Verses 10–14

We may suppose that the angel having given Hagar that good counsel (Gen. 16:9) to return to her mistress she immediately promised to do so, and was setting her face homeward; and then the angel went on to encourage her with an assurance of the mercy God had in store for her and her seed: for God will meet those with mercy that are returning to their duty. I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest, Ps. 32:5. Here is,

I. A prediction concerning her posterity given her for her comfort in her present distress. Notice is taken of her condition: Behold, thou art with child; and therefore this is not a fit place for thee to be in. Note, It is a great comfort to women with child to think that they are under the particular cognizance and care of the divine Providence. God graciously considers their case and suits supports to it. Now, 1. The angel assures her of a safe delivery, and that of a son, which Abram desired. This fright and ramble of hers might have destroyed her hope of an offspring; but God dealt not with her according to her folly: Thou shalt bear a son. She was saved in child-bearing, not only by providence, but by promise. 2. He names her child, which was an honour both to her and it: Call him Ishmael, God will hear; and the reason is, because the Lord has heard; he has, and therefore he will. Note, The experience we have had of God’s seasonable kindness to us in distress would encourage us to hope for similar help in similar exigencies, Ps. 10:17. He has heard thy affliction, Gen. 16:11. Note, Even where there is little cry of devotion, the God of pity sometimes graciously hears the cry of affliction. Tears speak as well as prayers. This speaks comfort to the afflicted, that God not only sees what their afflictions are, but hears what they say. Note, further, Seasonable succours, in a day of affliction, ought always to be remembered with thankfulness to God. Such a time, in such a strait, the Lord heard the voice of my affliction, and helped me. See Deut. 26:7; Ps. 31:22. 3. He promises her a numerous offspring, (Gen. 16:10): I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, Heb. multiplying, I will multiply it, that is, multiply it in every age, so as to perpetuate it. It is supposed that the Turks at this day descend from Ishmael; and they are a great people. This was in pursuance of the promise made to Abram: I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, Gen. 13:16. Note, Many that are children of godly parents have, for their sakes, a very large share of outward common blessings, though, like Ishmael, they are not taken into covenant: many are multiplied that are not sanctified. 4. He gives a character of the child she should bear, which, however it may seem to us, perhaps was not very disagreeable to her (Gen. 16:12): He will be a wild man; a wild ass of a man (so the word is), rude, and bold, and fearing no man—untamed, untractable living at large, and impatient of service and restraint. Note, The children of the bondwoman, who are out of covenant with God, are, as they were born, like the wild ass’s colt; it is grace that reclaims men, civilizes them, and makes them wise, and good for something. It is foretold, (1.) That he should live in strife, and in a state of war: His hand against every man—this is his sin; and every man’s hand against him—this is his punishment. Note, Those that have turbulent spirits have commonly troublesome lives; those that are provoking, vexatious, and injurious to others, must expect to be repaid in their own coin. He that has his hand and tongue against every man shall have every man’s hand and tongue against him, and he has no reason to complain of it. And yet, (2.) That he should live in safety, and hold his own against all the world: He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; though threatened and insulted by all his neighbours, yet he shall keep his ground, and for Abram’s sake, more than his own, shall be able to make his part good with them. Accordingly we read (Gen. 25:18), that he died, as he lived, in the presence of all his brethren. Note, Many that are much exposed by their own imprudence are yet strangely preserved by the divine Providence, so much better is God to them than they deserve, when they not only forfeit their lives by sin, but hazard them.

II. Hagar’s pious reflection upon this gracious appearance of God to her, Gen. 16:13, 14. Observe in what she said,

1. Her awful adoration of God’s omniscience and providence, with application of it to herself: She called the name of the Lord that spoke unto her, that is, thus she made confession of his name, this she said to his praise, Thou God seest me: this should be, with her, his name for ever, and this his memorial, by which she will know him and remember him while she lives, Thou God seest me. Note, (1.) The God with whom we have to do is a seeing God, and all-seeing God. God is (as the ancients express it) all eye. (2.) We ought to acknowledge this with application to ourselves. He that sees all sees me, as David (Ps. 139:1), O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. (3.) A believing regard to God, as a God that sees us, will be of great use to us in our returns to him. It is a proper word for a penitent:—[1.] “Thou seest my sin and folly.” I have sinned before thee, says the prodigal; in thy sight, says David. [2.] “Thou seest my sorrow and affliction;” this Hagar especially refers to. When we have brought ourselves into distress by our own folly, yet God has not forsaken us. [3.] “Thou seest the sincerity and seriousness of my return and repentance. Thou seest my secret mournings for sin, and secret motions towards thee.” [4.] “Thou seest me, if in any instance I depart from thee,” Ps. 44:20, 21. This thought should always restrain us from sin and excite us to duty: Thou God seest me.

2. Her humble admiration of God’s favour to her: “Have I here also looked after him that seeth me? Have I here seen the back parts of him that seeth me?” so it might be read, for the word is much the same with that, Exod. 33:23. She saw not face to face, but as through a glass darkly, 1 Cor. 13:12. Probably she knew not who it was that talked with her, till he was departing (as Jdg. 6:21, 22; 13:21), and then she looked after him, with a reflection like that of the two disciples, Luke 24:31, 32. Or, Have I here seen him that sees me? Note, (1.) The communion which holy souls have with God consists in their having an eye of faith towards him, as a God that has an eye of favour towards them. The intercourse is kept up by the eye. (2.) The privilege of our communion with God is to be looked upon with wonder and admiration, [1.] Considering what we are who are admitted to this favour. “Have I? I that am so mean, I that am so vile?” 2 Sam. 7:18. [2.] Considering the place where we are thus favoured—“here also? Not only in Abram’s tent and at his altar, but here also, in this wilderness? Here, where I never expected it, where I was out of the way of my duty? Lord, how is it?” John 14:22. Some make the answer to this question to be negative, and so look upon it as a penitent reflection: “Have I here also, in my distress and affliction, looked after God? No, I was a careless and unmindful of him as ever I used to be; and yet he has thus visited and regarded me:” for God often anticipates us with his favours, and is found of those that seek him not, Isa. 65:1.

III. The name which this gave to the place: Beer-lahai-roi, The well of him that liveth and seeth me, Gen. 16:14. It is probable that Hagar put this name upon it; and it was retained long after, in perpetuam rei memoriam—a lasting memorial of this event. This was a place where the God of glory manifested the special cognizance and care he took of a poor woman in distress. Note, 1. He that is all-seeing is ever-living; he lives and sees us. 2. Those that are graciously admitted into communion with God, and receive seasonable comforts from him, should tell others what he has done for their souls, that they also may be encouraged to seek him and trust in him. 3. God’s gracious manifestations of himself to us are to be had in everlasting remembrance by us, and should never be forgotten.