5 Important Lessons from the Life of Sarah in the Bible

If I could choose to be one of the women in the Bible, I would not pick Sarah. Her story reminds me of a soap opera. Sarah in the Bible was a woman who made some big mistakes, but God also used her greatly.

God transformed Sarah from having an attitude of doubt and unbelief to having great faith, worthy of mention in Hebrews along with other heroes of the faith.

We might be tempted to gloss over Sarah’s story because she lived so long ago. Her language, culture, and circumstances are so different from our own. But just as with other Biblical figures, we can learn many relevant lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible.

Keep reading for a great Free study resource!

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Who is Sarah in the Bible, and What Is Her Story?

Sarah was Abraham’s wife. But Sarah was not the name her parents gave her. Originally, Sarah was Sarai, and Abraham was Abram.

The couple were renamed by God, Sarah and Abraham, when God made a covenant with them and promised to give them the land of Canaan and many descendants. This promise was a stretch of their faith because they were already old, yet childless.

Sarah gave her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham to bear his child, and Ishmael was born. This was an acceptable custom at the time, but Ishmael was not God’s promised son. As you can guess, there was some tension between the two women. 

Fourteen years after Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16), when Sarah was about 90 and Abraham 100, three men visited Abraham and Sarah. Two were angels, and One was the LORD, possibly the pre-incarnate Christ (Genesis 18:1-2) Who repeated God’s promise that Sarah would bear a son within a year. (Genesis 17:21)

Though she and Abraham found it hard to believe, the prophecy came true. From this son, Isaac, came the nation of Israel and many kings. But most importantly our promised Saviour!

5 Facts About Sarah from the Bible

Sarah is an interesting and important person in Bible history, and we can learn much from her life. But before we take a look at some important lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible, here are 5 facts about Sarah that play a part in those life lessons.

1) Sarah was exceptionally beautiful. 

It was because of Sarah’s beauty that Abraham, on two occasions, was afraid he would be killed. She caught the attention of Pharoah in Egypt and Abimelech, king of Gerar. Both rulers took her for themselves, not knowing that she was married. God protected Sarah and did not allow the rulers to have intimate relations with her. 

(Genesis 12:11-15, 20:2, 6, 11).

2) Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister.

Abraham and Sarah shared a father, Terah, but had different mothers who are not named in the Bible. It was because of this half-sibling relationship that Abraham justified his deceitful half-truth, stating to Pharoah and later Abimelech, that Sarah was his sister. (It was acceptable to marry a half-sibling at the time.) 

(Gen 20:12)

3) Sarah gave birth to her first and only child at about age 90.

This was considered an old age for childbearing even at the time. Sarah had struggled with infertility for most of her life. Before she became pregnant, God promised Abraham that Sarah would bear a son named Isaac, and that she would be a mother of nations and kings.

A year later, as predicted, Sarah rejoiced in her newborn son. 

(Genesis 17:16, 21)

4) Sarah lived and was buried in the Promised Land before it was owned by the Israelites.

When Abram was about 75, he and Sarai had set out with his father from Ur to Haran, a journey of about 600 miles. There Terah died, after which God called Abram to Canaan – another 400-mile journey.

Long before the nation of Israel existed, God led Abraham and Sarah to Canaan and promised Abraham that their descendants would own the land on which they had set foot. That is how Canaan became known as “the Promised Land.” Generations later the Israelites, who were descended from Abraham and Sarah, were given this land in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.

Other than living in Egypt during the famine in Canaan, Abraham and Sarah lived in various places within Canaan (Shechem, Bethel, Hebron). Sarah died at age 127 in Hebron. Abraham buried her near Mamre (Hebron) in the cave in the field of Machpelah, which he had purchased from the Hittites. Abraham was later buried with her.

(Gen 15:18, 23:19, 25:9-10, Heb 11:9)

5) Sarah was a sinner, just like you and me.

It can be easy to idolize Sarah and other Biblical figures, but we can get a fuller picture of who Sarah was because the Bible records some of her sins.

Sarah doubted God’s promise and gave in to compromise (Gen 16:1-2). Fearing her doubts would be discovered, she lied (Gen 18:12, 15). She blamed her husband for Hagar’s contempt, and mistreated Hagar (Gen 16:5-6). She became offended with Ishmael and sent him and Hagar away, not caring about their wellbeing (Gen 21:9-10).

Despite Sarah’s sinfulness, God had a plan for her, and He kept His promises to her. And isn’t wonderful that God does the same for you and me?

Key Bible Verses About Sarah in Scripture

We find the story of Sarah in the Bible in Genesis 11-23. And she is also mentioned several times in the New Testament. Here are several key passages that give us insight into Sarah’s life and journey of faith.

  • Genesis 12:11-13

And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

Genesis 12:11-13

Abraham thought Sarah was so beautiful that she would be desired by Pharoah for himself. He was afraid for his life because, as Sarah’s husband, he would be in the way.

Abraham’s predictions were correct: the Egyptians did praise Sarah to Pharoah, and Pharoah took her to be his wife. He thought she was Abraham’s sister. When Pharoah discovered that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, he was angry. God had inflicted diseases on his household because he had taken Sarah. Pharoah returned Sarah to Abraham, untouched. 

This deception was repeated years later when they were in Gerar. King Abimelech took Sarah to be his wife, thinking she was Abraham’s sister. When he discovered she was his wife, he returned her with gifts. Once again God had protected her.

  • Genesis 16:2-3

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

Genesis 16:2-3

After decades of infertility, Sarah devised a plan. God had promised Abraham a son; if Hagar slept with Abraham, the child would technically be Abraham’s son.

Sarah thought she could help God fulfill His promise by her clever plan. Except it didn’t work. Ishmael was blessed and grew into a great nation because he was Abraham’s son, but it was with Isaac – the promised son, born fourteen years later – that God established His covenant.

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!

  • Genesis 17:15-16

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Genesis 17:15-16

Although God made the covenant with Abraham, Sarah was included in the covenant. The change of names for both Sarah and Abraham would have been a decisive moment in their journey of faith.

Sarah was the mother of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob. Jacob fathered twelve sons who became the heads of the twelve Israelite tribes. From the tribe of Judah descended David, Solomon, all the kings of Judah, and eventually Jesus, King of Kings. 

  • Genesis 18:12

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Genesis 18:12

The Lord and two angels visited Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah heard the Lord declare that she would have a child at the previously appointed time (in one year), she did not believe. She was past the age of childbearing, but she underestimated what God could do. 

Sarah must have pondered the prophecy in the following days and months. Perhaps she believed more when she saw the cataclysmic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Lord in this visit had disclosed to Abraham ahead of the event.

  • Genesis 21:6

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

Genesis 21:6

God’s promise and Sarah’s desire for a son had come to pass. Not only did she have a son, but her God had proved He could do the miraculous. Sarah’s joy was greater than if she had conceived in her youth. 

Sarah in the Bible holding promised infant in cloth sling
  • Hebrews 11:11

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:11

Sarah is named in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith.” Doubt set aside, Abraham and Sarah’s faith was recorded by the writer of Hebrews for future generations to read about and learn from. Sarah had come to believe God, because He is God.

 

5 Relevant Lessons From the Life of Sarah in the Bible

Sarah’s life story in the Bible offers invaluable lessons and wisdom. Here are five lessons from Sarah’s life which offer guidance and strength for us today.

  1. We can believe God when He speaks.
  2. Unity in marriage is important and attainable.
  3. Our decisions have consequences.
  4. God works through our sinfulness.
  5. We are foreigners in this world.

Let’s take a closer look at these 5 important lessons we can glean from Sarah’s life and experience.

1) We can believe God when He speaks.

Sarah doubted God’s promise that she would have a son. She allowed rational thinking and the natural order of things to limit her perception of what God could do. She had become cynical, having waited and hoped for years with nothing to show for it. 

We doubt God too. We limit Him according to our understanding, rather than offering our desires, and surrendering our understanding, to Him in faith. (Matthew 13:58) We believe the rational over the real and allow what is naturally possible to limit the promises of God. 

We limit God according to our understanding, rather than offering our desires, and surrendering our understanding, to Him in faith.

At some point, Sarah’s doubt was replaced by great faith. It was a journey for her. She didn’t have great faith in the beginning. Perhaps she asked God to help her believe. I am assuming she repented of her doubt and unbelief, certainly by the time she held Isaac in her arms.

What is the next step of faith into which the Holy Spirit is inviting you? 

2) Unity in marriage is important and attainable.

Sarah trusted her husband’s decisions. Each time Abraham decided to move to another town or region, Sarah went with him. Twice Sarah went along with Abraham’s sister/wife deception, for right or wrong.

Several times when God spoke to Abraham, Sarah would have heard about it from Abraham. She had to trust his version of what had happened, rather having her own personal encounter with God.

When Isaac had grown up, God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. We are not told whether Sarah knew what Abraham was about to do. Perhaps she wondered, like Isaac, as she saw them off, “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Whether she knew or not, she had come to trust God, as well as, her husband.

It can be easy to write off Sarah’s submission as culturally expected and appropriate, but that does not excuse us from not trusting the decisions of our husbands (or fathers, or spiritual authorities).

God bestows a blessing where there is unity (Psalms 133:1-3). This is true even when our husbands make a wrong decision, as Abraham did out of fear when he lied about his relationship to Sarah. Sarah preserved marital unity and God protected her. 

I am not a particularly “strong” woman, but oh can I be stubborn! I remember a particular season I struggled to agree with many of my husband’s decisions. Even simple things such as how to do something. When I voiced my disagreement we would get into an argument, and the atmosphere in our home was not pleasant.

The short story is, along with believing I was better than him (ahem, pride!), I was not believing in him. I didn’t trust his decisions. I repented, and that day the atmosphere in our home shifted.

When unity is at stake in our marriages or close relationships, the cost is too high.

3) Our decisions have consequences.

Sarah suggested Abraham sleep with Hagar. Sarah got tired of waiting and so she compromised. This decision was the source of much hurt for her in the years to come, and it led her to sin further. There was bitterness between her and Hagar, tension in her marriage, and she became offended by Ishmael’s mocking.

In thinking about decisions and consequences, perhaps a huge regret of yours comes to mind. (See the next point for encouragement!)

What comes to mind for me are countless small decisions I have made that have had negative consequences. The time I wasted online. The extra helping I had after dinner. The length of time between replies which has slowly affected the closeness of friendships.

And on the contrary, I am sure we can each think of decisions we made that have had positive consequences. Sarah’s decision to believe God and His promise yielded the positive consequence of the miracle gift of a son in her old age! From whom the nation of Israel would decend. And through whom our Messiah would, in due time, be given!

closeup woman lace head scarf text overlay 5 lessons from Sarah

4) God works through our sinfulness

Ishmael was not the son God promised to Abraham, but God still blessed him because he was Abraham’s son. Ishmael was part of the fruit of Abraham and Sarah’s doubt and unbelief, but God still blessed him and made him into a nation (Genesis 21:13, 25:13-18).

When Hagar ran away because of Sarah’s mistreatment, God revealed Himself to Hagar as One who sees her (Genesis 16:13). Perhaps Hagar would not have known God in that way if not for that circumstance.

When Sarah was offended and wanted to send Hagar and Ishmael away, God told Abraham to listen to Sarah (Genesis 21:12). Even though Sarah’s attitude was wrong, and Hagar and her son would have died in the desert without water, God permitted Sarah’s actions.

We don’t know how the story would have gone if Hagar and Ishmael were not sent away, but we do know that God’s plans for Ishmael were not thwarted. God provided water in the desert, and He was with Ishmael as he grew up (Genesis 21:20). God ended up using Sarah’s sin for His glory.

Sometimes I worry about messing up my kids by my own sinfulness. When I get angry, I can become short with them or rough with my actions.

When my three-year-old is screaming in anger on the floor because her brother just broke down her block tower, I am torn between disciplining and comforting her. What if I do the wrong thing? It is a relief to learn that my sin is not too big an obstacle to God’s plans for my children’s lives.

It is a relief to learn that my sin is not too big an obstacle to God’s plans for my children’s lives.

The fact that God can use even our sin for His glory is not an excuse to keep on sinning, but it removes any fear that we will somehow mess up God’s plans. Our sin does make it harder for people, but God is looking after them.

I can keep doing my best as a mom, and apologise and repent when I sin, and God will take care of my kids and bring about His plans for us all.

5) We are foreigners in this world.

Abraham and Sarah lived in tents as foreigners in Canaan, moving several times. It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford a home; they were wealthy. They understood that Canaan was not their permanent home; they looked forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God,” (Hebrews 11: 10).

As Christians, we understand that this world is not our home, yet often we act as though it is. We spend our time and resources building bigger barns and climbing ladders rather than growing the kingdom of God. We spend hours distracted by entertainment instead of entering God’s presence. We bemoan the suffering and injustices but forget our future glory and joy. 

Abraham and Sarah had a vision for their future. Though in their lifetime they did not receive what was promised (the land, many descendants), they “were persuaded of [the promises], and embraced them” and looked forward to “a better country, that is, an heavenly [country],” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).

As we go about our days, we can also have faith in God that He will bring about His promises. We can endure hardships and suffering, looking forward to the heavenly home Jesus is preparing for us. We can live in peace and with great joy, assured of the coming Kingdom of God when we will see God face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Resources to Learn More About Sarah in the Bible

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

FREE! Sarah in the Bible Resource

Download these Sarah 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 Sarah in the 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!

Sarah in the Bible was an ordinary woman who did not have a particularly easy life. She learned the hard way that her decisions have consequences, but she also learned that God works through our weaknesses and sins.

Sarah grew in her faith in God over the years. She learned to believe God, and looked ahead to a heavenly country, recognising that even the Promised Land was not her permanent home.

But the most comforting of the lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible is the fact that just as God was gracious to Sarah and kept His promises to her, so will God be gracious to you and me and fulfill His promises to us!


About the Author – Sandi Langston

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Sandi Langston is passionate about God and people. She delights in helping people know and trust God more every day. She lives with her husband and two children in British Columbia, Canada, but will always be South African at heart.


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7 Comments

  1. I thank you very much on the information on the 5 relevant resources from the life of Sarah in the bible there are so much u have pull out of Sarah’s life that will help me to prepare my sermon God bless u keep up the good work that u are doing for God’s people 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  2. Thank you indeed for the read, I was touched I was reading because my name is Sarah and I wanted to understand why my life is identical to hers in the bible, I am struggling with conception and have also reached a point of giving-up. your teaching has renewed my strength and faith

    1. Hi, Sarah!
      I know from experience that God’s timing is not ours, but it is always perfect! He always knows what we need most and when we need it. I’m praying you will continue to sense His presence and comfort as you wait for His perfect way for you.
      Blessings! 💗

  3. Hi can you please pray for my husband to put God first in his life .

    I am starting a new dry cleaning business I need Gods wisdom and favour.

    We are looking for the fruit of the womb . Please pray for us /

    1. Hi Mpho,
      Prayer is so powerful because our God is all-powerful! He will guide and help you as you continue to seek Him in His Word and prayer. I’m praying for you and your husband concerning these requests.
      Blessings! 💗