Mothers in the Bible: Hagar, A Mother who Endured Suffering

In studying our Mothers in the Bible series, Hagar is the first single mother mentioned.

Sarai had a servant named Hagar

Hagar is the Egyptian handmaiden of Sarai.   By this point, Sarai is older and has remained barren throughout her marriage to Abram.

When God promises Abram, he will be a father, Sarai becomes impatient.   So, Sarai takes matters into her own hands.

“And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.”  {Genesis 16:3}   In essence, Sarai gives her husband another wife with whom he can have children.

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to bear children

When Hagar discovers she is pregnant, “her mistress was despised in her eyes.”  {Genesis 16:4}

In Women of the Bible we are reminded, “her attitude contributed to her harsh punishment.”

Poor Abram is caught in the middle and tells Sarai to do what she pleases.  “ And Sarai dealt hardly with her, and she fled from her face.”  {Genesis 16:6}

“And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness…”  {Genesis 16:7}.  An angel finds Hagar and tells her to “return to thy mistress and submit thyself under her hands.”  {v.9}

Hagar has a son

Hagar returns and gives birth to a son she names Ishmael.  For years, Ishmael is the only child of his father and must have brought Abram great delight.

When Ishmael is about fourteen, Sarai gives birth to a son, Isaac.

The tension between Hagar and Sarai {now named Sarah} returns.

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. “  {Genesis 21:9}

Sarah is angry and has Abram {now Abraham} turn them out.  We are told that it was “grievous” to Abraham, but God assured him he would take care of them.  {Genesis 21:11-12}

Hagar grew to despise her mistress

So, Abraham gives Hagar some bread and water for the two of them and sent them away.

The Bible History Old Testament describes the scene, “Thus “cast out,” Hagar and her son wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba, probably on their way to Egypt. Here they suffered from what has always been the great danger to travelers in the desert—want of water. The lad’s strength failed before that of his mother. At length her courage and endurance also gave way to utter exhaustion and despondency.”
But the supplies do not last forever and they eventually run out.  “And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept.”

An angel appeared to Hagar not once, but twice

Our Women of the Bible Devotional says, “dying from thirst, Hagar placed her son under a bush and withdrew, unable to witness his agony.”

In Women of the Bible,  we are reminded “as any loving mother, she was overcome with grief when she felt her son’s death was imminent.”

Hagar lifts her voice in despair and God hears her.  He opens her eyes to a nearby well of water and promises to “make him a great nation”.  {Genesis 21:18}

Hagar had a son named Ishmael

In our devotional, we are told “Hagar still had one thing going for her that her mistress never enjoyed: a personal revelation of God, who lovingly intervened on her behalf, not once but twice…God had made a way in the wilderness for a single woman and her son, without friends, family or resources to help her.  He had seen, he had heard, and he had indeed been faithful.”

Our study book sums Hagar’s story up this way, “her life illustrates how unfair, difficult and unglamorous this life can be. Yet she somehow maintained her dignity.  Her obedience to and faith in God helped her to survive.  She found solace in knowing her son would be blessed.”

How has life been unfair to you?  Where did you find solace?

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