Abraham’s Shortcut Leads to Family Strife


We are continuing from yesterday’s meditation about Sarai’s suggestion to Abram (Abraham) in using Hagar to birth a baby to realize Abram’s vision of being the father of a multitude. The passage we are looking at today begins with Abram sleeping with Hagar:

4He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.” 6“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur (Genesis 21:4-7).

When Hagar, Sarai’s slave-girl, became pregnant, there were changes in the household and relationships. Things got messy! Hagar became proud and began to look down upon her mistress. We don’t know what was said or the behavior of Hagar, but whatever the attitude of the younger Hagar to the seventy-five-year-old Sarai, it is one of suffering for Sarai who now blames Abram for his lack of leadership in letting the shortcut go ahead, and she is right. Abram was the leader of the home, the one who got direction from God and led the family, yet his leadership was reactionary in choosing to go with the flow, rather than seeking God for His guidance for his family and home. When Sarai brought the situation up with Abram, he should have been the one to sort it out, but instead, he threw it all back into Sarai's lap:

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her (v. 6).

Abram should have dealt kindly with Hagar and counseled Sarai to do the same. After all, he and Sarai were the ones who came up with the plan in the first place. Unfortunately, Abram does not take responsibility for Hagar. In his response to Sarai, he does not even call Hagar by her name but calls her Sarai's slave (v. 6). It is as if he is distancing himself from the whole situation, and from Hagar and the child that Abram had brought into the world. It is a complete abdication. There seems to be little care taken for the soul of Hagar or Ishmael. Having been used as a commodity, this young woman was pushed outside the family. Hagar was a visible reminder of the failure of Abram and Sarai by trying to take a shortcut to God's purposes. How many unwanted feelings and emotions did this situation breed for all three involved? Hagar was left feeling that this baby she is carrying will be unwanted by the family of Abraham.

Hagar must have felt very insecure at a time in life that a woman needs even more security with a baby on the way. Can you imagine her grief and state of mind as she ran away from home? Hagar went to a deserted place and sat down by a spring of water all by herself, licking her emotional wounds, so to speak, and seeking solitude when the Angel of the Lord came to her.

Have you ever had a family relationship that became broken? You thought you were doing the right thing, but the result was hurt feelings, insecurity, and emotional outbursts that brought separation in the family relationship. What to do? Learn a lesson from Hagar. Get on your own for a while, pour out your heart to the Lord, casting all your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7), and maybe, you too, will find the Angel of the Lord come to you in the desert place. Thank God that whenever we are in a dry and desert place, there is always a well of salvation, and our God is always watching over us. Keith Thomas

Taken from the more complete study found in the series on Abraham. Go toAll Studies, scroll down toThe Faith of Abrahamand click on study3. Abraham’s Shortcut