Genesis 16:13-16, “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.”
It is clear that Hagar, even in her pride, is the most faithful person in the entire episode involving her, Abram, and Sarai. She willingly obeys when Sarai gives her to Abram to be his wife, and this is commendable, as she was likely unaware they were not acting in faith (Gen. 16:3). Moreover, after the angel of the Lord tells her to return to Abram and Sarai, she follows the word of God (vv. 9, 15).
Her devotion is most evident in today’s passage where she acknowledges that she has seen our Creator. She gives a name to the Lord: the “God of seeing,” for she has witnessed firsthand that the Lord sees her plight and graciously cares for her (v. 13). This name highlights God’s concern for Hagar because He saw her distress in the wilderness and met her at the well in order to bless her. This Egyptian servant, at least at this point in the narrative, followed the one, true God more carefully than did the covenant parents!
Yahweh’s concern for this servant-girl provides us with an opportunity to discuss briefly His special concern for the poor and oppressed. Throughout Scripture we find empathy for those in need. Leviticus 23:22 commands the nation of Israel to leave some plants on the edge of their fields after the harvest so that the needy and the sojourner may have access to food. Hired hands are to be paid immediately, for to hold back their wages is a form of oppression (Deut. 24:14–15). Jesus tells the wealthy to invite beggars to their banquets (Luke 14:12–14). True piety involves providing for widows and orphans (James 1:27).
It is not as if the Lord loves the poor more than the rich, or that one group is inherently more righteous than the other. However, as Christ’s love for sinners reveals a concern for men who cannot provide righteousness for themselves, we as God’s people must imitate Him and share what we have with those who cannot feed themselves. May we join the examples of those like righteous Boaz who provided abundantly for downtrodden Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 2–4). Let us help the church become the first place the poor and oppressed come to for help.
In His great love, God provided for His people what they could not provide for themselves: perfect righteousness in Christ. While we cannot give this great gift, we can spread His love by working to meet the needs of those spiritually and physically downtrodden. Consider how you are allocating your resources and give to a ministry that helps the prisoner and the poor. Invite someone over for dinner who may be lonely and needs fellowship.
A God of Seeing, Copyright (2022), Ligonier Ministries.