“You Are El Roi, the God Who Sees Me”

Genesis 16:1-15
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said, So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering, I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
“Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: You are the God who sees me,” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi, it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave him the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar by the spring. God finds us when we are alone and in the wilderness. There is no wilderness that we can flee to, and be out of the sight of God.

Sometimes we run away from situations and run right into God. Hagar ran away from Sarai, but ran into God. How many of us when running away from some bad memory, some unfair treatment, have “run into God”?

El Roi sees and He will send comfort in the affliction. When life becomes too painful to bear, we can find strength in remembering what Hagar discovered. The Lord is “the God who sees me.” When we understand that the Lord is aware of our pain and needs, our strength will be renewed. God not only sees us now, He sees our future. He promised Hagar a future for her unborn son, Ishmael. We too, have hope for tomorrow, whatever our pain is today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the assurance that you see us. You look down on us and all that you created, with eyes of love. What comfort this assurance brings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Reprint from Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry, January, 2011)

Hagar – 10 Key Points for Bible Study

From our lesson of Hagar (Genesis 16; 21:8-21; Galatians 4:22-31, here are some important points.  There is no Saturday Bible Study for the discussion on Hagar.

1. God promised Abram (Abraham) that he would be the Father of a great nation (Genesis 12:2), but Sarai (Sarah) had no children for 10 years. She convinced Abram to sleep with her Egyptian maidservant Hagar to build a family through her (Genesis 16:1-3). Abram’s name was not changed to Abraham until Genesis 17:5 and Sarai’s name was not changed to Sarah until Genesis 17:15.

2. Hagar conceived a child through Abram and upon becoming pregnant began to look down on her mistress (Genesis 16:4).

3. Sarai blamed Abram for the attacks on her by Hagar. She had in good faith, in line with the customs of assuring a son to the father, allowed Hagar to substitute for her as birth mother of a child, due to her being barren. The result of Sarai’s good faith was her being scorned by Hagar, The mother-to-be (Genesis 16:5).

4. Abram (Abraham) allowed Sarai to punish Hagar as she saw fit. The punishment was severe enough that Hagar decided to flee from her mistress Sarai (Genesis 16:6).

5. Hagar was “found” by The angel of the Lord near a spring, beside the road to Shur east of Egypt.  He asked her where she had come from and where she was going and she admitted she was running away from her mistress Sarai, perhaps headed for her homeland of Egypt (Genesis 16:7-8).

6. The angel of the Lord told Hagar to return to Sarai, to submit to her and in return she would have numerous descendants, starting with the child she was carrying, whom shall be named Ishmael. This child will live in hostility toward all his brothers (Genesis 16:9-12).

7. In the story there are questions as to specifically who was The angel of the Lord. For this lesson, we point out, that the NIV Study notes indicate that the personal uses of “I” in the  verse of Genesis 16:10, “The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” and Hagar’s proclamation of Genesis 16:13, She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who  sees me,” for she said, I have now seen the One who sees me.”  is different from the expected language of one who is called “an angel” or “messenger” in Hebrew(1).

8. Hagar returned to Abram and Sarai and bore Abram son and named him Ishmael (Genesis 16:15), but fourteen years later Sarah bore Isaac for Abraham (Genesis 21:2).

9. Hagar and Ishmael were eventually sent away because Sarah found Ishmael scorning Isaac (Genesis 21:9). God allowed the dismissal as Isaac was the child of promise (Genesis 21:10). Ishmael grew up in the desert and became an archer (Genesis 21:20).

10. In the Book of Galatians in the New Testament, Paul contrast Hagar and Ishmael to Sarah and Isaac to explain birth with ordinary future opposed to one born with promise and assurance.  Paul says the acceptance of Jesus makes one free from the law and gives one the ability to live by the promises and assurance of faith (Galatians 4:21-31). 

 1. The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume I, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York.

2. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995.

3. Jean E Syswerda, Women of the Bible, Zondervan, 1999.