As Sarai’s maidservant, Hagar held a position of honor among the servants. She was in a position of authority, perhaps overseeing lower domestics. Still, as a servant, she had no personal rights. She was subject to Sarai’s rule.
When Sarai devised a plan to bear children through Hagar, Hagar had no say in the matter. Sarai “took Hagar” and “gave her” to Abram to be his wife.
Just as they planned, Hagar conceived, but with her conception, the status quo shifted.
Hagar knew about God’s promise to Abram. Since Sarai was barren and Hagar pregnant, surely she was to be the one to bear the promised seed. Realizing this, Hagar grew prideful and looked at Sarai with contempt. She overstepped her position, acting as the superior to her mistress.
Though our modern translations give the impression that Sarai mistreated or abused Hagar, the actual word for treated means to humble or put in place. In other words, Sarai made it clear to Hagar that she was still a servant and not above Sarai.
Not willing to accept the rebuke, Hagar ran away.
The name Hagar means “to flee.” When things got tough, Hagar reacted by fleeing.
Hagar could have taken Sarai’s scolding to heart and humbled herself. As Abram’s wife, albeit secondary wife, Hagar could have presented her case before him. Instead, she ran away.
Do you grow prideful when you find yourself in an elevated position? Do you let it go to your head? Do you accept correction and strive to improve yourself, or do you dismiss condemnation as beneath you? Do you stick around to face the future or do you flee when things turn sour?
We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to them.
Hagar and Sarai in Scripture: Genesis 16
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