Questions to Consider
1. Briefly review lesson 11 (link above) since it is basically part 1 of the lesson on chapter 16. Refresh your memory on Sarah’s “trust issues” with God.
2. Read verses 1-6 from Hagar’s perspective. What was Hagar’s station in life? (1) The ESV renders Hagar’s position as “servant”, but to our 21st century mindset, it might be more helpful to use the NIV and CSB’s rendering of “slave”.
3. As a slave, what rights would Hagar have had over her personhood? Over her own body? Was Hagar asked if she wanted to sleep with Abraham or serve as a surrogate? Examine Genesis 30:1-8. In a “surrogacy by slave” situation, the baby was considered by society and the family to be whose child, the slave’s or the wife’s? Did Hagar have any rights to her own son? What are some thoughts or emotions Hagar may have experienced as she went through this situation?
4. When we read a story like this one, it’s very important that we understand the culture of the time. Imagine hearing this story on tomorrow night’s newscast. A man and his wife buy a female slave. The wife gives the slave to the husband for him to forcibly impregnate, with the plan that the resulting child will belong to the couple. It sounds like a TV crime drama on human trafficking, and, indeed, if this happened today in America, the husband and wife would both be criminally liable for their actions. In what ways can viewing this story through our current worldview help us to see the sin involved in what Abraham and Sarah did to Hagar? In what ways can a 21st century perspective lead us to misunderstand this story? How does understanding Abraham’s, Sarah’s, and Hagar’s culture, and the way it would have viewed slavery and slave surrogacy, help us to understand this story correctly? Does culture or era change whether or not something is a sin?
5. In Sarah’s and Hagar’s culture, the main way women achieved status, and were viewed as blessed and successful by society, was by bearing children, particularly sons. How does this piece of cultural information help you understand both Sarah’s and Hagar’s reactions in verses 4-6?
6. In lesson 11, we looked at how Abraham, as a godly husband, should have responded in verse 2. Did Abraham lead his wife in a godly way in verse 6? How could he have led her in a godly way? How did Hagar react to Sarah’s harsh treatment? (6)
7. Read verses 7-16. How many times is the phrase “angel of the Lord” used? Who is the angel of the Lord? Many theologians consider this appearance of the angel of the Lord to be a Christophany. What evidence do you see in this passage that might point to that conclusion?
8. What character trait did Hagar seem to be lacking in verse 4? How might her obedience to God’s instruction to her in verse 9 have grown her in that aspect of her character? Compare verses 9-10 to James 4:10.
9. Examine the end of verse 11 and the footnote. What does the name Ishmael mean? Compare this with what Hagar calls God in verse 13, and the name of the well in verse 14 (see footnotes). What would all of these descriptions of the character of God have meant in Hagar’s life? What does it mean in your life that God hears and sees you?
10. Compare and contrast Hagar’s trust and obedience to the Lord in 7-16 to Sarah’s distrust and disobedience to the Lord in 1-6.
11. Compare verses 7-16 with Luke 1:26-38, and make a list of any similarities you see. How does Hagar’s story point us ahead to Christ?
Read my article 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblically and apply it to either Sarah’s or Hagar’s (or both) situation in chapter 16. What was God’s purpose for the test she went through? What were some opportunities she had to obey God in her situation? What would her words and actions have been like if she had trusted God more?
Suggested Memory Verse
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.”