The story of Hagar in the Bible is one of the most heartbreaking. If it were a movie, there would be no dry eyes for much of it but it would end with promise and hope. There is so much encouragement in Hagar’s story. Let’s get into it.
What is the story of Hagar
Here is a very quick summary of the story of Hagar in the Bible.
Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarah, Abrahams wife. After more than a decade of not being able to get pregnant, Sarah used Hagar as a surrogate.
As soon as Hagar realized she was pregnant, her attitude towards Sarah changed for the worse. She became disrespectful and rotten.
Sarah abused her terribly because of that and Hagar ran away. God met her in the desert, talked with her and encouraged to return home, apologize, and humble herself.
She had her baby but 13 years later, Sarah had Abraham expel her from their home. Hagar’s son almost died of thirst in the desert but God showed up and saved his life.
Hagar went on to raise her son who became a giant of a man in history.
Read on to find out the details and the lessons.
Hagar in the Bible verses
The history of Hagar in the Bible spans both the Old and New Testaments.
If you would like to read her story through for yourself before starting this study, see these Bible verses:
- Genesis 16:1-16
- Genesis 21:8-21
- Genesis 25:12
- Galatians 4:24-25
FAQs about the story Hagar in the Bible
Hagar in the Bible meaning
The name Hagar means stranger. And might as well. She was an Egyptian. Although she lived with Abraham and Sarah for decades she was always considered an outsider.
Who was Hagar’s son in the Bible
Hagar’s son was Ishmael. (More on this later)
Where did Hagar come from?
Hagar came from Egypt.
She was a gift to Abraham and Sarah when they traveled through there on one of their nomadic treks across the desert. They got Hagar from one of the Pharaoh’s they met.
Genesis 12:16: He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
Characteristics of Hagar in the Bible
Like any other human being, Hagar had her strength and weaknesses. Let’s look at some qualities of Hagar in the Bible.
Hagar was proud
Hagar was Sarah’s servant girl. When she became pregnant with Abraham’s son, she went from being humble to being conceited.
In those days, a woman’s ability to have children was tied to many things.
One belief was that God showed favor to women by giving them children but showed disfavor by preventing women from having children.
So Hagar developed a problem with pride because she thought she had God’s favor and Sarah didn’t.
Additionally, it is likely that Hagar’s status would have been elevated from slave to a legitimate wife.
Technically, Hagar was more of a concubine.
She was never going to be equal to Sarah because she was Sarah’s slave.
But even better is this…
Hagar’s son would be the heir to Abraham’s wealth!
And what an inheritance it was warming up to be! Abraham was rotten rich!
Granted, the child would legally belong to Sarah but now, Hagar would have some more rights and she couldn’t be gotten rid of so easily.
Or so she thought (more on this late).
Hagar became mean and disrespectful and no longer saw Sarah as being in charge of her.
Nobody says that Hagar couldn’t celebrate this good fortune.
Hagar allowed her blessing to get to her head and she became lifted up in her heart.
Hagar was courageous and strong
Hagar didn’t have an easy life but she was some woman.
When she ran away from Sarah, she tried to go back to Egypt.
In her pregnant state, she tried to brave the desert.
Imagine her alone, tracking across the desert.
Refusing to die out there.
No food in hand.
Little to no water.
If God had not met her beside that stream, she would have made it back home.
This was really perseverance and bravery.
Some women get frozen and trapped in abuse.
Unable to build up the courage to run.
Robbed of their inner strength to save themselves.
She braved death to see if she could reclaim her freedom and her peace.
Hagar was teachable
Although she had a pride problem, Hagar was not beyond saving.
Hagar knew that she had provoked Sarah.
She knew that the position she was in was a direct result of the decisions she had made.
She knew she had to accept a part of the blame for where she was in life.
And she also knew what she needed to do to make things right.
Here’s the thing…
Hagar could have chosen to keep moving towards Egypt. She could have told Jesus that she was not interested in going back to Sarah.
But she did not.
She chose to be obedient to God’s direction. She submitted herself to His sovereign will for her life.
When she met Jesus out there in the hot, dry, dusty desert, Hagar experienced a transformation.
Her pride melted away and was replaced by humility.
Because when we meet Jesus, we are never the same.
Hagar had strong faith
Based on Hagar’s background, coming out of Egypt meant that she did not worship the God of heaven.
She likely worshipped idols. But living with Abraham and Sarah would’ve changed that.
Hagar more than likely came to believe in God.
So when Jesus showed up to talk with her, she knew exactly what was going on.
And she gave God a name – The God Who Sees Me.
When Jesus tells her to return home, He also tells her exactly what would become of her and her unborn son.
She wasn’t going to die. Her life was probably not going to be easy BUT she was going to live.
And so would her son.
Not only was he going to live but he was going to experience the abundance that Abraham was blessed with.
When Hagar decided to be obedient and return home, she did so believing these words from God himself.
Lessons learned from Hagar
What can we learn from the story of Hagar in the Bible? Her story is packed with life lessons, both practical and spiritual.
Let’s look at a few.
Life lessons from the story of Hagar in the Bible
Remain humble in your blessings
The first life lesson from the story of Hagar in the Bible has to do with humility.
Your blessings doesn’t mean God has not blessed others.
When Hagar realized she was pregnant, she became proud because of her ideas about how God shows favor.
Sarah fell for it and responded with cruelty.
God’s favor doesn’t look the same for everyone. Nor does it arrive at the same time for us all.
Sarah waited 25 years for her blessing of a baby to arrive.
Blessings are never a good reason to think of yourself as better than others.
God is like a parent with billions of children. He will not treat all of us the same way.
As you interact with others, remember that God has a plan for their blessings as well as yours. Each is unique.
When God has lifted you up, remain humble.
After you’ve graduated with that degree…
After you have gotten that promotion…
After you have gotten that spouse and had a blast at your wedding…
After your womb has been fruitful with children…
After your business has seen profit…
After you’ve purchased that dream house…
After you have gotten that sweet dream ride…
After you’ve lost the weight and you look like a million bucks…
…stay humble. I promise, there is nothing to lose.
It’s important to recognize when we are wrong
The second life lesson from the story of Hagar in the Bible is: know when you have made a mistake and admit it.
As I said before. Hagar changed when she realized she had received the blessing of fertility.
Her humility turned to disdain and disrespect and disregard towards Sarah.
I imagine she no longer wanted to do any work around the tent or refused to do certain tasks.
I imagine her attitude was rotten and her language was dripping with hurtful words about Sarah not being able to have children.
Hagar had willfully provoked Sarah.
These behaviors are never OK under any situation.
Although it might seem justified, dishing out bad behavior isn’t the best way to deal with a bad situation.
Interestingly, when Jesus shows up to talk to her, Hagar confessed that she ran away but she didn’t confess that she had provoked and hurt Sarah.
She didn’t acknowledge her role in creating the sticky situation she was in.
But God knows everything.
So Jesus’ command to her wasn’t surprising.
Jesus told Hagar to repent and go back home and submit to Sarah.
This wasn’t to say she should go back to being abused.
The direction was for her to take a different spiritual path.
Hagar was to apologize, humble herself in her position, and wait for the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning her son.
Spiritual Lessons from the story of Hagar in the Bible
God cares about the prideful
When Hagar ran away from home because of the brutality of Sarah, the Angel of the Lord showed up.
Bible scholars say that this was Jesus himself who showed up and talked with her.
Hagar wasn’t in the right here. But God did not leave her to perish.
She had been railroaded by her pride but God showed her the way back.
God loved even this prideful woman.
And He still does today.
Feeling betrayed by your pride?
Don’t let your heart condemn you because God is greater than your heart.
God has a plan for the unplanned
Although Hagar’s son was not a part of God’s original plan, He did not withhold the blessing.
He told Hagar what would be the future of her child.
God even told her what to name the boy: Ishmael. The name means God will hear.
Once God has put a label on someone, rest assured that a plan is afoot.
God values every single life, even the ones that come from unplanned and unapproved situations.
It’s interesting how the promises about Abraham’s seed was similar.
The promised son, Isaac, would become a great nation and so would Ishmael.
Ishmael became the father of the Arabs.
And Hagar is the matriarch of the Muslims.
God sees everyone in every situation
There is no doubt that when Hagar ran away she felt alone and lonely.
In fact she might have felt that loneliness from the time she was being brutalized by Sarah.
Nobody, not even Abraham stuck up for her.
She was insignificant as a servant girl. Nobody saw her. She mattered to nobody.
But when Jesus showed up she realized that she was not alone. That she mattered to someone. She mattered to the King of the universe.
So Hagar identifies him as El Roi, meaning The God Who Sees.
Nothing escapes God’s eyes.
God sees that abusive boss, stubborn child, difficult husband, uncomfortable living situation, wicked family members.
God sees when you feel like you can’t get our of bed, when you feel crawling under a rock when you feel like hiding from the world.
God meets us where we are, wherever that is
Hagar’s pride had landed her in the desert. She was a mess.
Hot. Tired. Thirsty. Distressed. Depressed.
But God met here there. In the messy situation she was in.
And Hagar was changed and empowered by her God encounter.
Her pride turned to submission.
But what’s even more powerful is that her faith was boosted in a major way.
Imagine you are experiencing one of the lowest lows in your life.
Imagine you are walking through one of the darkest valleys in your life..
….and God himself shows up.
You know you probably don’t deserve his grace because your mistakes landed you at rock bottom.
But God shows up to talk with you, face to face!
In your mess, when you are at your worst, God is interested in your life!
Hagar declared that she felt seen by God.
And that’s truly who God is.
He sees us, no matter where we are or what we are doing.
And you know what else?
When our faith needs some reassurance God knows.
And He shows up to help us know that He is still around and He sees us, individually.
As Hagar returned to Sarah, now she knew that God would be with her.
Hagar was absolutely sure she would never need to fight her battles alone.
Lessons from the story of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert
When Hagar’s story takes another tragic twist, God shows up again. What a God! Here are a few lessons we can learn from this tragedy turned triumph.
God hears the prayers of children and teenagers
Ishmael was 13 years old and dying from hunger and thirst in the desert.
When Hagar gave up and moved away from him so that she wouldn’t have to watch him die, Ishmael himself prayed.
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:17-18
God heard his cry and stepped in.
Ishmael harnessed the power of his name to cry out to God.
Remember God’s promises in the hard times
Thirteen years earlier when Hagar ran away from home to escape Sarah, Jesus appeared to Hagar.
He not only named her unborn son but He also outlined his future to Hagar.
Ishmael would become a great nation.
As she was in the desert, she did not seem to remember this.
The situation looked bad.
No food. No water. Scorching desert heat.
Ishmael was about to die.
But God stepped in and resolved this situation.
First, God reminded her of the promise:
Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. Genesis 21:18
Then, all of a sudden, Hagar noticed a well in front of her.
Because God does not make empty promises. And He does not lie. And He does not break promises.
No matter how long it takes, God fulfills His words.
Though we might never understand why, God often shows up on the brink of death and failure. At the very last minute. At the lowest of lows. At rock bottom.
And that’s you have to remember God’s promises during these times because the darkest valleys is when God shows up to fulfill Hid word.
Sometimes all you have is God
Hagar and her son Ishmael knew what it was to have nobody.
As they left the safety and wealth of Abraham’s presence, they opened to the elements. Literally and figuratively.
Ishmael almost died from thirst in that deadly desert heat.
But what’s more is that anything could have happened to them.
They had zero survival skills.
They were two very vulnerable people – a woman who had no man to cover her and a young boy.
They could easily have been enslaved if found.
They had no friends. No extended family to run to. No money saved up in the bank. Not a sheep or a donkey.
Nothing but a water bottle.
But all they had was God
And that was sufficient.
God covered them.
God provided for them.
God sustained them.
Single mothers in this world have hope because Hagar teaches that it’s fine if all you have is your faith and trust in Almighty God.
You’re going to be OK.
What happened to Hagar in the Bible?
Hagar and Ishmael survived the near death experience in the wilderness.
God stayed with them as they lived in the desert. Genesis 21
Hagar raised him and found him an Egyptian wife. He became a skilled hunter.
Ishmael had 12 sons like Jacob so God did fulfill his promise to make him a great nation as well.
Each of his sons became a tribe and had their own settlements and camps near Egypt. Genesis 25.
Ishmael lived to be 137 years old. His legacy is the Arabs and the Islamic believers.
There is a great possibility that the hagrites in the bible are also descendants of Hagar.
There is no record of Hagar’s death in the Bible. Some say Keturah, Abraham’s wife after Sarah’s death, is Hagar. But there is no way to verify this.
What does Hagar represent in the Bible?
The Apostle Paul makes reference to Hagar in Galatians 4 in the New Testament.
He was trying to explain the difference between living under the law of God versus living under the grace of God.
In his anology, Hagar is called the bond woman or the slave woman.
Paul intended Hagar to represent those who believed that keeping the laws of God would save their souls.
Hagar also represents the scorned and rejected of society. Those who have been physically and sexually abused. God is always looking out for them.
For some whose ancestors have a history of enslavement, Hagar represents those who have suffered slavery.
Final words on the story of Hagar in the Bible
This was good. My prayer is that you learned some new things and received some encouragements.
Go back and read Hagar’s story again but this time with some fresh eyes. Do a brand new character study of Hagar.
Find a good Hagar Bible study you know you could enjoy and dive even deeper. There is so much to learn from her life.