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Time Out

Something's not right here.

Genesis 16:4–6

And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

Why does Sarai blame Abram? Her scheme has gone exactly according to plan—her plan. Sarai claims she has been wronged and blames Abram for this with the words, “May the wrong done to me be on you!” What’s going on here?

Sarai gives us a clue with the words “your embrace”. She hadn’t thought through how her scheme would play out. Abram was only supposed to get Hagar pregnant. How did she think this was going to happen? The cluelessness of Sarai’s scheme boggles the mind. Sarai hadn’t thought about the “embracing” part. Now she has.

While this passage doesn’t specifically say this, all the clues point to some romance between Abram and Hagar. Their relationship certainly can’t be described as platonic. This explains why Sarai first lashes out at Abram instead of Hagar.

Abram’s response to Sarai’s emotional concern is cowardly. He makes a legal argument that ducks responsibility. Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please. This just redirects Sarai’s jealousy onto Hagar.

Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Those few words say a lot. Hagar was living the dream. Then suddenly she decides to flee.

Anything less than a reign of terror from Sarai wouldn’t have driven her away.

Sarai and Abram made some stupid choices, and the consequences are dreadful. They “forgot” to check with God before acting.

Now they’re making another mistake—they aren’t paying attention to the consequences. When Sarai lashed out at Abram, he should have said to himself, “Time out. Something’s not right here.” In other words, he should have hit his knees and repented and sought God’s will. As we’ll see, something eventually does wake Abram up.

One of the keys to walking with the LORD is turning to Him in times of crisis. This is tricky because the pressure of the moment tends to distract our thoughts away from God, just when we need Him most. When things get tight, we reflexively turn to our own cleverness.

Think back to the times when you’ve dealt with emergencies or failure. How’d you do? Ask Him to show you how you could have been more faithful.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Scripture taken from the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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