Here is the first mention we have in scripture of an angel’s appearance. Hagar was a type of the law, which was given by the disposition of angels; but the world to come is not put in subjection to them, Heb. 2:5. Observe,
I. How the angel arrested her in her flight, Gen. 16:7. It should seem, she was making towards her own country; for she was in the way to Shur, which lay towards Egypt. It were well if our afflictions would make us think of our home, the better country. But Hagar was now out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the angel found her. Note, 1. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way either by conscience or by Providence. 2. God suffers those that are out of the way to wander awhile, that when they see their folly, and what a loss they have brought themselves to, they may be the better disposed to return. Hagar was not stopped till she was in the wilderness, and had set down, weary enough, and glad of clear water to refresh herself with. God brings us into a wilderness, and there meets us, Hos. 2:14.
II. How he examined her, Gen. 16:8. Observe,
1. He called her Hagar, Sarai’s maid, (1.) As a check to her pride. Though she was Abram’s wife, and, as such, was obliged to return, yet he calls her Sarai’s maid, to humble her. Note, Though civility teaches us to call others by their highest titles, yet humility and wisdom teach us to call ourselves by the lowest. (2.) As a rebuke to her flight. Sarai’s maid ought to be in Sarai’s tent, and not wandering in the wilderness and sauntering by a fountain of water. Note, It is good for us often to call to mind what our place and relation are. See Eccl. 10:4.
2. The questions the angel put to her were proper and very pertinent. (1.) “Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running away both from the duty thou wast bound to and the privileges thou wast blessed with in Abram’s tent.” Note, It is a great advantage to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have that advantage, yet upon every slight inducement are forward to quit it. (2.) “Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running thyself into sin, in Egypt” (if she return to that people, she will return to their gods), “and into danger, in the wilderness,” through which she must travel, Deut. 8:15. Note, Those who are forsaking God and their duty would do well to remember not only whence they have fallen, but whither they are falling. See Jer. 2:18; What hast thou to do (with Hagar) in the way of Egypt? John 6:68.
3. Her answer was honest, and a fair confession: I flee from the face of my mistress. In this, (1.) She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress, and yet, (2.) Excuses it, that it was from the face, of displeasure, of her mistress. Note, Children and servants must be treated with mildness and gentleness, lest we provoke them to take any irregular courses and so become accessory to their sins, which will condemn us, though it will not justify them.
4. How he sent her back, with suitable and compassionate counsel: “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand, Gen. 16:9. Go home, and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and beg pardon, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better.” He makes no question but she would be welcome, though it does not appear that Abram sent after her. Note, Those that have gone away from their place and duty, when they are convinced of their error, must hasten their return and reformation, how mortifying soever it may be.