The lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible are all so interesting because her story is filled so much drama. It is hard to separate her from Hagar and her husband.
But in this post, we focus in on Sarah’s characteristics and what we can learn from her about marriage and life.
Story of Sarah in the Bible summary
The story of Sarah in the Bible picks up when her husband received his call from God.
Without any specific direction she sets out for a land God would show them. God promises to make them a great nation.
That promise is dependent on them receiving a promised son.
Years and years pass. Sarah and her husband live as nomads, traveling from place to place with their herds, slaves, servants and possessions.
Sarah gets frustrated and tired of waiting so she decides to use her slave Hagar as a surrogate.
That does not go very well as Hagar’s attitude changes towards Sarah the moment she realizes she is pregnant.
Sarah blames her husband and abuses Hagar to the point that she runs away.
Hagar later returns and gives birth to a sun, Ishmael.
But God does not accept Ishmael as the promised son.
After decades, Sarah finally gets pregnant with the son promised to them. They name him Isaac.
One day she sees Ishmael was teasing Isaac. She asked her husband to send him away. After asking God, he did.
Sarah raised Isaac but passed away before he got married.
Sarah in the Bible verses
Sarah is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. Here are the Scripture references.
Sarah in the Old Testament
- Genesis 11:29
- Genesis 16
- Genesis 24:67
- Isaiah 51:2
Sarah in the New Testament
- Romans 4:19
- Romans 9:9
- Hebrews 11:11
- 1 Peter 3:6
- Galatians 4:22-31
5 Facts about Sarah from the Bible
Here are a few answers to popular questions about Sarah. It will help to give a little context as we discuss her life story.
Fact #1 – Meaning of Sarah in the Bible
Sarah is one of many characters in the Bible whose name was changed.
When we first meet her, her name is Sarai which means contentious.
But later in the story God changed her name to Sarah which means princess.
Because she was going to become the mother of many nations, God prepared her by changing her name.
The meaning of her name tells us that she was a honored family.
Fact #2 – What color was Sarah in the Bible?
Sarah was a Chaldean which is another name for Babylonian.
Many of these places in the Bible were located in Africa and the Near and Middle East. People traveled a lot between Asia and Africa.
Sarah and Abraham were more than likely people of color, as we would call it today.
Fact #3 – Who was Sarah’s husband in the Bible?
Abraham was Sarah’s husband. They both become the ancestors of the Israelite nation.
Fact #4 – Who was Sarah’s father?
Her father is not mentioned explicitly. We learn from Abraham that Sarah is his half sister.
They had two different mothers. There is some confusion about her lineage.
But if she had the same father as Abraham then her father would be….
Fact #5 – How old was Sarah in the Bible when she had a baby
Sarah was 90 years old when she had her baby Isaac. Her husband Abraham was 100 years old.
It was shortly before Isaac was born that God changed her name.
What are the characteristics of Sarah in the Bible
Like any other human being, Sarah had good and bad qualities. In this section we will review some of the strengths and weaknesses of Sarah in the Bible
Strengths of Sarah in the Bible
We will start with the positive characteristics of the Bible heroine of faith.
Sarah was absolutely beautiful
Sarah’s beauty in the Bible is one that makes her stand out.
Sarah was so beautiful that she did not even being out in the hot, dry, dirty desert affected her.
Even after a long journey, Abraham was still afraid that he would be killed for her because of how beautiful she was.
Even as Sarah was 90 years old, Abraham was still afraid that he could be killed for her.
It seems that she was more beautiful than Rebekah, Rachel, Esther, and Abigail. And Scripture comments on the beauty of all of these women.
Sarah’s beauty might have saved Abraham’s skin a few times as they traveled from place to place.
Sarah was a submissive and supportive wife
Sarah left the stability of life in Ur to live the nomadic life that God had called Abraham to live.
She was 65 years old, which was probably equal to our 20 somethings today. So she was quite young leaving her family behind.
This says something of Sarah’s submission to Abraham but more so her submission to God and his will for their lives.
In marriage when both people are submitted to God they are both walking in the same direction.
There is a lot that God can do through such a couple.
We also see her submission when she consented to give up her body to a heathen king.
This happened twice and twice she agreed to tell a half-truth.
She submitted to her husband’s plan to save his life on both occasions although this dishonored God.
Thankfully, God intervened and saved her both times from sin and defilement.
Sarah was a woman of faith
For Sarah to follow her husband’s call is one thing.
But for her to trust God for herself that was a whole other story.
Her faith sustained her as she traveled through many territories with her husband and encountered dangerous situations.
Her faith was far from perfect. Sarah came from a pagan background. That is what God her and Abraham from.
They both had a whole lot to learn about how God treats those who trust Him.
Sarah also recognized God’s hand in her childless state. For decades she waited un faith for God to fulfill the promise of giving her a son (more on this later).
In the book of Hebrews, Sarah is one of two women immortalized in the Hall of faith.
Sarah was hospitable
Although it was just proper practice at the time, this characteristic of Sarah should not be overlooked.
Not everyone subscribes to living out proper practices. Think Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sarah’s hospitality was demonstrated when strangers appeared at her home more than once.
In Genesis 18, three men turn up out of nowhere.
Abraham quickly runs to meet them and Sarah jumped into action to make cakes for them at Abraham’s request.
Meanwhile Abraham washed their feet and found the best animal to butcher for a meal
As readers of the story, we find out later that the three men are Jesus himself and two angels.
Sarah was an expert home manager
This particular characteristic of Sarah is implied throughout the story.
Abraham’s wealth was extraordinary. We often don’t point out this fact about him but he was rotten rich.
For a man like Abraham, his wife played an important role in making and managing his estate.
To manage this wealth, Abraham could not do it alone. While he had Eliezer, his trusted servant, Sarah was an important part of the daily process in their nomadic life.
We see evidence of this in the situation of Hagar. When Sarah gets upset, Abraham tells her that she’s in charge of the female slaves so Hagar’s fate is in her hands.
In general, among the responsibilities of women in Bible times was to grind grain into flour and make fabric for clothing so the entire household could be fed and clothed.
This was a considerable task because Abraham’s household was quite large
Sarah had the capacity to forgive
As I will talk about later, Sarah had quite a mean streak.
But she also had the capacity to forgive.
After the whole saga with Hagar, who ran away, Sarah shows that she was able to let bygones be bygones.
When Hagar returns and repents for her behavior, Sarah could have chosen to turn her out again.
But she didn’t.
Instead she accepted her back and allowed Hagar to humble herself.
Of course this does not mean that the relationship was any better but at least they were able to exist in the same environment for another almost 15 years.
The weaknesses of Sarah in the Bible
Sure enough, Sarah was not perfect. Let’s now talk about some of the negative qualities that we can see in the Bible about her.
Sarah did not accept responsibility
Although it was her idea to have a baby through Hagar, Sarah quickly blamed Abraham when things started to go south.
It’s like Adam and Eve all over again.
Sarah was the one who was facing harsh judgment from society for not having a baby.
She was the one who was under pressure to ensure that her husband had a biological son to inherit his wealth.
Notice that Abraham wanted a son but he was willing to give everything he owned to hid favored servant Eliezer.
Abraham was not necessarily interested in taking another wife.
Yet, Sarah failed to accept that her own yearning and lack of faith and disobedience led to a bad situation.
he decision she made to give Hagar to Abram – my wrong be upon you
Sarah was angry, selfish and cruel
Sarah didn’t see Hagar as a person equal to her. Hagar was her slave.
It was a common practice to use slave women as surrogates but even then, they were just a womb to host a baby and nothing else.
So, when Hagar’s attitude changed towards Sarah this is why Sarah felt no guilt about wanting to hurt Hagar severely.
The fact is, Hagar being pregnant with her master’s child had certain rights to protect her.
Sarah couldn’t kick her out just like that. So what did she do?
Treated her so badly that Hagar would get rid of herself by running away.
And Sarah didn’t seem to care if Hagar lived or died with her husband’s baby in her womb.
This is what can happen when insecurity creeps into our hearts and there is no godly filter for it.
Not only was Sarah’s authority being undermined by Hagar but Hagar’s behavior was a reminder that her womb had betrayed her womanhood.
It was a reminder that in spite of all her wealth, she was a disgraced woman.
We can become a whole other person and we can surprise ourselves by our true human condition when the deepest most vulnerable parts of us are challenged.
We are all capable of this kind of behavior, whether we are Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist.
But for God’s grace.
Sarah never accepted the baby that Hagar had for Abraham.
Ishmael would have been considered her son so it would have been her responsibility and privilege to name him.
Maybe God knew Sarah would not accept him so He named Ishmael himself.
Of course, there is another side to this part of the whole saga which I talk about separately in Hagar’s story.
Sarah was doubtful
When the 25 year old promise was repeated Sarah laughed in her heart.
It was a sign that her faith in God’s promise had waned so much that doubt crept in.
This displeased God greatly.
For without faith it is impossible to please God.
But in that moment, the Angel called her out on her doubt.
Is anything too hard for God to do?
She was so frightened that her thoughts were known that she denied it.
But then her faith was rekindled with the question.
The obvious answer is no, there is nothing too hard for God to do.
Marriage lessons from Abraham and Sarah
I like to think of Abraham and Sarah as the second most popular couple in the Bible, next to Adam and Eve.
Of course, they were people of faith with real issues. What can we learn about marriage and relationships from them?
Married life can be very unpredictable
For women who are married to men of strong faith and spiritual leaders, life can be unpredictable.
Sarah first got a taste of this.
When she married Abraham, they created their home in the land of Ur.
They knew which piece of land would be theirs, where their tents would be pitched, where their cattle would graze and where they would plant their grain.
Then, God called Abraham to get up and leave.
Suddenly, Sarah’s life changed. It went from stable and predictable to nomadic and unpredictable.
If you asked me, this is a major life change for any married couple to experience.
And based on their ages, they probably not married for very long before this giant change.
Sarah became a nomad with her husband because of God’s call on his life.
And for pretty much their whole marriage until her death, they were nomads.
All of a sudden she had to leave her family behind, give up predictability and routine, for an unplanned life.
Being married to a spiritual leader is very much like this.
You just never know where life will take you when you’re married to such a man.
It takes ALOT of faith to live like this. And that’s why if your married to a spiritual leader, having your own spiritual connection with God is not optional.
Zipporah was married to Moses. She could tell a bit about the life too.
Marriage is a spiritual journey
Marriage is a spiritual journey. Your spiritual personality is shaped by your marriage.
Twice Abraham and Sarah met a sticky situation while they were traveling.
Sarah was so beautiful that Abraham feared he would be killed and his wife added to the haram of the kings whose lands he was passing through.
Both times Abraham and Sarah agreed to lie to the kings by telling them they were brother and sister
Technically, this was a half truth but still a big fat lie of omission
When couples collude to disobey God, it’s often a bad spiritual sign.
Marriage is a salvation matter. Both Abraham and Sarah gave up their faith because of fear.
They didn’t believe that God could work things out for them while in a foreign country.
They just thought about cultural practices and didn’t acknowledge God as sovereign over all the cultures and customs of the earth.
It’s possible that they were young in their faith and didn’t realize that their safety was God’s interest too.
So they didn’t think he would intervene on their behalf.
On both occasions, God intervened and prevented Sarah from being sexually defiled by another man.
This act of disobedience and lack of faith for Abraham and Sarah is a lesson to couples.
Your spiritual personality is shaped by your marriage.
It is important that spiritual intimacy in marriage become a priority just like sex.
Marriage should result in a better spiritual experience for both individuals.
In this way, both of you will live out the calling and purpose for your life.
Men who truly love their wives allow themselves to be influenced by her
When a man truly loves a woman, she has power in his life.
And that’s because more than anything else, he wants to make her happy.
A man like this cares deeply about her wants, needs, and desires and he lives to make all that come true for.
Because of this, her influence over the decisions he makes is very strong.
And this is why When Sarah decided to run ahead of God by offering Hagar to Abraham, he went ahead with it.
Abraham wasn’t interested in being with another woman. He probably wanted to wait on God.
But he wanted to make Sarah happy.
As a woman, use your influence in your husband’s heart wisely.
Sarah’s shame about not having children overshadowed her faith and her influence wasn’t good. God’s will was dishonored.
As a wife, aim for God influence to be strong in your life so that your influence in your husband’s life can be godly.
More than anything, men want a peaceful home life
When contention broke out between Sarah and Hagar, Sarah blamed Hagar for the whole thing.
It is true that Sarah didn’t accept responsibility for the fact it was her idea in the first place to use Hagar as a surrogate.
Abraham doesn’t even defend himself. Or maybe we don’t have that detail in Scripture.
But what we do know is that he completely hands over the power to her to deal with the situation in the way she felt was best.
Then, he disappeared.
The next thing we know is that Hagar is running away.
Abraham might not have agreed with how Sarah dealt with it but usually whatever makes the wife happy will make him happy. And that’s what will happen.
His comfort is secondary to her happiness. He will give up his power and his rights just to have peace.
For most married men, their mantra is “happy wife, happy life”.
Couples make bad decisions together all the time. Don’t play the blame game.
When Sarah becomes so desperate to fulfill her desire for motherhood and to fulfill Abraham’s wish for a heir, she makes a decision.
Although giving Hagar to Abraham was her idea, this was a decision they made together.
If Abraham, as the head of his home and said no, the plan would have been forfeited.
When things go bad and Sarah blamed Abraham, she wasn’t being fair.
Couples make bad decisions together. It happens.
Adam and Eve did that. And before they knew it, there was plenty of blame to go around.
Blaming each other for the bad decisions you have made together is not good for your marriage.
It can breed resentment. This is a weapon of the enemy to destroy friendship and intimacy in marriage.
Instead, accept that you both erred. Embrace your human weakness of not always being able to judge a situation properly.
And then forgive yourselves for the mistake.
Just refuse to blame each other. Refuse to give the enemy a foothold in your marriage.
Marital problems can change the course of history and impact generations
Having a child by another woman produced a complicated home life for Abraham.
Although Ishmael belonged to him, it didn’t seem like Sarah accepted the boy as hers too.
This seemed almost like a blended family.
From the time Hagar was pregnant, she endured a great amount of stress.
From being abused by Sarah to running away to being treated badly throughout her life to being chased out of the home when Ishmael was 13 to him almost dying in the desert.
These events, both prenatal and postnatal events, shaped Ishmael’s personality and character.
God had told Hagar that he would never live a life of peace.
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. Genesis 16:12
God foresaw how his home life would make him aggressive and difficult to build meaningful relationships.
His environment produced a detached and angry child.
Ishmael became the father of the Arab nations while Isaac became one ancestor of the Jewish nation.
To this day, Ishmael and Isaac, the brothers and sons of Abraham, are still fighting.
Think of how Muslims, Jews and Christians struggle to get along although all of our belief systems started with Abraham.
Even among themselves, there is alot of violence in the community of Ishmael’s descendants.
In fact there is so much violence even among themselves.
Lessons from the story of Sarah and Hagar in the Bible
What can we learn from Sarah and Hagar? There are so many lessons.
I’ve only listed a few here. You can hop over to my complete blog post on Hagar for more lessons.
God’s plans for each of us is unique
Sarah tried to help God by giving Hagar to Abraham.
It was a common practice in those days.
And God allowed this for others of his servants. Like in the case of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.
But this was not in the cards for them. God specifically said the baby would come from their bodies.
That was God’s blue print and action for them.
God is like a parent. He deals with each of children differently.
There is somethings that God would allow and even approve for you that I would not be allowed to get away with.
When God is this specific, no other plan will do.
Sometimes our solutions cause more problems that God did not desire for us
Like Hannah, Sarah had the misfortune of being barren in a culture where having children was a must for women.
If a wife could not have children she would either have to find her husband another wife or use a slave as a surrogate.
Sarah chose the slave option.
Just like Penninah in Hannah’s story, Hagar became a thorn in Sarah’s flesh.
This was meant to be a solution to her baby problems but it only worsened a bad situation.
Part of the problem was that God didn’t approve this solution.
Another thing to notice is that Sarah allowed the situation with Hagar to get so far under her skin that it brought out the absolute worst in her.
Sarah got angry…and sinned.
Before you make major decisions, make sure it aligns with what God wants for you.
Otherwise, your life is bound to get more complicated. And you could lose your soul while you’re at it.
Poverty mindset can ruin people’s lives
Hagar was seen as a threat by Sarah.
She wanted to get rid of Hagar because she felt that Ishmael would get Isaac’s inheritance.
The truth is that based on customs, Ishmael was the first born of Abraham.
So for good reason, Sarah felt threatened.
But Sarah is like those with a poverty mindset.
Those who feel like they must destroy the life, opportunities and careers of those they think are threatening their own growth and wealth.
They fail to realize that God, the creator of the universe has uncountable ways to provide.
Opportunities and resources are never running out for God.
It might seem so in our human eyes but we never see the big picture that God has.
There is no need to fight over wealth. God’s blessings are bountiful and He will give it to whomever it pleases him to bless.
Look at it, Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, some of the wealthiest people on the planet.
Sarah’s actions never stood in the way of God’s blessings.
Yet, there are many other nations that are just as wealthy.
Spiritual Lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible
Here are a few lessons to learn from Sarah’s life and her spiritual experience with God.
Don’t try to help God and don’t run ahead of Him
Sarah had waited for so long that she couldn’t take it anymore.
She was getting old. Her husband was getting old.
Her disgraced life was just too much to tolerate. So she decided to solve her problem.
Sarah was getting older. Her childbearing years were running away. Her husband was getting old.
Her husband was wealthy. Who was going to inherit his wealth?
Sarah felt that she needed to do something or Abraham’s legacy would die.
There was no biological son to carry on the family name.
Giving Hagar to Abraham was Sarah trying to help God.
She believed that God would give them a son. She just didn’t believe it was going to be from her body.
So she ran ahead of God, putting her own interpretation of God’s promise into action.
As we can see, that didn’t turn out so well.
Don’t run ahead God. Trouble awaits.
If God gives a promise, no matter how impossible it looks, He has a trillion ways to make his words come to pass.
Your job is to keep believing.
Waiting in faith can be tiring and discouraging. You need patience.
This is what happened to Sarah and Abraham.
They became weary in faith. Their patience was wearing thin.
Chances are that if God had not promised them a baby, they would have used a surrogate earlier than Hagar.
But they waited and waited and waited…
Think about it….
Sarah was 65 years old when God called Abraham and gave them the promise. Abraham was 75.
God kept repeating the promise that they would have a son.
12 years passed.
Sarah decided to help the promise along by using Hagar as a surrogate.
But even after Hagar birthed Ishmael they still had to wait 13 more years.
25 years worth of waiting!
Sarah was 90 years old when God fulfilled his promise.
What do you do when waiting in faith becomes hard?
- Bible promises – repeat them over and over and over. Remind yourself of what God said to you until you believe it again. Affirm yourself to the promises
- Journal – Sometimes it helps to express to God frankly exactly how you feel and write out Scriptures to encourage yourself.
- Write out what what do you have to lose by waiting on God.
- Review the consequences of not waiting on God. Read related Bible stories as well as real life stories.
Sarah’s situation was to bring God glory
At Sarah’s age, it should have been impossible to get pregnant.
Scripture says she was old and had passed childbearing age.
This means she had stopped menstruation and was now menopausal.
This is why Sarah’s laugh is such an important part of the story.
In human eyes, this promise had gone from glowing to ridiculous.
All of 25 years had passed.
Why would God wait to fulfill this promise when it was now pretty much impossible.
And that is exactly how God wanted it.
You see, God wanted there to be no mistake about whether or not this was from him. About whether or not this was the promised child.
This was no work of human effort. It was all God. Nobody could claim dibs on this here miracle.
God hears the depth of our hearts and thoughts
Sarah’s laugh is always interesting to look into.
The funny thing is this….
The bible says she laughed in her heart.
Her laugh wasn’t audible.
Plus, she was inside the tent while the visitors were outside the tent.
Only God could hear something that happened in the heart.
That’s one reason we know it was Jesus himself out there talking to Abraham.
And he didn’t let it slide. He let Abraham know that He knew what was going on in her heart.
This is why prayer is so powerful.
God knows every thought you think. So if your lips say something different than your heart when you pray, He knows.
Might as well be completely honest.
God won’t judge you for your humanness.
And even better, being completely honest increases your intimacy with him.
And that’s what he wants more than anything else.
Don’t give up just yet
Sarah believed God until the shine and excitement wore off the promise.
Sarah thought, “when I was young and beautiful and menstruating, the promise wasn’t fulfilled. Now that I’m old and dried up and can hardly enjoy sex, now is when I’m going to get pregnant? That just doesn’t make sense.”
But she was having these thoughts just when God was about to make it happen.
Do you know the story 3 feet from gold?
Don’t give up on God just yet. And don’t stop believing now.
Just when it looks impossible is when He fulfills His promise.
If God makes a promise, his word never returns to him unfulfilled because He watches over his word to fulfill it.
God stands by His word regardless of our lack of faith
Why did Sarah laugh?
Sarah struggled to keep believing. Actually, towards the end, she straight up doubted God.
Her laugh was of skepticism and incredibility.
She had already lived a shameful childless life and her body told her it was possible to change that anymore.
Her dignity as a woman had already been stripped from her. In her mind it was beyond recovery.
But God kept repeating the promise.
Her doubting never stopped God from fulfilling His words.
When we are faithless he is faithful Timothy 2:13
Thank you Jesus.
God’s faithfulness does not rest on our fickle, wavering faith.
God gives us what we need to do His will
God told Sarah that she would be regenerated.
She was passed menstruation and menopause but God would do a work in her body to make pregnancy possible.
If God has allowed science to discover how to do that today, then back then He could do it himself.
Do you feel like you don’t have what you need to do what God is asking you to do?
Just wait a while. He will regenerate or send you the resources.
Introduction to the right people.
Free up some time in your schedule.
Help you get your degrees and certifications.
Whatever you need, He will equip you.
Because there is nothing too hard for God to do.
The main lesson we can learn from Sarah in the Bible
If nothing else, we should remember Sarah’s trust in God.
Leave a legacy of faith.
25 years is a very very veeeeery long time to wait for God to fulfill his word.
Despite her struggles in life, Sarah stands as one of the biblical giants of faith.
Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age because she judged him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)
There are so many people in the Bible whose faith was imperfect but God still allowed their stories to be preserved for us.
How about you?
If the Bible were to be rewritten, would your story make the cut?
What does Sarah symbolize?
Sarah is very important in the Bible because of what she represents in the story of salvation.
In Galatians 4, the Apostle Paul is trying to explain the difference between living by grace and living under the law.
He used an analogy drawing in Hagar and Sarah.
In this analogy Sarah symbolizes those who live in freedom from sin under God’s grace.
In Jewish practices, Sarah represents the model wife.
What happened to Sarah in the Bible?
Sarah lived to be 127 years old. Abraham wept and grieved her loss deeply. And so did Isaac who was about 37 years old when Sarah died.
After she passed away, Abraham bought a cave in the land of Canaan in which he buried Sarah.
Many other family members we know were buried there as well: Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Jacob.
Final words on lessons from the life of Sarah in the Bible
I hope you enjoyed this Bible study on Sarah. There is still so much we didn’t talk about.
But be sure to check out the study on Hagar to get another side of this saga.
Sarah is one of the most powerful matriarchs of the Bible.
She is one of only two women mentioned in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.
Despite her weaknesses, Sarah has emerged as a hero of faith.
We can do the same. She was an ordinary woman with an ordinary life and ordinary dreams.
She made ordinary mistakes too that changed the course of history. But each day you and I do the same thing.
And each day we get to leave stories of faith as testimonies to those who will follow us.