The story of Hagar in the Bible is a picture of God’s goodness and grace at work, but her story is also marked by the painful reminder of what happens when we run ahead of God’s plan for our lives, and how our choices don’t just affect us.
Hagar is often a forgotten character of the Bible but there are so many wonderful lessons we can learn from her story and her encounter with God!
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Who is Hagar in the Bible
Hagar in the Bible (pronounced hei-gaar) is a woman who shines through the Old Testament to impact our lives today as the woman who encountered God when she was all alone. Her name means “forsaken”, “flight”, “A stranger”, or “one that fears”, and as you’ll see as we dive into her story a little, deeper how fitting that name is.
Hagar was Egyptian girl, and a slave to Sarah the wife of Abraham. Though it’s not known how this Egyptian girl came to be enslaved, or how she came into Sarah and Abraham’s household it’s assumed that she was given to Abraham and Sarah (or purchased) while they were staying in Egypt just a few chapters back.
According to legend, Hagar was the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt. When she saw the miracles which God performed for Sarah and Abraham, she said: “It is better to be a slave in Sarah’s house than a princess in my own.”
We find Hagar’s story in two chapters in Genesis, chapter 16 and then her story resumes 14 years later in chapter 21. The Bible sadly doesn’t go into much detail about the back story of Hagar but it does tell us that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham after she couldn’t have children.
Scripture goes on to tell us that she became pregnant and bore a son and this is where we really get to meet this woman of the Bible, and her relationship with her owners.
Being a slave Hagar in the Bible had no rights, or say it what happened to her. She could be used in any way that her owners saw fit.
We read that once Hagar in the Bible became pregnant, she began to look down on her mistress, Sarah, and in return, Sarah treated her harshly and abused her, until she fled from Sarah.
It is here, abandoned by the world, that God meets Hagar at the spring and tells her He has a plan for her life and to return to her home and treat Sarah with the respect due to her mistress.
What Name Did Hagar Give God
Hagar gives God a new name, one that we don’t see in other places in the Bible and one that is so powerful. Perhaps this could be because she was Egyptian so she wouldn’t be necessarily familiar with the Israelite’s names for God, or simply a result of her encounter with God.
Hagar names God “The God who sees” in Genesis 16:7-10 NIV
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
This part of the story of Hagar in the Bible is one of the things that make her story stand out so much. At first glance, we may even miss the significance.
But with a closer look, we find The Angel of the Lord. This is noteworthy because this is the first time where the term “Angel of the Lord” is mentioned in scripture.
Many Bible scholars believe that this Angel may be a theophany, which is a physical manifestation of God (YHWH). This means when Hagar gives God a name that has never been seen in the Bible up to this point when she says “you are the God who sees me” she looking into the face of God.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16:13-14
How incredible is that? The same God who spoke the world into existence, who set the stars in motion came down to find one slave girl and meet her right where she is so that she could say “I have now seen the One who sees me,”.
Characteristics of Hagar in the Bible
The Story of Hagar in the Bible is one of faith, and the goodness of our God, but let’s go a bit deeper and look at some of the characteristics we see displayed by Hagar:
- Hagar was a victim of Sarah’s Schemes
- Hagar distains Sarah because she is unable to have children and for the way she has treated Hagar.
- Hagar has to bear the price of others running ahead of God’s plan (others’ mistakes).
- Hagar feels abandoned by those around her and used.
- Hagar becomes a woman of great faith, after her encounter with God.
- Hagar is forever changed by her meeting with God.
What Can We Learn From the Story of Hagar
There are so many things from the story of Hagar in the Bible and her encounter with God that we can learn from.
From the powerful revelation that there is a God who sees her, who knows her name, and cherishes her. To the reminder that God will never leave her.
Let’s take a look at some of the things we can learn from Hagar in the Bible:
The Story of Hagar Shows Us God Sees Us
Through Hagar in the Bible, we learn that God sees us, He knows us and He cares about us. He knows are pain, witnesses our tears, and understands our needs. God knew Hagar’s name, and He knows our names and He cares for us.
The Story Of Hagar Shows Us God Is Faithful
Through this Hagar in the Bible, we learn that God is faithful when the rest of the world abandons us or uses us. Her story is a beautiful picture of how much God loves us, and how He will always be there for us. Even When we feel alone, God is with us.
The Story of Hagar Tells Us That God Hears Us
The story of Hagar reminds us that God hears and answers our prayers. When we feel like we are all alone and no one cares – God does.
God hears us when we are hurting. He hears us when we are struggling. He hears us when we desperately need Him in our lives.
Through Hagar’s Story We Know God’s Grace Is Sufficient
By understanding Hagar’s story, we can truly see that God’s grace is sufficient in any circumstances. Throughout the life of Hagar, we see that God’s grace surrounds her.
God cares for her when she flees from Sarah and continues to care for her when Abraham sends her and her son away later in the story.
The Story Of Hagar Shows Us That God Has A Plan
The story of Hagar also shows us that God has a plan and His timing is perfect. It also shows us the dangers of running ahead of God and trying to work things out on our own.
It is a good reminder of why we need to wait on God and trust His plan instead of attempting to force our own plans.
Hagar’s Story Shows Us God Will Care For Us
Hagar reminds us that God provides for us, even when all hope seems lost. Throughout the story of Hagar, the hand of God caring for her is clear.
Even when all hope seems lost after Abraham sends her and her son away and their food and water run out, God is faithful and cares for them.
The story of Hagar is truly one that everyone should read! It is such a testament to the power of trusting in God’s plan for our lives and knowing that He is truly with us every step of the way!
To learn more about the life and story of Hagar, be sure to check out this amazing Hagar Bible Study!
Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!