Thou God Seest Me—The Story of Hagar in the Bible

The story of Hagar in the Bible has always been rather shocking to me. Hagar was a woman with unique struggles that I cannot even imagine having to endure. Yet, God assures her in a very real way that He sees and cares! And is working His plans for her.

Just as He is in your life and mine.

Hagar faced so many trials that we, in our time, will likely never have to endure. And yet, God also blessed her in many uniquely incredible ways.

Hagar’s story, lived out in biblical times, has much to teach us today about our God’s faithfulness. And about His great love and care for each of us, no matter what our current circumstances may look like.

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young woman in biblical robes alone in the wilderness

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Where Is the Story of Hagar in the Bible?

We first learn of the Egyptian maidservant Hagar in the first book of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis. In Genesis 12:16 we learn of Pharaoh’s gift to Abram of menservants and maidservants. Hagar, we later learn, was one of these servants. 

Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.  

Genesis 16:1

The details of the story of Hagar in the Bible are found primarily in Genesis 16 and 21. Genesis 17 also provides more insight into the family dynamics which helps our understanding of later events.

Who Is Hagar in the Bible?

It is hard for me to even imagine Hagar’s life. She was an Egyptian handmaid, a slave girl, given to Abram for Sarai, Abram’s wife, as they were thrust out of Egypt in Genesis chapter 12.

As a slave of Sarai, Hagar had no choice but to leave her homeland and all that she had ever known to travel to a foreign land, the land of Canaan.

Neither did she have a choice when her mistress ordered her to be Abraham’s concubine.

As a result, Hagar would never know the love of a man who had chosen her above all others. She would never be courted and given the opportunity of accepting, or rejecting, a marriage proposal.

Without the benefit of love and attraction, I can only imagine that Hagar felt very used, to put it mildly, to have to marry Abram.

Her life was not her own. Her life was nothing that she would have chosen…yet she survived. And even thrived!

How?

God was with her. God saw her plight and cared. And encouraged her when she needed it most.

Why Did Hagar Despise Sarai?

When Abram went in to Hagar, she conceived. However, she knew how this would work. She would be expected to carry the baby, experience the sickness and joys and pains of pregnancy and delivery…but the baby would not be hers to love and raise as her own. The baby would be considered Sarai’s child.

Again, I cannot fathom such a thing.

Apparently, Hagar couldn’t either for…

when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.  

Genensis 16:4

In Hagar’s eyes her mistress would be taking her baby from her!

And Hagar could not get past that thought—that her baby would not be hers.

Can you blame her?

She began to despise her mistress, Sarai.  

And Sarai didn’t like the attitude she was getting from Hagar.  

Sarai’s plan for obtaining a child by Hagar was not going well. So, Sarai complained to Abram. Which kills me, since the whole plan was Sarai’s to begin with!

Nevertheless, Sarai wasn’t happy. So, Abram wasn’t happy. And told her to do whatever she wanted to with Hagar.

But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.  

Genesis 16:6a

Again, how awful to be so little considered. Abram still thought of Hagar as his wife’s maid, and not as his second wife.

Hagar’s feelings meant nothing to this couple. She was just a womb to them both.

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

What Happened to Hagar in the Bible?

We do not know exactly what Sarai’s abuse of Hagar entailed, but we do know that whatever it was, Hagar felt she had to escape.

And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.  

Genesis 16:6

And then, we see unfold a most wonderful truth…Though man had so mistreated and abused Hagar, God had not forsaken her!

And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.  

Genesis 16:7

I think it’s interesting that the verse says that the LORD found her by a well of water in the wilderness. Not that He ever lost sight of her. That word choice tells me that Hagar was important to God.

He sought her out!

Just as He does us.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

God found Hagar in her lost and hopeless condition in the wilderness…And spoke to her!

Hagar became one of the very few people to ever be approached in this life by the angel of the LORD. Hagar met the pre-incarnate LORD Jesus Christ!

Can you imagine? What a special privilege and blessing!

What Does the Story of Hagar Teach Us?

What can we learn from Hagar in the Bible? There are many lessons to be learned from the story of Hagar in the Bible. Here are just a few.

1) Hagar’s story teaches us that we must be willing to submit to God’s plan for our lives.

Hagar suffered much, but God had a plan for her life, a good plan. Just as He does for our lives and our sufferings.

And just like Hagar, in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled in our lives, we must be willing to submit to Him and His plan and obey His will.

When God found Hagar in the wilderness, He gave her these instructions…

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.  

Genesis 16:9

God commanded Hagar to go against her fears and her desires. He told her to go back and submit herself again to her mistress, Sarai.

Oh, how hard that must have been!

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard at times to submit myself to my loving husband. How much more difficult would it be to submit to slavery to a jealous mistress!

Yet, Hagar obeyed God. Why? I believe because she recognized God’s love for her.

 

2) The story of Hagar in the Bible shows us that God loves and values us.

Hagar was able to find her way back from the wilderness of her despair and submit to God’s will when she recognized that God valued her. She was not just another nameless, faceless slave to God.  

Hagar was able to find her way back from the wilderness of her despair when she recognized that God valued her.  She was not just another nameless, faceless slave to God.  

God also didn’t minimize Hagar’s suffering, but rather acknowledged it.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 

Genesis 16:11
young woman alone in the wilderness text overlay about the story of Hagar in the Bible

3) The story of Hagar teaches us that our suffering has purpose.

God also gave Hagar a great promise which assured her that her suffering had a purpose.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 

Genesis 16:10

The angel of God repeated to Hagar the promise He had already given Abraham concerning the son of Hagar. God’s promise was that Hagar’s son Ishmael would be the father of a great nation because he, too, was Abraham’s son! Ishmael’s descendants are the Arab peoples of the Middle East.

4) Hagar’s story shows us that God sees us.

Sometimes, like Hagar, all we need in order to return from our wilderness wanderings from God is to realize anew that…God sees us!

And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?  

Genesis 16:13

From each of the names of God given in scripture we gain a little more understanding of God. We get a better picture of God and who He is. By God’s grace, Hagar, a seemingly insignificant slave girl, was chosen to reveal one of the names of God to be recorded in scripture! 

We may feel invisible or discounted or unimportant to those around us. But we are never out of God’s sight, or His thoughts, or His care. God sees us and values us, too.

We may feel invisible or discounted or unimportant to those around us. But we are never out of God’s sight, or His thoughts, or His care. God sees us and values us, too.

5) The story of Hagar in the Bible shows us that God always keeps His promises!

God’s promise to give Abraham’s wife, Sarah, a son finally comes true! The child of promise, Sarah’s son Isaac, is born to them in their old age, as God had said.

This was a joyous time, but the tensions between Sarah and Hagar escalate. To the point that Sarah asks Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. This grieves Abraham, but God speaks to Abraham telling him that sending Hagar away is His will. God assures Abraham that He would keep His promise concerning Ishmael to make of him a nation, too.  

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Genesis 21:14

Hagar thus finds herself, this time with her son, in the wilderness a second time. And like the first time, God meets her there, repeats His promise concerning Ishmael, encourages her, and provides for her and her son’s needs. 

And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and be came an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Genesis 21:20-21

Ishmael grows up and thrives as God had promised!

​As worried as Hagar was for her son and for herself to begin with (Genesis 21:15-16), God kept His promise concerning Ishmael. And besides this, in working His good plan for her, God even gives Hagar her freedom from slavery!

Learn More about Hagar in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into the story of Hagar in the Bible, you’ll want to check out this free resource! 

FREE! Hagar in the Bible Resource

Download these Hagar Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

3 Hagar Bible Study Questions worksheets watercolor branches background

Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!


Hagar made it back from her wilderness. Are you in the wilderness right now?

Be assured, God sees you. He knows your situation, your pain, your fears, your desires. And He cares.

Let Him be your comfort. Let Him hide you under the shadow of His wings. (Psalms 17:8)

And remember—Just as it was with Hagar, it is often in our darkest moments that we are finally able to hear God’s voice…and experience the reality and nearness of His presence like we never have before.

So, rejoice! And with a surrendered heart, listen for His voice. And obey Him.

For, whether your circumstances ever change or not…He is God.

Let His promises carry you back from the wilderness into a renewed faith…and a greater joy in Him and His love for you. 

 

Drawing nigh to Him,

Teresa


This post is part of our Genesis Bible study.

Study Journal available >> HERE!


LET’S TALK ABOUT IT

What lessons did you learn from Hagar this week? Does she inspire you? Why? Is there a command of God you are finding it hard to submit to?


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