Hagar Despises Her Mistress, Is Punished, and Runs Away
Abram’s unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. When you follow the wisdom of the world, you will end up warring like the world (James 3:13-18). Of all fights, family fights are the most painful and the most difficult to settle. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Had Hagar maintained the attitude of a servant, things might have been different; but she became proud, and this irritated her mistress (Prov. 30:21-23)?
So Abram slept with Hagar. It was not long before she conceived. But as soon as she knew she was pregnant with Abram’s child, Hagar’s attitude changed and she became haughty toward Sarai. Sarai would not tolerate her servant looking down on her, so she approached Abram again.
Sarai (to Abram): This is all your fault. I allowed my servant girl to be intimate with you, and as soon as she saw she was pregnant with your child, she started behaving arrogantly and disrespectfully toward me! I have done nothing to deserve this. Let the Eternal One judge who is in the wrong here—you or me!
Abram (to Sarai): Sarai—look, she’s still your servant girl. Do whatever you want with her. She’s under your control.
So Sarai clamped down on Hagar severely, and Hagar ran away.
Genesis 16:4-6 (VOICE)
Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar were at war with each other because they were at war with the Lord, and they were at war with the Lord because they had selfish desires warring within their own hearts (James 4:1-10).
Hagar started this contention when she despised Sarai. But certainly, Sarai had some accountability, since she initiated this whole affair. Sarai had only herself to blame for instigating this whole affair. Yet, she acted totally innocent and tried placing the blame on Abram.
The first thing they should have done was build an altar, worship the Lord, and tell Him their problems. They should have confessed their sins and received His gracious forgiveness. Once you stop fighting with God and with yourself, you will have an easier time not fighting with others. The first step toward reconciliation with others is getting right with God.
However, instead of facing their sins honestly, each of the persons involved took a different course; and this only made things worse. Sarah’s solution was to blame her husband and mistreat her servant as she gave vent to her anger. She seems to have forgotten that she was the one who had made the marriage suggestion in the first place. Abraham’s solution was to give in to his wife and abdicate spiritual headship in the home. He should have had pity for a helpless servant who was pregnant, but he allowed Sarah to mistreat her. He should have summoned them all to the altar, but he did not.
However, both Abram and Sarai bear the ultimate responsibility. It couldn’t have happened without the both of them cooperating. Sarai began this whole mess when she disbelieved God; then she sought another wife for her husband and, finally, treated her slave shamefully.
God never intended for one man to have more than one wife (Matthew 19:8). The jealousies this produced are typical of polygamy. God’s way is best.
Abram refused to accept responsibility for the affair with Hagar, and he refused to deal with the problem. He left it in the hands of Sarai. Hagar was Sarai’s slave, so in a sense, this was appropriate. But Hagar was also Abram’s wife and she was carrying his son. It seems to me that Abram took the chicken’s way out.
Hagar’s solution was to run away from the problem, a tactic we all learned from Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8). However, you soon discover that you cannot solve problems by running away. After Hagar fled from Sarai, Abram didn’t pursue her. The angel of the Lord intervened and brought her back (Genesis 16:7-14).
There was peace in the home for a short time, but it was not the “peace of God.” It was only a brittle, temporary truce that soon would fail.