Genesis 16

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had a servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing. Please go in to my servant. It may be that I will obtain children by her.” Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5 Sarai said to Abram, “This wrong is your fault. I gave my servant into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between me and you.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your hand. Do to her whatever is good in your eyes.” Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face. 7 the LORD’s angel found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where did you come from? Where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai.” 9 The LORD’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands.” 10 The LORD’s angel said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, that they will not be numbered for multitude.” 11 The LORD’s angel said to her, “Behold, you are with child, and will bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction. 12 He will be like a wild donkey amongst men. His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. He will live opposite all of his brothers.” 13 She called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees,” for she said, “Have I even stayed alive after seeing him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi. Behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15 Hagar bore a son for Abram. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

Sarai, no longer expecting to have children herself, proposed to Abram to take another wife, whose children she might; her slave, whose children would be her property. This was done without asking counsel of the Lord. Unbelief worked, God’s almighty power was forgotten. It was a bad example, and a source of manifold uneasiness. In every relation and situation in life there is some cross for us to bear: much of the exercise of faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord’s time, and using only those means which he appoints for the removal of the cross. Foul temptations may have very fair pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible. Fleshly wisdom puts us out of God’s way. This would not be the case, if we would ask counsel of God by his word and by prayer, before we attempt that which is doubtful.

Verses 4–6

Abram’s unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it patiently, 1Pe 2:20.

Verses 7–16

Hagar was out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the Angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast blest with in Abram’s tent. It is good to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The declaration of the Angel, “I will,” shows this Angel was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord’s mercy, and feel, Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were always suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!

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