Early in the morning, Abraham got up, took bread and a skin of water, put them on Hagar's shoulders, and sent her away with the boy. She left and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.
1. Entire obedience.
2. Kind and gentle consideration for Sarah and Hagar.
3. Strong faith; he committed her to God according to his word.
4. The master and the servant at the door of the house in the early morning; the master himself placing the bottle of water on the bondwoman's shoulder as a sign of continued affinity. God commands separations. In obedience to him they may involve severe struggle with self. Should still be carried out with as little wounding of human affections as possible. - R.
And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-shebaI. THE OUTCAST. AS Abraham is the father of all the faithful, so the Arab Ishmael is the father of all our outcasts. He was an impudent boy, who mocked his betters, and became " a wild ass of a man," whose hand was against every man. Do not despise the poor outcast children of our cities. Respect them for their sorrows; take them into your pity; let them find a home in your heart. For are we not all outcasts, the children of Adam the outcast? And are we not the followers of Him who makes the outcasts of earth the inmates of heaven?
II. THE GOD OF THE OUTCAST. The highest kindness is to be personally interested in us, and to meet our wants. And God showed such kindness to Ishmael (ver. 17). God pities most those who most need pity; and so should you.
III. THE ANGEL OF THE OUTCAST. It is part of angel's work to cheer and save the outcast. A church near Dijon contains a monument with a group of the Bible prophets and kings, each holding a scroll of mourning from his writings. But above is a circle of angels who look far sadder than the prophets whose words they read. They see more in the sorrows than the men below them see. The angels see the whole of the sins and sorrows of the young, and so rejoice more than we can do over the work of God among them. The orphans of society are cast upon the fatherhood of God, and He wishes them to be the children of our adoption.
IV. THE ALLEGORY OF THE OUTCAST. Look at that lad in the desert perishing of thirst, and a fountain at his side. Are you not a spiritual Ishmael to-day, a wanderer upon life's highway, perishing of thirst at the side of the fountains of living water? Earth is a sandy desert, which holds nothing that can slake your soul's thirst. But Jesus Christ has opened the fountain of life, and now it is at your very side.
II. THEY WERE ALSO FULFILLING GOD'S PURPOSES CONCERNING HUMAN SALVATION,
III. YET THEY WERE NOT SHUT OUT FROM THE FAVOURS AND HELP OF PROVIDENCE.
1. His Providence interfered when they were at their worst extremity.
2. His Providence was administered with touches of human tenderness.
3. His Providence made use of natural means.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. "The way of transgressors is hard."
2. God is "not far from every one of us."
3. "God is no respecter of persons."
4. It echoes the words, "Them that honour Me I will honour."
I. MAN'S EXTREMITY IS GOD'S OPPORTUNITY. The darkest hour proceeds the dawn. We are never beyond Divine help.
II. BANE AND BLESSING ARE OFTEN NEAR EACH OTHER. The antidotes of various poisons grow close beside them. Mercies are contiguous to miseries.
III. DIVINE HELP IS ALWAYS KIND AND APPROPRIATE. God not only provided water, but, as one suggests, in such a way as to meet every want of the two sufferers.
1. He gave Hagar something to do for her boy.
2. He reminded Hagar of His aid to others. A well showed that dwellers had been in the desert before her. Biography is a "well" telling of heaven's blessing upon those who have preceded us.
3. He made a glorious promise to Hagar.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
Homilist.I. THAT HUMAN LIFE IS HIGHLY ESTIMATED IN HEAVEN.
1. It is not valued according to the locality in which it is placed.
2. It is not judged according to social standing.
3. It is not judged according to the human standard of usefulness.
II. THAT SUPERNATURAL POWER IS MANIFESTED, SUSTAINING AND SUPPORTING LIFE.
1. At times this power seems to come unexpectedly.
2. It is manifested when all earthly resources fail.
3. This supernatural power is generally exerted in, conjunction with human efforts. Hagar had to go to the well; the water did not come to her.
(Homilist.)1. I learn from this Oriental scene, in the first place, what a sad thing it is when people do not know their place, and get too proud for their business. Hagar was an assistant in that household, but she wanted to rule there. She ridiculed and jeered until her son, Ishmael, got the same tricks. My friends, one-half of the trouble in the world today comes from the fact that people do not know their place; or, finding their place, will not stay in it.
2. Again: I find in this Oriental scene a lesson of sympathy with woman when she goes forth trudging in the desert. What a great change it was for this Hagar. There was the tent, and all the surroundings of Abraham's house, beautiful and luxurious no doubt. Now she is going out into the hot sands of the desert. O, what a change it was. And in our day, we often see the wheel of fortune turn. Here is a beautiful home. You cannot think of anything that can be added to it. Books to read. Pictures to look at. Dark night drops. Pillow hot. Pulses flutter. Eyes close. Widowhood. Hagar in the wilderness! May God have mercy upon woman in her toils, her struggles, her hardships, her desolation, and may the great heart of Divine sympathy enclose her for ever.
3. Again: I find in this Oriental scene, the fact that every mother leads forth tremendous destinies. You say: " That isn't an unusual scene, a mother leading her child by the hand." Who is that she is leading? Ishmael, you say. Who is Ishmael? A great nation is to be founded; a nation so strong that it is to stand for thousands of years against all the armies of the world. Egypt and Assyria thunder against it; but in vain. Gaulus brings up his army; and his army is smitten. Alexander decides upon a campaign, brings up his hosts and dies. For a long while that nation monopolizes the learning of the world. It is the nation of the Arabs. Who founded it? Ishmael, the lad that Hagar led into the wilderness. She had no idea she was leading forth such destinies. Neither does any mother. A good many years ago, A christian mother sat teaching lessons of religion to her child; and he drank in those lessons. She never knew that Lamphier would come forth and establish the Fulton-street prayer-meeting, and by one meeting revolutionize the devotions of the whole earth, and thrill the eternities with his Christian influence. Lamphier said it was his mother who brought him to Jesus Christ. She never had an idea that she was leading forth such destinies. I tell you there are wilder deserts than Beer-sheba in many of the fashionable circles of this day. Dissipated parents leading dissipated children. Avaricious parents leading avaricious children.
4. I learn one more lesson from this Oriental scene, and that is, that every wilderness has a well in it. Hagar and Ishmael gave up to die. Hagar's heart sank within her as she heard her child crying: "Water! water! water!" "Ah," she says, "my darling, there is no water. This is a desert." And then God's angel said from the cloud: " What aileth thee, Hagar?" And she looked up and saw him pointing to a well of water, where she filled the bottle for the lad. Blessed be God that there is in every wilderness a well, if you only know how to find it — fountains for all these thirsty souls this morning. "On that last day, on that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried: If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink." All these other fountains you find are mere mirages of the desert.
(Dr. Talmage.)I. DRIVEN FROM HOME.
1. Ishmael's fault.
2. Sarah's anger.
3. God's decree. His will is supreme over all human arrangements.
II. DISTRESSED IN THE WILDERNESS. Where is her pride now, her petulance, jealousy, anger?
III. DELIVERED BY GOD.
1. God heard the voice of the lad.
2. God opened her eyes.
3. God was with the lad.Lessons:
1. God rules.
2. God pities.
3. God saves.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)I. THE EXPULSION.
1. Of whom? Hagar, the bondwoman, and Ishmael, Abraham's son. Type of those who are cast out spiritually. Bondslaves of sin, whom the truth has not made free (Galatians 4:31; Job 8:36).
2. By whom? Abraham; at Sarah's request, and by the Lord's direction. With a human pity for Hagar, he yet obeyed God. The event eminently instructive to us. Servants of the law shall not, as such, divide with the free children the promises and blessings of the gospel; they are for the heirs of Christ, the Son who has made us free.
3. Wherefore? Because of the mocking of the son of the free woman. God will avenge his own elect. Mockers are cast out. Isaac mocked for his child-like attachment to his mother; and the seed of Abraham this day mocked for their attachment to Christ.
4. How? Kindly, pitifully. Food for the journey was given. The bond have their good things in this life. Even they are blessed so far.
5. Whither? Egypt, the house of bondage, their destination. The bond journey through a wilderness to a prison.
II. THE JOURNEY. Through the wilderness of Beer-sheba. Drear, desolate, lonely. The home where they might have been happy, behind; before them — Egypt. Ishmael, fainting and weary, likely to die. The mother's solicitude. Cannot bear to see him die. The death of the free, beautiful, attractive. Religious analogy. The world cannot bear to see its loved ones die. Tenderness of mothers.
III. THE INTERPOSITION.
1. God heard the lad. He "hears our sighs and counts our tears." His compassions fail not.
2. The voice of the angel. Comforting, guiding. Exhorted to hope or duty.
3. The promise. The lad should not die. The only word that could comfort that mother's heart.
4. The well of water. Gracious provision for the bondwoman and her son.
5. The bondwoman and her son did not go down into Egypt. They remained in the wilderness; became the founders of a great nation. God would not have any perish.Learn:
1. The sin and folly of despising Christ and his people.
2. The mercy of God to even such thoughtless sinners.
3. The strength of maternal affection, and duties of youth.
4. He maketh streams to flow in the desert. The river of life is not far from us; "Whosoever will, let him come unto Me and drink."
V. We need Divine grace to open our eyes that we may see this stream.
(J. C. Gray.)
1. As a mere matter of fact there are events in human life which cannot but affect us with a sense of disorder in the government and administration of things, if, indeed, there be either government or administration. One is taken, another left. One moves upwards to wealth and honour, another is neither prosperous by day nor restful by night. You may take one of two views of this state of facts.(a) Life is a scramble; the strong man wins; the weak man dies; luck is the only god, chance is the only law, death the only end. The disorder of human life mocks the order of material nature. Or thus:(b) There must be a power mightier than man's, controlling and shaping things. Looking at human history in great breadths we see that even confusion itself is not lawless; it is a discord in the solemn music; it is an eccentricity in the astronomic movement; but it is caught up by the great laws, and wrought into the general harmony; above all, beyond all, there is a benign and holy power. Now from my point of view it requires less faith to believe this than to believe the other.
2. As a further matter of fact in human life, there are cases marked by utter despair, for which it seems utterly impossible that any deliverance can ever arise. Hagar's is a case in point. Her water was spent. The hot sun was beating on her head. Ishmael was faint with weakness. No human friend answered the appealing voice. Some of us may have been in the same circumstances as to their effect upon the soul. When you were left a widow with six children — no fortune, the water gone, the children crying for bread, the officer at the door, you wished to die; you were subdued by a great fear. But I ask you, in God's house, if there were not made to you sudden revelations, or given to you unexpected promises that brought light to the weary and hopeless heart? How did friends appear, how were doors opened, how did the boys get a little schooling and get their first chance in life? Are you the person now to turn round and say that it all came by chance, or will you not rather exclaim, "This is the Lord's doing; I was brought low and He helped me"? And what men God trains in the wilderness 1 It would seem as if great destinies often had rough beginnings!
3. You will bear me witness, as a further matter of fact, that life is full of surprises and improbabilities, and that the proverb, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity," is supported by innumerable instances. "God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water." She expected to die, and lo! she never was so sure of life. These surprises not only save life from monotony; they keep us, if rightly valued, lowly, expectant, dependent. They operate in two contrary ways — lifting up man, and casting him down.
4. As a matter of fact, the men who seem to be the most prosperous have trials of a heavy and most disciplinary kind.
(J. Parker, D. D.)Him.
(H. G. Salter.)
PeopleAbimelech, Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Phichol, Sarah
PlacesBeersheba, Egypt, Gerar, Paran
TopicsAlong, Astray, Beersheba, Beer-sheba, Bottle, Boy, Bread, Child, Departed, Desert, Early, Exodus, Flask, Giveth, Got, Hagar, Lad, Morning, Placing, Putting, Riseth, Rose, Shoulder, Shoulders, Skin, Strayed, Taketh, Wandered, Wandering, Waste, Water-skin, Wilderness
Outline1. Isaac is born, and circumcised.
6. Sarah's joy.
8. Isaac is weaned.
9. Hagar and Ishmael sent away.
15. Hagar in distress.
17. The angel relieves and comforts her.
23. Abimelech's covenant with Abraham at Beersheba.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 21:14
LibraryCompassion for Souls
Behold the compassion of a mother for her child expiring with thirst, and remember that such a compassion ought all Christians to feel towards souls that are perishing for lack of Christ, perishing eternally, perishing without hope of salvation. If the mother lifted up her voice arid wept, so also should we; and if the contemplation of her dying, child was all too painful for her, so may the contemplation of the wrath to come, which is to pass upon every soul that dies impenitent, become too painful …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871
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