Genesis 21:17
And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, What ails you, Hagar? fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
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(17) The angel of God.—In Genesis 16:7 it was “the angel of Jehovah” which appeared unto Hagar; here it is the angel of Elohim. It is impossible not to be struck with this exact use of the names of Deity. Hagar was then still a member of Abraham’s family; here she is so no longer; and it is Elohim, and not Jehovah, the covenant God of the chosen race, who saves her.

Genesis 21:17-19. God heard the voice of the lad — We read not of a word that he said; but his sighs and groans, though not proceeding from true repentance, but extorted from him by his pressing calamity, cried aloud in the ears of the God of mercy. An angel was sent to comfort Hagar, and assure her that God had heard the voice of the lad. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand — God’s readiness to help us when we are in trouble must not slacken, but quicken our endeavours to help ourselves. He repeats the promise concerning her son, that he should be a great nation, as a reason why she should bestir herself to help him. She saw a well of water — Which, it seems, was near at hand, but had not been observed by her before. Thus she obtained the relief she most wanted.21:14-21 If Hagar and Ishmael had behaved well in Abraham's family, they might have continued there; but they were justly punished. By abusing privileges, we forfeit them. Those who know not when they are well off, will be made to know the worth of mercies by the want of them. They were brought to distress in the wilderness. It is not said that the provisions were spent, or that Abraham sent them away without money. But the water was spent; and having lost their way, in that hot climate Ishmael was soon overcome with fatigue and thirst. God's readiness to help us when we are in trouble, must not slacken, but quicken our endeavours to help ourselves. The promise concerning her son is repeated, as a reason why Hagar should bestir herself to help him. It should engage our care and pains about children and young people, to consider that we know not what great use God has designed them for, and may make of them. The angel directs her to a present supply. Many who have reason to be comforted, go mourning from day to day, because they do not see the reason they have for comfort. There is a well of water near them in the covenant of grace, but they are not aware of it, till the same God that opened their eyes to see their wound, opens them to see their remedy. Paran was a wild place, fit for a wild man; such as Ishmael. Those who are born after the flesh, take up with the wilderness of this world, while the children of the promise aim at the heavenly Canaan, and cannot be at rest till they are there. Yet God was with the lad; his outward welfare was owing to this.The fortunes of Ishmael. God cares for the wanderers. He hears the voice of the lad, whose sufferings from thirst are greater than those of the mother. An angel is sent, who addresses Hagar in the simple words of encouragement and direction. "Hold thy hand upon him." Lay thy hand firmly upon him. The former promise Genesis 16:10 is renewed to her. God also opened her eyes that she saw a well of water, from which the bottle is replenished, and she and the lad are recruited for their further journey. It is unnecessary to determine how far this opening of the eyes was miraculous. It may refer to the cheering of her mind and the sharpening of her attention. In Scripture the natural and supernatural are not always set over against each other as with us. All events are alike ascribed to an ever-watchful Providence, whether they flow from the ordinary laws of nature or some higher law of the divine will. "God was with the lad." Ishmael may have been cured of his childish spleen. It is possible also his father did not forget him, but sent him a stock of cattle with which to begin the pastoral life on his account. "He became an archer." He grew an archer, or multiplied into a tribe of archers. Paran Genesis 14:6 lay south of Palestine, and therefore on the way to Egypt, out of which his mother took him a wife. The Ishmaelites, therefore, both root and branch, were descended on the mother's side from the Egyptians.15. the water was spent, &c.—Ishmael sank exhausted from fatigue and thirst—his mother laid his head under one of the bushes to smell the damp while she herself, unable to witness his distress, sat down at a little distance in hopeless sorrow. God heard his cries, though not flowing from true repentance, but extorted from him by his pressing calamity. Though he be in a vast and desolate wilderness, yet my eye is upon him, and I will take care of him. And God heard the voice of the lad,.... By which it appears that he cried also; but whether it was in prayer to God, or through the distress and misery he was in, is not certain; and, be it which it will, his cries came up into the ears of the Lord, and he had compassion on him, and supplied his wants, and delivered him out of his miserable condition:

and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven; not a created angel, but the eternal one, the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant, who appeared in the visible heavens, and called to Hagar from thence with an articulate voice, and so loud that she could hear him:

and said unto her, what aileth thee, Hagar? or, what has befallen thee? what is the matter with thee? why criest, why weepest thou? this he said, not as being ignorant of her case, but in order to relieve and comfort her:

fear not; distrust not the power and providence of God in taking care of thee and thy son; do not be afraid of the death of the child:

for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is; though in a wilderness, and under one of the shrubs in it: God is everywhere, and he can hear the cries of men be they where they will, or in ever so desolate a condition: by this Hagar would know that her son was alive, that he had been crying, and God had heard his cry; he that regards the prayer of the destitute, Psalm 102:17, heard the cry of Ishmael under a shrub.

And God {g} heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.

(g) For his promise sake made to Abraham; and not because the child had discretion and judgment to pray.

17. God heard the voice of the lad] The voice God heard was that of the lad. He had pity on the anguish, and gave ear to the cry, of the child. Once more we have a play upon the name of Ishmael with its meaning of “God heareth.” Cf. Genesis 16:11.

the angel of God] A different manifestation to Hagar from that in chap. Genesis 16:7. “The angel” (cf. Genesis 28:12, Genesis 31:11, Genesis 32:2) speaks “from heaven” (Genesis 22:11 E). God protects the handmaid and her child no less than the Chosen Family.Verse 17. - And God - Elohim; Hagar and Ishmael having now been removed from the care and superintendence of the covenant God to the guidance and providence of God the ruler of all nations (Keil) - heard the voice of the lad; - praying (Inglis), or weeping, ut supra - and the angel of God - Maleach Elohim; not Maleach Jehovah, as in Genesis 16:7-13, for the reason above specified (Hengstenberg, Quarry) - called to Hagar out of heaven, - it may be inferred there was no external appearance or theophaneia, such as was vouchsafed to her when wandering in the wilderness of Shut (Genesis 16:7) - and said unto her, What aileth thee (literally, What to thee?) Hagar? fear not; - so the word of Jehovah addressed Abram (Genesis 15:1), Isaac (Genesis 26:4), Daniel (Daniel 10:12), and John (Revelation 1:17) - for God hath heard the voice of the lad - i.e. the voice (perhaps the mute cry) of the lad's misery, and in that also the audible sob of Hagar's weeping. It is net said that either Ishmael or his mother prayed to God in their distress. Hence the Divine interposition on their behalf non quid a se peterent, sed quid servo suo Abrahae de Ismaele pollicitus foret, respexit (Calvin) - where he is - an ellipsis for from, or in, the place where he is; ἐκ τοῦ τόπου οὑ ἐστιν (LXX.); ex loco ubi est (Calvin); meaning either "in his helpless condition" (Keil), or out in the desolate wilderness, as contrasted with the house of Abraham (Calvin). Sarah therefore asked that the maid and her son might be sent away, saying, the latter "shall not be heir with Isaac." The demand, which apparently proceeded from maternal jealousy, displeased Abraham greatly "because of his son," - partly because in Ishmael he loved his own flesh and blood, and partly on account of the promise received for him (Genesis 17:18 and Genesis 17:20). But God (Elohim, since there is no appearance mentioned, but the divine will was made known to him inwardly) commanded him to comply with Sarah's demand: "for in Isaac shall seed (posterity) be called to thee." This expression cannot mean "thy descendants will call themselves after Isaac," for in that case, at all events, זרעך would be used; for "in (through) Isaac shall seed be called into existence to thee," for קרא does not mean to call into existence; but, "in the person of Isaac shall there be posterity to thee, which shall pass as such," for נקרא includes existence and the recognition of existence. Though the noun is not defined by any article, the seed intended must be that to which all the promises of God referred, and with which God would establish His covenant (Genesis 17:21, cf. Romans 9:7-8; Hebrews 11:18). To make the dismissal of Ishmael easier to the paternal heart, God repeated to Abraham (Genesis 21:13) the promise already given him with regard to this son (Genesis 17:20).
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