And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.I. THIS MAY BE THE TEMPTATION OF THOSE WHO YET HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
II. SUCH A COURSE APPEARS TO HAVE A RATIONAL WARRANT.
1. There was no human hope that the promise would be accomplished in that form in which they first understood it.
2. They were conforming to the common custom of the country.
3. The end they sought was worthy in itself.
III. ALL ATTEMPTS TO BE BEFOREHAND WITH PROVIDENCE IMPLY AN INFIRMITY OF FAITH.
1. They are signs of impatience.
2. It is not our duty to aid God in the accomplishment of His promises.
3. Religion hereby degenerates into fanaticism.
4. Such an interference with the means by which God accomplishes His purpose shows a want of confidence in His power.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE QUARTER WHENCE THESE REASONINGS CAME. Sarai.
1. It is always hard to resist temptation when it appeals to natural instinct or to distrusting fear.
2. We should be exceedingly careful before acting on the suggestions of anyone not as advanced as we are in the Divine life. What may seem right to them may be terribly wrong for us.
II. THE SORROWS TO WHICH THEY LED.
1. To Sarah.
2. To Hagar.
3. To Abraham.
III. THE VICTIM WHOSE LIFE COURSE WAS SO LARGELY INVOLVED. We mourn to see in her only one of myriads who have been sacrificed to the whim or passion, expediency or selfishness, of men.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
The Congregational Pulpit.I. THE FOLLY OF CARNAL EXPEDIENTS. Their danger lies in many directions.
1. Look at the method of our justification and sanctification before God. God's method is by faith, man's by works. The one is of promise, the other by natural means. The latter is illicit, and fails; only the former succeeds.
2. In providence. You may be looking for temporal prosperity; God may design it for you: but you have no right to seek it by covetousness or injustice, and making haste to be rich.
3. In gospel labours. You expect success, but it is delayed.
4. In regard to our sufferings and our hope of heaven. Some have been tempted to slay themselves, or those whom they have loved, in the midst of terrible affliction, to hasten their admission to glory, You may not have this temptation; but you may be restless, impatient, and unresigned. Say rather, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come."
5. In regard to the millennium, and the establishment of the gospel on earth. What hindrances and delays there are. Many seek to christianize the world by the sword, by pandering to human ignorance and superstition, or by indulging the lusts and passions of men. We must be faithful to principle, and leave results to God.
II. GOD'S MERCIFULNESS TO THE SORROWFUL SAINT. "Thou God seest me." It suggests two things;
1. God's omniscience; and —
2. His kind regard of His people. Let us think of it:(1) In times of desolation and sorrow. You may be lonely and forsaken, but God sees you.(2) In times of wandering and waywardness. Then let it rebuke us, and bring us to repentance and contrition.(3) In times of temptation. Then let it deter us. "How can we do this thing, and sin against God?"(4) In times of perplexity. Then let us seek His guidance — the guidance of His eye and hand.(5) It suggests a contrast between this life and the next.
(The Congregational Pulpit.)
1. God's promise and covenant can hardly keep up faith in His own, against the discouragements of sense.
2. Sensible helps at hand may be an occasion to doubt of God's promise as being afar off. So was Hagar to Sarai (ver. 2).
3. Good souls in temptations may complain of this barrenness though God order it.
4. Sense of such wants may put souls upon unlawful means to have their desires of a seed.
5. Flesh persuades to take an uncertain peradventure in sense, rather than wait for God's promise in certainty (ver. 2).
6. Temptation may carry saints not only to the motion but action of evil.
7. Such temptations may make saints do evil, for ends seeming good. So Sarai gives her to wife.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
I. IT ORIGINATED AT A TIME AND IN A MANNER, the consideration of which may well enforce the solemn warning, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall;" — while it painfully illustrates that other affecting saying, that a man's worst foes may be those of his own household. This transaction took place (ver. 3) after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. During all that time he had walked with God, and God had done for him great things; he had trusted in the Lord, and had been delivered. He had found God faithful to him, and had been himself enabled to be faithful to God. In particular, he had very recently received a signal pledge of the Divine favour, and a strong confirmation of the hope set before him; and never, perhaps, had he stood higher, in respect of privilege, than now. And yet, at the very time when he stands so high, he is tempted, and he falls.
II. THE TEMPTATION ITSELF IS A VERY PLAUSIBLE ONE. It bears all the marks of that subtlety which, from of old, had been the characteristic of that old serpent, the devil. Observe the spirit and manner in which the proposal is made by Sarai, and received by Abram. It is plainly such as altogether to preclude the idea of this step being at all analogous to an ordinary instance of sin committed in the indulgence of sensual passion. Most unjustifiable as was the patriarch's conduct, it is not for a moment to be confounded with that of David, for example, whose melancholy fall was caused by the mere unbridled violence of an unlawful appetite. There is no room for the introduction of such an element as this on the occasion of Abram's connection with Hagar. It originated in the suggestion of his faithful wife, and had, for its single object, the fulfilment of the Divine promise, whose accomplishment otherwise seemed to be growing every day more manifestly and hopelessly impossible (vers. 1, 2).
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
When she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyed.I. THOSE WHO ARE SUDDENLY RAISED IN THE SOCIAL SCALE ARE TEMPTED TO PRIDE AND INSOLENCE.
II. THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN PART IN THE ABOLISHING OF SUCH DISTINCTIONS ARE THE FIRST TO COMPLAIN OF THE EVILS CAUSED THEREBY.
1. They complain of their troubles so as to excuse themselves.
2. They often make rash appeals to Divine justice.
III. THE RECOGNITION OF ORIGINAL RIGHTS IS THE BEST WAY OF DEALING WITH SUCH EVILS.
1. This is a better course than the immediate imputation of such evils to those who have caused them.
2. Meek submission becomes true might in the end.
IV. THE EVILS BROUGHT ABOUT BY SUDDEN AND VIOLENT CHANGES IN THE SOCIAL STATE ARE NEVER FULLY REMEDIED.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. Nothing more proud than a beggar set on horseback, and a very ape, if you place him up aloft, begins to bridle the matter and take upon him marvellously.
2. It teacheth that adversity is better borne than prosperity of many one.
3. It showeth the end of evil counsel, Sarah is beaten with her own rod.
Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou?I. PROVIDENCE FINDS THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.
1. There are occasions in human life when the providence of God specially manifests itself.
2. Providence finds us for a purpose of mercy.
3. Providence is minute in its care and knowledge.
II. PROVIDENCE TEACHES THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.
1. Lessons of reproof.
2. Lessons of instruction and guidance.
III. PROVIDENCE INSPIRES HOPE IN THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.
1. The lowest and most despised have some purpose of Providence to serve.
2. All who have consciously felt the action of a Divine Providence have some memorial of God's goodness.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. In the first place, it was her present duty to return and place herself again under the heavy hand of Sarai, in order that Abram's son might be born and nurtured in Abram's home. This, therefore, was the hard command, which in the first instance the angel was commissioned to deliver. God's revelations commonly attach themselves to the working of men's own minds. It is impossible not to suspect that, as she sat to rest after her hasty flight, Hagar's conscience was already whispering words like these before the angel appeared: "Return to thy mistress and submit thyself!" But if any such feeling worked dimly in her own mind, it would certainly have failed to send her back, had it not been sharpened by this imperative command from heaven. On the other side, God graciously encouraged Hagar to such an unwelcome duty, by revealing the honours which her relationship to Abram would bring along with it. When God blesses any man, that blessing proves itself like the consecrating oil on the Jewish high priest: it flows from the head down to the skirts of the garment. In recompense for a mistress's cruelty, Hagar was to become the ancestress of a mighty race, which for countless generations has ever since dwelt in the presence of all its brethren.
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
I. HAGAR'S DISTRESS. Affliction and solitude often give persons time to think, and arouse a desire to pray. Misery is a voiceless prayer, which God understands.
II. GOD'S MESSENGER. An appearance of the Lord at Hagar's time of need and distress.
III. GOD'S MESSAGE.
1. A rebuke.
2. A command.
3. A promise.CONCLUSION: We see then in this narrative a valuable lesson as to God's Providence, and the way in which God is personally interested in the welfare and destinies of men. Moreover, the narrative suggests a kind of parable of God's grace. We may see in it the principles of God's dealing with sinful and sorrowing men.
1. He sees their misery and sin.
2. He visits them in their distress.
3. He hears their prayers.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
1. Christ was the angel of Jehovah sent to the Church in old times. As here (Isaiah 63; Matthew 3:2).
2. God finds sinners usually when they lose themselves.
3. God's finding of them is usually when souls are brought to great extremity.
4. God sometimes meets sinners when they are flying to his enemies (ver. 7).
5. God will have order and relations owned when sinners' servants may reject them. Sarai's maid.
6. God expostulates in displeasure with sinners for being where they should not be, leaving the place of calling and flying to other places. Here, servants, learn your duties.
7. Souls, when God expostulates with them, are brought to acknowledge their errors and sins (ver. 8).
8. God counsels sinners in His way when He bath convinced them. Return.
9. God will have domestic order maintained and servants to submit to governors, and suffer sorrow, rather than sin, and leave their places (ver. 9; 1 Peter 3:18).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(Washington Gladden, D. D.)
1. The nature of angels is spiritual (Hebrews 1:14). This characteristic ranges over the whole chain of spiritual being from man up to God Himself. Being spiritual, they are not only moral, but intelligent. They also excel in strength (Psalm 103:20). The holy angels have the full range of action for which their qualities are adapted. They do not grow old or die. They are not a race, and have not a body in the ordinary sense of the term.
2. Their office is expressed by their name. In common with other intelligent creatures, they take part in the worship of God (Revelation 7:11). But their special office is to execute the commands of God in the natural world (Psalm 103:20), and especially to minister to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 18:10; Luke 15:10; Luke 16:22).
3. The angel of Jehovah. This phrase is specially employed to denote the Lord Himself in that form in which He condescends to make Himself manifest to man. For the Lord God says of this angel, "Beware of Him, and obey His voice; provoke Him not, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in His inmost" (Exodus 23:21), that is, My nature is in His essence. Accordingly He who is called the angel of the Lord in one place is otherwise denominated the Lord or God in the immediate context (Genesis 16:7, 13; Genesis 22:11, 12; Genesis 31:11, 13; Genesis 48:15, 16; Exodus 3:2-15; Exodus 23:20-23 with Exodus 33:14,15). It is remarkable at the same time that the Lord is spoken of in these cases as a distinct person from the angel of the Lord, who is also called the Lord. The phraseology intimates to us a certain inherent plurality within the essence of the one only God, of which we have had previous indications (Genesis 1:1, 26; Genesis 3:22). The phrase, "angel of the Lord," however, indicates a more distant manifestation to man than the term Lord itself. It brings the medium of communication into greater prominence. It seems to denote some person of the Godhead in angelic form.
(Prof. J. G. Murphy.)
1. In the story of Hagar and her slave-wifehood we have an emblem of the Mosaic Dispensation, which God interposed parenthetically during the long waiting of His Church for the coming of Christ (Romans 5:20; Galatians 3:19).
2. "Hagar is a symbol of the expedients we make use of to win for ourselves what God seems unwilling to bestow — expedients not always glaringly sinful, but, though customary, yet not the best possible. And this episode warns us that from a Hagar can at best spring an Ishmael" (Dods).
3. This narrative solemnly calls us to guard against two apparently opposite sins which Abram and Sarai committed in the matter of Hagar, and which often meet still as temptations to the believer — the sin of distrust, and that of presumption.
4. In the appearance of the Angel of Jehovah to Hagar we have a beautiful example of God's tenderness towards the erring, and of His gracious readiness to forgive.
5. From Hagar's subsequent submission to her mistress we learn that while it is not in nature to rejoice in trial and persecution on their own account, yet so soon as we become persuaded that it is the Lord's will that we drink of this cup, and that there will be an abundant recompense hereafter, it does become possible for us to "glory in tribulations also."
6. Let us write upon our hearts this name of the Lord: "Thou God seest me." To do this is the sum of all religion, the centre of all security, and the source of all happiness. The God who sees us, and who permits us to look upon Himself, is the Angel of the Covenant, our Divine and Human Redeemer. May our eyes meet His every day!
(Charles Jerdan, M. A. , LL. B.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
He will be a wild man.I. THESE WORDS CONTAIN NOT A MERE CONTINGENT PROMISE, BUT A SPECIFIC PREDICTION OF FUTURE EVENTS. A bare announcement of what would be the physical, moral, and social condition of the person or persons to whom the passage refers.
II. THESE WORDS ARE INTENDED TO APPLY, NOT MERELY TO THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND CHARACTER OF ISHMAEL, BUT TO THE HISTORY AND CHARACTER OF HIS OFFSPRING. Some of the terms employed and some of the things affirmed are not only unintelligible, but absurd, if they are to be understood of Ishmael rather than of his offspring; for in what sense can it be affirmed, that "his hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him"? Individually, that strife at all events would very soon be brought to an end. How, either, could it be affirmed that he should "dwell in the presence of all his brethren," if a single dwelling, and that a tent in the wilderness, were the only thing intended to be set forth?
III. THE ARABIANS ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF ISHMAEL.
IV. THE ARABIANS HAVE EXEMPLIFIED IN THEIR WHOLE HISTORY AND CHARACTER ALL THE PECULIARITIES MENTIONED IN THIS PASSAGE. The term here employed is singularly strong in relation to the first part of the subject. That subject is divided into three particulars: the first, declarative of their freedom; the second, of their hostile dispositions; the third, of their numbers and their power.
1. Here, I say, you have a declaration concerning their freedom: "He will be a wild man." The language is peculiarly strong; and literally, the affirmation is, that Ishmael should be the same as the animal described in the thirty-ninth chapter of the Book of Job. There the word is literally rendered "the wild ass": and we read, "Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who has loosed the hands of the wild ass? whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings; he scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver; the range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." No terms could have been employed, more fitly or more vividly describing the roaming liberty, or, if you will, licentiousness of the entire Arab nation, whether you regard their internal condition or their external relation.
2. Secondly, we are assured not only of their freedom, but also of the singular hostility of their disposition: "His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." During the lapse of three thousand years, they have by turns assaulted all their neighbours, and been assaulted by them. At this present moment they seek not the alliance of the great or the small, the rich or the poor; they care not who wins or who loses in the strife of the world, if they can remain — the hated of the whole family of mankind besides. What is sacrificed or what is gained is to them matter of perfect indifference if still they may frown upon a world they deem their foe. This has been the case, while all other nations have passed through the phases of slavery and of freedom, of poverty and of wealth, of luxury and of hardihood, of disaster and of danger. Still the Arab is the same.
3. Thirdly, these words exhibit to us their numbers and their power. "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." Not an easy thing this, to affirm concerning any individual, in the early period of time to which reference is made. Few, indeed, could ever have attained to such distinction, because there are but few nations who ever arrive to any great degree of honour; much less to such a state of renown, as to secure observation in the pages of inspired truth, or in the general history of the world. Yet if you have been called upon, at all events, to point out those individuals, perhaps the very last you would have fixed upon would have been the son of that poor outcast slave, without a father, without a friend, without a prospect excepting the wilderness for his home. Yet these wanderers in the desert and amongst the rocks were the objects and the sources of surprise and of terror to their early neighbours. It was they who first gave to commerce its gold, its spices, its gems. It was they who furnished to the navies of Tyre that for which they were renowned. It was they who gave to monarchs that by which they decorated their halls and their palaces. It was they who gave to arms honour and renown, while with one hand they seized on the fertile plains of Egypt and with the other laid hold on the mountains of Assyria. Thus during successive ages did they continue dwelling in the presence of all their brethren; whether the Babylonian or the Macedonian, whether the Persian or the Roman swayed the destinies of the world, the Arab occupied the same position, and exerted to a great extent the same power. In later days, however, they came forth under another form, and their course was followed by far deadlier consequences. They lifted up in one hand the Koran, which they regarded as at once the product and the instrument of their great prophet, who said he came from God; with the other they brandished the sword, while nations trembled and fell. They passed off to the east — rushed through the turbid and impetuous waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris — and laid prostrate the millions of India, even to the walls of China. They passed to the north, swept the sacred shrines and hollow mummeries of Palestine; laid prostrate the cities and temples and towers of Greece — rushed through the Bosphorus — reared the tokens of their power, and at length became consolidated into a mighty empire, in the eastern part of Europe. They passed to the west — overflowed the plains of Egypt with more resistlessness than the waters of the Nile — dashed along the coast of Barbary — rolled away to Central and Western Africa — overleaped the pillars of Hercules and the barriers of Spain — planted the crescent on the walls of Grenada — illumined darkened Europe with a ray of science — and then returned, leaving the marks of their science and their power in arithmetical characters, used in every one of our schools. And so their history, so unique and so marvellous, has been interwoven with the history of all people, to gather from them all some increasing attestation of the truth of this book, the pillar on which our hopes rest; and resting where we can defy the dashing of every wave, assured that we are in the truth of Him, "in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways."
Thou God seest me.
I. THAT IT IS A REVELATION OF GOD. "She called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me." The doctrine of a general Providence affects us languidly; the impression of it is vague; but there are times in our history when the events are so remarkable that it is as if God had spoken. His finger is plainly seen. This revelation of God had three aspects.
1. It was severe. Hagar was reminded of her fault, and exhorted to instant duty.
2. It was soothing. It is because God "has heard out affliction" that He speaks to us.
3. It produces the impression that God knows us —(1) Intimately. Sight imparts most vivid and extensive knowledge. One glance conveys more to the mind than the most accurate and laboured description. God not only sees us, but sees through us, and knows us altogether.(2) Graciously. For good, and not for evil. The light of love is in God's countenance.
II. THAT IT SHOULD EXCITE AMAZEMENT AND GRATITUDE.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. Difficult to believe. We think of God in heaven, and forget that He is also on earth.
2. Sufficiently attested by examples in Holy Scripture.
3. Made clear and certain by the history of our Lord's work on earth.
4. Realized in the history of every believer.
(J. H. Newman, D. D.)
1. Of grandeur. With respect to God — His infinite dominion — His immense survey. With respect to man — his dignity — his responsibility — his destiny — he must, some day, come immediately before this Being.
2. Of terror. We are never safe. Sin cannot be even thought of without being known. Think of this when temptation invites. There is no darkness which can hide from God.
3. Of consolation in sorrow. He sees with a Father's eye which fills with compassion. He knows all the trouble of our spirit and our desires to be purer and better.
4. Of hope in danger. He sees, not to increase our misery, but to help and save. He sends His Covenant Angel to succour this desolate woman. None need despair, since God thus helps the outcast and the miserable.
I. THE BASIS OF A LIVING CREED.
II. AN INCENTIVE TO A USEFUL AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE. Two things are essential to such a life —
1. Sincere love of the truth.
2. Earnest practice of the truth.
III. A RESTRAINT WON A SINFUL COURSE. Let these words, "Thou God seest me," preserve you from —
1. Unhallowed thoughts.
2. Selfish motives.
3. Formalism and hypocrisy.
4. Despondency and unbelief.
(J. R. Goulty, B. A.)
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
I. In the first place I would endeavour to lay before you the ARGUMENT FOR THE OMNISCIENCE AND OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD WHICH IS DERIVED FROM NATURAL RELIGION. We assert, then, that the doctrine of the omnipresence of God results from the truth universally acknowledged, that the world owes its existence to a Creator. Wherever we direct our view we perceive marks of intelligence and design. In every part of the universe accessible to our survey, we have therefore the most resplendent proofs that there the hand of God hath been; consequently, at that period, at least, the Divine Being was omnipresent. I make this limitation, because, to argue with correctness, it is required, that we should infer no more than the premises laid down will allow. But now it is possible, for it may be conceived, that the Divine Creator, having made all things, and, consequently, having then been present everywhere, afterward withdrew His immediate agency. Wherefore, even upon the principle of such persons themselves, when properly understood, the omniscience of God follows as a necessary consequence. For if, as must be acknowledged, everything in the universe is under the control of some one or more of these laws, it follows that in every point of the universe, the Deity is acting; and where He acts, there He is, and where He is, there He perceives.
II. Having adduced the testimony of natural religion to the omnipresence of God, we proceed to lay before you THE PROOF FURNISHED BY THE SCRIPTURES. The testimony of the text will be found clear and strong. How awful are the words of Elihu, "His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his goings; there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves" (Job 34:21). To the same effect the wise man speaks in the fifteenth chapter of Proverbs and eighth verse, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good." See the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Proverbs and eleventh verse, "Hell and destruction are before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men." Neither do the Scriptures represent Him as a mere spectator, but as a witness and judge who scrutinizes the thoughts and actions with all their circumstances, and makes a just and righteous estimation of them. I know and I am witness, saith the Lord. The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed. "All the actions of a man are right in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits." The Scriptures declare that God is the Governor of the material and moral world; consequently, as it is necessary that the Creator and Governor of the universe should be in all places of His dominion at the same moment, in order that He may sustain and guide the whole, so it is absolutely necessary that He should have a perfect knowledge of everything, without which omnipotence and omnipresence were useless. The Scriptures declare that God is the moral governor but the judge of all men; they represent Him as having given laws of the most spiritual character — that is to say, relating to the spirits of men in the most comprehensive manner. They reach to every part of our conduct, and not only direct the outward life, but give also law to the most retired thought and inward affection. Thus we are told, Proverbs 24:9, "That the thought of foolishness is sin."
III. I shall close the subject WITH AN APPLICATION OF ITS SEVERAL USES.
1. Let us take occasion from the subject, to adore, with humble gratitude, the long suffering, patience, and tender compassion of our God. Does He see the first dark thought of lust or rage, and does He look on still and spare us till it be fully formed and executed? How incomprehensible, then, must be His patience.
2. Let the subject of the Divine omniscience be a prevailing motive with us to honesty and sincerity. He who can thus realize the Divine presence, cannot, dare not be a hypocrite.
3. Again, from the subject of the Divine omnipresence, let every sinner remember that God is present at the commission of all his crimes.
4. Further, the doctrine of the Divine omniscience affords abundant cause of joy to the godly. His eyes are continually upon you for good. He is perfectly acquainted with your wants, and He knows all things that are required for their supply. This qualifies Him to be the object of your trust and confidence. On Him you may safely depend.
5. Lastly, let the doctrine of Divine omniscience restrain us from every sin, and excite us to every duty, "Thou God seest me."
(J. F. Denham.)
I. LOOK AT THE TEXT IN A DOCTRINAL ASPECT.
1. God sees us Himself.
2. God sees us completely.
3. God sees us perpetually.
4. God sees every rational being as He sees us. The Indian, the African: all can adopt language of text.
II. LOOK AT THE TEXT IN A PRACTICAL ASPECT. The thought of God's omnipresence, when received into the heart, is —
1. One of the most powerful restraints from the commission of sin.
2. One of the most powerful incentives to do His will.
3. A source of true delight.
4. A remedy for the dangers and sorrows of life.
(A. McAuslane, D. D.)
I. THE NAME OF THE LORD. "Thou God seest me," or, Thou God of vision; "for she said, Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me?" i.e., I have seen Him that He has seen me; I have seen Him and lived. Hagar's seeing God was God's seeing Hagar. The vision was not merely objective, but subjective. The state of Hagar's mind was doubtless preparation for some such interposition. Lamenting her sin, weary, desolate, praying for help. Man's extremity is God's opportunity.
II. CONNECT THE REVELATION WITH THE PERSONAL HISTORY. Hagar saw the Lord, received His word of grace into her heart, obeyed His commandment. The faith which initiates practical obedience is a progressive blessedness. When we know that God has appeared unto us, when we have looked into His countenance in the light of His reconciling love, when we feel assured that our life is under His eye, that it may be in His hand, then bondage is liberty, submission is delight, patience is growing expectation.
(R. A. Redford, M. A.)
Homilist.This self-interrogation of Hagar is suggestive of three things.
I. IT SUGGESTS A SOLEMN FACT IS HUMAN HISTORY. God sees us.
1. The very nature of God implies this.
2. The Bible teaches this.
II. IT SUGGESTS A SAD TENDENCY IN HUMAN NATURE. Hagar's question implies a fear that she had not been sufficiently conscious of this fact.
1. The signs of this tendency.
(1) (2) 2. The causes of this tendency. (1) (2) III. IT SUGGESTS AN URGENT OBLIGATION IN HUMAN LIFE. A sense of God's continual presence will — 1. Restrain from sin. 2. Stimulate to virtue. 3. Strengthen for trial. 4. Qualify for the full mission of life. (Homilist.)
(2) 2. The causes of this tendency. (1) (2) III. IT SUGGESTS AN URGENT OBLIGATION IN HUMAN LIFE. A sense of God's continual presence will — 1. Restrain from sin. 2. Stimulate to virtue. 3. Strengthen for trial. 4. Qualify for the full mission of life. (Homilist.)
2. The causes of this tendency.
(1) (2) III. IT SUGGESTS AN URGENT OBLIGATION IN HUMAN LIFE. A sense of God's continual presence will — 1. Restrain from sin. 2. Stimulate to virtue. 3. Strengthen for trial. 4. Qualify for the full mission of life. (Homilist.)
III. IT SUGGESTS AN URGENT OBLIGATION IN HUMAN LIFE. A sense of God's continual presence will — 1. Restrain from sin. 2. Stimulate to virtue. 3. Strengthen for trial. 4. Qualify for the full mission of life. (Homilist.)
III. IT SUGGESTS AN URGENT OBLIGATION IN HUMAN LIFE. A sense of God's continual presence will —
1. Restrain from sin.
2. Stimulate to virtue.
3. Strengthen for trial.
4. Qualify for the full mission of life.
I. THE GENERAL DOCTRINE. God sees us.
1. This may be easily proved, even from the nature of God. It were hard to suppose a God who could not see His own creatures; it were difficult in the extreme to imagine a divinity who could not behold the actions of the works of His hands. The word which the Greeks applied to God implied that He was a God who could see. They called Him θεος (Theos); and they derived that word, if I read rightly, from the root θεψσθαι (Theisthai), to see, because they regarded God as being the All-seeing One, whose eye took in the whole universe at a glance, and whose knowledge extended far beyond that of mortals. There were no god if that God had no eyes, for a blind God were no God at all.
2. Yet, further, we are sure that God must see us, for we are taught in the Scriptures that God is everywhere, and if God be everywhere, what doth hinder Him from seeing all that is done in every part of His universe?
3. But lest any should suppose that God may be in a place, and yet slumbering, let me remind him that in every spot to which he can travel there is not simply God but God's activity. Wherever I go I shall find, not a slumbering God, but a God busy about the affairs of this world.
4. I have one more proof to offer which I think to be conclusive. God, we may be sure, sees us, when we remember that He can see a thing before it happens. If He beholds an event before it transpires, surely reason dictates He must see a thing that is happening now. Read those ancient prophecies, read what God said should be the end of Babylon and of Nineveh; just turn to the chapter where you read of Edom's doom, or where you are told that Tyre shall be desolate; then walk through the lands of the East, and see Nineveh and Babylon cast to the ground, the cities ruined; and then reply to this question — "Is not God a God of foreknowledge?"
II. Now I come, in the second place, to the SPECIAL DOCTRINE: "Thou God seest me."
1. Mark, God sees you — selecting anyone out of this congregation — He sees you, He sees you as much as if there were nobody else in the world for Him to look at.
2. God sees you entirely.
3. God sees you constantly.
III. Now I come to DIFFERENT INFERENCES for different persons, to serve different purposes.
1. First, to the prayerful. Prayerful man, prayerful woman, here is a consolation — God sees you: and if He can see you, surely He can hear you.
2. I have given a word for the prayerful, now a word for the careful. Some here are very full of care, and doubts, and anxieties, and fears. Don't give up in despair. If your case be ever so bad, God can see your care, your troubles, and your anxieties.
3. And now a word to the slandered. There are some of us who come in for a very large share of slander. It is very seldom that the slander market is much below par; it usually runs up at a very mighty rate; and there are persons who will take shares to any amount. Well, what matters it? Suppose you are slandered; here is a comfort: "Thou God seest me." They say that such-and-such is your motive, but you need not answer them; you can say "God knows that matter."
4. Now a sentence or two to some of you who are ungodly and know not Christ.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. In speaking of Hagar I shall first dwell for a little upon HER REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE.
1. Observe that Hagar had outlawed herself. The untamable spirit which afterwards showed itself in her son Ishmael raged in her bosom. So, too, have we met with those who have deliberately left the ways of God and the people of God, and all semblance of goodness, because they have thought themselves badly used. They do not, indeed, care what becomes of them: they would flee from the presence of God Himself if they could.
2. While she was there, in the moment of her desperation, she was found by the angel. What was there about her that Jehovah should come out of His place to seek her? Yet He came in unexpected grace as He is wont to do. He remembered the low estate of His handmaiden, and because His mercy endureth forever, He found her by the fountain in the wilderness.
3. When the angel of the Lord found Hagar, He dealt graciously with her. Indeed this was the object of His finding her; He Game in pity, not in wrath. Blessed be God, it has happened to tens of thousands that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. When they have run away and outlawed themselves, grace has followed them, grace has convicted them, grace has admonished them, and grace has made large promises to them.
II. Now I want you to notice HER DEVOUT ACKNOWLEDGMENT. When that which we have described happened to her, she acknowledged the living God. My text says, "She called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me."
1. She spake to Him that spake to her: after this fashion do we all begin our communion with God. Oh, when God speaks to you, you will soon find a tongue to speak to Him. What did she say?
2. She acknowledged Him to be God. "She called the name of the Lord that spake to her, Thou God seest me." It is one thing to believe there is a God, but it is quite another thing to know it by coming into personal contact with Him.
3. Observe that she acknowledged His observant love. She could not help acknowledging it, for it flashed before her eyes.
4. In the presence of that God she felt overpowered and ready to yield. She was so overwhelmed that no rebellion remained within her. She girds her garments about her, and she makes the best of her way home to the tent of Sarai. Her mistress is hard; but sin is harder.
III. Let me now call to your notice THE MANIFEST AMAZEMENT of this woman; for in her glad surprise she uttered a sentence which runs as follows: "Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me?" Expositors will tell you that as many senses may be given to this sentence as there are words in it; and each one of these senses will bear a measure of decent defence. I shall not go into them all, but I think I see clearly that she was amazed that God should care for her. "Thou God seest me. Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me?" Does He see me? Do I see Him? Do you not say, "Why me, my Lord? Why me?" Sit still in holy wonder, and adore and bless the Lord.
5. I think her next amazement was that she should have been such a long time without ever thinking of Him who had thought so much of her. She says, "Have I also here looked unto Him that seeth me?" "What! Have I been these years with Abraham, and heard about the God who has been looking at me in love, and have I never glanced a thought to Him?" Her ungodliness astounds her.
6. But next, she is amazed still more to think that at last she does look unto God. In effect she cries, "What! Has it come to this? Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me? Is Hagar at last converted? What a surprise it must be to rebels to be thus seized in the arms of grace and transformed into friends of the King! I ask God that such a surprise may await some who are here today. May you also inquire in amazement, "Have I here also looked after Him that seeth me?"
7. One other surprise Hagar had, and that was the surprise to think that she was alive. It was the common conviction of that age that no man could see God and live. The awakened sinner, when he is met with by the God of grace, wonders that he has not been cut down as a cumberer of the ground.
IV. HER HUMBLE WORSHIP.
1. She worshipped God heartily and intelligently, according to her knowledge.
2. She worshipped beyond her knowledge, according to her apprehension.
3. Her worship was wonderfully personal.
4. Her worship proved itself deeply true, for it was followed by immediate practical obedience to the command of the Lord.
V. We will conclude by glancing for an instant at the well which became THE SUGGESTIVE MEMORIAL of this special manifestation and singular experience. That well — we do not know what it had been called before — but that Beer, or well, was henceforth called Beer-lahai-roi, or the well of Him that liveth and seeth. Will we not all at this time drink of that well? It was a very happy thought to attach a holy name to a well, so that every traveller might learn of God as he refreshed himself. When a person comes to drink at certain fountains he reads, "Drink, gentle traveller, drink and pray." The inscription is most suitable. It is fit that men should pray when they receive so precious a refreshment as pure water. It was specially meet that travellers should henceforth and forever pray at a spot where the Lord Himself had been, and had called to Himself a wanderer who had felt compelled to cry, "God lives, and God sees."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The Weekly Pulpit.(Sermon to children.) "Thou God seest me" — a name for God found by a woman who had run away from duty. She could not run away from God. It took her back to duty to feel that God saw her (Jonah, and Psalm 139).
I. GOD'S EYE ON US MAY MAKE US UNCOMFORTABLE. Illustration: Servant girl cutting out eyes of picture which seemed to watch her pilfering. Sentinels in Portland prison. Prison with hole in door, and the warder's eye ever there.
II. IT MAY MAKE US HAPPY. If we are in any trouble. Sad thing to feel alone. Widowed mother in trouble. Little children say, "Is God dead, mother?" If God sees, He must be there. If He is there, He must be there as Helper.
III. IT MAY MAKE US STRONG. "Can do all things through Him who strengthens us." Some, like Adam and Eve, hide from God. Some, like David, can say, "I flee unto Thee to hide me."
(The Weekly Pulpit.)
I. A REFLECTION VERY PLEASING TO GOOD MEN. "Thou God seest me."
1. This is a pleasing reflection when I fear some hidden corruption which has hindered the answer of prayer, and often deprived me of comfort, but which I cannot, after the most faithful investigation, detect. He can discern it — "Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me."
2. This is a pleasing reflection when I feel those infirmities which make me groan. He sees grace, however small; He sees the disadvantages of my situation, the influence of the body over the mind, and of sensible things over the body; He sees that the "spirit indeed is willing when the flesh is weak."
3. This is a pleasing reflection with regard to prayer. I often know not what to pray for as I ought; but He always knows what to give. I cannot express myself properly in words; but words are not necessary to inform Him who "knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit — my desire is before Him, and my groaning is not hid from Him."
4. This is a pleasing reflection when I am suffering under the suspicions of friends or the reproaches of enemies. "Behold my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee."
5. This is a pleasing reflection when I am in trouble. He knows all my "walking through this great wilderness"; He knows where the burden presses; He knows how long to continue the trial, and by what means to remove it.
II. TO THE WICKED IT IS A VERY AWFUL REFLECTION.
1. God sees everything you do.
2. He does not forget anything He has seen.
3. And to complete the terror of this consideration — all He has seen He will publish before the whole world: and He will also punish all that He has seen "with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."
III. The reflection will be found very USEFUL TO ALL.
1. Useful as a check to sin. For can a person sin while he realizes this? Can he affront the Almighty to His very face? — Impossible.
2. Useful as a motive to virtue. The presence, the eye of One who is above us, and whom we highly esteem and reverence, elevates our minds and refines our behaviour; and we desire to act so as to gain His approbation. A servant feels this when he is before his master, and a subject when he is before the king. One of the heathen philosophers, therefore, recommended his pupils, as the best means to induce and enable them to behave worthily, to imagine that some very distinguished character was always looking upon them. But what was the eye of a Care compared with the eye of Jehovah!
3. Useful as a reason for simplicity and godly sincerity. Oh! let it banish all dissimulation from our religious exercises; and, whether we read, or hear, or pray, or surround the table of the Lord, let us remember that "God weigheth the spirits." If we had to do with men only, a fair appearance might be sufficient; "but the Lord looketh to the heart." And can we play the hypocrite under those eyes which are as a flame of fire?
1. The first idea presented to us is one of wonder, admiration, and comfort. It does not so much express her awe as her surprise and delight, that the God of whom she had heard in Abraham's family should have appeared to her in her perplexity. "Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me?"
2. I go on to observe that the omnipresence of God is salutary only when it implies watchful and personal inspection of our conduct, and personal interest in our welfare. We are under a government; we live under an immutable system of law. We ignorantly think to evade it; but the Lawgiver is all eye and all ear. We have no adequate motive for a moral life, except it be the active oversight of a moral Ruler. Every transgressor hopes to escape observation. The great majority need a power out of ourselves, independent of our own strength, resolutions, or sense of duty; yet not superseding, but quickening and aiding these motives to high moral conduct. We do not want to set aside the social esteem which follows good conduct; but this being of most precarious quality, we want to aid it by the sense of Divine approval, manifested to the individual by a personal, all-seeing Judge and Ruler.
(B. Kent, M. A.)
I. THAT WE ARE EACH OF US THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE NOTICE.
1. God sees us by virtue of His omnipresence.
2. God sees us that we may be the objects of His providential care.
3. God sees us as preparatory to the final judgment.
II. SOME OF THOSE SEASONS WHEN WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET THE DIVINE OMNIPRESENCE.
1. In discharge of the common duties of life how often may we say, "Have I here looked after Him that seeth me?" When we come to the sanctuary we expect to meet with God, for we know that He has said, "In all places where I record My name I will come and bless them." But when the services of the sanctuary are ended, and the Sabbath is closed, and the morrow has come, and one man has gone to his farm, another to his merchandise, how prone are we to lose sight of the solemn truth, "Thou God seest me."
2. Under the pressure of severe temptation how often may we propose this question.
3. So, too, in reference to some of the sorrowful events of human life the inquiry of nay text will apply. If you have ever been sorrowful and have not been comforted — if you have been weak, and have not been strengthened — if you have been despairing, and hope has not revived, it has not been because God has forsaken you, but because you have not "looked" or sought for Him; and oh, if God had only come to us when we "looked" for Him — if He had not surprised us with many a visit, and succoured us with unexpected help, how seldom would He have come to us at all.
(H. J. Gamble.)
a sermon to children: —
I. WHO IS GOD?
1. A Being, great in power, wisdom, knowledge, love.
2. A Judge.
3. Your Father. His eye is upon you, to protect, preserve, supply wants.
4. Your Saviour.
II. WHY DOES GOD SEE ME?
1. Because He is full of goodness and mercy.
2. Because He loves you, and would make you happy, by making you like Himself.
III. WHEN DOES GOD SEE ME? At all times. He sees you when you entice others to join you in some foolish act, add while you are making the lie to hide the fault; He sees you making that lie. He sees you when Satan is busy about you, to do you some mischief, and keeps Satan away that he may not hurt you.
IV. WHERE DOES GOD SEE ME? In all places. Adam among trees. Hagar in wilderness. Jonah inside monster of deep. Daniel in lions' den.
V. WHAT DOES GOD SEE IN ME? He sees in you, my child, a sinful heart; He sees you a child of fallen Adam, ready to follow the temptations of Satan, and to do all manner of evil. Again: God sees in you children a backwardness and reluctancy to do what He commands: and you don't like reading your Bibles, and you don't like coming to church.
VI. WHAT DOES GOD WISH TO SEE IN ME? He wishes to see in you repentance, that you may ask for forgiveness for the past, and help for the time to come. He wishes to see in you a prayerful heart; not a mere saying, but a thinking of the words you say.
(T. J. Judkin.)
1. God sees your heart — what you are. Others do not see your heart; they cannot. They can only see what is outward. You cannot see the heart of so small a thing as a watch. It has a gold or silver case, and a beautiful dial, and hands such as good watches have, and you may pay a large sum of money for it; and yet its inside, which is the real watch, may be all defective and wrong. Now your heart determines what you are. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." It is what you think and feel, and wish, and purpose, that marks out what you really are. And I daresay you are sometimes thankful enough that nobody can see that; things are often outwardly so good, and yet so bad within. But God sees it all — all that we are within — all that is going on in our inmost heart. The heart is transparent to Him. It is as if it were made of glass.
2. God sees your life — what you do. Much of what is outward, as well as all that is within, is unseen and unknown by others. Many things are done secretly. I have been in institutions in which a large number of young people are being educated. Looking from the governor's room into the common hall where they work and play and get their meals, is a window that commands the whole. He had scarcely to rise from his chair in order to see all that was going on. And they knew it. Every now and then you might see an eye turned to the window, especially if there was anything questionable or wrong going on. And sure enough there was the face at the window — all was seen by the governor! And yet, even in such a case, where there is the sharpest lookout, it is possible to elude observation; things are done which no one sees, which everybody denies, and sometimes it is impossible to find out who has been the wrong-doer. But God sees all. Nothing escapes His observation. He slumbers not nor sleeps. The most secret thing that anyone can do, lies open to Him. Every word, though spoken in a whisper, He hears. Every act, however hidden, His eye looks right down upon.
3. God sees you in the dark. It is wonderful what an idea most people have of darkness, as covering and hiding things, Now, we need to be reminded that however it may be with men, darkness makes no difference to God. He sees in the dark just as in the light; so that, so far as He is concerned — and it is mainly with Him we have to do — it is of no use waiting till night, till it is dark.
4. God sees you in the crowd. When one wishes not to be seen, he likes to get into a crowd. We speak of being "lost in the crowd." Hence it is so easy to do many things in a crowd, which one would not do alone. Hence evil becomes so bold in a crowd. I recollect seeing a number of youths standing at a corner, in a seafaring town, going great lengths in the way of scoffing and reviling and ridiculing all that was good. A friend challenged any one of them to go out with him along a country road and say the same things there. He dared them to do, one by one, what they did boldly in the mass. I need not say the challenge was not accepted — all shrunk from it. But here, too, it is otherwise with God than it is with men. Just as darkness makes no difference, so numbers make none. Each individual out of ten thousand stands out as distinctly as if there were but the one.
5. God sees you when alone. A strange feeling of being unobserved, so as to be at liberty to do anything, comes over one when he is alone. There is such a sense of solitude that, so far as anyone else is concerned, it seems to matter little what one does. To be left alone with oneself is far more dangerous for some than to be surrounded by the most skilful of tempters. Many have found their way to prison and to ruin just through being left alone. But when one is most alone, in the most out-of-the-way place, in the remotest corner of the earth — God sees. Gehazi, the prophet's servant, thought he was all unobserved when he hurried after Naaman, the Syrian, after he was healed, and by a lying device got money from him, which he stowed away securely, and then presented himself before his master. How he must have been startled when Elisha said, "Went not my heart with thee?" And so God says, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?"
6. God sees you everywhere. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro, throughout the whole earth" (2 Chronicles 16:9). "Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:24).
7. God sees you always. There is no moment when He does not see you — night or day — waking or sleeping — alone or in company. It is told of Linnaeus, the famous naturalist, that he was greatly impressed with this thought, and that it told on his conversation, his writings, and his conduct. He felt the importance of this so much that he wrote over the door of his study the Latin words: "Innocui vivite; Numen adest; Live innocently; God is here." We might well have these words before us everywhere.
(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)
(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)
Old Testament Anecdotes.Some years since a trio of gentlemen, members of a large mercantile firm, came into the office of the writer, and, under injunctions of profound secrecy, desired the favour of using the window for a few days. The privilege was readily granted, and one of their number was at once installed behind a curtain, where, with a powerful glass, he could rigidly scrutinize every movement of a certain clerk in a large building across the way. The young man, all unconscious of the vigilant, eye constantly upon him, was absorbed in his duties, making entries and receiving money; and, whatever consciousness of innocence or guilt was carried about with him, the suspicion of a rigid watch upon his actions — every movement closely scanned and weighed by his employers — doubtless had never entered his mind. The surveillance was continued nearly a week when it was abruptly terminated, and the result, whether in discovery of wrong or establishing innocence, I never learned. The incident made a profound impression upon me, suggesting, with thrilling distinctness, the solemn truth which men are so prone to forget, "Thou God seest me," and enabling me as never before to realize how open before Him are the hearts and ways of men, their desires, volitions, actions; and that at last He shall bring every work into judgment whether it be good or whether it be evil.
(Old Testament Anecdotes.)
Thousand New Illustrations.Mazzini's soul was an inner lamp, shining through him always. Here was the strength of his personal influence. You could not doubt his glance.
(Thousand New Illustrations.)
Christian Age.The people of God, if they read nature aright, might learn much from even her humblest page; for the bending grass has a voice as distinct, if not as loud, as the sturdy oak. Myriad voices ever testify that God is near. This truth was found beautifully realized a little while ago by one of the agents of the London City Mission, who was visiting in one of those courts where the houses are crowded with inhabitants, and where every room is the dwelling of a family. In a lone room at the top of one of these houses the agent met with an aged woman, whose scanty pittance of half-a-crown a week was scarcely sufficient for her bare subsistence. He observed, in a broken teapot that stood in the window, a strawberry plant, growing and flourishing. He remarked, from time to time, how it continued to grow, and with what jealous care it was watched and tended. "Your plant flourishes nicely; you will soon have strawberries upon it." "Oh, sir," replied the woman, "it is not for the sake of the fruit that I grow it." "Then why do you take so much care of it?" he inquired. "Well, sir," was the answer, "I am very poor, too poor to keep any living creature; but it is a great comfort to me to have that living plant; for I know it can only live by the power of God; and as I see it live and grow from day to day, it tells me that God is near." "Thou God seest me. A young Christian lady was laid on a sick bed. She was often unprotected and alone. One night very late, as she was lying awake on her bed, her family all asleep in their rooms around, a man was seen by her entering her door. He stopped a moment after he had gained entrance, her little night lamp shining on them both from the stand by her bedside. He saw this sick girl surveying him with perfect tranquillity. She raised her finger, pointing upward, and said, Do you know that God sees you?" The man waited a moment, but made no reply, and then turned and walked immediately out, having opened no other door than the street door and the door of her chamber. Thus God interposed and defended her by the weakest instrument, but with the mightiest power. "Thou God seest me. When the great Phidias had completed his reclining statue of Theseus, someone, knowing that the statue was to occupy an elevated position in the temple, and observing that the back of the masterpiece was as highly polished and as carefully completed as was the front, asked why such waste of time and energy, when no one would ever see whether it was finished or in the rough. The sculptor calmly and reverently replied, Men may not see it, but the gods will." Our every act is under the inspection of the living God.
(Children's Missionary Record.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.).