Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 16

Sarai gives Hagar to Abram. (1-3) Hagar's misbehaviour to
Sarai. (4-6) The Angel commands Hagar to return, The promise to
her, Birth of Ishmael. (7-16)

1-3 Sarai, No longer expecting to have children herself,
proposed to Abram to take another Wife, whose children she
might; her Slave, whose children would be her property. This was
done without asking counsel of the Lord. Unbelief worked, God's
almighty power was forgotten. It was a bad Example, and a source
of manifold uneasiness. In every relation and situation in Life
there is some Cross for us to Bear: much of the Exercise of
Faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord's
time, and using only those means which he appoints for the
removal of the Cross. Foul temptations may have very fair
pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible.
Fleshly Wisdom puts us out of God's way. This would not be the
case, if we would ask counsel of God By his Word and By Prayer,
before we attempt that which is doubtful.

4-6 Abram's unhappy Marriage to Hagar very soon made a great
Deal of mischief. 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. Sarai had
given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon
thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and Anger Put into
our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud
and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations
commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she
herself had first given the provocation, By despising her
mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to Bear it
patiently, 1Pe 2:20.

7-16 Hagar was out of her place, and out of the way of her
duty, and going further astray, when the Angel found her. It is
a great Mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either By
Conscience or By Providence. Whence comest thou? Consider that
thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast blest
with in Abram's Tent. It is good to live in a religious family,
which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither
wilt thou go? Thou art running into Sin; if Hagar return to
Egypt, she will return to Idol gods, and into danger in the
Wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we
are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came,
would show us our Sin and folly. Considering whither we shall
go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their
space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever
it be. The declaration of the Angel, "I will," shows this Angel
was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire
the Lord's Mercy, and feel, Have I, who am So unworthy, been
favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to
a better temper, returned, and By her behaviour softened Sarai,
and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were always
suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!