s standards are uniform and just. Wrong is wrong whether with or without justification. She is told to go back and submit. And the fact that God heard her and saw her misery means the LORD had moved to help her case. In this CHAPTER we see God as El Roi – the God who sees me. Hagar is able to say this because God had been around and saw her misery. JEHOVAH El Roi is a name we should use often when we are tempted to feel like all is lost, including God’s presence. Amen