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The private history of an event in the family of Abram forms the contents of this Chapter. But as no scripture is of private interpretation, it is probable, that the Holy Ghost thought proper to introduce it to the knowledge of the Church, in order to manifest that the explanation of it is to be considered spiritually. And this is one, among the innumerable other proofs, in God's word, how much the right interpretation of scripture depends upon scripture. Paul the Apostle, was commissioned to explain this history, in his Epistle to the Church of Galatia. Galatians 4:22-25 . The relation itself is simply this: A bond-woman called Hagar, is by Sarai given in marriage to Abram; the effects of this illicit marriage are related; the flight of Hagar into the wilderness, upon being hardly dealt with by her mistress; the mercy shewn her by an Angel there; her return to her mistress, and her being delivered of a Son.
Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
That's a sweet scripture to correct impatience, Isaiah 28:16 . He that believeth shall not make haste.
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.
Observe what Sarai saith, that this restraint was of the Lord's appointment; and yet though she had grace to see this, yet she had not grace to act accordingly. Compare Genesis 30:2 with Genesis 33:5 .
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.
For a proof that this was sinful. See Matthew 19:3-9
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
I pause here to remark, that this is the first account we meet with in the Bible of the ministry of an Angel. Reader! Observe how kind his ministry. And then call to mind how very precious the services of those celestial guardians have been, upon innumerable occasions, in the Church! And if so, how very gracious must He be who hath appointed them! See Hebrews 1:14 ; Matthew 18:10 . Reader, do you know anything of wilderness mercies, like Hagar? See Hosea 2:14 .-Shur. See 1 Samuel 15:7 ; Exodus 15:22 .
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
Reader! I entreat you to remark with me, the peculiarity of the expression. The angel doth not promise in another's name, as would certainly have been the case had he been a created angel, but in his own. He saith, I will multiply thy seed, etc. And who then could this be but the Angel of the Covenant, even the Lord Jesus Christ. See Malachi 3:1 . It is very gratifying to the true believer in Jesus, to discover the Lord in places where we least expected him.
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.
The name Ishmael signifies, God will hear. Psa_10:17; Psa_31:22 .
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
The Hebrew reads, "a wild-ass man." Unrenewed nature is always thus. Job 11:12 . See this promise concerning Ishmael fulfilled. Genesis 25:18 . The wild Arabs, which are descendants of Ishmael, preserve the same character to this day.
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?
It is but just to set up tokens of praise, where God hath set up banners of love. Reader! pray pause over this verse. Then remember, that the same eye which looked on Hagar, looks on you, on me, on all. An all-present God, must be an all-seeing God. And is the eye of Jesus indeed upon me? Surely then it is upon me for good. For though my secret sins are in the light of his countenance; yet doth he not also see my sorrow for them, my trouble under them, and my desire to be freed from the guilt and dominion of them? Precious Redeemer! how ought a sense of these things to endear thy blood and righteousness to my soul.
Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
This name means 'The Well of Him that lives and looketh on.'
What awful effects have been in all ages reduced by unlawful connections! See, how this illicit marriage, in defiance of the divine law, involved all the parties concerned in it in trouble! The unhallowed attempt to hasten the accomplishment of God's promise, in opposition to God's way, brought Sarai into distress, Abram into vexation, and Hagar into misery.
Let us again remark, how very sweet and refreshing to the soul are wilderness visits from Jesus, when for the exercise of faith and patience, his people are at any time brought there. Dearest Lord! do thou visit me when there, and then the wilderness will rejoice and blossom as the rose. Let me in every dispensation, and in every place, carry with me this memorial: Thou God, my Saviour, seest me; and the consciousness of thy presence, will comfort my heart in the most solitary desert.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10