Song of Solomon 1-3
“‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai ill-treated Hagar; so she fled from her.” —Genesis 16:6
Have we ever been caught up in a problem that we had no control over? In Sarai’s plan to fulfill God’s promise, she told Abram to sleep with her servant, Hagar, so that she could have a family through her. Although things were going according to Sarai’s plan, the results of this plan disrupted the family order. Sarai became angry with the consequences, and in response to Sarai’s frustration, Abram told her, “…do with [Hagar] whatever you think best.”
Scripture then picks up the narrative from Hagar’s perspective, a mother-to-be displaced from her country without a sense of belonging. Hagar had no real choice in the whole situation; she was just a pawn in the plan. But as Hagar ran back to Egypt, to her land of origin, Scripture tells us the angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert and comforted her.
This was an exceptional moment. In Old Testament times, slaves had no rights, influence, power or position. They were, essentially, invisible, but El Shaddai saw the mistreatment of Hagar and stepped into the story. The angel told Hagar that she was with child and that God would so increase her descendants that they would be too many to count. “You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery” (Genesis 16:11). Hagar then gave this name to the LORD: “You are the God who sees me”. In a world that would never even notice Hagar, God chose to reveal Himself to her and permitted her to be the first one in all of Scripture to ascribe a name to Him.
Whatever name we give God says as much about our need as it does about His character, because it is through our need that we experience God in our deepest way. Like countless daughters of Hagar, many are trapped in a system where they feel invisible and have no rights, dignity or freedom. Though Hagar had felt insignificant and misunderstood, she held the longest conversation with God of any woman in the Old Testament, and is the first to give Him a name—El Roi—the Hebrew translation for “the God who sees me.”
God sees our secret world and understands we all have a fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. God watches over what He created, and to know that we are under the loving gaze of our heavenly Father can truly change our perspective. That is what Hagar discovered in the desert: “God sees me. He knows my name. He knows who I am.” When we see God for who He is, we see the God who loves us and will bring us to Himself.
PRAYER: Lord God Almighty, thank You for being the God who sees me, takes notice of me and gives attention to me. May I, like Hagar, be changed by the knowledge of this amazing grace.