Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:17-21

17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 

18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.

20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Sometimes we are able to begin our story while still in the context of someone else’s. Samuel was called by the Lord while still a youth in Eli’s household. David’s sunrise began before Saul had fully set. Elisha walked under the guidance of Elijah before he walked alone.

But other times we have to get out on our own before our great story can begin. This was Joseph being torn from his father’s side and sold into Egypt before becoming the prince God intended him to be. This was Daniel not being put to the test until he was captured by the Babylonians and brought into their foreign courts.

So, too, it was the case for Hagar and her son Ishmael. In Abraham’s home they were but side-characters to his all-encompassing story. His story was so big that all of his descendants for countless generations were going to live under the shadow of it. But that wasn’t to be Ishmael’s destiny. Ishmael was to sire a great nation of his own, and that meant he had to get out from Abraham’s umbrella, out into the wild where God could lay a foundation for a different story.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:14-16

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.

16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

What a dramatic turn of events for Hagar and her son. Presumably she began as a servant in Egypt, then was recruited to Abraham’s entourage, was elected by her mistress to conceive a child for Abraham, and finally gave birth to a son. This would have greatly opened up her life opportunities, for when her son received his inheritance she would finally be raised from a bondwoman to a freewoman.

However it was an option in this ancient culture to exchange the future inheritance of a servant son for their immediate freedom. This was the option that Abraham exercised, freeing Hagar and her son to be their own masters immediately.

But their freedom couldn’t bring them refuge from the hardships of the world, and very quickly they were out of resources and on the brink of death. From the promise of a great inheritance to alone in the wilderness, this is an incredibly humbling situation. And it is here, at their absolute low, that God shows up for Hagar and her child.