Hagar was a woman that I learn more and more about each time I read her stories in Genesis. I felt bad for her. She was an Egyptian slave who was just doing what her mistress Sarai told her to do, but she always seemed to get the wrath of Sarai when exactly what Sarai wanted to happen DID happen. Let me start at the beginning.
The first mention of Hagar is in Genesis 16. We learn that Sarai, the wife of Abram, was unable to conceive a child. She had an Egyptian slave named Hagar, and she told Abram since she could not conceive a child, that he should take Hagar as his wife, so that she could bear a child for him. Abram did and Hagar became pregnant. This is exactly what Sarai wanted, but when it actually happened, Hagar began to despise her. Sarai complained to Abram, and he told her to deal with her own slave. So she did. She mistreated Hagar so much that Hagar ran away. An angel of the Lord found her and asked her why she was running away. She told the angel that her mistress Sarai mistreated her. The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her, and her descendants would be blessed. Her baby son would be named Ishmael and his descendants would be increased in numbers too many to count. So she returned to Sarai.
She isn’t mentioned again until after the birth of Sarah’s son, Isaac. It is said that her son, Ishmael was mocking, so she told Abraham to send her and the boy away. So the next day, Abraham sent away Hagar and Ishmael with a skin of water and some food. She wandered with her son into the Desert of Beersheeba. When they ran out of water, she put her son under a bush and went off crying. She did not want to watch her son die. God heard Ishmael crying, so he found Hagar and told her not to be afraid. God intended to make him into a great nation. She opened her eyes and saw a well of water. She refilled the skin and gave her son a drink. They lived in the desert, and Ishmael became an archer. God was with them as he grew.
It’s not clear how she became a slave to Sarai. Maybe she was purchased as a slave at some point since Abram had a lot of money and possessions. At some point, Sarai must have had some confidence in Hagar to promote her to being her maidservant. She trusted her enough to be a surrogate mother. Maybe at times, she even loved her. Hagar did come to believe in the God of her masters and followed and obeyed him. She learned through her experiences from God that he always provides for his children. Hagar’s story is a powerful life lesson. In her times of greatest need, she found security and provision in the Lord.