Genesis 16:13 (ESV) … ‘So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
In Genesis 16 we see the first appearance in Scripture of the Angel of the Lord, who is generally identified as our Lord Jesus Christ. In Genesis 16:10, the angel promised to do what only God can do; and in 16:13, Hagar called the angel “God.” These pre-Incarnation visits of Jesus Christ to the earth were to meet special needs and to accomplish special tasks. The fact that the Son of God took on a temporary body, left heaven, and came down to help a rejected servant-girl surely reveals His grace and love. His servants Abraham and Sarah had sinned against the Lord and against Hagar, but the Lord did not desert them.
The angel called her “Sarah’s maid,” which suggests that God did not accept her marriage to Abraham. Apparently Hagar was on her way back to Egypt when she met the angel, but God told her to return to Abraham’s camp and submit herself to her mistress. That would take a great deal of faith, because Sarah had mistreated Hagar before and might do it again.
God then told her that she was pregnant with a son whom she should name Ishmael (“God hears”). While he would not be Abraham’s heir in the blessings of the covenant, Ishmael would still enjoy blessings from God since he was Abraham’s son. God promised to multiply Ishmael’s descendants and make them into great nations (21:18; 25:12–18), and He did; for Ishmael is the founder of the Arab peoples.
Ishmael would be a “wild donkey of a man” (16:12, NIV), which is not a very flattering description. It identified him with the wilderness where he lived by his skill as an archer (Gen. 21:20–21; Job 24:5). It also revealed his independent and pugnacious nature.
He would be a hated man, living “in hostility toward all his brothers” (Gen. 16:12, NIV). While we must not apply these traits to every descendant of Ishmael, the centuries-long hostility between the Jews and the Arabs is too well known to be ignored. The Arab nations are independent peoples, dwelling in the desert lands and resisting the encroachments of other nations, especially Israel and her allies.
Hagar’s wilderness experience brought her face-to-face with God and taught her some important truths about Him. She learned that He is the living God who sees us and hears our cries when we hurt. The name of the well means “The well of One who lives and sees me.” He is a personal God, concerned about abused people and unborn babies. He knows the future and cares for those who will trust Him.
Hagar did return and submit herself to Sarah. Surely she apologized for being arrogant, for despising her mistress, and for running away. She trusted God to protect her and her son and to care for them in the years to come. We never solve life’s problems by running away. Submit to God and trust Him to work things out for your good and His glory.