The next chapter of Sarai’s life that we’ll discuss is Genesis 16.
2. Here we find Sarai a little disgruntled to say the least. In verse 2 she starts by blaming God she does not have a child yet. God promised Abram a son (Genesis 15:4) and since she wasn’t pregnant yet, God must have another plan. She behaves as any woman who believes the lie that God has bailed on her—she takes matters into her own hands.
3. Sarai deals with her situation by bossing her husband to sleep with her maid, Hagar. She doesn’t trust God to do His part, so she defaults to the world’s way and tries to have a child through her maid, which is culturally acceptable in this time period. Abram obeys her and Hagar becomes pregnant. Now Sarai is mad at Abram because her plan worked. (Can this woman be pleased?) When Hagar realizes she is pregnant the Bible says “her mistress was despised in her sight.” Sarai picks up on this and the catfight ensues. Sarai takes it to Abram. He tells Sarai to do what she thinks is best. That is all she needs to unleash her ugliness on Hagar. Finally Hagar has enough and runs away.
4. Sarai’s emotions are many. First, she doesn’t trust God (v. 2). This leads her to be controlling and manipulative. Then she becomes angry because of the success of her plan and that Hagar is angry with her. Sarai blames Abram and mistreats Hagar. The fallen woman will never be satisfied!
5. God’s word to Sarai came through Abram in Genesis 15:4, “but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” This implied Sarai would be the biological mother since God ordained marriage and oneness in marriage through sex. Multiple partners were not part of God’s plan even for procreation and even if it was culturally acceptable. God’s word is His word and it does not change. Not for Sarai. Not for us.
6. As we saw last time, Abram failed to be a strong leader in his home again. He did not stand up to Sarai when this time it was he who had the correct word from God. When Sarai continued to mistreat Hagar he did not protect Hagar even though she was carrying his son. Yes, Abram is a godly man—even God’s chosen man, but he is not a strong leader in his home at this time.
7. Sarai did not trust, honor, or obey God. That is exactly what motivated her to violate Hagar. She did not trust God to fulfill His promise to Abram. She took matters into her own hands and the result was Ishmael. From Ishmael came the Arab nation, who are enemies of Israel.
8. How did Sarai do female relationships? Sarai was terrible at female relationships in this story! She used her position over Hagar to force her to be violated so she could have what she wanted. But then she couldn’t stand the fact that Hagar was carrying her husband’s baby. She mistreated Hagar because she could. She was the first mean girl in the Bible.
What can I learn? The lesson screams don’t use others! And while I don’t to this extent, I’m challenge to think how I use others in my middle-class, suburbia-world.
* Maybe more patience with others. Everyone has a story and hurts that I know nothing about.
* Be a better listener. Those in my life need me to be there for them, as I need them to be there for me.
9. What can I learn from Sarai here? As with Eve, what is best for me will always be to trust and obey God’s plan for me. It will save me heartache and living with the results of my sin. The temptation will be to think I know best, but I can never know all God knows. My family and I are safest in God’s plan. Don’t usurp my husband’s leadership. In this situation Abram was waiting on God and Sarai was rushing ahead of God.
What did God speak to you in today’s study? I’d love to hear.
Email me if it’s too personal to share as a comment.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.