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Hagar in the Bible: 15 Lessons We Can Learn

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Who Is Hagar in the Bible?

Hagar, In the Bible, was a woman cast out by her mistress, Sarai. Hagar was pregnant and alone in the wilderness but found refuge in God. In this story, we can see many powerful lessons about faith and resilience. The Bible first mentions Hagar in Genesis 16:1.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.

Genesis 16:1: (ESV)

Despite being married for many years, Sarai and Abram had yet to be blessed with children. Desperate for a solution, Sarai decided to try an unconventional route: Hagar, the enslaved Egyptian, would become their surrogate mother, so she said to Abram, 

And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:2 (ESV)

Hagar had no choice in this circumstance, but she soon found herself pregnant with Abraham’s first offspring. Sarah had been put in a precarious position, so it’s no surprise the power dynamics shifted when Hagar became pregnant with her master’s child. Resentful and aware of her newfound social clout, Hagar began treating Sarah callously. 

Sarah didn’t take kindly to Hagar’s actions, so she retaliated by making life worse for her. Unsurprisingly, it pushed Hagar over the edge and sent her into the desert, searching for refuge.

Hagar was lost in the desert with no hope, but God had mercy on her. An angel of the Lord descended to speak with Hagar and comfort her; when she expressed that she fled from a difficult situation, He kindly said to her:

The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

Genesis 16:9-12 (ESV)
image of Ishmael and Hagar in the Bible in the dessert

Despite Hagar feeling reluctant to return and face her mistress, she followed the Lord’s command without hesitation. She’s filled with excitement and gratitude, knowing that something incredible just occurred – surely the work of her beloved God.

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing, for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Genesis 16:13 (ESV)

After her departure, Hagar rejoined Sarah and soon became the proud mother of Abraham’s son – Ishmael.

Fast-forward a few chapters to Genesis 21, when Hagar returns to the scene. Abraham is overjoyed at Isaac’s weaning and throws a huge feast.

Sarah was concerned that Ishmael’s mocking or playing with Isaac (the Hebrew word “צָחַק” could mean either) could be seen as a sign of rivalry for their inheritance, so she requested Abraham to send Hagar and her son away.

Hagar’s world had come crashing down again as she found herself stranded in the desert, with only a few provisions to last them. With no end in sight and their water supply dwindling rapidly, Hagar did the unthinkable – too devastated by despair at losing her son, Ishmael yet—she stepped away from him under a bush, unable to watch him die.

But once again, God sees and steps in.

“And 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? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.” 

Genesis 21:17-20 (ESV)

God stayed true to His word and gave Hagar hope for the future of her son Ishmael, blessing him with a lineage that would go on to form an entire nation. He even provided strength in difficult times by helping arrange a marriage between Ishmael and someone from Egypt. What grace!

Hagar’s life is a captivating testament to the power of faith. She was unwavering in her trust that God would take care of her, and He did! We can all draw inspiration from Hagar’s courage – she truly shows us what it means to have unshakable belief.

15 Lessons We Can Learn From Hagar in the Bible

1. God Hears and Sees Us

We all are born into this world with a God-given need to have our caregiver hear and see us, to be in tune with us, our needs, and what we are experiencing. It’s incredible how the divine can be so eloquently portrayed in words. Seeing this kind of language attributed to God throughout this story is a beautiful and majestic reminder of His might!

The name Ishmael means “God hears” and Genesis 16:11 tells us that God said to her and commanded:

And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
“You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.”

Genesis 16:11 (ESV)

Despite Ishmael seemingly being abandoned to an uncertain fate, God showed his faithfulness in the situation by reassuring Hagar that it would all turn out alright. 

“And 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? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.” 

Genesis 21:17 (ESV)

Hagar had a profound encounter with God which she recognized as El Roi – “God who sees me.” This powerful interaction demonstrated to her the immense value of being seen and known.

Hagar was just an unfortunate young woman thrust into a cruel situation. She had been uprooted from her home, treated disrespectfully by Abraham and Sarah – being made to sleep with him against her will and bear his child without permission of any kind – before the mistreatment culminated in Hagar having no choice but to flee for safety’s sake.

In that time, she would have been seen as a “womb slave,” not even considered her own person. Her humanity was questioned in so many ways.

And yet, God saw her.

He was moved by her distress and desperate plea for aid. He wanted to assure Hagar that God would always listen, so he named their son Ishmael – meaning “God hears” – as a reminder of His presence in this challenging situation.

God always makes good on His promises! He made Ishmael’s descendants into a mighty nation and gave Hagar the way out of her suffering. Similarly, no matter our struggles, God is there to ensure that He delivers us from our suffering, too! 

2. God Provides

The first time Hagar encounters the angel of the Lord in the desert, she is by a water spring. But the second time she is in the desert, there is no water to be found to her knowledge.

When she has nearly given up, the angel of the Lord appears. Genesis 21:19  tells us that God opened her eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She kept herself and her son alive and continued to live fulfilling lives.

Sometimes it can feel like God is taking his time to answer our prayers, but you know what? He’s a great Father! Hagar was completely downtrodden when suddenly He came through with exactly the help she needed. Now that’s love!

You could need nothing more in a desert than water, and no sight is more welcome than a well full of it right near you. God made the impossible happen for Hagar out of his great love for her.

We’ve all been there – almost giving up hope, and then, out of the blue, we get a blessing when we least expect it. Whether that be an unexpected check in the mail or simply a comforting meal at just the right time, let’s recognize and be thankful for God, who hasn’t forgotten us – just like He didn’t forget Hagar. We can trust that His protective presence is always with us!

3. God Is Faithful to the Outcast

Hagar had an uphill battle. She was a foreigner, enslaved and despised by the one in control of her fate – not exactly ideal circumstances for raising a child! But Hagar’s son Ishmael held great significance as he was Abraham’s firstborn, yet ultimately God chose Isaac as his heir.

She didn’t fit in anywhere – a foreigner and an outsider. But God saw something special in her, showing his favor by allowing her to be the only person to name Him! And she did it all without even being a Jew.

Abraham loved his first son – even though Ishmael wasn’t God’s intended son for Abraham, he still showered his beloved with care and affection. In a genuinely heartwarming act of mercy, the Lord freed Hagar and her son from bondage before blessing them abundantly through his many descendants. 

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.”

Genesis 17:20 (ESV)

Ishmael is circumcised with Abraham as the sign of the covenant with God (Genesis 17:26). And even though Ishmael is not the son that carries on Abraham’s line in accordance with his covenant with God, Ishmael is still clearly loved by God and receives his blessings.

This story reminds us that we have a God that loves us no matter what, no matter the social status we have, no matter our circumstances, and advocates for the outcasts and models for us to do the same.

4. God Still Works, Even if We Go Against His Plan

Hagar’s story truly demonstrates the power of God – no matter what choices we make, he will always find a way to show his unconditional love and glorify Himself.

God gave Abraham an incredible promise: He and Sarah would have countless descendants. When Sarah and Abraham had doubts, it was ultimately Hagar who was forced to bear the brunt of their lack of trust in God. Sarah was determined to help make the promise of an heir a reality, so she took matters into her own hands despite blaming God for her inability. She sought unconventional solutions to fulfill this goal without help from the One Who made the promise!

In a shocking turn of events, Ishmael was destined to come into existence – all thanks to Sarah’s unfaithfulness! Fortunately for Abraham and Hagar, God kept his promise despite this. It truly shows that the Lord is ever-faithful no matter our off-track choices.

Abraham doubted God could fulfill his promise, but God was determined to prove him wrong. Abraham asked if Ishmael would live under His blessing instead of Isaac – almost as though he were asking for a second chance. However, in Genesis 17:15-22, God reassured Abraham and remained adamant about the miraculous birth through Sarah’s womb; He was faithful even when Abraham wasn’t.

Through this miracle comes the twelve tribes of Israel and, eventually, Jesus himself! God does not waiver in faithfulness, even when Abraham and Sarah wavered in theirs.

God doesn’t turn his back on Hagar and Ishmael – instead, He uses their story to show us His commitment to justice, provision, and faithful love. What a powerful reminder of the Lord’s compassion! 

Young lost boy weep Abraham faith jew female maid servant girl lady dress cloth ask life aid white sky scene. Hand drawn danger hot dry crack parch dead land nature travel sketch old retro graphic art Hagar in the Bible

5. God Never Rejects Us

Hagar must have felt forsaken and alone. Like a cruel twist of fate, it caused her to flee into the desert – far away from all she knew. What could be waiting for her out there? Little did she know that God had not forgotten about her; He showed His immense grace by meeting with Her in this desolate wilderness to show his compassion and love towards someone deemed insignificant at first glance! No matter who we are or our situation, no one is ever beyond redemption in God’s eyes.

It was hard to hear that God wanted her to return to Sarai and endure her abuse, but God gave her a name for her son, Ishmael. God said that he would even multiply Ishmael’s descendants. Wow, that was quite a promise, which God fulfilled in later years.

Hagar agreed to God’s plan.

 “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

 Genesis 16:13 (ESV) 

He heard her desperate pleas for help, and she was the first to have an audience with God in a remarkable turn of events. Everyone else had only experienced His voice or witnessed visions from afar, but He was standing directly before this brave slave girl!

When life throws you a curveball, and it feels like everyone is turning away from you, take comfort in knowing that God still accepts you. As Hagar teaches us – let rejection shape your character for the better and strengthen your trust in Him; even if situations don’t play out as expected, He has an ultimate plan for each of our lives!

Blessed be God,
    because he has not rejected my prayer
    or removed his steadfast love from me!

Psalm 66:20 (ESV)

For the Lord will not forsake his people;
    he will not abandon his heritage;

Psalm 94:14 (ESV

6. God Is Near to the Brokenhearted

When Abraham sent Hagar and Ismael into the desert, it seemed like a cruel fate. All they had was some food and water from Abraham to survive amidst an unforgiving landscape with no end in sight. She feared that her only son, given to her by God, might starve to death. It was too much for her to bear. She couldn’t watch as he curled up under a tree, but she couldn’t ignore his cries for food.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.

Genesis. 21:15-16 (ESV)

Could it be? Was she destined for a divine encore – another meeting with God? Yes, he had heard her son’s cries and asked her what was wrong. The mother was overcome with worry and sadness when the Angel of the Lord suddenly spoke to her again. He comforted her and reminded her that God had sworn a promise that would result in an entire nation being born from her son’s legacy.

And 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? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Genesis. 21:17-18 (ESV)

When life throws us a curveball and leaves us feeling desperate, it can be hard to reach out for help. Thankfully, there’s one who knows our pain like no other – God. He hears every prayer in times of suffering and is always ready with open arms waiting to comfort his people. God might use people around us as a vessel for His comfort, but He desires us to open our hearts and listen to Him directly. In difficult times, we can find comfort in knowing that God is with us every step of the way. With renewed faith and an open heart, He will lead our paths if we are willing to listen for His wisdom along the journey.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

 Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

 7. God’s Plan Is Always the Best 

Hagar opened her eyes and couldn’t believe what she saw – a miraculous well of water amid an arid desert! Indeed only God could have made this happen. She rushed to fill up her wineskin so that she could quench the thirst of her son.

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 

Genesis. 21:19 (ESV)

Hagar showed incredible bravery by putting her faith in God in the face of an uncertain future. Even when she found herself alone and far from home, with no one else to rely on but Him – He kept his promise and provided for her needs.

And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. 

Genesis 21:20-21 (ESV)

In the story of Hagar, God reveals a powerful lesson: humans cannot rush what only He can do. Despite being used as a pawn in Sarah and Abraham’s misguided attempt to take matters into their own hands, we see that God brings renewal out of even our most unfortunate circumstances through patience and faithfulness

Trying to outfox God is a fool’s errand; His plans are perfect and will always triumph, but if we act too hastily with our own interests at heart – it could cost us dearly.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 

Galatians 4:22-23 (ESV)

8. Be courageous and strong

Hagar was a woman of amazing strength who endured so much throughout her life. Even after running away from Sarah and being alone in the desert while pregnant, she refused to give up hope. Her plight seemed hopeless until God stepped in at just the right time.

Hagar demonstrated incredible courage and strength when she risked her own life to fight for her freedom. Despite being stuck in a difficult situation that can take away one’s power, Hagar refused to give up hope and persevered.

9. Be teachable

Despite Hagar’s prideful ways, it was clear that she still had a chance at redemption. She knew her current predicament was of her own making and accepted the responsibility for it – then took action to put things right.

Hagar was presented with a choice at the crossroads of her life–to find solace in Egypt, or to trust God and obey His direction. She chose faith over self-reliance, and humility rather than pride. And when she encountered God in that desolate desert landscape, something powerful occurred: transformation! Our lives are forever changed for the better once we meet Jesus – no matter where our roads may lead us.

10. Have strong faith

Hagar’s life was transformed when she left Egypt and encountered the faith of Abraham and Sarah. Her beliefs were likely turned upside down, as she went from worshiping idols to believing in a single God. When The Lord presented Himself before her – Hagar recognized what was occurring, knowing it must be an act of divine power. Naming Him ‘The God Who Sees Me’ demonstrated just how deeply this realization impacted her – recognizing that even in darkness, there is still hope for redemption through His eyes!

When God spoke, Hagar heard a message of hope – not doom and gloom. He promised her that if she returned home obediently all would be well. Not only would her life be spared, but so would the one growing in Her womb! Furthermore, her child would be blessed with abundance from God Himself. She left strengthened by what she’d received- assurance for both herself and her unborn son’s future wellbeing.

11. It’s important to recognize when we are wrong 

The story of Hagar in the Bible teaches us a valuable lesson about our own behavior – even when we’ve made mistakes, it’s important to admit them and try not to respond with attitude or hurtful words. Instead of lashing out at Sarah for her inability to have children, Hagar should have humbly accepted God’s blessing and kept inappropriate comments (or actions) to herself. No matter what challenges life throws at you; there is no justification for treating others badly!

Even though Hagar ran away in an attempt to escape her troubling circumstances, Jesus didn’t miss a beat. He commanded her to take a different spiritual path and make it right – that meant humbly going back home and making amends with Sarah. Of course, this doesn’t mean she had to deal with any abuse but rather put aside the hurt feelings so both could wait for God’s promise of Ishmael being blessed in abundance.

12. God meets us where we are

Hagar was faced with a dire situation – alone in the desert; she felt hot, tired, and desperate. But then God showed up! In her time of need, He comforted Hagar and replenished her faith in an incredible way. Even when we’re walking through our darkest valleys or finding ourselves facing one of life’s greatest struggles, it can be so encouraging to know that even if no one else is there for us, at least God always will be by our side – ready to offer strength and love during hard times.

Is your faith wavering? Don’t worry. God knows, and He’s always ready to chat, even when we don’t feel like our best selves! Just look at what happened with Hagar – she was in a difficult spot but felt seen by the Lord. Even if things seem bad right now, be assured that there is Someone who cares deeply about you regardless of all your mistakes and failings – it’s an amazing reminder that no matter how dark life gets or where we find ourselves, God continues to come through for us time after time again!

Hagar returned to Sarah with newfound confidence, knowing that God was always by her side no matter what she faced. Hagar’s story is one of courage and faith as even while in despair, Ishmael still believed that his cry to the Lord wouldn’t go unheard – and it didn’t! It serves as an inspiration for us all; next time we’re feeling overwhelmed or helplessly alone, remember Hagar and be reminded that our cries are heard too.

13. Remember God’s promises in the hard times

Thirteen years prior, Hagar fled her home to avoid Sarah. Little did she know that Jesus would appear and not only name the baby inside of her but also outline his future – a great nation! But then came desperation as food, water, and scorching desert heat threatened their lives. Thankfully God intervened just in time…

First, God reminded her of the promise:

“Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 

Genesis 21:18 (ESV)

Hagar was at the end of her rope when an unexpected surprise appeared – a well! God’s faithfulness never wavers, no matter how long it takes; He always keeps His promises and shows up even in our darkest stories. Remember that your Father is still faithful when you hit rock bottom and will rescue you from any circumstance.

During life’s uncertainties, never forget that God always meets us in the valley – His promises will be kept.

14. God is always with us

Hagar and Ishmael faced an uncertain fate when they left Abraham, stripped of safety and provisions, with no protection from the searing desert heat or potential predators. Their only asset was a single water bottle – bare necessities for two completely vulnerable individuals. With few options and no backup plan, Hagar had to rely on her own strength just to keep them alive in that barren wilderness.

Despite her challenges, Hagar stands as a symbol of hope for single mothers around the world. All she had was God to carry her through – and that’s really all you need. Trust in Almighty God and remember, whatever our circumstances are, we’re going to be alright!

15. God sees the big picture

By engaging in a direct dialogue with Hagar, God gives her an otherworldly perspective and encourages her to zoom out from the specifics of her troubles. At this moment, it’s clear that He cares more about preparing for what lies ahead than finding an immediate solution; His focus has shifted away from fixing current problems toward understanding how each piece fits into the larger scheme of things.

God gave Hagar something to hold onto in a difficult situation – not just the promise of a son, but also the assurance that she wouldn’t be alone when she was old. In ancient Israelite society, where daughters usually moved away from home upon marriage, sons were really valued for providing care and support for their parents as they aged. So God’s promise ended up being more than just hope; it meant security too!

Hagar had an encounter with God that pushed her to think far beyond the limits of time and circumstance. As she looked ahead, He promised not only a son but also descendants too numerous to count – pointing Hagar towards an even greater destiny as part of His big story plan for redemption and reconciliation.

Hagar could only answer God’s question on a small scale – she had come from the house of Abraham and Sarah, wanting nothing more than to start afresh elsewhere. Yet in His infinite knowledge, God understood that there was much more behind her journey beyond those simple words.

Hagar’s incredible story began in Egypt, where she was bought as a slave. But her journey would ultimately lead to greater things – eventually having a son who cared for her and establishing an entire legacy of descendants!

Hagar is everyone’s ancestor; we all trace our lineage back to her and Adam and Eve, imperfect humanity living in a time of strife. But God has given us hope for something better – even though that brighter future hasn’t yet arrived, He knows what the outcome will be.

From the very beginning, He knew that He would come in human form and suffer on the cross to defeat death. Through this sacrifice, humanity could be reconciled with divinity – all brokenness healed, and everything made right again! An eternity of transformation awaited at His feet.

When we always keep the bigger picture in our minds and hearts, like Hagar did when facing immense suffering, it gives us hope to get through hard times. We can cry out for help from God, knowing that all things will eventually be made right in His plan.

What happened to Hagar in the Bible? 

Hagar and her son Ishmael courageously faced a near-death experience, with the Lord by their side. Hagar raised him well, finding Ishmael an Egyptian wife in the process – and he became quite a skilled hunter! Following God’s promise to make him a great nation of his own one day, Ishmael was blessed with 12 sons who started distinct tribes over time – all settling either around Egypt or neighboring areas. Ultimately living up to 137 years old made sure that his legacy continued and initiated what could be seen as the beginning of Arab lineage today. There is a great possibility that the hagrites in the bible are also descendants of Hagar.

Hagar’s fate has remained shrouded in mystery for centuries. While some people suggest she became one of Abraham’s wives after Sarah passed away, there is no way to confirm this theory and her ultimate demise remains unknown.

Genesis 21

Genesis 25

What does Hagar represent in the Bible?

In Galatians 4 of the New Testament, Paul makes an analogy using Hagar to illustrate how living under God’s law versus His grace works. She symbolizes all those who have been rejected and wronged by society—from physically abused people to oppressed descendants of enslaved ancestors. It serves as a reminder that no matter what hardships they experience, God never abandons them but always looks out for their best interests!

Hagar in the Bible meaning

Hagar was certainly foreign in more ways than one – her name literally translated as ‘stranger’ and being Egyptian by descent. Despite living with Abraham and Sarah for years, she remained an outsider until the end.

No matter what else comes our way, we can always turn to God. Even when life gets tough or it feels like everyone has left us behind, He is still there with open arms waiting for us to reach out. We may not be able to see Him face-to-face, but faith assures that His love will never fail!

 for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5b (ESV)

You may enjoy this teaching on the God Who sees, Hagar in the desert:

For further study on Hagar in the Bible, I highly recommend these resources:

Hagar Bible Study Guide: In the Face of Rejection, God Says I’m Significant (Known by Name) by Jada Edwards, Kasey Van Norman, Nicole Johnson 

Hagar: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me (Bible Study) (Behind the Seen: Exploring the Bible’s Unsung Heroes) by Shadia Hrichi 

The Woman Who Named God: Abraham’s Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths by Charlotte Gordon

The story of Hagar in the Bible is one that has many lessons to offer. She was a woman who faced many challenges, but she persevered and found strength in her faith. Hagar’s story can teach us about dedication, determination, and humility. What other lessons do you see in her story? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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