Genesis 16:1
Now Abram's wife Sarai had not borne a child to him, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.
Carnal ExpedientsThe Congregational PulpitGenesis 16:1-3
Forestalling God's Appointed TimeT. H. Leale.Genesis 16:1-3
Hagar, the Slave GirlF. B. Meyer, B. A.Genesis 16:1-3
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 16:1-3
Sarah's Sin; or Carnal Policy no Aid to Divine PlansA. Fuller.Genesis 16:1-3
Sarai's ExpedientJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Genesis 16:1-3
The Trial of Faith -- its InfirmityR. S. Candlish, D. D.Genesis 16:1-3
The Maid, the Mistress, and the MasterW. Roberts Genesis 16:1-6
HagarR.A. Redford Genesis 16


1. Pride.

2. Contempt.

3. Insubordination.

4. Flight.


1. Tempting her husband.

2. Excusing herself.

3. Appealing to God.

4. Afflicting her servant.


1. Yielding to temptation.

2. Perpetrating injustice.

3. Acquiescing in oppression. - W.

And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.


1. There was no human hope that the promise would be accomplished in that form in which they first understood it.

2. They were conforming to the common custom of the country.

3. The end they sought was worthy in itself.


1. They are signs of impatience.

2. It is not our duty to aid God in the accomplishment of His promises.

3. Religion hereby degenerates into fanaticism.

4. Such an interference with the means by which God accomplishes His purpose shows a want of confidence in His power.

(T. H. Leale.)

We might have expected that Abraham would have strenuously resisted every endeavour to induce him to realize for himself God's promise about his seed. Surely he will wait meekly and quietly for God to fulfil His own word, by means best known to Himself. Instead of this he listened to the reasoning of expediency.


1. It is always hard to resist temptation when it appeals to natural instinct or to distrusting fear.

2. We should be exceedingly careful before acting on the suggestions of anyone not as advanced as we are in the Divine life. What may seem right to them may be terribly wrong for us.


1. To Sarah.

2. To Hagar.

3. To Abraham.

III. THE VICTIM WHOSE LIFE COURSE WAS SO LARGELY INVOLVED. We mourn to see in her only one of myriads who have been sacrificed to the whim or passion, expediency or selfishness, of men.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The Congregational Pulpit.
I. THE FOLLY OF CARNAL EXPEDIENTS. Their danger lies in many directions.

1. Look at the method of our justification and sanctification before God. God's method is by faith, man's by works. The one is of promise, the other by natural means. The latter is illicit, and fails; only the former succeeds.

2. In providence. You may be looking for temporal prosperity; God may design it for you: but you have no right to seek it by covetousness or injustice, and making haste to be rich.

3. In gospel labours. You expect success, but it is delayed.

4. In regard to our sufferings and our hope of heaven. Some have been tempted to slay themselves, or those whom they have loved, in the midst of terrible affliction, to hasten their admission to glory, You may not have this temptation; but you may be restless, impatient, and unresigned. Say rather, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come."

5. In regard to the millennium, and the establishment of the gospel on earth. What hindrances and delays there are. Many seek to christianize the world by the sword, by pandering to human ignorance and superstition, or by indulging the lusts and passions of men. We must be faithful to principle, and leave results to God.

II. GOD'S MERCIFULNESS TO THE SORROWFUL SAINT. "Thou God seest me." It suggests two things;

1. God's omniscience; and —

2. His kind regard of His people. Let us think of it:(1) In times of desolation and sorrow. You may be lonely and forsaken, but God sees you.(2) In times of wandering and waywardness. Then let it rebuke us, and bring us to repentance and contrition.(3) In times of temptation. Then let it deter us. "How can we do this thing, and sin against God?"(4) In times of perplexity. Then let us seek His guidance — the guidance of His eye and hand.(5) It suggests a contrast between this life and the next.

(The Congregational Pulpit.)

1. God's promise and covenant can hardly keep up faith in His own, against the discouragements of sense.

2. Sensible helps at hand may be an occasion to doubt of God's promise as being afar off. So was Hagar to Sarai (ver. 2).

3. Good souls in temptations may complain of this barrenness though God order it.

4. Sense of such wants may put souls upon unlawful means to have their desires of a seed.

5. Flesh persuades to take an uncertain peradventure in sense, rather than wait for God's promise in certainty (ver. 2).

6. Temptation may carry saints not only to the motion but action of evil.

7. Such temptations may make saints do evil, for ends seeming good. So Sarai gives her to wife.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. IT ORIGINATED AT A TIME AND IN A MANNER, the consideration of which may well enforce the solemn warning, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall;" — while it painfully illustrates that other affecting saying, that a man's worst foes may be those of his own household. This transaction took place (ver. 3) after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. During all that time he had walked with God, and God had done for him great things; he had trusted in the Lord, and had been delivered. He had found God faithful to him, and had been himself enabled to be faithful to God. In particular, he had very recently received a signal pledge of the Divine favour, and a strong confirmation of the hope set before him; and never, perhaps, had he stood higher, in respect of privilege, than now. And yet, at the very time when he stands so high, he is tempted, and he falls.

II. THE TEMPTATION ITSELF IS A VERY PLAUSIBLE ONE. It bears all the marks of that subtlety which, from of old, had been the characteristic of that old serpent, the devil. Observe the spirit and manner in which the proposal is made by Sarai, and received by Abram. It is plainly such as altogether to preclude the idea of this step being at all analogous to an ordinary instance of sin committed in the indulgence of sensual passion. Most unjustifiable as was the patriarch's conduct, it is not for a moment to be confounded with that of David, for example, whose melancholy fall was caused by the mere unbridled violence of an unlawful appetite. There is no room for the introduction of such an element as this on the occasion of Abram's connection with Hagar. It originated in the suggestion of his faithful wife, and had, for its single object, the fulfilment of the Divine promise, whose accomplishment otherwise seemed to be growing every day more manifestly and hopelessly impossible (vers. 1, 2).

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Unbelief is very prolific of schemes; and surely this of Sarai is as carnal, as foolish, and as fruitful of domestic misery as could almost have been devised. Yet such was the influence of evil counsel, especially from such a quarter, that "Abram hearkened to her voice." The father of mankind sinned by hearkening to his wife, and now the father of the faithful follows his example. How necessary for those who stand in the nearest relations, to take heed of being snares instead of helps one to another! It was a double sin: first, of distrust; and secondly, of deviation from the original law of marriage, and which seems to have opened a door of polygamy.

(A. Fuller.)

Sarai's impulse, even if mistaken, was admirable for its unselfish abnegation of what is most precious to her sex. It was such a sacrifice as only a woman had it in her power to make. Had Abram been a polygamist, or had the adhesion of his house to the primitive marriage law been less loyal than it was, there was one obvious escape from the difficulty. It is instructive that neither Abram nor his wife thought of a second marriage. The usages of the time suggested a different mode. For a childless wife to treat the children born of a favourite slave girl as legally as her own was a resource very foreign to the notions of our western Christendom. Nevertheless, it sprang not unnaturally out of two peculiarities of society in Abram's day. One of these was the disadvantage, amounting positively to social discredit, which attached to childlessness, at a time when the primeval injunction to replenish the earth still retained its full force. The other was the complete surrender of a serf's legal and social rights into the hand of his master, which in the East characterized domestic servitude. Every home slave stood at the disposal of his lord for whatever service the lord might require. His very children were not his own, but his master's. For a mistress, therefore, to seek by means of a female slave and favourite attendant what Providence had denied to herself, was regarded under such a state of feeling as neither immoral nor revolting. It was not even held to be any real departure from the law of monogamy, or any infraction of conjugal fidelity. There is no doubt, however, that it did involve a certain lowering of the original conception of marriage. It paved the way for concubinage of a less excusable description. And in the majority of cases, as in the present instance, it could scarcely fail to turn out ill.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

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