8The child [Isaac] grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. 10So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” 11The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. 12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. 13As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”
14So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. 15When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” 19Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. 21He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.
This passage is a wonderful complement to the story of a pregnant Hagar in the wilderness from Genesis 16:7-16. In that passage, she had a great need, as she ran away from Sarai’s wrath, to have someone see her and protect her. The angel of the LORD appears to Hagar by a spring of water and calls her to return to Sarai’s house with the promise that the LORD is watching over her. This causes Hagar to refer to God as El-Roi, or “the God who sees me.” It was very powerful – for a servant woman with no social position who had just been used and mistreated by her masters – to discover that she was seen and recognized by God.
Now, all these years and a handful of chapters later, she is running from Sarah’s wrath again (renamed but still practicing the same vengeful tactics). This time there will be no return to Abraham and Sarah’s household. The God whose eyes have been open and attentive to her is opening her eyes to see something important. Literally, it is a well of water. She needs that water to save her and Ishmael’s lives, as they are desparately thirsty. Figuratively, God is opening her eyes to show her that God will provide for her in her new reality as an outcast and refugee (very similar to how God will provide for the Israelites later in their wilderness wanderings).
The God who sees us also provides for us. God desires to open our eyes so that we can see and trust in that divine provision. If God is watching over us and attending to our needs, what do we have to fear? Hagar and Ishmael went from refugee servants to a great nation. The children of Israel went from wandering slaves to a kingdom of God’s chosen people. God will quench our true thirsts, feed our holy appetites, and will guide us in love and grace when we know the fear and anger of being cast out. The well of God’s mercy runs deep and full and it is always accessible.
God cares deeply for all of us, but this passage also reminds us that God takes special note of the widow, the orphan, the single parent, the refugee, and the overlooked. As God opens our eyes to see the wells in our midst that will fill us and save us, how will you lower your bucket to drink from God’s rich waters. How might we be in the well-building business so that others might see and know God’s attentive provision? God sees you and God will provide. As you awake to this reality, wear that banner upon yourself so that others might know. May God open all of our eyes to his divine abundance!
Prayer Focus: The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son.”
We can sometimes overlook others’ pain when we are celebrating. As we celebrate our birthdays, we forget the ones who are struggling to hold onto life. As we celebrate Christmas, we forget those who do not know about Christ. We celebrate anniversaries and forget about all of the broken families in our communities. It is not that we should not celebrate, but we should be just as attentive to the hurts and needs of others as we are to celebrating our own successes and blessings. For instance, Independence Day is coming up soon. Let us celebrate our freedom, but pray just as fervently for those who struggle to find freedom in oppressive places and relationships. Or as you take vacation this summer, enjoy it fully. However, also pray fully for those who are overworked and under-resourced and who yet need Sabbath.
Meditation Focus: Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.
Where are you this week? Do you feel on top of the world? Or do you feel like you are cast far down in darkness? Perhaps you are confused as to where you are or you are just going through the motions. Be encouraged that God hears your voice where you are. God does not call you to get to some spiritual high place reserved for the religious elite before you will be heard. God hears me where I am. Let that thought rest in your mind and heart this week. Ponder it. Wonder at it. Adore God within that statement of assurance. As you allow that statement, that truth, to take root within you, does it change how open you are to both speak freely to God and hear fully from God? Where are you this week? Wherever it is, God hears you. So raise your voice to God – in praise, petition, or even protest. God hears me where I am.
Journaling Focus: The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “…whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you.”
This week, write a little about your impressions of the way this situation was resolved by God in this passage. Would you have handled things in this way? Why or why not? Was God being just or merciful or, even, fair? Do Abraham and Sarah get let off the hook for the mess they created? Why would God allow Hagar and Ishmael to be cast out? Even if you struggle with these thoughts and questions, wrestle for five or ten minutes with the seeming injustices in this passage. How does God preserve both justice and mercy for all parties?
As compassionate people, we can get so overwhelmed about the discouraging realities of life – how to help the poor, how to house refugees, how to end oppression, how to promote equality, etc. None of us can solve these problems. Abraham, though much of the mess of this passage came from his own poor choices, was powerless to “solve” the situation. Choose one issue of justice that concerns you (poverty, inequality, refugee crisis, etc.). Ask God to show you one small starting step you can take to bring grace, peace, and justice to this area of concern. Then take that step!
Breath Prayer: Father, see us in our need.