Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So, Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
So, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. So, Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. (Genesis 16:1-6)
No wife that I know would encourage her husband to have a relationship with another woman. Yet, this is what Sarai did. Why did Sarai encourage Abram to father a child by Hagar?
Perhaps there are several reasons:
1) It was culturally acceptable
When Sarai encouraged Abram to take Hagar as his new wife, she was doing what was culturally acceptable in her day. Throughout the Bible we find many men who had more than one wife. Yet just because something is culturally acceptable, that does not mean that it is acceptable with God. The Bible says: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
2) Abram and Sarai allowed themselves to believe that the end always justifies the means
There was nothing wrong with their desire to have a child. God places such longings in the hearts of many. The problem was not their desire, but their means of trying to satisfy that desire. It is always a tragic mistake whenever we believe that we can break God’s laws and still find His favor. Right motives do not justify wrong methods.
3) Abram failed to be a spiritual leader for their home
Whenever I read this story in the Bible, I don’t know with whom I get upset with the most – Sarai or Abram? It seems that Sarai was pretty strong-willed and Abram was pretty weak. It reminds me a lot of the account of Eve bringing the forbidden fruit to Adam and him eating it without any argument. How different history might be if only Abraham and Adam and been better leaders.
Are you being tempted to take matters into your own hands and run ahead of God’s will? If so, I hope that today’s study will cause you to prayerfully reconsider.