Genesis 21:14
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.
HagarT. R. Stevenson.Genesis 21:14
HagarJ. C. Gray.Genesis 21:14
Hagar and Ishmael in DistressHomilistGenesis 21:14
Hagar in the WildernessDr. Talmage.Genesis 21:14
IshmaelJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 21:14
Ishmael, the Bondwoman's SonW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 21:14
The Expulsive Power of Love to ChristH. G. Salter.Genesis 21:14
The Sorrows of the OutcastsT. H. Leale.Genesis 21:14
The Story of Hagar and IshmaelJ. Wells.Genesis 21:14
The Separation of the Bondwoman's So, from the Promised SeedR.A. Redford Genesis 21:8-21

It was necessary that this should take place for the accomplishment of the Divine plan. Human conduct is employed, as in so many other cases, as the instrument or occasion. There was mockery or unbelief in Ishmael. It was not personal merely, but a mockery of Jehovah and of his Church. Sarah saw it. The mother's keen affections were sharpened to detect the scorn of her joy. Abraham and Sarah were both severely tried. Their lack of faith must yield fruit of sorrow. The separation was pain to the father, but it was part of the gracious work of God for Isaac. Abraham was being prepared by such discipline for his great climax of trial. There is beautiful tenderness and simplicity in Abraham's conduct (Ver. 14). It is -

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-sheba
I. 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.

(J. Wells.)




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.)

A suggestive narrative, illustrating various Scriptures.

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.)


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.


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.


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.)


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?


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.)


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.


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.)

The first feeling we have in reading the story of Hagar and Ishmael is that they were both most cruelly used. The next feeling is that surely we do not know the whole case. It must be only the outside that we see. Behind all this there must be something we do not fully understand. When the first flush of anger dies away I begin to wonder whether there may not be something behind which, when known, will explain everything, and add to this confused and riotous life of ours a solemnity and a grandeur supernatural! Through this incident, as through a door ajar, we may see a good deal of human life on what may be called its tragical side.

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.)

Love to Christ will not suffer the near neighbourhood of anything in its bosom that is derogatory to Christ; either it will reduce or abandon it, be it pleasure, profit, or whatever else. Abraham, who loved Hagar and Ishmael in their due place, when the one began to jostle with her mistress, and the other to jeer and mock at Isaac, he puts them both out of doors; love to Christ will not suffer thee to side with anything against Christ, but take His part with Him against any that oppose Him.

(H. G. Salter.)

Abimelech, Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Phichol, Sarah
Beersheba, Egypt, Gerar, Paran
Along, 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
1. 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 Themes
Genesis 21:14

     4230   desert

Genesis 21:8-14

     5076   Abraham, life of

Genesis 21:9-14

     5077   Abraham, character

Genesis 21:14-15

     5234   bottle

Genesis 21:14-19

     4293   water

Compassion 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

Therefore, if we Compare the Things Themselves, we May no Way Doubt that The...
28. Therefore, if we compare the things themselves, we may no way doubt that the chastity of continence is better than marriage chastity, whilst yet both are good: but when we compare the persons, he is better, who hath a greater good than another. Further, he who hath a greater of the same kind, hath also that which is less; but he, who only hath what is less, assuredly hath not that which is greater. For in sixty, thirty also are contained, not sixty also in thirty. But not to work from out that
St. Augustine—On the Good of Marriage

The Gospel Feast
"When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?"--John vi. 5. After these words the Evangelist adds, "And this He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do." Thus, you see, our Lord had secret meanings when He spoke, and did not bring forth openly all His divine sense at once. He knew what He was about to do from the first, but He wished to lead forward His disciples, and to arrest and
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

Of Bearing the Cross --One Branch of Self-Denial.
The four divisions of this chapter are,--I. The nature of the cross, its necessity and dignity, sec. 1, 2. II. The manifold advantages of the cross described, sec. 3-6. III. The form of the cross the most excellent of all, and yet it by no means removes all sense of pain, sec. 7, 8. IV. A description of warfare under the cross, and of true patience, (not that of philosophers,) after the example of Christ, sec. 9-11. 1. THE pious mind must ascend still higher, namely, whither Christ calls his disciples
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life

But if Moreover any not Having Charity, which Pertaineth to the Unity of Spirit...
23. But if moreover any not having charity, which pertaineth to the unity of spirit and the bond of peace whereby the Catholic Church is gathered and knit together, being involved in any schism, doth, that he may not deny Christ, suffer tribulations, straits, hunger, nakedness, persecution, perils, prisons, bonds, torments, swords, or flames, or wild beasts, or the very cross, through fear of hell and everlasting fire; in nowise is all this to be blamed, nay rather this also is a patience meet to
St. Augustine—On Patience

The Annunciation of Jesus the Messiah, and the Birth of his Forerunner.
FROM the Temple to Nazareth! It seems indeed most fitting that the Evangelic story should have taken its beginning within the Sanctuary, and at the time of sacrifice. Despite its outward veneration for them, the Temple, its services, and specially its sacrifices, were, by an inward logical necessity, fast becoming a superfluity for Rabbinism. But the new development, passing over the intruded elements, which were, after all, of rationalistic origin, connected its beginning directly with the Old Testament
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
Syria: the part played by it in the ancient world--Babylon and the first Chaldaean empire--The dominion of the Hyksos: Ahmosis. Some countries seem destined from their origin to become the battle-fields of the contending nations which environ them. Into such regions, and to their cost, neighbouring peoples come from century to century to settle their quarrels and bring to an issue the questions of supremacy which disturb their little corner of the world. The nations around are eager for the possession
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4

The Holiness of God
The next attribute is God's holiness. Exod 15:51. Glorious in holiness.' Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Psa 111:1. Holy and reverend is his name.' He is the holy One.' Job 6:60. Seraphims cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.' Isa 6:6. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God's holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil. Of purer eyes than
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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