Search word: Retrieve verses, illustrations, etc
Facebook - Preceptaustin
Twitter - Preceptaustin
Blog - Preceptaustin
Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
Where do you run to
when you feel mistreated and alone?
Where can you find comfort? Does anyone see your need?
THE RIGHTEOUS MAN OR WOMAN RUNS INTO
THE STRONG TOWER OF THE GOD WHO SEES
Updated March 14, 2014
He is the Creator and did not create me by accident but to have purpose
meaning in my life - ultimately to give Him glory
Isa 43:7 Everyone who
is called by My name and whom
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."
for a definite purpose
"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them"
(Ep 2:7, 8, 9, 10-see
is Greek word "poiema"
(word study)" (English
= "poem") - those who are now IN CHRIST (see
in Christ Jesus)
are God's "masterpieces". You may not feel like a poetic "masterpiece",
just like Gideon did not feel like a "valiant warrior" in (Jdg
God sees us not for who we were in self but for who have become in Christ
and He will continue the good work He began in each of us (Php 1:6-note). So
take heart and praise Him as Elohim, Who has made you and given you great
God Most High is sovereign and in total control which is why we can place
our confidence unhesitatingly in God's ability to cause "all things to
work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to His purpose." (Ro 8:28-note)
(cp Ge 50:20)
is 75yo and God Promised him that "in you
all the families of the
earth will be blessed."
(this is the the "GOSPEL" Paul refers below in
"The Scripture, foreseeing
that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel
"Now there was a famine in the land; so
Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was severe in the
Instead of going "down" to Egypt Abe should have gone "down"
on his knees and "up" to God
Separation of Abram (stayed in
Canaan) and Lot (moved to Sodom) (Ge 13:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Melchizedek who blesses "God
Most High (El Elyon)
Possessor of heaven and earth.
(Ge 14:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
believed (aman) in the
LORD; and He
logizomai) it to
Ro 4:4, 5, 6,9,20, 22, 23, 24, 25 Gal 3:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 He
Jas 2:23-note) (see
Covenant: Abrahamic vs Old vs New)
When life becomes too
painful to bear, we can find strength in remembering what
discovered. The Lord is “the God who sees me.” When we
understand that the Lord is aware of our pain and need, our strength will be renewed.
God not only sees us, He sees the future. He promised
future for her unborn son Ishmael. We too have hope for tomorrow, whatever our
pain is today.
El Roi = "a God of
seeing" (Ge 16:13ESV), "the God Who sees me" (Ge 16:13NIV); "You Are the
God Who Watches Over Me" (Ge 16:13GWT) (Also see the picturesque meaning
translation of the Hebrew "Roi" at bottom of third column =
"Comfort"); "You are the God of Vision" (NAB)
God sees all as El Roi
and so is never caught by
surprise. When He cannot rule, He overrules; and He always accomplishes
His purposes. (Study His attribute of "Sovereignty")
Satan wants us to think
that our “disobedience detours” must become the permanent road for the
rest of our lives; but this is a lie. Like Abraham and Sarah, we can
confess our sins, accept God’s cleansing (1Jn 1:9), and then learn to live
with our mistakes. Yes, there will be pain and regret; but God’s grace
will overcome in the end.
George Morrison : “The
victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”
This symbol marks a comment related to application of the truth
God always sees...
3:7-8 Jehovah said "I have surely seen the affliction
of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry (He also
hears!), because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and
to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land
flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite
and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite."
our Jehovah, our El Roi saw His men in Mark 6:48-50... "Seeing
them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the
fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He
intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they
supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were
terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take
courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”
you are under a hard taskmaster or straining with great effort against
seemingly overwhelming waves of affliction, discouragement, etc, you can
rest fully assured that Jesus, El Roi, sees where you are and He is not
aloof but concerned and able to deliver in His perfect timing and perfect
purposes (Ro 8:28-note,
Gen 50:20). If you find yourself in circumstances ike the Israelites
or the disciples, stop and praise Him for Who He is forever, El Roi (cf
thanking Him that HE SEES (cf 1Th 5:18-note)!
Spurgeon - When no eye seeth you except the eye of God, when darkness
covers you, when you are shut up from the observation of mortals, even
then be ye like Jesus Christ. Remember His ardent piety, His secret
devotion—how, after laboriously preaching the whole day, He stole away in
the midnight shades to cry for help from His God. Recollect how His entire
life was constantly sustained by fresh inspirations of the Holy Spirit,
derived by prayer. Take care of your secret life; let it be such that you
will not be ashamed to read it at the last great day.
Tozer - The doctrine of God's omnipresence, is a great central truth
of Scripture. God is present, near me, next to me — and this God sees me
and knows me through and through! At this point faith begins, and while it
may go on to include a thousand other wonderful truths, these all refer
back to the truth that God is, and God is here! (See
Jehovah Shammah - The LORD is There)
- see 2Chr 16:9) the eyes of Jehovah move to and fro throughout the
earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have
does Sarai respond to God's delay in giving a child?
Ge 16:2 Sarai said to Abram "Now behold the LORD has prevented me
from bearing children. Please go in to my maid (Hagar) perhaps I will
obtain children through her" and Abram listened to the voice of Sarai"
misinterpreted God's delay as denial (we all have this tendency when God
doesn't answer immediately in our timing) and took matters into her own
hands. (Pr 3:5, 6 is a good antidote for divine delays)
God's delays are not God's denials
Biblical waiting is not a
passive response to decision making—it is faith in action. It is active
trust in God and what He is able to provide.
Do not miss the practical
lessons here: whenever we run ahead of God, there is trouble. The flesh
loves to help God, but true faith is shown in patience (Isa. 28:16). We
cannot mix faith and flesh, law and grace, promise and self-effort...A
willingness to wait on the Lord is another evidence that you are walking
When we depend on ourselves,
people see what we can do and our testimony is, "Didn't I do well!" When
we depend on God, people see what He can do and our testimony is, "Didn't
God do well!" Which testimony will you have today?
Facing an impossibility
gives us the opportunity to trust God.
Beware of discerning according
to your own sagacity (quickness of discernment) how God must do some
things, because it means that you dictate to God—That word of God must be
fulfilled; I cannot allow that I have been deluded, therefore there is
only one thing left to do. That is leaning to your own
understanding instead of trusting in the Lord with all your heart. (Not
Hagar...conceived and when
she (Hagar) saw that she had conceived, her mistress (Heb - lady,
from root = master, lord) (Sarai) was despised in her
sight....May the wrong done me be upon you (Abram)." (Ge 16:4,
despised Sarai - she disdained Sarai, treating her with contempt. (Lxx-
atimazo = she deprived Sarai of honor or respect, treating her shamefully,
insulting her in thought, word or deed). Family fights are the most
painful and the most difficult to settle. Had Hagar maintained a servant's
attitude, things may have been different, but her pride and dismissal
irritated her mistress (Pr 30:21, 22, 23).
What is Sarai's
(Ge 16:5) She plays
the "blame game" - It might be paraphrased something like this...
it's all your fault for dragging her out of Egypt. If you hadn't brought
her along, this mess would never have happened!"
Sarai's (and Hagar's for that matter) reaction a picture of the reaction incited and empowered by the
in us all - the flesh does not like to take personal responsibility for
the "mistakes" (aka, sins) brought about by our own foolish choices!
When you follow the wisdom of
the world, you will end up warring like the world (James 3:13, 14, 15, 16,
rightly said that
In whatever man does without
God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.
did Sarai respond to being "dissed" by
"Sarai treated her
harshly" (Ge 16:6)
Hebrew word "harshly"
means to afflict or oppress
kakoo = to cause harm maltreat)
This same Hebrew verb
("treated...harshly") describes the condition of the children of Israel in
slavery under the heavy hand of the Egyptian taskmasters. (Ge 15:13, Ex
1:11, 12) which gives us a good sense of how Hagar (whose name means "flight")
felt and why "She fled from her presence." (Ge 16:6)
keep the historical, cultural
weary, alone, a woman in male dominated culture, pregnant, rejected,
cast out after being used, surely feeling no one cares for me, no one
A: Isn't it often in
the cauldron of adverse
circumstances like Hagar was experiencing that the
arrows of the evil one" (Ep 6:15, 16-notes)
penetrate the defenses of our mind as "the serpent (who) was more
crafty than any beast of the field" whispers lies
like “God is
holding out on
you! If He loved you, things would be different! Blame Him!” (cf
Ge 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
When those lies come we must chose to "take up the shield of faith"
(Ep 6:15, 16-note) remembering that
"faith comes from hearing and hearing by
the word of Christ" (Ro 10:17-note).
It follows then that as we meditate on the meaning of God's Names, like El
Roi and remember that El Roi sees and cares about all of our circumstances
(even if they are the result of our sin) the Spirit takes this truth and
renews the "defenses" of our mind. Then with our mind renewed by
the word of truth which fans the embers of
faith, we can now potentially "extinguish
all the flaming arrows"
of doubt and despair. (Look again - How many "arrows" can be extinguished?)
This process is a picture of what it means to run into the Strong Tower of
His Name and be set "safe" and secure above the swirling storm.
man of unbelief
listened to Sarai
Walks after the Spirit
cp Ga 5:16-note;
Gal 5:19, 20, 21-note
Ge 16:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ends in total
disaster -- Hagar lost her home, Sarai lost her live in maid and Abram
lost his second wife
and son Ishmael.
like Hagar you're also running from a
difficult situation in which you were unjustly treated and maybe like Hagar
you were part of the problem. Take comfort in
the truth that El Roi sees your distress. He has heard how you've have
been spoken to.
So first remember the truth about El Roi, as shown in (Ps 34:18)
(See "advantages of a broken heart
The LORD is near to the
"Crushed" = "Contrite"
and also in (Isa 57:15)
after you remember the truth about God, make a choice to act upon that
truth for example according to Ps 55:22: (see
You may say
wonder -- "Where was He when something bad happened to me? Why did He not stop it?"
At times like this make the choice to remember that He is still El Elyon
and He is in
control. He is causing it all things to work together for
good. Has someone you loved or cared for walked away from you and now shuns
you and you are "brokenhearted"?
As you study the columns to
the right, you will learn that you have a God
Who sees you and Who cares for you. He sees those who are
hurting you and they will not go free. He is ever "near
What do we do when find
ourselves in "Hagar" like circumstances?
Remember His promises like...
Psalm 145:18, 19, 20
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call
upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear
Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. 20 The LORD
keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy. (Spurgeon
#3) (See related
story on "worry, anxiety" in Sermon on Mount comments Mt
Care, even though exercised upon
legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The
precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour,
again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which
cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence
of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the
thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has
undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he
will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he
were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his
plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding
upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often
leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's
hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use
wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our
counselor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the
"broken cistern" instead of to the "fountain;" a sin which was laid
against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God's lovingkindness, and
thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the
Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example
marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God
leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his
promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are "careful for
nothing" because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to
him, and strengthen us against much temptation. "Thou wilt keep him in
perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
Ge 16:7 "Now
Angel of the LORD
found her by a spring of water in the
wilderness, by the spring on the way to
The Hebrew word for "found"
refers to “finding” someone or something that is lost or misplaced (Lxx
= heurisko - ).
Certainly Hagar must have felt both "lost" and "misplaced".
Alone in a barren desert wilderness, pregnant with a child because of
another person's willful desire...but she was not alone and the "Angel"
found her. This is where He often finds many of us - alone and in the
wilderness. But rest assured He will find you. And He knows all about our
past as well as our future
though He asked Hagar where she had come from and where she was going, the
God already knew the answers and yet He still
cared to show her personal comfort in her affliction. (Ge 16:8)
means "wall' so in a sense Hagar had her "back against the wall" as we
commonly say when we find ourselves in difficult, stress filled circumstances.
away from Sarai but ran into God. How many of us running away from some
oppressive situation, some bad memory, some unfair treatment, etc, have
"run into God"?
LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and He knows those who take
refuge in Him." (Nahum 1:7)
Related Topic: Observe
Scriptures on God as our Refuge (In NASB) - Ps 64:10, Zep 3:12, 2Sa 22:3
22:31 Ps 2:12, 5:11, 7:1, 11:1, 14:6, 16:1, 17:7, 18:2, 18:30, 25:20,
31:19, 34:8,22 36:7, 37:40, 46:1, 57:1, 61:3, 4, 64:10, 62:7, 73:28, 71:7;
91:2,9, 94:22, 118:8, 9, 141:8, 142:5, 143:9, 144:2, Pr 14:32, 30:5, Isa
57:13, Je 16:19, 17:17 Ru 2:12
Do you need to run to God and take refuge in the Strong Tower of His name El
Roi right now?
Then run for you won't be disappointed. The adversity you
are experiencing may not necessarily be assuaged (even as
Hagar had to
return to the setting of prior harsh treatment) but in your adversity you
can take confidence that El Roi sees and He will send comfort
the affliction (cp 1Co 10:13-note) Compare Paul's great encouragement in Ro 8:37...
IN ALL these
things we OVERWHELMINGLY conquer through Him Who loved us.
Do you see the significance
of the little preposition "IN"?
What a "precious and magnificent promise"
that sons and daughters of the Living God can experience victory IN the very
midst of tribulations, distresses or persecutions because He gives a
supernatural provision through Christ, our El Roi Who sees our need and
strengthens us to press on against all odds (cf notes
This scene marks the first OT
occurrence of the phrase
the "Angel of the LORD".
Although not everyone agrees, the evidence strongly supports that this
Furthermore, the fact that He does not appear again after the incarnation
of Christ supports that
(2) He is the Lord Jesus Christ. He appears
often in the OT at times of great need or distress.
Shout to the Lord
Note that He speaks
with authority (Ge 16:9),
promises He will multiply
Hagar's descendants (something only God can do)
discerns supernaturally she is with child, specifies the child's name is
Ishmael (meaning "God will hear")
for God had "given
heed (Hebrew =
shama = hear) to (Hagar's)
affliction. " (Ge 16:11).
So we serve a God who not only
"sees" but "hears." If you are going through a trial, feeling lonely and
distressed thinking no one cares, no one knows, you can beyond a shadow of
a doubt, know that God sees and that God hears (cp name
Ishmael) when you cry out to
Him. Are you crying
out? Remember you
may not be able to see Him, but as you
on Hagar's seemingly hopeless
state, His indwelling Spirit will enable you to "see" Him with eyes of
faith (2Cor 5:7, 4:18). God hears our words and sees
our hearts. You can be assured He is a personal God Who attentively
watches over all His children all the time. In Hagar's case,
it is a reminder that even though she was out of Abraham’s sight, God had
never taken his eyes off her. He can be trusted—even in the desert. No
heartache or trouble touches you that He does not see. (Read Ps 33:18-19)
Jesus is our El Roi Who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.
Surely Hagar would join us
in singing (sing it out beloved)...
With All I Am
Into Your Hand I commit again
With all I am for You O Lord
You hold my world in the palm of Your Hand
And I am Yours forever!
Jesus I believe in You
Jesus I belong to You
The reason that I live
The reason that I sing
With all I am.
What does the "Angel"
teach us about God?
He hears when we are in distress and have been mistreated or despised.
would likely never forget how God had heard her cry of affliction.
He never let her go...
Redman's youtube video (notice the woman sitting in the desert at
the beginning of the video and imagine for a moment how Hagar must have
felt at that moment)...
You Never Let Go
What grief are you
Recall God's comforting words to
Hagar and remember that...
Grief has an
eloquent voice when
Mercy is the listener
and Woe has a plea
resist. (click above for more on His attributes mercy and goodness).
"Surely, Goodness & Mercy")
Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her,
"You are (El Roi) a
"; for she
"Have I even remained alive here after
Who had she just seen in
Angel of the LORD and she calls Him "God"
and specifically "El
Roi". The context would support the premise that El Roi
represents a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A: Be encouraged by this "revelation" of God to
remember that in your most
painful trial you too may have your most
intimate and personal encounter with God.
Hagar's wilderness experience brought her
face-to-face with God and taught her that "I AM" is the living God
who SEES our plight and HEARS our cry when we hurt. He is a personal God,
concerned about abused people and unborn babies. He knows our past and our
future and cares for those who will trust Him, and so we can confidently
proclaim with the psalmist Ps 84:10, 11, 12...
Better is One Day
that God's wonderful attributes of
omnipresence are "inherent" in the Name "El Roi" God Who Sees
"well of Living One Who sees me"
i.e. of the ever living omnipresent Providence. We see a woman who begins
with wandering and ends in worship... I think Hagar would have liked Matt
Redman's youtube video...
The Heart of Worship
Sweet thought! We have a
Our weary, faltering steps to guide,
He follows with His eye of love
The precious ones for whom He died.
You Are My All in All
Hagar's specific description
seems to suggest that she was now not a pagan worshiper of idols, but
had "turned to God from idols to serve (the) living
true God" (1Th 1:9-note) of Abraham.
Admittedly, this is somewhat speculative and we will have to wait until we
are all in His presence to see if Hagar became an OT believer.
Draw Me Close to You
You might consider taking a
moment and meditating on the truths you have just read to allow your
Teacher the Spirit (Jn 14:26, 16:13, 1Jn 2:27, 20) to renew your mind. Or
you might consider sitting quietly and praising El Roi as you listen to
Chris Tomlin's youtube songs that speak of our great God's majesty and glory...
HOW gREAT IS OUR GOD
Holy Is The Lord God Almighty
El-Roi = “God that seeth”—cf.
Ge 16:13. The encouraging story that accompanies this name is calculated
to bring hope to modern day Hagars, wandering alone. This single parent
needed to know—as many today do—that in the lonely places, where danger
and uncertainty lurk on every side, God’s children are not really alone.
God overlooks none; He sees them all. (A Theology of Christian Counseling: More than Redemption)...
Indeed Hagar's personal
encounter discovered the great truth that our God is forever...
Mighty to Save
studies on "Mighty to Save")
When we're found in the
desert place like Hagar let us be filled with His Spirit and sing out
(like Job 1:21, cp Ps 34:1)...
Blessed Be Your Name
El Roi (Our Daily Bread)
Many locator devices are on
the market today that promise to help us keep track of elderly parents,
children, wallets, pets, parolees, even potential kidnapping victims.
As useful as these gadgets are, they would have done Hagar no good. No one
seemed to care enough about Hagar and her unborn child to monitor their
well-being in the desert. No one but El Roi—Hebrew for
“You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” (Ge 16:13).
Hagar served Sarai, Abram’s wife. Sarai felt like a weak link in the chain
of God’s promise to bless Abram with many descendants. She was barren, so
she told Abram to sleep with her maidservant and build a family through
her. This ill-advised suggestion—born amid intense cultural pressures to
provide an heir—led to nothing but trouble. When Hagar became pregnant,
she despised Sarai for her inability to have children. Then Sarai treated
Hagar so badly that she ran away. There in the desert, feeling the misery
of her past and the uncertainty of her future, Hagar met God, who saw her
and took care of her.
El Roi sees your past misery, your present pain, your uncertain future. He
is so watchful that He knows when the smallest sparrow perishes (Mt.
10:29, 30, 31). And He is the God who sees and cares for you today. —
If God sees the sparrow’s
Paints the lilies short and tall,
Gives the skies their azure hue,
Will He not then care for you?
Keep your eyes on the Lord;
never takes His eyes off you.
And because this is
eternally true of the Name of the Lord, El Roi...
Let Everything that has Breath Praise Him
Note on Hebrew Word
The Greek of the Hebrew (Septuagint)
translates El Roi (specifically the verb Roi as "sees") with
the Greek verb ephorao which is very picturesque for it means "to
gaze upon, to fix one's gaze on, and thus to regard, to show concern for
in this case speaking of God's concern for Hagar in dire straits.
Ephorao is used in Acts 4:29 in a prayer asking God to "take note" of
their threats, to look with favor on the supplicant (the one praying).
Ephorao (epeidon) is used by another woman in distress -
childless Elizabeth - and when she became pregnant she exalted in the LORD
saying "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He
LOOKED WITH FAVOR UPON me, to take away my disgrace among men." (Lk
1:25, cp epiblepo [He has had regard for] of Mary in Lk 1:48; cp Ge
16:13ESV translation = "Truly here I have seen Him Who looks after me").
In short, El Roi conveys first of all a sense of His presence, but clearly
(as with Elizabeth) includes an assurance of His perfect provision.
What does El Roi watch over?
"I am watching over My word to perform it."
Because El Roi watches over
His Word, He is
able to perform what He promises. If we truly appropriate this truth,
there is nothing that can happen to us that we cannot be at absolute peace
Who is described below?
LORD said, "I have surely
of My people who are in Egypt and have given heed to their cry
because of their taskmasters
(Hebrew means "intimately acquainted with) of their
Who is speaking in Ex 3:2)
Is this not a clear
description of El Roi the God Who sees all and is therefore fully aware of
the suffering of His chosen ones? (See
Note also the interesting parallels: El Roi is derived from "ra'ah".
is same word used to describe Hagar's affliction (Ge 16:11).
which El Roi saw. The point is that God sees your suffering saints. Be
consoled. Let us keep "fixing our eyes on Jesus, (our El Roi) the Author
and Perfecter of faith, " (He 12:2-note) (Spurgeon's
How MUCH does El Roi SEE?
For the ways of a man are
before the EYES of the LORD and He watches ALL his paths.
There is no hiding from El Roi Who watches over you,
seeing and knowing all that happens, and "He is able to
come to the aid of those who are (being continuously) tempted (tested or tried)" (Heb
Scripture related to the "eyes
of the Lord" = Pr 15:3; 2Chr 16:9; Job 31:4; 34:21; Ps
11:4; 17:3; 139:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Je 16:17; 17:10;
23:24; 32:19; Ho 7:2; Rev 2:18,23
And there is no creature
hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes
of Him with whom we have to do. Heb 4:13-note
As believers we should
love the comforting attribute of God's omnipresence, for as Isaac Watts
said so poetically...
Within thy circling power I
On every side I find Thy hand;
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.
Our place of safety is the
bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive
us nearer to Him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our
Saviour's love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye
tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for He can be touched with a
feeling of your infirmities, and will succor every tried and tempted one.
much does El Roi CARE?
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? and yet not one of
them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows
link (entire Psalm) but at
least read Ps 139:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 which gives
a beautiful description of El Roi Who sees ALL and is intimately acquainted
with ALL our ways.
is the word from which "roi" (El Roi) is derived. So David prays for El
Roi Who sees ALL to see within his heart so that David might walk in the
ALL the ways of righteousness. May we ALL be so bold as to give El
Roi the freedom to search our innermost thoughts and ways
so that we might truly "become partakers of the divine nature, having
escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2Pe
He knows all
about your past
He knows if you
He knows the
pain you've felt
As you read Psalm 121
below notice how it gives a clear , comforting picture of El Roi, the God
Who never slumbers or sleeps and therefore Who always sees all of your needs and Who is
always able to come to your aid and always guards your going out and your coming from this time forth
and forever. This promise first given to Israel is also for all of His sons and
1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help
2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip. He who keeps you will not
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper. The LORD is your shade on your right
6 The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this
time forth and forever.
I Lift My Eyes Up
I Lift My Eyes - Bebo Norman
I Lift My Eyes Up - Ps 121
Open the Eyes of my Heart
Come, Now is the Time to
Blessed Be Your Name
Blessed Be Your Name
He sees where you
have come from and where you are going. He sees what you
need as well as what you don't need. He sees what He
wants to make of you and how He's going to achieve it (cf
His calling fearful Gideon "valiant
He is ever there
comfort those who weep
nor does He sleep
At the end your
In El Roi you have hope!
Take a moment and listen/sing
the following encouraging words based on Psalm 121...let the Spirit renew
your mind and encourage your heart if you are downcast...
He Is Over Me
I will lift my eyes
To the hills and their Creator
Who made all heaven and earth
For He watches me
Will not sleep, no never slumbers
He's ever over me
As I come and I go
I am safe, for I know
That His care is sufficient for me
Winter warmth and light
And a shady place in summer
He's ever over me
Run into the
truth of the God Who sees you ALL of your days (cp Pr 30:5)
He sees where you've come
He sees where you are right now.
He sees where you are going.
He sees what you need as well as what you don't need.
He knows what He desires to make you into and has the power to bring it to
I Lift My Eyes Up
Oh how I need You Lord
You are my only hope
You’re my only prayer
So I will wait for You
To come and rescue me
Come and give me life
El Roi sees past present
and future. He sees
the outcast on her knees. He will assure that it
all works together for good because His lovingkindness is from everlasting to
your future in His hands…it
may not look like it now but you have not seen the end yet for you are a
work in progress being conformed to the
the Son of God
pregnant, homeless, hopeless, at the end of your rope and in the "barren
wilderness " it may seem that God does not see you, but HE DOES for He is the God who sees the
hand maid Hagar as well as the patriarch father Abraham..
(Wilderness) is not a bad place to be if in that place you hear God, and there begin to
understand His tender mercies and covenant love for you His beloved in
Do you think that there's no one who knows
what you're going thru? No one who cares? Wrong. El-Roi, the
mighty One who sees, knows everything about you. Even
if you've brought some of this trouble upon yourself thru your foolish
decisions, He still cares! He knows your name, where you've come from
where you are going and He wants to bless you with the assurance that He is
in control of the beginning and the end because He is the God Who sees. He
watches over you, seeing and knowing all that happens, and He comes to
Consider this prayer - El Roi, You see
everything. Help those who've run away -- in any sense of the word -- to
return where they belong. In Jesus' name, Amen
For additional study on the
Protection of God
below and pop up the Scriptures in the NASB
GOD WHO SEES
El-Roi sees His people, it's out of a sense of caring.
"If God is for us, who is against
us?" (Ro 8:31-note)
Our enemy, Satan, is out to destroy us, but God is for us. And "if God is
for us, who can be against us?" Knowing
that God sees all things may leave you in moment-to-moment fear that He will
going to strike you down for your sinful ways! How can any of us stand
under the careful scrutiny of a holy God? But the revelation of God as
El-Roi, the Mighty One who Sees, is intended to be a great comfort
to those who love Him, not to strike terror in our hearts.
Herbert Lockyer - In the
wilderness Hagar discovered her
Jehovah Shammah - The LORD is There
and proved Him to be her
Jehovah Jireh: The LORD Will Provide
and when her child was born he was called,
Ishmael, meaning "God who hears." (All the
Divine Names and Titles of the Bible)
Adrian Rogers - Our God
The God of strength - Elohim.
The God of sovereignty - Jehovah.
The God of superiority - Adonai.
The God of sufficiency - El Shaddai.
The God of supremacy - El Elyon.
The God of stability - El Olam.
The God of sympathy - El Roi.
And all of these names are made known
unto us in that one beautiful name - JESUS.
El Roi - He is the God of
sympathy. He sees. He knows. God sees you. You don't have any heartache,
you don't have any pain, you don't have any trouble that He doesn't know
of. In Psalm 33:18, 19, "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that
fear Him, and upon them that hope in His mercy." Did you know that God
sees you right now? God knows your very thoughts. God knows your
heartache. God knows your imaginations right now. God is there and Jesus
is our El Roi, because what does the Bible teach us in the Book of
Hebrews? We have a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of
our infirmities. He knows. He cares. His eye is on the sparrow and I know
He watches me.
James Smith - My Father sees me!
"The One who sees me!" Genesis 16:13
The eye of the Lord is upon the righteous, and His ear is open unto their
God sees everything—but He observes His people with special attention.
His eye has been upon me this day! He has seen every movement of my mind,
and every action of my body. His eye is upon me now, and will be through
the dark watches of the night.
But it is a comfortable thought, that He who sees me always—loves me most!
He loves me, notwithstanding all that He sees amiss in me.
Let us ever cherish the thought: "My Father sees me! I am under His eye!
He sees all I do, all I suffer, all my desires. Nothing can conceal the
least circumstance from His eye. He sees me—when I see not Him. He sees me
in the furnace—and is with me. He sees me in the battle—and gives me the
shield of His salvation. He sees me when my foot is slipping—and often has
the hand of His mercy caught me and held me up! He see me when tempted to
sin—when giving way to fear—or when yielding to the world!"
Let me call to mind this solemn fact: My God sees me!
If I sin—it must be immediately under His eye!
If I yield to temptation—it must be in His presence!
David Guzik - (Ge 16:13-16)
God’s blessing and protection of Hagar and Ishmael.
Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her,
You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who
sees me?” Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is
between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his
son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar
bore Ishmael to Abram.
You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees: Hagar knew this was no mere angel who appeared
to her. The Angel of the Lord was also the-God-Who-Sees, the same One
watching over Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael is the first man in the Bible to
receive his name before he was born.
So Hagar bore Abram a son: Apparently, Hagar did return with a submitted
heart. She told the whole story to Abram and Sarai, and Abram named the
child Ishmael, just as instructed in the meeting with the Angel of the
Lord Hagar described. Hagar might have returned and said, “I fled from you
all because I was so miserable and thought I could not continue here. But
the Lord met me and told me He would see me through. He told me to come
back and submit to you, so that is why I’m here.” After meeting with El
Roi, (You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees), Hagar knew that if God could be with her
in the wilderness, He would be with her in having to submit to Sarai
also.. “If we seek to change our circumstances, we will jump from the
frying pan into the fire. We must be triumphant exactly where we are. It
is not a change of climate we need, but a change of heart. The flesh wants
to run away, but God wants to demonstrate His power exactly where we have
known our greatest chagrin.” (Barnhouse)
W H Griffith-Thomas - The Special
Interposition (Ge 16:7-12).—What a picture of real life is found in
this chapter! Man is seen blundering, sinning, and suffering, and then God
intervenes with His overruling providence, wisdom, and grace.
We see the blessed truth of Divine interest in human troubles (Ge 16:7).
'The angel found her.' God had not overlooked what had taken place, and
now He interposes in order to bring about the best possible results after
the error and sin of His children. How often God has had to do this for
His children since that day!
We observe, too, the Divine call for perfect submission (Ge 16:8, 9). The
questions 'whence' and 'whither' recall Hagar to her position, and the
slave woman tells the simple truth about her flight. The Divine command is
that she should return and submit herself. It will be noticed that the
quasi-marriage is not for an instant acknowledged. Sarah is still Hagar's
mistress. This call for submission was the first step towards blessing in
Hagar's life. The same is true to-day. If we have made mistakes which have
led us into sin, the primary condition of restoration is complete
submission to the will of God, whatever that may involve.
We have also the Divine assurance of definite blessing (Ge 16:10). God
accompanies His call for submission by the promise of blessing to her
child. He never makes a demand without giving us a promise. Thus He
encouraged and incited her to the very submission from which she doubtless
And above all there is the Divine revelation of overruling providence (Ge
16:11, 12). God told her that she should have a son and also of his name
and its meaning (Ishmael; 'God shall hear'). Thus every time she mentioned
his name she might be reminded of God's promises. Her son's character and
relation to others were also revealed (Ge 16:12), an additional
encouragement to the poor creature in her misery and trouble.
This interposition had its immediate and blessed effect on Hagar. It led
to a realization of the Divine presence (Ge 16:13.) 'She called the
name.... Thou God seest me,' or ' The God of my vision.' The Divine
Presence thus came into her life with its blessing and cheer.
It prompted a memorial of the Divine promise (Ge 16:14). 'The well
Beer Lahai Roi.' See margin, 'The well of
Him that liveth and seeth me'; that is, the well where life is preserved
after seeing God.
It elicited obedience to the Divine will. She returned to her mistress,
accepted the position, and all things were fulfilled according to the
1. The continuance of the old nature.—How truly this fact of the
spiritual life is proved by this chapter! Is it not also manifest in daily
experience? The most deeply-taught believer is not exempt from the
temptations, weaknesses, and tendencies of the old sinful nature.
2. The occurrence of special dangers.—Here again we are face to
face with a well-known fact of the spiritual life. Our life may be lived
for days, and weeks, and months without anything exceptional occurring,
and then suddenly a special temptation may arise which leads us into sin.
3. The unexpected sources of temptation.—Abraham's temptation came
from the nearest and dearest in his life, the very source whence trouble
might have been least expected. So it often is to-day. Satan uses even the
holiest of relationships 198and the closest of ties to bring about sin,
and we ought not to be 'ignorant of his devices.'
4. The combination of high motives and wrong actions.—Sarah's
motives were undoubtedly good, and we may fully believe that Abraham was
actuated in the same way, and yet their actions were manifestly wrong. How
frequently this remarkable combination of good motive and bad conduct
occurs in history and daily life! The end does not justify the means,
whatever people may say.
5. The far-reaching effects of a believer's sin.—Evil-doing on the
part of a child of God is perhaps the very worst thing that can happen,
and often has very widespread effects. It has been well pointed out by a
modern writer that the existence of Mohammedanism to-day is really to be
traced to Abraham's false step; Mohammedanism which is in some respects
the deadliest opponent of Christianity. Isaac and Ishmael still struggle
in fierce opposition.
6. The necessity of prolonged waiting on God.—God's will must be
realised in God's way, and God's way often involves waiting God's time.
The union of faith and patience (Heb. 6:12-see
note) is one of the prime
necessities of true spiritual life.
7. The supreme secret of all true living.—Abraham could hardly have
been living in close touch with God, or his spiritual perception would
have been keen enough to detect the danger lurking in Sarah's temptation.
The only protection against error in thought and action is found in
abiding with199 God, living in fellowship with Him, listening to His voice
in His word, and keeping the pathway to His presence clear by prayer and
alertness of attitude before Him. 'The people who know their God will
display strength and take action.' (Da 11:32-see
- a devotional commentary -
Ron Mattoon - Hagar confesses
God with her mouth and calls upon the Lord. She knew that the Lord not
only heard her, but was also watching over her. She calls the Lord by the
name El Roi, which means "the God who sees". She names the well Beer-la-hai-roi
in honor of the Lord. This means "The well of the Living One who seeth me"
or "The well of continuing to live after seeing God". Hagar found great
peace and comfort in the fact that God was watching over her. God is
watching over us too. What does the Bible say about what the Lord sees?
What God Sees in Genesis
• Corruption-God saw the wickedness of man on earth. 6:5
• City-The Lord came to see the city and the tower. 11:5
• Cruelty-God saw the cruelty to Hagar. 16:13, 14
• Contempt-God saw Laban's treatment of Jacob. 31:12
• Calamity-God saw the afflictions of Jacob. 31:42
• Carnality-Er was wicked in the sight of the Lord. 38:7
Some of the Things that God Sees
• Right deeds-Deut. 13:18
• Evil deeds-1 Kings 16:25
• Everywhere and Everything-2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 15:3
• The Ways of the mighty man-Job 24:23
• The Righteous-Job 36:7
• The Nations-Psalm 66:7
• The Faithful-Psalm 101:6
• The Baby in the Womb-Psalm 139:16
• Iniquity-Jeremiah 16:17
• Years and Time-Psalm 90:4
• The Death of the Saints-Psalm 116:15
• Our Hearts-1 Samuel 16:7
• Affliction-Exodus 3:7
F B Meyer (Our Daily Walk) -- GOD'S
THOUGHT OF ME
"Thou art a God that seeth me."--Gen. 16:13 (R.V. marg.).
"How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God."--Ps. 139:17.
HAGAR WAS an Egyptian slave-girl, who had been brought up amid the
idolatries of Egypt, and had no sort of idea that the gods had any
personal interest in so insignificant a human atom as she was. Probably in
Abraham's encampment she had heard of Jehovah, but would doubtless think
of Him as being equally outside the limits of her little life. What care
should the God of her master and mistress have for her, as she fled from
the harsh treatment of Sarah, and was in danger of perishing in the lonely
desert! Then, suddenly, in her despair, she heard the voice of the
Angel-Jehovah speaking to her, and she called Him "The Living One who
To her the thought was an inspiration and comfort, enabling her to return
and submit herself to Sarah. But to many these words have been a note of
fear and judgment. They have thought of God as spying upon their evil
ways, and have shrunk from the thought of His eye seeing them. That
thought, however, is not the significance of these inspiring words, but
that we can never wander into the far country, or take one weary step in
loneliness without the tender notice of God our Father, who notices even
the sparrow that falls to the ground.
The Psalmist had the same thought when he wrote the 139th Psalm. When he
says that God knows his downsitting and uprising, that his thoughts and
ways are all open to His Almighty Friend, it is in a tone of rapturous
gladness. It is the prerogative of friendship to love the presence and
thought of a friend, and the crowning characteristic of Christianity is
that we are admitted into personal friendship with our Lord. He knows our
thoughts afar off. With an instant sympathy He enters into our anxieties
and discouragements. Wherever we go He precedes and brings up the rear; we
are beset by His care behind and before. Let every reader open the door to
this great Friend, remembering that His one test is obedience: "Ye are My
friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Thus you will find His
presence the delight of your life (Rev. 3:20).
PRAYER- We thank Thee, O God, that Thou hast been about our path,
considering all our ways, and encompassing us with blessing. Thine eye has
been upon us to deliver our soul from death, and to be our help and
shield. For all Thy gracious care we thank Thee. AMEN.
F B Meyer - Our Daily Homily Genesis
POOR Hagar! No wonder that she fled. Her proud Arab independence and the
sense of coming motherhood made her rebel against Sarah's hard dealings.
We have often meditated flight, if we have not actually fled from
intolerable conditions. Of course, when God opens the door out of a
dungeon we need not hesitate, as Peter did, to rise and follow. But this
is very different to flight from the post of duty.
Our Cross.--For Hagar, Sarah; for Hannah, Penninah; for David,
Joab; for Jesus, Judas; for Paul, Alexander the coppersmith. Life assumes
hard and forbidding aspects. Sometimes the cross is not a person, but a
trial, the pressure of a slow and lingering disease; the demand for
grinding and persistent toil; the weight of overmastering anxiety for
those dearer than life, who have no knowledge of God.
Our Demeanor.--Return and submit. We are apt to suppose that we
shall get rest and peace elsewhere. It is not so, however. Nowhere else
shall we find the path less rugged, or the pillow less hard. To evade the
yoke will not give us heartsease. The Master's advice is that we shall
take His yoke, and bear it as He did; remain where God has put us, till He
shows us another place; and bear what He ordains and permits, even though
it comes through the means of others.
Our Faith.--We cannot patiently submit to our lot unless we believe
that what God permits is as much His will as what He appoints. Behind
Sarah's hard dealings we must behold His permissive providence. Through
all the discipline of life we must believe that God has a purpose of
unfailing love and wisdom. Then our submission is not stoicism, but loving
acquiescence in our Father's will.
Tony Evans - Hagar was pregnant
with Abraham’s child, but Sarah drove her out of the house (Genesis 16:6).
Hagar sat out by herself in the desert with no one to care for her. She
was in distress, wondering, “How am I going to make it?” But the angel of
the Lord came to Hagar and told her, “Wipe those tears. Everything is
going to be all right. Return to Sarah’s house. I will take care of you.”
Then Hagar called the God who spoke to her El Roi, “the God who sees” (v.
13). Even in Hagar’s loneliness and distress, she wasn’t alone. The
all-present God saw her and took note of her need. This was important to
Hagar because later Sarah sent her packing for good (see Genesis 21:14),
and Hagar became a single parent, alone with her son in the scorching
desert. (Our God is awesome)
Our Daily Bread devotion - Thou
God Seest Me (Ge 16:13)
The following comforting comments were
found in a clipping sent to us by an interested reader: "A child in Burma
was permitted by his parents to go to a mission school in order that he
might learn to read. By and by they found he was losing faith in the
idols. This made them feel very sad. So the father took the lad to one of
the gayest of the temples where the fragrance of incense filled the air.
There he showed him the glittering images covered with gold and silver
ornaments and surrounded by flowers and candles.
"Here," said the father, "is a god you
can see! The Christians cannot show you their God."`
"Yes,' said the child, `we can see your
god, but he cannot see us. We cannot see the Christian's God, but He sees
us all the time!'
Was not this child wise in choosing the
God from whom even the thoughts of the heart cannot be hidden?"
How reassuring the truth that "the eyes of the Lord are over the
righteous" so that we can say with Hagar, "Thou God seest me" (Ge 16:13).
How precious the teaching of the Bible about the eyes of the Lord.
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in
the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye."
And we read in Psalm 33:18-note,
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon
those who fear him, upon those who hope in his mercy."
tells us that
" the eyes of the Lord are over the
Child of God, perhaps unnoticed, or
even forgotten and neglected by others, remember, you too can say with
assurance, "Thou God seest me!" His eyes are not only upon you, but
His ears are open unto your cry (cp He 2:18-note).
With the little child in Burma we as Christians can rejoice that although
we are not able to see our God, we do know and have this assurance that He
sees us all the time!
Sweet thought! We have a Friend above,
Our weary, faltering steps to guide,
He follows with His eye of love
The precious ones for whom He died. —Anon.
It is comforting to know that He who
"guides us with His eye" sees tomorrow clearer than we see today!—Bosch
God Sees You
Hagar, Sarah's handmaid, was being
treated unkindly by Sarah, so she fled into the wilderness. As Hagar stood
beside a spring in that desolate and lonely place, the Angel of the Lord
visited her. He assured her that God Himself was aware of her situation.
Hagar responded, "You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees" (Genesis 16:13). She found
great comfort in knowing that the Lord God saw her and knew about her
You and I can have that same confidence in God's watchcare. We can be sure
that the Lord God is with us wherever we go, and He knows everything that
happens to us. As the all-powerful One, He is able to solve every problem,
no matter how overwhelming or perplexing it may be. We are never alone,
never forgotten, and never beyond hope.
Whatever your troubling circumstances are, whether you're afflicted by
illness or injury, brokenhearted over the loss of a loved one, or
disillusioned because your dearest friend has betrayed or rejected you,
God knows and cares. You may be deeply depressed, or perhaps you're
plagued by loneliness and discouragement. But you can be confident that
you are under God's watchful eye. Yes, like Hagar, you can know that God
sees you. — Richard De Haan
Beneath His watchful eye
His saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard His children well. —Doddridge
We need not fear the perils around us
because the eye of the Lord is always upon us.
Oswald Chambers - Whenever God gives a vision to a saint,
He puts him, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint’s duty
is to be still and listen. There is a darkness which comes from excess of
light, and then is the time to listen. Genesis 16 is an illustration of
listening to good advice when it is dark instead of waiting for God to
send the light. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait. God
will make you in accordance with the vision He has given if you will wait
His time. Never try and help God fulfil His word. (My
Utmost for His Highest)
Tony Evans - Single parent, God
knows what you and your children need. The reason God gave Ishmael his
name was so that every time Hagar used that name, she would remember
something about God. The Angel of the Lord told her to call him Ishmael so
that every time she spoke his name she would remember that “God knows.”
That’s the beauty of the grace of God for a single parent. Hagar is out on
her own with no help, but God says, “I know.” He goes on to say in Ge
16:11 that she would have a son and that they would be OK “because the
Lord has given heed to your affliction” (Ge 16:11).
Now notice Ge 16:13: “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to
her, ‘Thou art a God who sees.’ ” The Hebrew word for the name Hagar gave
to God is El Roi. Do you know that God sees? He sees the circumstances you
are in. He sees you out there in the desert all alone with no one to
provide for and protect you. He is not unaware of what you are going
through. No matter what your family situation may be, no matter what your
need or loss, God says, “I see. I am taking heed. I know.”
Ge 16:15 records the birth of Ishmael and his naming by Abram, obviously
under God’s direction. Now every time Abram called Ishmael by name, he too
would be reminded of the mess he had made. He would remember, “God knows
the situation I have created.”
The Angel of the Lord showed up in a bad situation, but the saga of Hagar
does not end here. Turn over to Genesis 21:1-21 and look at the conclusion
of the story. Hagar has gone back to Sarah, as the Lord told her to do.
And by now Sarah has had Isaac, the son of promise whom she and Abraham
(their names were changed in Ge 17:5, 15-See
significance of Change of Names in Covenant- The Oneness of Covenant)
were waiting for all along.
Both mothers and their sons were living in the same tent. And there was
trouble. Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of Isaac, the son of promise (Ge
21:9). She did not like that at all. Ishmael was a teenager now. Teenagers
will do that. But Sarah said, “Not in my house you won’t!” Abraham didn’t
like this fuss any better than he did the first one, but Sarah demanded
that he give Hagar her marching papers. Abraham was very distressed, but
God assured him that He was in control and that He would personally care
for Hagar and Ishmael (Ge 21:12). So according to Ge 21:14, Abraham sent
Hagar and Ishmael away from his house to wander in the wilderness alone.
Hagar was now a bona fide single mother.
Soon the water Abraham gave to her and the boy was used up, and she left
him so that she wouldn’t have to watch him die (Ge 21:15–16). But the
Angel of God (Jesus, before His birth in Bethlehem) showed up again,
assuring Hagar that God knew exactly what was happening and would not only
keep her and Ishmael alive but would make a great nation out of him (Ge
21:17–18). This is a classic single-parent scenario—one that, with a few
changes of detail and geography, could easily be repeated today. Hagar
lost her home, she had a teenaged son to take care of, she was on the
streets, so to speak, with no money in her pockets. She was thirsty and
probably hungry. She feared that her boy would die. So in despair she sat
down and cried. That’s when Jesus Christ showed up in His Old Testament
form. He asked Hagar, “What is the matter with you?” (Ge 21:17). Didn’t He
know the fix she was in? Of course He did. He was saying, “Hagar, have you
forgotten what I did for you earlier? Have you forgotten how I found you
out in the wilderness when you were pregnant and Sarah had chased you
away? Do you think I am going to remember you one minute and forget you
the next? You yourself said I am the God who sees. Do you think I have
“THE GOD WHO SEES” YOU
Single parent, God has not gone blind.
He sees and knows. You may be in a far from ideal situation, but you have
an ideal God. You have got a God who, when your husband and the father of
your baby kicks you out, will turn into a husband, if necessary, and be a
Father to your baby. God will always provide. Why? Because His name is El
Roi, “the God who sees.” He is the way out of your circumstance. Now I
can’t promise you that He will bring you a mate or a home or whatever. But
I can tell you that He sees that baby, He hears that baby cry. He says,
“Remember, I named Ishmael. And any baby who has My name, I am going to
take care of.”
That is the beauty of dedicating children to the Lord—you give that child
God’s name. And when you give that child God’s name, God takes
responsibility for that child’s well-being. So God’s message to Hagar was,
“Young lady, have you forgotten who I am?”
Genesis 21:18–21, the final chapter of this biblical saga, shows how God
fulfilled His word. The well
Hagar saw in Ge 21:19 was there all the time, but she was so busy crying
and forgetting God that she stopped trusting, she stopped looking for God.
How many times has God opened your eyes and shown you a well, a source of
supply, when you did not see any way, with no husband, that you could feed
your babies? How many times has God opened your eyes and shown you how you
can make it on one person’s salary?
(Tony Evans Speaks Out on Single Parenting)
MARCH—4 - And she called the name of
the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also
here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.—Genesis
Robert Hawker - Behold, my soul, what very blessed instructions
arise out of this scripture. Beg of God the Holy Ghost to make thy present
evening meditation of it sweet. The words themselves are the reflection of
Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, when she fled from her mistress into the
wilderness. In a situation of great distress, the Lord manifested himself
to her, and the conclusion she drew from it was, as is expressed, “Thou
God seest me.” This, indeed, was the name she gave unto the Lord, as if
henceforth she would know the Lord in all his mercies by this name. Sweet
thought! Jesus is known by his name, and in his name his grace is
revealed. But Hagar added another delightful reflection, “for she said,
Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” As if she had said, “And
hath the grace of God, looking upon me, wrought grace in me?” But the
words may be read differently, and some indeed read them so: “Have I
looked for the Lord, when the Lord looked after me?” “Alas! I thought not
of him until that he called me by his grace.” Here is another delightful
thought of Hagar’s, and in perfect harmony with the gospel of Jesus. “For
if we love God, it is because he first loved us.” And there is another
reflection as interesting as either: “Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi;”
that is, “the well of him that liveth and looketh on.” This became Hagar’s
memorial, as if she would for ever perpetuate the name of Him that looked
on and regarded her sorrow. This well, this place, this sacred spot, shall
be Hagar’s Bethel! It shall tell every one that passeth by, Here the Lord
wrought, and here he manifested grace to a poor handmaid. Precious
scripture of a precious God! Who but must feel delight in beholding
Hagar’s faith? And who but must find cause to bless God, both for giving
that faith, and affording so favourable an occasion for the exercise of
if? And shall I not, and will not you, reader, gather some of the many
delightful instructions from it, for our own use, which it is so highly
calculated to bring? Did the angel of the Lord look on Hagar, and doth he
not look on every child of his? Am I at any time looking after Jesus, and
is not Jesus looking after me? Oh! what a volume of encouragement ariseth
from this one view, to persevere in looking after him and in waiting for
him! that before I thought of him, or was looking after him, Jesus was
both caring and looking upon me! It is impossible to be beforehand with
God. Put down, then, my soul, this conclusion from this blessed scripture,
that in every place, in every state, upon every occasion, thy Jesus
liveth, and looketh on. And do thou call thy Lord by the same name as
Hagar did, that speaketh to thee in every place, and by every providence,
“Thou God seest me.” And never, never forget, when thou art hardest put to
it, and art seeking Jesus, sorrowing, though to thy blind eye he doth not
so immediately appear, yet he is still seeing and following thee, even
when thou art not seeking and following after him. Let this be in thy
constant remembrance: and make every spot that is memorable like the well
Beer-lahai-roi, to draw water of salvation from; for in every one it is
the well of Him that liveth, and looketh on. Precious Lord Jesus!
henceforth grant me grace, that while thou art looking after me with love
and favour, I may be looking unto thee with faith and praise. And through
every step of my wilderness state, while going home to my Father’s house,
let this be my comfort and the burden of my song in this house of my
pilgrimage, “Thou God seest me.” (The Poor Man’s Evening Portion)
Alan Carr on El Roi - the same
God Who saw Hagar has His eye on you. He knows where you are. He sees what
you are going through. I would like to draw preach around the phrase found
in verse 13 that says, “Thou God seest me”. I would like to try and preach
about God's omniscience. I want you to see the truth that He sees you. I
want you to see the truth that He sees you, but it is not with
disinterest. He sees you and He cares about you. I want you to come to
understand that you are “the apple of His eye”, Ps 17:8; Zech. 2:8.
Matthew Henry - Ge 16:7-16 Hagar was
out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further
astray, when the Angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a
sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. Whence comest thou?
Consider that thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast
blest with in Abram's tent. It is good to live in a religious family,
which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither wilt thou
go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return
to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must
travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring
whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we
shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space
and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The
declaration of the Angel, I will, shows this Angel was the eternal Word
and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord's mercy, and feel,
Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the
Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour
softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were
always suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!
Ray Pritchard - Hagar Gives
Birth to Ishmael Ge 16:15-16 The final two verses tell us that Hagar went
home to give birth to Ishmael. This speaks volumes about her faith in God.
Why would she dare to go home after Sarah had mistreated her?
1. She believed she could trust God in
spite of her circumstances.
2. She concluded that God’s goodness outweighed Sarah’s hostility.
3. She knew that if God had called her, he could take care of her.
You have heard it said before, but I
will say it again. The safest place for any Christian is in the center of
his will. Strange as it may seem, it was safe for Hagar to be under
Sarah’s cruel mistreatment in the will of God than to be out on her own
and out of God’s will. I remind you that she had no guarantees as to how
Sarah would treat her. Perhaps the mistreatment and snide comments
continued for years. I tend to think they did. Human nature being what it
is, it’s easy to believe that Sarah’s deep jealousy would continually
provoke conflict. Here is a
simple application to ponder: We never solve life’s problems by running
away. Most of us have tried
that route at one time or the other. It never works. Most of the time
growth comes only as we face our problems head-on. Finally, I find it
instructive that Sarah and Abraham took her back. I’m sure Abraham wanted
her back. After all, she was carrying his child. And I’m just as sure
Sarah didn’t want her back. Nevertheless, they took her in. Did God have
time for a poor servant? Did he care about a slave-girl’s baby? Would the
God of Israel care for an Egyptian slave-girl? Yes, Yes, Yes!!! Hagar’s
presence was a stinging rebuke to both of them for their sins! They
couldn’t look at her without being reminded of their folly. “The whole
Christian life is a life of repentance.” Even the name Ishmael served as a
constant voice from the past, reminding them that God had heard the cries
of the despised servant girl. (Doing
the Right Thing in the Wrong Way)
J J Knap - June 14 God, Thou Seest Me Gen. 16:13
There was a tone of holy surprise in the exclamation of Hagar when she sat
down at a well in the desert, and was sought and found by the Angel of the
Lord: “Thou God seest!” The Egyptian servant, who had lived long in
Abram’s tent and who was even closely involved with him, had at least
learned something concerning the true God. However, when she had fled from
Sarai, and roamed all by herself through the wilderness with the great
sorrow that she had brought this upon herself by her own fault, she could
not have thought that the eye of the Lord followed her from step to step.
When she experienced that the Lord was also there, and made her confess
her guilt that she was fleeing from the face of Sarai, and showed her the
right but painful way to return and to humble herself before her
mistress,—no, then she did not turn away her ears, but, surprised by a
goodness that even followed and overtook a runaway servant, she called the
Lord a new name: “Thou God seest,” that is to say, “Thou art a God who
seest and who is seen by a sinful human being.”
A God who seeth,—that is His name! He sees us where we may be and
what we may be doing, not the least in loneliness, when our feet, like
those of Hagar, walk on paths that are not His. The Egyptian servant
thought that she was all alone and left by all. However, now it proved
from the words that the Angel of the Lord addressed to her, that He knew
her whole life’s history and that He was completely familiar with what had
taken place in Abram’s tent. He did not see her now for the first time,
but the divine eye had watched over her upon all her ways. It had taken
notice of the sorrow of her heart with a carefulness from which nothing
escaped. Exactly because everything was known to the Lord, He could now
look upon her with a glance that was severe and admonishing indeed, but at
the same time merciful and compassionate.
A God who seeth,—that is His name! He regards our sorrow, our
cross, our humiliation at the hand of high-minded people. He also beholds
our shortcomings and sins, and He does not justify them, but He punishes
us concerning them in our conscience. He prefers to meet with us in
loneliness, and He does not even wait till we go with our soul to Him, but
He is the first One in everything. In this way He met us in our misery in
the Son of His love, of whom the Angel of the Lord was a type. Whoever has
met once in grace with that Messenger of God, will understand the scope of
the words of blessed surprise: Thou God seest me," because in Jesus Christ
He is not only a God who beholds, but He is also seen by us in Him in the
riches of His compassion. (The Loins Girded)
J. R. Miller - His unsleeping watchfulness - "You are the God who sees
me!" Genesis 16:13
Go where we may, we cannot get away from the calm, clear gaze of the
Divine Eye! Neither in the blue depths of the heavens, nor in the dark
abysses of the grave — can we hide away from God. If we could take the
morning sunbeams for wings, and fly away on them with all the swiftness of
light to the remotest bounds of space — we could not get beyond the reach
of the Divine Eye. If we creep into the darkness, darkness so deep and
dense that no human eye can behold us — still God sees us as clearly as if
we stood in the bright noon-day sunshine! Darkness hides not from Him.
Night shines to His eye, as brightly as day.
When we know that God loves us, there is infinite comfort in this thought
of His unsleeping watchfulness. It is our Father who watches us! There
ought also to be wondrous encouragement and inspiration in this
While the Eye of divine love is looking upon us, we should always strive
to be pleasing to Him in all things!
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the
sea — even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me
fast! If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become
night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night
will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!" Psalm 139:9-12
In writing about El-Roi
in "The Character of God," R. C. Sproul said:
"There are many things in my life that I do not want to put under the gaze
of Christ. Yet I know there is nothing hidden from Him. He knows me better
than my wife knows me. And yet He loves me. This is the most amazing thing
of all about God's grace. It would be one thing for Him to love us if we
could fool Him into thinking that we were better than we actually are. But
He knows better. He knows all there is to know about us, including those
things that could destroy our reputation. He is minutely and acutely aware
of every skeleton in every closet. And He loves us."
God sees and He knows if what has occurred in our lives involves injustices
against us. Yes, God is sovereign and in total control and there is nothing
that comes into our life that God has not allowed but at the same time He is one who sees all that we have had
to deal with. He knows all that we have had to go through in our lives. He
knows the times we have been mistreated in our lives. He knows those
situations that have involved physical or verbal abuse. He knows that even
in all of these afflictions there is the potential to bring Him glory. Remember that because God is
sovereign, if what occurred in our lives (or is occurring right now) did
not have the potential to conform us to the image of His Son, then He
would not have allowed it to occur but He would have intervened. This
should give you great peace in the midst of the storm, an inner
peace that comes from the fact that He is the God Who sees and that He has not missed any of the events in our lives…the peace is that He
As has been repeatedly emphasized in this study of El Roi, one of the most
messages that this name conveys is that there is nowhere we can flee from His presence – He is there. There is a peace that comes from knowing He is there. There is a peace that comes by knowing that He has seen
the sins others may have committed against us. It is His responsibility to
vindicate us – it is not our responsibility. A genuine understanding of El
Roi has the potential of giving you the grace of forgiveness if you are
harboring ill will toward someone because of past events.
Elohim, the Creator – He created us for His glory. He El Elyon, the
Sovereign God – He is in control and whatever events have been allowed in our
lives have been allowed by a God of perfect justice and love who filters all
things through His hands of love. Knowing
the truth that GOD SEES, we can run to Him and hide ourselves in His
sufficiency. El Roi is the great name of God to remember when you are
going through trials - El Roi sees. You may not see him but he sees you. He knows what you are going through.
Can you identify with
in great distress, in a crisis of belief? Have you been unfairly abused or
mistreated? Have you been unjustifiably
used by another person? Have you been fired without justification? Have
you been rejected by family members? Are you thinking that there's
no one who knows what you're going through? No one who cares? Well, you're wrong. El-Roi,
the mighty One who sees, knows everything about you. And, even if you've brought
some of this trouble upon yourself through your foolish decisions, He
still cares! He knows your name ("Hagar"), where
you have come from and where you are going and He wants to bless you with the
assurance that He is in control of the beginning and the end because He is
the God Who sees. He watches over you, seeing
and knowing all that happens and He comes to your aid.
Protection of God
God is able to afford -1 Peter 1:5;
God is faithful to afford -1 Thessalonians 5:23,24; 2Th 3:3
OF GOD IS
Indispensable -Psalms 127:1
Seasonable -Psalms 46:1
Unfailing -Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5
Effectual -John 10:28, 29, 30; 2 Corinthians 12:9
Uninterrupted -Psalms 121:3
Encouraging -Isaiah 41:10; 50:7
Perpetual -Psalms 121:8
Often afforded through means inadequate in themselves -Jdg 7:7; 1Sa 17:45,50; 2Chr 14:11
IS AFFORDED TO
Those who hearken to God -Proverbs 1:33
Returning sinners -Job 22:23,25
The perfect in heart -2 Chronicles 16:9
The poor -Psalms 14:6; 72:12, 13, 14
The oppressed -Psalms 9:9
The Church -Psalms 48:3; Zechariah 2:4,5
IS VOUCHSAFED TO SAINTS IN
Preserving them -Psalms 145:20
Strengthening them -2 Timothy 4:17
Upholding them -Psalms 37:17,24; 63:8
Keeping their feet -1 Samuel 2:9; Proverbs 3:26
Keeping them from evil -2 Thessalonians 3:3
Keeping them from falling -Jude 1:24
Keeping them in the way -Exodus 23:20
Keeping them from temptation -Revelation 3:10
Providing a refuge for them -Proverbs 14:26; Isaiah 4:6; 32:2
Defending them against their enemies -Deut 20:1, 2, 3, 4; 33:27; Isa
Defeating the counsels of enemies -Isaiah 8:10
Temptation -1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9
Persecution -Luke 21:18
Calamities -Psalms 57:1; 59:16
All dangers -Psalms 91:3, 4, 5, 6, 7
All places -Genesis 28:15; 2 Chronicles 16:9
Sleep -Psalms 3:5; 4:8; Proverbs 3:24
Death -Psalms 23:4
Acknowledge God as their -Psalms 18:2; 62:2; 89:18
Pray for -Psalms 17:5,8; Isaiah 51:9
Praise God for -Psalms 5:11
WITHDRAWN FROM THE
Disobedient -Leviticus 26:14, 15, 16, 17
Backsliding -Joshua 23:12,13; Judges 10:13
Presumptuous -Numbers 14:40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45
Unbelieving -Isaiah 7:9
Obstinately impenitent -Matthew 23:38
NOT TO BE FOUND IN
Idols -Deuteronomy 32:37-39; Isaiah 46:7
Man -Psalms 146:3; Isaiah 30:7
Riches -Proverbs 11:4,28; Zephaniah 1:18
Hosts -Joshua 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8; Psalms 33:16
Horses -Psalms 33:17; Proverbs 21:31
Illustrated -Deut 32:11; Ps 125:1,2; Pr 18:10;
Isa 25:4; 31:5; Lk 13:34
Abraham -Genesis 15:1
Jacob -Genesis 48:16
Joseph -Genesis 49:23-25
Israel -Joshua 24:17
David -Psalms 18:1,2
Shadrach &c -Daniel 3:28
Daniel -Daniel 6:22
Peter -Acts 12:4, 5, 6, 7
Paul -Acts 18:10; 26:17
J C Ryle discusses the power of the
doctrine of God's Omniscience (Where
is Your God, My Boy?) - However hard it is to comprehend
this doctrine (omnipresence)—it is one which is most useful and wholesome
for our souls. To keep continually in mind—that God is always present with
us; to live always as in God's sight; to act and speak and think as always
under His eye—all this is eminently calculated to have a good effect upon
our souls. Wide, and deep, and searching, and piercing—is the influence of
that one thought, "You are the God who sees me!" (Genesis 16:13)
(1) The thought of God's presence—is
a loud call to humility. How much which is evil and defective, must
the all-seeing eye—see in everyone of us! How small a part of our
character is really known by man! "Man looks on the outward appearance—but
the Lord looks on the heart!" (1 Sam. 16:7). Man does not always see
us—but the Lord is always looking at us—morning, noon, and night! Who has
not need to say, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
(2) The thought of God's presence—is a crushing proof of our need of
Jesus Christ. What hope of salvation could we have, if there was not a
Mediator between God and man? Before the eye of the ever-present God—our
best righteousness is filthy rags—and our best doings are full of
imperfection! Where would we be—if there was not a fountain open for all
sin—even the blood of Christ! Without Christ—the prospect of death,
judgment, and eternity would drive us to despair!
(3) The thought of God's presence—teaches the folly of hypocrisy in
religion. What can be more silly and childish—than to wear a mere
cloak of Christianity, while we inwardly cleave to sin, when God is ever
looking at us and sees us through and through! It is easy to deceive
ministers and fellow-Christians, because they often see us only upon
Sundays. But God sees us morning, noon, and night—and cannot be deceived.
Oh, whatever we are in religion—let us be real and true!
(4) The thought of God's presence—is a check and curb on the
inclination to sin. The recollection that there is One who is always
near us and observing us, who will one day have a reckoning with all
mankind—may well keep us back from evil! Happy are those sons and
daughters who, when they leave the family home, and launch forth into the
world, carry with them the abiding remembrance of God's eye. "My father
and mother do not see me—but God does!" This was the feeling which
preserved Joseph when tempted in a foreign land: "How can I do this great
wickedness—and sin against God!" (Gen. 39:9)
(5) The thought of God's presence—is a spur to the pursuit of true
holiness. The highest standard of sanctification is to "walk with God"
as Enoch did, and to "walk before God" as Abraham did. Where is the man
who would not strive to live so as to please God—if he realized that God
was always standing at his elbow! To get away from God—is the secret aim
of the sinner. To get nearer to God—is the longing desire of the saint.
The real servants of the Lord are "a people near unto Him." (Psalm 148:14)
(6) The thought of God's presence—is a comfort in time of public
calamity. When war and famine and pestilence break in upon a land;
when the nations are torn by inward divisions, and all order seems in
peril—it is cheering to reflect that God sees and knows and is close at
hand—that the King of kings is near, and is not asleep.
(7) The thought of God's presence—is a strong consolation in private
trial. We may be driven from home and native land—and placed at the
other side of the world; we may be bereaved of wife and children and
friends—and left alone, like the last tree in a forest. But we can never
go to any place where God is not; and under no circumstances can we be
left entirely alone.
Such thoughts as these, are useful and profitable for us all. That man
must be in a poor state of soul, who does not feel them to be so. Let it
be a settled principle in our religion—never to forget that in every
condition and place—that we are under the eye of God! It need not frighten
us—if we are true believers. The sins of all believers are cast behind
God's back—and even the all-seeing God sees no spot in them! It ought to
cheer us—if our Christianity is genuine and sincere. We can then appeal to
God with confidence, like David, and say, "Search me, O God, and know my
heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends
You—and lead me along the path of everlasting life!" (Psalm 139:23, 24).
Great is the mystery of God's omnipresence; but the true man of God can
look at it without fear.
“You God see me.— Genesis 16:13
C H Spurgeon
There are more eyes fixed on man than
he wots of: he sees not as he is seen. He thinks himself obscure and
unobserved, but let him remember that a cloud of witnesses hold him in
full survey. Wherever he is, at every instant, there are beings whose
attention is riveted by his doings, and whose gaze is constantly fixed by
his actions. Within this Hall, I doubt not, there are myriads of spirits
unseen to us—spirits good and spirits evil; upon us tonight the eyes of
angels rest: attentively those perfect spirits regard our order; they hear
our songs; they observe our prayers; it may be they fly to heaven to
convey to their companions news of any sinners who are born of God, for
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that
repenteth. Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, both when we
wake and when we sleep; midnight is peopled with shadows unseen, and
daylight has its spirits too. The prince of the power of the air, attended
by his squadron of evil spirits, flits through the ether oft; evil spirits
watch our halting every instant, while good spirits, battling for the
salvation of God’s elect, keep us in all our ways and watch over our feet,
lest at any time we dash them against a stone. Hosts of invisible beings
attend on every one of us at different periods of our lives. We must
remember, also, that not only do the spirits of angels, elect or fallen,
look on us, but “the spirits of the just made perfect continually
observe our conversation. We are taught by the Apostle that the noble army
of martyrs, and the glorious company of confessors, are “witnesses of
our race to heaven, for he says, “seeing, then, that we are compassed
about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight
and the sin which does so easily beset us. From yon blue heaven the eyes
of the glorified look down on us; there the children of God are sitting on
their starry thrones. observing whether we manfully uphold the banner
around which they fought; they behold our valour, or they detect our
cowardice; and they are intent to witness our valiant deeds of noble
daring, or our ignominious retreat in the day of battle.
Remember that, you sons of men, you are not unregarded; you do not pass
through this world in unseen obscurity. In darkest shades of night eye.
glare on you through the gloom. In the brightness of the day angels are
spectators of your labours. From heaven there look down upon you spirits
who see an that finite beings are capable of beholding. But if we think
that thought worth treasuring up, there is one which sums up that and
drowns it, even as a drop is lost in the ocean; it is the thought, “You
God see me. It is nought that angels see me, it is nought that devils
watch me, it is nought that the glorified spirits observe me, come pared
with the overwhelming truth, that you God at all times see me. Let us
dwell on that now, and may God the Spirit make use of it to our spiritual
In the first place, I shall notice the general doctrine, that God observes
all men. In the second place, I shall notice the particular doctrine,
“You God see me. And in the third place I shall draw from it some
practical and comforting inferences to different orders of persons now
assembled, each of whom may learn something from this short sentence.
I. In the first place, The General
Doctrine, that 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 Theos, and
they derived that word, if I read rightly, from the root 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. God Almighty, from his very essence and nature, must be
an Omniscient God. Strike out the thought that he sees me, and you
extinguish Deity by a single stroke. There were no God if that God had no
eyes, for a blind God were no God at all. We could not conceive such an
one. Stupid as idolaters maybe, it were very hard to think that even they
had fashioned a blind god: even they have given eyes to their gods, though
they see not. Juggernaut has eyes stained with blood; and the gods of the
ancient Romans had eyes, and some of them were called far–seeing gods.
Even the heathen can scarce conceive of a god that has no eves to see, and
certainly we are not so mad as to imagine for a single second that there
can be a Deity without the knowledge of everything that is done by man
beneath the sun. I say it were as impossible to conceive of a God who did
not observe everything, as to conceive of a round square. When we say,
“You God, we do, in fact, comprise in the word “God the idea of a
God who sees everything, “You God see me.
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 does
hinder him from seeing all that is done in every part of his universe?
God is here: I do not simply live near
him, but “in him I live, and move, and have my being.
There is not a particle of this mighty space which is not filled with God:
go forth into the pure air, and there is not a particle of it where God is
not. In every portion of this earth whereon I tread, and the spot whereon
I move, there is God.
“Within your circling power I stand;
On every side I find your hand:
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.
Take the wings of the morning and fly beyond the most distant star, but
God is there. God is not a being–confined to one place, but he is
everywhere; he is there, end there, and there; in the deepest mine man
ever bored; in the unfathomable caverns of the ocean; in the heights,
towering and lofty; in the gulfs that are deep, which fathom can never
reach, God is everywhere. I know from his own words that he is a God who
filleth immensity, the heavens are not wide enough for him, he graspeth
the sun with one hand and the moon with the other, he stretcheth himself
through the unnavigated ether, where the wing of seraph has never been
flapped, there is God; and where the solemnity of silence has never been
broken by the song of Cherub, there is God. God is everywhere. Conceive
space, and God and space are equal. Well, then, if God be everywhere, how
can I refrain from believing that God sees me wherever I am? He does not
look upon me from a distance: if he did, I might screen myself beneath the
shades of night; but he is here, close by my side, and not by me only, but
in me; within this heart; where these lungs beat; or where my blood gushes
through my veins; or where this pulse is beating, like a muffled drum, my
march to death, God is there: within this mouth, in this tongue, in these
eves; in each of you God dwells: he is within you. and around you: he is
beside you, and behind, and before. Is not such knowledge too wonderful
for you? Is it not high, and you cannot Attain Into it? I say, how can you
resist the doctrine, which comes upon you like a flash of lightning, that
if God be everywhere he must see everything, and that therefore it is a
truth, “You God see me.
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 also God’s activity.
Wherever I go I shall find, not a slumbering God, but a God busy about the
affairs of this world. Take me to the green sward, and pleasant
pasture—why, every little blade of grass there has God’s hand in it,
making it grow; and every tiny daisy, which a child likes to pluck, looks
up with its little eye, and says, “God is in me, circulating my sap, and
opening my little flower. Go where you will through this London, where
vegetation is scarcely to be found, look up yonder and see those rolling
stars, God is active there: it is his hand that wheels along the stars,
and moves the moon in her nightly course. But if there be neither stars
nor moon, there are those clouds, heavy with darkness, like the ears of
night, who steers them across the sea of azure? Does not the breath of God
blowing upon them drive them along the heavens? God is everywhere. not as
a slumbering God, but as an active God. I am upon the sea; and there I see
God making the everlasting pulse of nature beat in constant ebbs and
flows. I am in the pathless desert, but above me screams the vulture, and
I see God winging the wild bird’s flight. I am shut up in a hermitage; but
an insect drops from its leaf, and I see in that insect, life which God
preserves and sustains; yea, shut me out from the animate creation, and
put me on the barren rock, where moss itself cannot find a footing, and I
shall there discern my God bearing up the pillars of the universe, and
sustaining that bare rock as a part of the colossal foundation whereon he
has built the world.
“Where’er we turn our gazing eyes,
Your radiant footsteps shine.
Ten thousand pleasing wonders rise,
And speak their source divine.
The living tribes of countless form
In earth, and sea, and air,
The meanest flies, the smallest worms,
Almighty power declare.
You shall see God everywhere: if you see him not around you, look within
you and is he not there? Is not your blood now flowing through every
portion of your body, to and fro your heart? And is not God there active?
Do you not know that every pulse you beat needs a volition of Deity as its
permit, and yet more, needs an exertion of Divine power as its cause? Do
you not know that every breath you breathe needs Deity for its inspiration
and expiration, and that you must die if God withdraw that power? If we
could look within us, there are mighty works going on in this mortal
fabric—the garment of the soul—which would astonish you, and make you see,
indeed, that God is not asleep, but that he is active and busy. There is a
working God everywhere, a God with his eyes open everywhere, a God with
his hands at work everywhere; a God doing something, Not a God slumbering,
but a God laboring. Oh! sirs, does not the conviction flash upon your mind
with a brightness, against which you cannot shut your eyes, that since God
is everywhere, and everywhere active, it follows, as a necessary and
unavoidable consequence, that he must see us, and know all our actions and
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? Can he not see the things that are to come? Ay, there is
not a thing which shall transpire in the next cycle of a thousand years
which is not already past to the infinite mind of God; there is not a deed
which shall be transacted tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, through
eternity, if days can be eternal, but God knows it altogether. And if he
knows the future, does he not know the present. If his eyes look through
the dim haze which veils us from the things of futurity, can he not see
that which is standing in the brightness of the present? If he can see a
great distance, can he not see near at hand! Surely that Divine Being who
discerneth the end from the beginning, must know the things which occur
now; and it must be true that “You God see us, even the whole of us,
the entire race of man. So much for the general and universally
II. Now, I come, in the
second place, to the special doctrine“You God see me.
Come now, there is a disadvantage in having so many hearers, as there is
always in speaking to more than one at a time, because persons are apt to
think, “he does not speak to me. Jesus Christ preached a very
successful sermon once when he had but one hearer, because he had the
woman sitting on the well, and she could not say that Christ was preaching
to her neighbor. He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come
hither. There was something there which smote her heart; she could not
evade the confession of her guilt. But in regard to our congregations, the
old orator might soon see his prayer answered, “Friends, Romans,
countrymen, lend me your ears, for when the gospel is preached, we lend
our ears to everybody; we are accustomed to hear for our neighbours, and
not for ourselves. Now, I have no objection to your lending anything else
you like, but I have a strong objection to you lending your ears; I shall
be glad if you will keep them at home for a minute or two, for I want to
make you hear for yourselves this truth “You God see me.
Mark, God sees you—selecting any one out of this congregation—he sees you,
he sees you us much as if there were nobody else in the world for him to
look at. If I have as many people as there are here to look at, of course
my attention must be divided. but the infinite mind of God is able to
grasp a million objects at once, and yet to set itself as much upon one,
as if there were nothing else but that one; so that you, tonight, are
looked at by God as much as if throughout space there were not another
creature but yourself Can you conceive that? Suppose the stars blotted out
in darkness, suppose the angels dead; imagine the glorified spirits above
are all gone, and you are left alone, the last man, and there is God
looking at you. What an idea it would be for you to think of—that there
was only you to be looked all how steadily he could observe you I how well
he would discern you! But mark you, God does really look at you this night
as much, as entirely, as absolutely without division of sight, as if you
were the only being his hands had ever made. Can you grasp that? God sees
you with all his eyes, with the whole of his sight—you—you—you—you are the
particular object of his attention at this very moment. God’s eyes are
looking down upon you; remember that!
In the next place God sees you entirely. He does not merely note your
actions; he does not simply notice what is the appearance of your
countenance; he does not merely take into his eyesight what your posture
may be; but remember, God sees what you are thinking of; he looks within.
God has a window in every man’s heart, through which he looks; he does not
want you to tell him what you are thinking about—he can see that, he can
read right through you. Do you not know that God can read what is written
on the rocks at the bottom of the ocean, even though ten thousand fathoms
of dark water roll above? And I tell you he can read every word that is in
your breasts; he knows every thought, every imagination, every conception,
yea every unformed imagination, the thought scarce shot from the bow,
reserved in the quiver of the mind; he sees it all, every particle, every
atom of it.
“My thoughts, scarce struggling into births
Great God I are known to you:
Abroad, at home, still I’m enclosed
With your immensity.
“Behind I glance, and you art there
Before me, shines your name
And ’tis your strong almighty hand
Sustains my tender frame.
Can you appropriate that thought? From the crown of your head to the sole
of your foot, God is examining you now; his scalpel is in your heart, his
lancet in your breast. he is searching your heart and trying your reins;
he knows you behind and before. “You God see me; you see me entirely.
Note again, God sees you constantly. You are sometimes watched by man, and
then your conversation is tolerably correct; at other times you seek
retirement, and you indulge yourselves in things which you would not dare
to do before the gaze of your fellow creatures. But recollect, wherever
you are, God sees you; you may lay yourselves down by the side of the
hidden brook where the willows shelter you, where all is still, without a
sound—God is there looking at you I You may retire to your chamber, and
draw the curtains of your couch, and throw yourself down for repose in
midnight’s gloomiest shade—God sees you there! I remember going into a
castle sometime ago, down many a winding stair, round and round, and
round, and round, where light never penetrated; at last I came to a space,
very narrow. about the length of a man. “There, said the keeper,
such–and–such–a–one was shut up for so many years, a ray of light never
having penetrated: sometimes they tortured him, but his shrieks never
reached through the thickness of these walls, and never ascended that
winding staircase: here he died, and there, sir, he was buried, pointing
to the ground. But though that man had none on earth to see him, God saw
him. Yea, you may shut me up for ever, where ear shall never hear my
prayer, where eye shall never see my misery; but one eye shall look upon
me, and one countenance smile on me, if I suffer for righteousness’ sake.
If for Christ’s sake I am in prison, one hand shall be upon me, and one
voice shall say, “Fear not; I will help you—at all times, in all
places, in all your thoughts, in all your acts, in all your privacy, in an
your public doings, at every season, this is true, “You God see me
Yet once more, “You God see me, supremely. I can see myself, but not as
well as either my friends or foes. Men can see me better than I can see
myself, but man cannot see me as God sees me. A man skilled in the human
heart might interpret my deeds and translate their motives, but he could
not read my heart as God can read it. None can tell another as God can
tell us all: we do not know ourselves as God knows us: with all your self
knowledge, with all you have been told by others, God knows you more fully
than you know yourself: no eye can see you as God sees you—you may act in
daylight; you may not be ashamed of your actions? you may stand up before
men and say, “I am a public man, I wish to be observed and noticed: you
may have an your deeds chronicled, and all men may hear of them, but I wot
men will never know you as God will know you; and if you could be chained,
as Paul was, with a soldier at your arm; if he were with you night and
day, sleeping with you. rising with you; if he could hear all your
thoughts, he could not know you as God knows you, for God sees you
superlatively and supremely.
Let me now apply that to you: “You God see me. This is true of each of
you; try and think of it for a moment. Even as my eye rests on you, so, in
a far, far greater sense does God’s eye rest on you; standing, sitting,
wherever you are, this is tree, “You God see me. It is said that when
you heard Rowland Hill, it you were stuck in a window, or farther away at
the door, you always had the conviction that he was preaching at you. Oh I
I wish I could preach like that; if I could make you feel that I was
preaching at you in particular; that I singled you out, and shot every
word at you, then I should hope for some effect. Try and think, then,
“You God see me.
III. Now I come to different inferences for different persons, to
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.
Why, we can often hear people, when we cannot see them. If God is so near
to us, and if his voice is like the thunder, sure his ears are as good as
his eyes, and he will be sure to answer us. Perhaps you cannot say a word
when you pray. Never mind; God does not want to hear; he can tell what you
mean even by seeing you. “There, says the Lord, “is a child of mine in
prayer. He says not a word; but do you see that tear rolling down his
cheek? do you hear that sigh? Oh! mighty God, you can see both tear and
sigh; you can read desire when desire has not clothed itself in words The
naked wish God can interpret, he needs us not to light the candle of our
desires with language; he can see the candle ere it is lit.
“He knows the words we mean to speak
When from our lips they cannot break,
by reason of the anguish of our spirit. He knows the desire, when words
stagger under the weight of it; he knows the wish when language fails to
express it. You God see me. Ah, God. when I cannot pray with words, I
will throw myself flat on my face, and I will groan my prayer and if I
cannot groan it I will sigh it; and if I cannot sigh it I will wish it:
and when these eye–strings break, and when death has sealed these lips, I
will enter heaven with a prayer, which you will not hear but which you
will see—the prayer of my inmost spirit, when my heart and my flesh fail
me, that God may be the strength of my life and portion for ever. There is
comfort for you, you praying ones, that God sees you. That is enough; if
you cannot speak he can see you.
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 “Oh!
sir, you say, “if you could come to my poor house, you would not wonder
that I should feel anxious. I have had to part with much of my little
furniture to provide myself with living; I am brought very low; I have not
a friend in London; I am alone, alone in the wide world. Stop, stop,
sir! you are not alone in the world; there is at least one eye regarding
you; there is one hand that is ready to relieve you. Don’t give up in
despair. If your case be ever so bad, God can see your care, your
troubles, and your anxieties. To a good man it is enough to see
destitution to relieve it; and for God it is enough to see the distresses
of his family at once to supply their wants. If you were lying wounded on
the battle–field, if you could not speak, you know right well your
comrades who are coming by with an abundance will pick you up, if they do
but see you; and that is enough for you. So if you are lying on the
battle–field of life, God sees you; let that cheer you: he will relieve
for he only needs to look at the woes of his children at once to relieve
them. Go on then; hope yet; in night’s darkest hour, hope for a brighter
morrow. God sees you, whatever you art doing;
“He knows your cares, your tears, your sighs;
He shall lift up your head.
And now a word to the slandered. There are some of us who come in tor 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. If men could dispose of
railway stock as they can of slander, those who happen to have any scrip
here would be rich enough by tomorrow at twelve o’clock. There are some
who have a superabundance of that matter; they are continually hearing
rumours of this, that, and the other; and there is one fool or another who
has not brains enough to write sense, nor honesty sufficient to keep him
to the truth, who, therefore, writes the most infamous libels upon some of
God’s servants, compared with whom he himself is nothing, and whom for
very envy he chooses to depreciate. Well, what matters it? Suppose you are
slandered; here is a comfort: “You God see me. They say that
such–and–such is your motive, but you need not answer them; you can say,
“God knows that matter You are charged with such–and–such a thing of
which you are innocent; your heart is right concerning the deed, you have
never done it: well, you have no need to battle for your reputation; you
need only point your finger to the sky, and say, “There is a witness
there who will right me at last—there is a Judge of all the earth, whose
decision I am content to wait; his answer will be a complete exoneration
of me, and I shall come out of the furnace, like gold seven times
purified. Young men, are you striving to do good, and do others impute
wrong motives to you? Do not be particular about answering them. Just go
straight on, and your life will be the best refutation of the calumny.
David’s brethren said that in his pride and the naughtiness of his heart
he had come to see the battle. “Ah! thought David, “I will answer you
by–and–bye. Off he went across the plain to fight Goliath; he cut off
his head, and then came back to his brethren with a glorious answer in his
conquering hand. If any man desires to reply to the false assertions of
his enemies, let him go and do good, and he needs not say accord—that will
be his answer. I am the subject of detraction, but I can point to hundreds
of souls that have been saved on earth by my feeble instrumentality, and
my reply to all my enemies is this, “You may say what you like; but
seeing these lame men are healed, can you say anything against them? You
may find fault with throttle or manner, but God saves souls, and we will
hold up that fact, like giant Goliath's head, to show you that although it
was nothing but a sling or stone, so much the better, for God has gotten
the victory. Go straight on and you will live down your slanderers; and
remember when you are most distressed, “You God see me.
Now, a sentence or two to some of you who are ungodly and know not Christ.
What shall I say to you but this,—how heinous are your sins when they are
put in the light of this doctrine! Remember, sinner, whenever you sinnest,
you sinnest in the teeth of God. It is bad enough to steal in darkness,
but he is a very thief who steals in daylight. It is vile, it is fearfully
vile to commit a sin which I desire to cover, but to do my sin when man is
looking at me shows much hardiness of heart. Ah! sinner, remember, you
sinnest with God’s eyes looking on you. How black must be your heart! how
awful your sin! for you sinnest in the very face of justice when God’s eye
is fixed on you. I was looking the other day at a glass bee–hive, and it
was very singular to observe the motions of the creatures inside. Well,
now, this world is nothing but a huge glass bee–hive. God looks down on
you, and he sees you all. You go into your little cells in the streets of
this huge city; you go to your business, your pleasure, your devotions,
and your sins, but remember, wherever you go, you are like the bees under
a great glass shade, you can never get away from God’s observation. When
children disobey before the eyes of their parents it shows that they are
hardened. If they do it behind their parents’ back, it proves that there
is some shame left. But you, sirs, sin when God is present with you; you
sin while God’s eyes are searching you through and through. Even now you
are thinking hard thoughts of God while God is hearing all those silent
utterances of your evil hearts. Does not that render your sin extremely
heinous? Therefore. I beseech you, think of it and repent of your
wickedness, that your sins may be blotted out through Jesus Christ.
And one more thought. If God sees you, O sinner, how easy it will be to
condemn you. In the late horrible ease of Palmer, witnesses were required,
and a jury was empanelled to try the accused. But if the judge could have
mounted the bench and have said, “I saw the man, myself, mix the poison;
I stood by and saw him administer it, I read his thoughts; I knew for what
purpose he did it; I read his heart; I was with him when he first
conceived the black design, and I have tracked him in all his evasions, in
all those acts by which he soughs to blindfold justice; and I can read in
his heart that he knows himself to be guilty now, the case then would
have been over; the trial would have been little more than a form. What
will you think, O sinner, when you art brought before God, and God shall
say, “You did so–and–so, and will mention what you did in the darkness
of the night when no eye was there? You will start back amazed, and say,
“Oh, heavens! how shall God know? is there knowledge in the Most High?
He will say, “Stop, sinner; have more to startle you yet; and he will
begin to unfold the records of the past: leaf after leaf he will read of
the diary he has kept of your existence. Oh! I can see you as he reads
page after page, your knees are knocking together, your hair is standing
on end, you blood is frozen in your veins, congealed for fright, and you
stand like a second Niobe, a rock bedewed with tears. You are thunder
struck to find your thoughts read out before the sun, while men and angels
hear. You are amazed beyond degree to hear your imaginations read, to see
your deeds photographed on the great white throne, and to hear a voice
saying, “Rebellion at such a time; uncleanness at such a time; evil
thoughts at such an hour. Sabbath breaking on such a day; blasphemy at
such a time; theft at such an hour; hard thoughts of God at such a period;
rejection of his grace on such a day, stiflings of conscience at another
time; and so on to the end of the chapter, and then the awful final
doom. “Sinner, depart accursed! I saw you sin; it needs no witnesses; I
heard your oath; I heard your blasphemy; I saw your theft; I read your
thought. Depart! depart! I am clear when I judge you; I am justified when
I condemn you: for you have done this evil in my sight.
Lastly, you ask me what you must do to be saved; and I will never let a
congregation go, I hope, till I have told them that. Hear, then, in a few
words, the way of salvation. It is this. Christ said to the Apostles,
“Preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and his baptized
shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. Or, to give
you Paul’s version, when he spoke to the jailer, “Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. You askest what you art to believe.
Why, this: that Christ died and rose again; that by his death he did bear
the punishment of all believers; and that by his resurrection he did wipe
out the faults of all his children. And if God give you faith, you will
believe that Christ died for you; and will be washed in his blood, and you
will trust his mercy and his love to be your everlasting redemption when
the world shall end.
The God Who Sees
by Steven Cole
Dr. James Boice tells a poignant story
about an incident from his childhood. In the closing days of World War II,
when Boice was seven, his father was in the Air Force, stationed in
Louisiana, with the family. Many servicemen were being discharged, but
since there was the risk that discharge orders could be canceled if a man
didn’t leave immediately after receiving them, Boice’s family had begun to
pack. When the orders came, school was in session, so James was told that
the family would leave as soon as he got home that afternoon. He was so
excited he could hardly wait. He jumped off the school bus, ran up the
steps to his house, and found that the door was locked. Surprised and a
bit subdued, he ran around to the back door and found that it was locked
too. At last he found a window he knew would be unlocked, pried it open
and crawled through. To his shock, the room was empty. So was the entire
house. As this seven-year-old boy made his way slowly from room to room,
he got the sinking sensation that in the rush of packing and leaving
quickly before the orders were canceled, his family had forgotten and left
him behind. Actually his parents had gone off on a last minute errand and
were waiting outside in the car for him to come home from school while he
was inside wandering through the empty house. But it was a sad little boy
they saw backing out of the window after his tour of the abandoned house.
(Boice, Genesis [Zondervanj 1:295-296.)
It’s terrible to feel abandoned by your parents. It’s also tough to feel
abandoned by God. Most of us have felt that way at one time or another.
Maybe things were going well and suddenly the bottom dropped out of your
life. In the confusion of the events, you wondered, “Where is God in all
That’s how Hagar must have felt when she fled from Sarai. Things had
seemed to look up for a brief moment. Her lowly status as a servant had
changed when Abram, according to the custom of the day, had taken her to
produce a child on behalf of the barren Sarai. But when Hagar became
pregnant, she communicated an air of superiority toward Sarai, who then
mistreated her. Finally, things got so bad that Hagar took off in the
direction of her homeland, out through the desert. It was a dangerous
thing for a woman to do. She could have been abused or taken captive by
nomadic traders. Being pregnant, she could have lost her baby from the
rigors of traveling in that rugged terrain. Having had to escape, probably
in the night, she would have had few supplies. But somehow she made it to
a spring of water in the desert and sat down exhausted.
Hagar knew about Abram’s God, the living and true God. She must have
wondered if that God knew or cared about her situation. No doubt she was
confused. What could a pregnant, single woman do, even if she reached her
homeland? If she had family there, they would have been too poor to help
her. Her future was uncertain, her past too painful to think about. She
felt abandoned by everyone on earth and forgotten by God in heaven.
It’s in that context that we read, “Now the angel of the Lord found her”
(Ge 16:7). What a beautiful picture of our compassionate God, who is
concerned even for this poor, confused servant girl! The angel tells her
what to do and then promises that he will multiply her descendants through
the child she is carrying. Hagar, encouraged and awed by this experience,
gives a new name to God-- ”El Roi,” “the God who sees.” She then returns
to Abram and Sarai and Ishmael is born.
There are two dominant themes in these verses:
First, God sees Hagar (Ge 16:7-12); and
second, Hagar sees God (Ge 16:13-16).
God saw Hagar’s affliction; as a
result, Hagar saw God’s mercy and submitted to Him. Applying it to us, we
can put it: Because God sees our affliction, we can see His mercy and
submit to Him. This story is encouraging if you are suffering and feel
that God has abandoned you. He has not forgotten; He sees your affliction.
Because He sees, you can see His mercy, and submit to Him.
1. God sees our
affliction (Ge 16:7-12)
God saw Hagar’s affliction: “The angel
of the Lord found her ....” Isn’t that great! The Good Shepherd went
looking for her. God is a seeking God! We may think that we found Him, but
the reality is, He found us. We were lost and confused, wandering away
from Him. He came looking and found us! If you know Christ as Savior, you
realize that you didn’t think, “I need a little help in my life. I’ll
decide to let Jesus be my Savior.” The Son of Man did not come to seek and
to save those who needed a little help. He came to seek and to save those
who are lost (Luke 19:10)! It is our sinful pride that keeps us from
seeing our true condition: We are lost! We must own up to that fact. But
the good news is, no one, not even a lowly Egyptian servant girl, is too
lost in God’s sight. The angel of the Lord found Hagar!
Who is this angel of the Lord? There is debate among scholars, but I
believe that it is the Lord Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate appearance. In
Ge 16:13 it is stated that it was the Lord who spoke to Hagar. (See also,
Ge. 18:1-2, 17, 22, 27, 33, 19:1; 22:11-12; 24:7; 31:11, 13; 48:15-16. --
Angel of the LORD)
So Hagar was found by and was speaking to the Lord Jesus Christ! Hagar
could flee from the presence of Sarai, but she couldn’t flee from the
presence of the Lord. You can try to run from difficult circumstances, but
you can’t hide from the God who put you there. Notice the irony of verse
8: The Lord knows Hagar’s name and her station in life, yet He asks her
where she has come from and where she is going. Wherever in the Bible you
find God asking a question, you can assume that He is not looking for
information. He wants the person to think about the situation. The Lord
wanted Hagar to think about two things: Where have you come from? and,
Where are you going? She had come from being Sarai’s maid. As such, she
was not free to flee from her duty. Where was she going? She really didn’t
know. But, clearly, she wasn’t seeking after the Lord and His will.
Those are good questions to ask yourself when you’re in a difficult
situation: Where have you come from? Did God allow that trial for some
reason? Where are you going? Did you seek His permission to run? Our real
need in a bad situation is not to escape, but to seek and to submit to the
Lord. The Lord has some bad news and some good news for Hagar, and for us,
at such times. First, the bad news: Hagar needed to go back and submit to
Sarai. The good news: then God would bless her.
A. The “bad” news: our need in affliction is to submit to God.
We don’t like to hear that. We sputter, “But, Lord, don’t you know how
I’ve been mistreated? Don’t you know how bad it is? Give me the blessing
first, then I’ll submit.” But God’s way is, submit first; then He blesses.
Obedience always comes before blessing. Submit is a dirty word in
our day. We Americans have a history of not submitting to anyone who
oppresses us. Our country was founded because the settlers said, “The king
can’t do that to us! We’ll revolt!” If we’re treated unfairly or harshly,
we stand up for our rights. The very word, “submit,” makes us mad. We
don’t like it. But the Lord, who made us and who knows our real need,
says, “Your number one need in a time of trial is to learn to submit to
Me. And you don’t learn to submit to Me by running from the situation.”
Ouch! Can’t you feel yourself wanting to fight? Don’t you want to cry out,
“But, God, You don’t understand!”? But He does understand. He says to
Hagar, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”
The book of First Peter is about submission to authority in a time of
trial. The Christians to whom Peter wrote were suffering, some as slaves
under harsh masters, some as wives under disobedient husbands, all as
citizens under an unjust government. Peter’s word to each group of victims
was, “Submit” (1 Pet. 2:13, 18; 3:1). He sums it up, “Humble yourselves,
therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the
proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you”
(1 Pet. 5:6-7). Your number one need in a time of trial is to submit to
God- humble yourself under His mighty hand. He is in control of the
circumstances. He cares for you; don’t doubt His love. There are lessons
which our rebellious nature cannot learn except by submitting to God in
trials, even when we’re being treated wrongly or unfairly.
Some people never grow in the Lord because they have a habit of running
from difficult situations where He has put them for their training. They
had problems with their parents as teenagers, so they rebelled. They get a
job and have problems, so they quit. They get married and have conflict,
so they walk away from it. They seek counseling, but they don’t like what
the counselor tells them, so they either quit or else look for a counselor
who agrees with them. They join a church, but can’t get along with the
people or don’t like something, so they find another church. But guess
what? They discover that the new church has the same problems.
At some point they need to realize that they’re carrying their own baggage
with them. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” The
problem is, they’ve never learned to submit to God and to allow Him to use
the authority structures He has ordained to sandpaper off their rough
edges. God sees our need in our affliction: To submit to Him in the
difficult situations where He has sovereignly placed us.
While that’s a difficult word, it’s also a merciful word. As I said, Hagar
may have suffered greatly or even perished if she had continued her flight
into the wilderness. God often mercifully checks us in our disobedience to
prevent us from even greater damage. The way of obedience is hard, but the
way of disobedience is even more difficult. It was better for Hagar to be
associated with Abram and Sarai, even with Sarai’s harshness, than with
her native Egyptians, who worshiped false gods. It’s better for you to be
in a local church, with all the imperfect people and their faults, than to
be in the world, where God is not known.
Some of you may be in trying situations right now, but you haven’t
submitted to God. Maybe your pattern has been to run from one difficult
situation to the next, always blaming others or complaining about bad
luck, but never humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. You won’t know
His blessing until submit to Him in whatever circumstances He has placed
you. It’s hard news, but it’s not really bad.
B. The good news: When we submit to God in our affliction, He will
bless us and our descendants.
The Lord says that He heard Hagar’s affliction, not her prayer (Ge 16:11).
Whether Hagar was calling out to the Lord or not, we don’t know. But the
Lord graciously hears our affliction, even when we fail to call out to Him
as we should. But He not only hears and sees our affliction, He sees the
future after our affliction is over. The Lord goes on to tell Hagar how He
will greatly multiply her descendants. Concerning the son in her womb, the
Lord tells her to name him Ishmael, which means “God hears,” because the
Lord heard her affliction. Every time she called her son’s name, Hagar
would be reminded of God’s faithfulness, that He had heard her affliction.
God reveals that Ishmael will be a wild donkey of a man, meaning, a
strong, independent, untamed man. He will be a fighter, whose hand will be
against everyone. In the last line of verse 12, the word means both “to
the east of” and “over against.” Both were true; Ishmael’s Arab
descendants both lived to the east of and were over against (in opposition
to) Isaac’s descendants. There is a divine mystery here: God sovereignly
chose Isaac and his line through Jacob while He set Ishmael and his
descendants against His chosen people. And yet Ishmael and his race were
responsible for their sin and rebellion against God. All we can say is,
“How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom.
11:33). But it was enough for Hagar to know that her son would not, like
her, be enslaved, and that he would prosper. Thus it was a word of hope to
There’s an application here for us: God allows U-turns in the desert! Even
though we’ve run from God, if we will turn around and submit to Him in our
trials, His blessing will be on us and our descendants. We can be assured
that He will work out His sovereign plan for us and for our children if we
will make a U-turn and submit to Him.
So the first great theme in these verses is that God saw Hagar. But Hagar
also saw God. When she realized that God had seen her, she responded by
acknowledging that she had seen God and she named both the Lord and the
spring after her experience. Then she returned to Abram and Sarai in
submission to the Lord. Even so, when we realize that God sees us in our
affliction, we will gain a fresh glimpse of God.
2. We see God in His
mercy and submit to Him (Ge 16:13-16).
Hagar wouldn’t have seen the Lord if it hadn’t been for her trial. God
often uses trials to open us up to some fresh vision of Him which we would
have missed if we hadn’t been in the difficult situation. “Hagar called
the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees’” (Ge
16:13). God sees! Not only does God see, but even better, God sees me, and
in spite of my confusion and rebellion, He lets me get a glimpse of Him!
Scholars disagree about how to interpret the Hebrew of the last sentence
of Ge 16:13. It literally reads, “I have seen here after the One who saw
me.” The expression is almost identical to Exodus 33:23, where God tells
Moses that he will see His back, but not His face, for no one can see His
face and live. So the meaning may be, “I have caught a glimpse of God.”
But since there is the motif in the Old Testament that no one can see God
and live, because His glory and holiness are too awesome, some understand
Hagar to be marveling that she has actually seen God and is still alive.
(The NASB takes this interpretation.) The well was called “Beer-la-hairoi,”
which means either, “the well of the Living One who sees me,” or, as the
scholarly C. F. Keil argues, “the well of the seeing alive,” since Hagar
saw God and remained alive. The idea is, Hagar saw the God who saw her
need and was merciful to her in spite of her sin. In our trials, ...
A. We see God who is merciful in spite of our sin.
When God meets you in a time of trial, as He did with Hagar, and you see
Him, your first thought is, “Oh, God, how can You be so merciful to me, a
sinner? I’m in this mess because of my own rebellion and sin, and yet You
didn’t strike me down or let me go. You directed me in the way I need to
go and promised me Your blessing if I will do it. Thank You, Lord!” You
gain a fresh glimpse of the mercy of God. When that happens, it becomes a
source of testimony to others. They named the well with this unusual name,
Beer-la-hai-roi: “The well of the Living One who sees me,” or, “the well
of the seeing alive.” When travelers asked, “How did this place ever get
this name?” the story would be told again, how God met Hagar there in her
time of need, told her what to do and promised His blessing. In the same
way, when God has met you in your trial and you’ve seen Him in a fresh
way, use it to tell others of His great mercy.
B. God’s mercy moves us to submit to Him.
“The kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Hagar submitted
to God by returning to Abram and Sarai. Submission is the proper response
when we see God and His mercy toward us in Christ. The text says that
Abram (not Hagar) called the name of his son Ishmael. That means that
Hagar told Abram of her meeting with God and of God’s command to name the
boy “God hears.” That was a gentle rebuke to Abram, who had taken Hagar as
his wife because he was beginning to wonder if God did, in fact, hear. He
was trying to help God out.
But in our affliction, when it seems that God has forgotten us and that He
isn’t hearing our prayers, we need to learn to submit to Him, not resort
to our human schemes. We need to go back and put ourselves under the
authority structures God has ordained for our benefit. If you’re a
teenager, you need to submit to your parents. If you’re married, you need
to commit yourself to your partner, in spite of the difficulties. If
you’re hopping from church to church, disgruntled with each one because of
the impossible people who have wronged you, you need to commit yourself to
a church where Christ is honored and His Word is preached. Stick it out
and work through the problems in a spirit of submission to the leadership
God has placed in that church, even though they aren’t perfect. As one wag
said, “If you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it. You’ll spoil it!”
Dr. James Dobson tells of a time when he watched his daughter’s pet
hamster trying to gnaw its way out of its cage to what, no doubt, looked
to the hamster like freedom. But Dobson saw what the hamster did not: the
family’s pet dog, watching expectantly from a few feet away. If the
hamster had worked its way free, it would have met sudden death. The cage
was really its protection and blessing.
We’re often like that pet hamster. We try to break free from some
confinement or trial that God has put us in, thinking that then we could
really live. But God sees that our real need is to submit to Him in the
trial. We need to realize that even as God saw Hagar, He sees us. He
especially sees our affliction. If in our trials
we will look, like Hagar, we will see God in His mercy toward us. Our
response will be to submit ourselves to His loving purpose. The French
writer, Paul Claudel, wrote, “Christ did not come to do away with
suffering; He did not come to explain it; He came to fill it with His
presence.” I pray that if you’re suffering, you’ll see the God who sees
1. Is every trial from God or can trials come from Satan?
Does it make any difference with regard to our response?
2. Is it always God’s will for a Christian in a difficult trial to
submit? Does submission mean not seeking a way out? When can we rightly
seek a way out (e.g., of a difficult job)?
3. Is it ever right for Christians to stand up for their rights, to
rebel against their government, or to fight for the abolition of unjust
social institutions, such as slavery? When? How?
4. Is God endorsing slavery by making Hagar go back and
submit to Sarai? Was God being unfair to her?
HAGAR AT THE FOUNTAIN
Genesis 16:13, 14.
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 8TH, 1885, BY
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“And she called the name of the Lord
that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here
looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.”—Genesis
YOU know the story of Hagar. I am not going to deal with the allegorical
meaning of it: that would be apart from our subject this morning. I shall
speak of the incident simply as it stands, and even then I shall not use
it strictly as a case of sure conversion, for I am not certain that it was
such. I suppose Hagar to have been an Egyptian woman, probably one of the
maid-servants who were given by the King of Egypt to Abram at that unhappy
time when Abram’s faith failed him, and he went down into Egypt, and
requested Sarai to conceal the fact that she was his wife. Sin,
whenever it is committed by the child of God, is sure to involve him in
sorrow. In the long run, the result of any false dealing comes home to the
believer; and it does so in very unexpected ways.
Hagar became the special maid of Sarai.
God had promised to Abram that he should have a son, and that thus he
should be the father of nations: that blessing did not appear likely to
come to him for there were no children born to Sarai, nor did there seem
to be the possibility of any. Husband and wife were both old and well
stricken in years. No special mention had been made of Sarai in the
promise as it then stood; and therefore it was not clear to Abram but what
some other might be the mother of the expected seed; and when, in her
unbelief, Sarai proposed that her maid should become his secondary wife,
Abram hearkened to her. According to the custom of the times, and of
oriental nations, this act was right enough; but as it was not really
right in itself, and showed littleness of faith on Abram’s part, sorrow
soon came of it. Hagar began to behave herself proudly towards her
mistress, and her mistress finding herself despised, complained to Abram,
and began also to behave harshly towards her. The wrong element would not
work in Abram’s family; it might do very well for the Canaanites around
him; but in a house where God was feared, it was an evil principle, and
could not work for peace or holiness. Hagar’s high Egyptian spirit,
finding herself likely to be famous in the house, would not brook the rule
of her mistress, nor could Sarai, the quiet, but queenly matron, put up
with the insults of her slave. The mistress became hard and harsh to her
handmaid. Wrought into a frenzy, Hagar flies from the tent, and makes the
best of her way on the road to Egypt, whence she originally came. But what
could a lone woman do in her condition, all alone in the wilderness?
Wearied with her journey, she spies a fountain, and she sits there. It was
the likeliest place for any passing traveller to find her, and she sits
her down there in her proud despair. Perhaps they will send for her; Abram
may repent his yielding to Sarai, and send for her; she will wait there;
and if nothing comes to her help, she will die rather than return. She
does not appear at that time to have lifted up her heart in prayer to God.
She had lived in a godly household; but possibly, as she thought herself
ill-treated, she had conceived a dislike towards the God of her mistress;
such harsh treatment as she had received was not likely to incline her
towards the religion of those from whom she had fled: she was godless and
hopeless. Do you not see her crouching at the fountain, half mad with
pride and vexation, and at the same time stricken with a sullen despair?
She knows not what she is to do, neither does any way of hope open before
her. Alas, poor Hagar!
But although there was no prayer of hers for God to hear, another voice
spake in his ear. The angel who suddenly appeared to her said, “The Lord
hath heard thy affliction.” That is a very beautiful sentence. Thou hast
not prayed: thou hast been wilful, reckless, and at last despairing, and
therefore thou hast not cried unto the Lord. But thy deep sorrow has cried
to him. Thou art oppressed, and the Lord has undertaken for thee. Thou art
suffering heavily, and God, the All-pitiful, has heard thy affliction.
Grief has an eloquent voice when mercy is the listener. Woe has a plea
which goodness cannot resist. Though sorrow and woe ought to be attended
with prayer, yet even when supplication is not offered, the heart of God
is moved by misery itself. In Hagar’s case, the Lord heard her affliction:
he looked forth from his glory upon that lone Egyptian woman who was in
the deepest distress in which a woman could well be placed, and he came
speedily to her help.
We have not much difficulty in deciding who the angel was that appeared to
her. We are sure that this Angel of the Lord was that great messenger of
the covenant who was afterwards to appear in actual flesh and blood, but
who many a time before he was born at Bethlehem anticipated his descent to
earth, and visited it in human form. His delights were ever with the sons
of men; and so when there was a message to be brought to men, that blessed
One, the Second Person of the divine Unity condescended to be the bearer
of it. In the present instance I discern foreshadowings of the Son of man;
I perceive sure traces of the Christ who in a later age would dwell among
mankind. Read a little before the text, and you will find it written, The
angel of the Lord “found her”; it is the deed of the good Shepherd to find
a lost sheep. I see before me that Son of man who came to seek and to save
that which was lost. Surely this is that great Shepherd of the sheep who
goeth after his sheep until he find it! He had come far into the waste
after her, and he rested not until he found her. Great gladness filled his
heart, as when a merchantman findeth a pearl of great price. I see high
joy in the countenance of this angel of Jehovah. We read in verse seven,
“The angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water.” Significant
place! Can you forget how, when that blessed One was here in flesh and
blood, he found another woman at the well. “Jesus being wearied, sat thus
on the well. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith
unto her, Give me to drink.” Does not this story of Hagar read like a
rehearsal of that Samaritan incident? “He found her by a fountain of
This fountain is further said to be “in the wilderness.” Note that.
Remember those words of his when he actually became incarnate: “What man
of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the
ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until
he find it?” Again we read, “He found him in a desert land, and in the
waste howling wilderness.” This wonderful appearance of the Christ before
he actually assumed our flesh, has a likeness to his actual incarnation of
the most delightful kind. ’Tis he; we are sure it is he. All the tones of
the voice and the modes of the speech are his. That this angel of the Lord
was God we also know, for our text says, “She called the name of Jehovah
that spake unto her, Thou God seest me.” The all-seeing God had veiled
himself in that angelic form. That Divine One, whom we adore as the Son of
God and the Son of man, condescended to be the messenger of mercy to a
poor slave-woman, who had run away from her mistress. None but God would
thus have condescended. The world had no pity in those days for slaves of
any kind, much less for those who had left their master’s house. Here the
Lord of love found a noble opportunity for revealing his gracious nature
to a forlorn one. No eye pitied her, and no hand brought her deliverance
“Now will I arise, saith the Lord.” The angel found her, and it is of that
finding, and of what came of it, that I am going to speak this morning.
May the Holy Spirit cause the word to be with power.
I. In speaking of Hagar, I shall first dwell for a little upon HER
REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE. I pray that to some daughter of sorrow the like
experience may come. May your case be mirrored in that of Hagar, as when
one seeth his face in a looking-glass.
Observe that Hagar had outlawed herself. No doubt she had much to put up
with; but she had been insolent and provoking to her mistress, and at last
she had in her impatience deliberately quitted the house of Abraham, and
left the abode of the chosen family. Whatever that house may have been, it
was the best place then upon the earth; it was almost the only spot under
heaven where the Lord God was known. You might have said of Abraham’s
family, “Ye are of God, little children, and the whole world lieth in the
wicked one.” She, an Egyptian, once benighted by the superstitious worship
of her country, had enjoyed the light of the knowledge of the true God for
a while; and now she had turned her back on it. She could not but have
marked Abraham’s high character and sincere devotion. She must have seen
his true and real faith in God, and the way in which he endeavoured to
order his household aright. Whatever faults she may have perceived there,
whatever errors she may have suffered from, she could not but have noticed
that there was a great difference between Abraham’s tent and the abodes of
Egypt. Now she quits her place of privilege, she renounces the high hopes
which surrounded her, and in her fierce passion she rushes she cares not
whither. 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 have
happened to suffer somewhat, and in the bitterness of their spirit they
have resolved to stand no more of it. They vow that they will have nothing
to do with God, or with his people; they will turn their backs upon
everything that is religious, and they will mix with the world in its most
ungodly form. They do not, indeed, care what becomes of them: they would
flee from the presence of God himself if they could. Friends, relatives,
good men, and the circle of blessing they would quit, and roam in a
wilderness, hoping to be forgotten. Now their hand is against every man,
and every man’s hand is against them, and in their high spirit they are
prepared to defy the universe to subdue them.
While she was there, in the moment of her desperation, she was found by
the angel. He had come on purpose to seek her out and find her, and he had
not failed in his search, as, indeed, he never does. This was the last
thing she thought of. She may have hoped to have been found by some
merchants going towards Egypt, or to be picked up by certain of the
wandering gipsies of the wilderness, but she had not thought that God
himself would come after her. 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 for ever, he found her by the fountain in the
When the angel of the Lord found Hagar, he dealt graciously with her.
Indeed this was the object of his finding her; he came in pity, not in
wrath. His first act was to awaken conviction within her. He said to her,
“Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?” This
language is singularly like the Lord Jesus Christ’s mode of address. The
name of the person is mentioned. This forcibly brings to my mind the
speech of Our Lord when he said unto the woman, “Mary”; and she turned
herself, and said unto him, “Rabboni.” He says, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid”: his
word is a personal word, and she cannot mistake it. Is not this the Lord’s
way in other cases? Has he not said, “I have called thee by thy name”? He
adds her description, and reminds her that whatever else she might be, she
was “Sarai’s maid.” How surprised she must have been! She had never seen
the august personage before, but evidently he had seen her before, and
knew all about her, for his words searched her through and through.
Then, further to bring her to her right senses, the angel asks her, with
touching pathos of tone,—“Whence earnest thou?” What hast thou left behind
thee? What hast thou given up? All thy hopes lie in Abraham’s tent, and
thou hast left the place. For thee there is a high destiny, and thou art
flying from it. Thou art, after all, a favoured woman, and thou knowest it
not; thou art flying away from that which will be thy blessedness! This is
the question of the Holy Spirit to every runaway rebel. O wandering
sinner, what art thou quitting? In fleeing from goodness, and God, and
hope, and grace, dost thou know what thou art leaving?
Again, he asks her, “Whither wilt thou go?” Her crouching form is before
him; she lifts up her eyes, all red with tears, and she weeps anew as he
says, “And whither wilt thou go?” “Will thou go into the wilderness
further, and die there of thirst and hunger? Wilt thou go down into Egypt,
back to all the cruelties of that benighted land? Whither wilt thou go?”
It is thus the Lord meets runaway sinners that are bent upon their own
destruction, and he calls to them by name, and says, “Whence earnest thou?
What art thou leaving? What art thou losing? What art thou rejecting? What
art thou turning thy back upon? And whither wilt thou go? What can be the
end of such a life as thine? Whither can it carry thee but to destruction?
Whither wilt thou go by this course of desperate sin? Canst thou face the
Eternal, and the judgment-seat, and the curse that withers the ungodly?
Whence earnest thou? and whither wilt thou go?” It is thus, I say, that
the covenant Angel met with many of us, when he aroused our consciences
and made us pause in our headlong rush of sin. Some of us heard the
warning voice long years ago, and we can never forget it: the call rings
in the chambers of our memory even now. It is thus that the Lord met with
some of you a short time since; and you are at this moment filled with
gratitude for the interposition. I believe that this morning the Lord will
thus meet with some who are in this congregation, whom I know not, but
whom he knows right well; for his eye is resting on them now, and his
voice is speaking to them through my voice. Like as he said of old,
“Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence earnest thou? and whither wilt thou go?” so
doth he speak at this hour, and ask you why you are bent upon destroying
your own souls.
This wrought in her mind conviction, after a certain sort; and where the
Son of God spiritually speaks to the heart, a deep and piercing conviction
is felt: his word lays sin bare and open, and makes the guilty conscience
feel that nothing is hidden from God, but that all things are naked and
open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. As when the butcher hangs
up the body of a beast, and with a stroke lays bare the heart and inwards
of the creature, so with a single word the Angel of the covenant reveals
the heart of Hagar. Thus also the convincing Spirit deals with the sinner,
and lays him bare even to the backbone, till all the secrets of his soul
are revealed, and he cries,” Thou God seest me.” The Word of the Lord, by
revealing the thoughts and intents of the heart, proves its own divine
origin to him who feels its operation, and thus God himself is made known
as speaking by the Word.
When he had thus wrought conviction in her, the angel who had found Hagar
next gave her an exhortation. He said to her, “Return unto thy mistress,
and submit thyself under her hands.” A hard message, as it seemed to her
in her pride, no doubt. “Return,” however hard the way; “Submit thyself,”
however humiliating the deed. Hagar is not spared; the angel puts his
words very plainly. If it were kindness to say, “Return,” it is still
greater kindness to say severely, but truthfully, “Return to thy
mistress.” Mark, not to thy master only, but “to thy mistress.” He says
also, “Submit thyself under her hands,” to show that the submission must
be entire and absolute. Put thyself back into thy right place, and then
grace can deal with thee. When the covenant Angel deals with any man or
woman among us, he will say, “Return, return, return. Repent, and be
converted. Turn ye; turn ye, why will ye die?” The gospel does not spare
the sinner the pangs of repentance. It calls him to sorrow after a godly
sort. You must abhor your sin, and flee from it, or your sin will be your
ruin. You must so repent of your sin as to make such restitution as may be
possible. You must replace stolen goods, and recall false words. You must
humble yourself wherein you have been insolent; you must bow yourself down
before God, and submit to man also, so far as you have wronged him. God
the Holy Spirit, when he deals with a proud, unrighteous heart, lays
justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and sweeps away as
with hail every refuge of lies. He cries, “Return! Submit!” and puts the
matter so closely home that there is no misunderstanding it. He bids the
man confess, and forsake his sin; and gives him no hope of mercy, unless
he will do so. God has not met with you, friend, if you go on in your sin.
God in mercy has not met with you if sin remains sweet to you, and
repentance is unknown to your heart. You must go back to the place from
whence you came, and you must submit yourself, or nothing will go right
When the angel of the Lord had thus spoken with Hagar, calling her by her
name, and working conviction in her heart, and pointing out her duty, he
then added rich promises—promises which to her mind must have been very
unexpected and consoling. She was a runaway slave girl, but he says to
her, “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered
for multitude, and thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name
Ishmael.” That name signifies, “God heareth me,” because the Lord had
heard her affliction. The angel went on to tell her what this child should
be who would be the joy of her heart. Little does a sinner know what
blessings are in store for him, if he repents and submits to the Lord’s
will. He is come to the borders of the wilderness of death, but God
intends to bring him back to peace, and joy, and happiness. Oh, did the
proud sinner know what God’s grace will do for him, he would break his
heart to think he had been so rebellious! Oh, did the obstinate know what
a place there is at the Father’s board and in the Father’s heart for the
returning prodigal, and how much he is still beloved, notwithstanding all
his naughtiness, he would quicken his footsteps, and wish to have wings
upon his heels, that he might fly back to his Father’s house and his
Father’s bosom! O soul, I do pray that Jesus Christ may find thee out this
morning, and say to thee, “Return unto me, for I have blotted out thy sins
like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thine iniquities. Return unto me, for
I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness
have I drawn thee.”
So you see, Hagar’s experience was a very remarkable one, although by no
means peculiar to herself. 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. Their proud heart has yielded, and their spirit has
become gentle as that of a little child, as Hagar’s spirit was, and they
have returned to the great Father’s house, and submitted themselves, and
rich blessings have become theirs. Is it not written, “If ye be willing
and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land”? Though Hagar had
banished herself away from the house of divine favour, yet the Lord
devised means for restoring her, and she was restored. Thus much on her
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.” 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. I do not mean when I speak to you in his name; for
what am I? You ought to hear us if we truly speak for God, since it is of
his kindness that he sends his servants to speak to you: but if the
covenant Angel comes himself, and if he speaks to the heart, then he
unstops the deaf ear, and looses the dumb tongue. Men soon speak to Christ
when Christ speaks to them. Did you but know the power of the Almighty
word of grace, you would understand that as darkness gave place to light
when he said, “Let there be light,” so do men’s hearts quit their sin when
Jesus speaks to them in tones of effectual grace. Hagar knew no speaking
to God till God spake with her; but after he had spoken to her there was
What did she say? 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. They give you books to prove that there is a
God—all well and good; be convinced by them. They tell you to walk abroad
and see God in his works. Do so. You cannot better employ yourselves; for
God is everywhere. His breath perfumes the flowers, and his pencil paints
them. But you will not learn God in this fashion, if you use this method
by itself. To go from nature up to nature’s God is a long step for broken
legs: we are so mangled by our fall that we never take that step without
divine help. But, oh, if the Lord meets with you! If he reveals his own
self to your heart! What assurance! What certainty! Think not I am talking
now of things that are not: I speak what I have myself felt. God has met
with some of us as surely as ever one spirit has met with another. Men
have so spoken to us at times, that we can never forget their speech; but
never has human voice come with such force as that of the Lord of hosts,
the accents of whose words we shall hear as long as memory holds her place
and reason sits on her throne. We may forget the word of father, mother,
wife, or friend, but not the voice of the God of love. “When thou saidst,
Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”
None doubt the existence of God when God has come into contact with their
spirit. When we have felt his power and tasted his love, and known his
overwhelming influence, then have we said, “Jehovah, he is the God,” and
we have bowed in solemn worship before him. I do not know that Hagar had
ever thought of God before; but she discerns him now and speaks wisely. No
doubt she had heard of Jehovah, for she had joined in the devotions of
Abraham’s family; but now for the first time in her life she recognizes in
deed and of a truth that the Lord lives for her, and therefore she speaks
to him, and calls him, “The God that sees.”
Observe, dear friends, that she acknowledged his observant love. She could
not help acknowledging it, for it flashed before her eyes. I do not think
when she said, “Thou God seest me,” that she meant merely that God is
omniscient and therefore that he saw her; but she meant this, “Thou seest
me, with a special observation. Thou seest me with eyes of tender concern
and loving care. Thou knowest me in my adversity.” She felt in her inmost
soul that eyes of thoughtful love were fixed on her. “Hagar, Sarai’s
maid,” knew that she was specially under watchful care. Those holy eyes
had noticed all her sin, which had been brought to her remembrance; those
eyes had seen her duty, which she was now willing to resume; those eyes
had spied out the promise for her, which promise had brought a warm
comfort to her poor, chill spirit. “Oh,” said she, “what a God thou
art—the God who sees, who knows, who considers, and thinks of me!” Now she
has a God, not in theory, but in fact. You that only know God as one who
made the heavens and earth, do not indeed know him at all. He must be
personally a God to you, or he will not be your God at all. To us the true
God is the God who seeth us. Doth not his law begin, “I am the Lord thy
God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
bondage”? His special care is the mark by which we know him. It was so in
Hagar’s case; God’s watchful care towards her made him real to her. She
knew that he must be God; she could not doubt it, for she had been so
strangely found out by him. In the extremity of her lost estate, when she
had gone to the uttermost of sin and sorrow, he had found her out, and so
she calls him, “the God that sees me.”
In the presence of that God she felt overpowered and reads 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. She will go back and bear
the reproach and rebuke, for she has a promise hidden in her heart to
sustain her; she shall yet be the glad mother of a father of nations who
shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. She returns surrounded
with God. Bathed in the sense of the divine oversight, she resigns herself
to her work. Though Abram should not encourage her, and Sarai should not
acknowledge her, yet the Lord’s eye would be upon her, and God’s favour
was preparing great things for her. Her heart was light within her,
because of the divine favour, and in that spirit she was subdued unto the
will of God. That is what I want to happen to many a poor soul this
morning in a still fuller and more spiritual sense. Pray, you people of
God, that it may be so. If you are here this morning, Mistress Sarah, let
me put in a gentle word for your poor maid. If she does come back to you,
do not treat her harshly again; do not drive her away again; but receive
the runaway and make the best of her. Let the past be buried. Say, “If an
angel has appeared to thee, and taught thee to know the Lord, I will
gladly receive thee, and show the kindness of God unto thee.”
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? “This is a
sentence very hard to be understood; not because it is hard to make out a
meaning, but because it is so full of meaning. It reads like an oracle.
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?
If I had loved God when I was in Sarai’s tent, I could have understood his
following me here; if I had sought him when I was with Abram, and had
known my master’s God in Canaan, I could have understood that he should
remember me now: but I was a wild Egyptian; I would not bow my knee to
Jehovah; no, I had no wish nor thought for the living God; yet hath he
looked after me, the slave girl, for whom nobody cared! He hath spoken to
me concerning things to come.” Brethren, it is a great wonder to me this
day that ever my God should think of me. Brothers, sisters, do you not
share that feeling, each one for yourself? Do you not say, “Why me, my
Lord? Why me”? Sit still in holy wonder, and adore and bless the Lord.
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. Brother, when you are brought to God it will strike you as though a
dart went through your flesh, that you should so long have done despite to
God and heavenly things. Then will you say, “Have I forgotten Christ? Have
I forgotten God? Has he had designs of love to me, and purposes of grace
for me, and yet have I rebelled against him? Did he die for me, and did I
refuse to live for him? Did he bleed his life away on the cross for me,
and have I been all these years thoughtless and careless of him?” It will
stagger you; you will feel ready to sink into the dust when you once feel
the folly and meanness of your course. You can bluster, you can be proud
and careless, when you know not God; but when you once fully meet with
him, you will be ready to bite your tongues to think you could have lived
so long in ignorance and neglect of your God. Hagar was evidently startled
as she remembered that she had never up till that time looked to the
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? When I
had bread to eat I never looked after God, and now that I have come into
this wilderness, do I seek and find him? No creature can hear my call, and
do I now call upon my Creator? I am alone, alone, alone; there is nothing
here but this well, and lo I the angel of Jehovah has found me and spoken
with me, and now in this wild place I for the first time look after the
Lord who has looked after me. Is this the place, the spot of ground, where
I must needs close in with my Maker and know that there is a God, and
believe his promise, and begin to live in expectation of its fulfilment?”
It might well astound her. Perhaps somebody has come into this service
this very day, almost driven to desperation: you have acted so wrongly—I
cannot tell how wrongly—and now you are smarting from the consequences of
your foolishness. If God is meeting with you this morning you will cry out
in astonishment, “What! Have I come hither to find God? Have I come into
this miserable condition that I might be driven to look after him? This is
surprising grace!” An old man in the country was a gracious father, and
brought up his children in the fear of the Lord; but his son while yet a
youth must needs see life in London, and therefore he came to the great
city, and plunged into all sorts of sin. He cared nothing for the Sabbath,
but even felt glad to escape from the weariness of the meeting-house to
which he had been taken from his infancy. It was no design of his ever to
find God, but God found him in the most unlikely of all the places in the
world, namely, in a low play-house. A scene occurred in which a mutinous
sailor was to be hanged, and asking for a glass of spirits he was
represented as drinking his own health in the words—” Here’s to my
immortal soul.” “Immortal soul,” thought the foolish youth, “Immortal
soul.” He had almost forgotten that he had an immortal soul. It was a shot
fired at the centre of the target: it struck him home; he was ready to
drop: he sought the open air and a place wherein to weep. The next Sabbath
morning found the young scapegrace at a prayer-meeting, seeking his
father’s God, and before long he found peace through the blood of Jesus,
and began preaching the gospel which he had so grievously abused. God
knows how to get at the heart of sinners. Remember Colonel Gardiner about
to commit a foul offence; he made an assignation, and reached the spot an
hour too soon, and while he waited he saw, or thought he saw, his Saviour,
and heard a voice accusing him of ingratitude. He fled the place of his
temptation, sought for pardon, and became eminent as a saint. 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 to-day. May you also enquire in amazement, “Have I
here also looked after him that seeth me?”
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. She knew that she had seen him in angelic form, and she
marvelled that she found herself alive and able to look up with hope. 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. If the Lord had met
with me in a way of vengeance, and caused me to wither away from the root
like the fruitless fig-tree, I could not have wondered; but to bless me in
infinite compassion is a wonder indeed. If he had sentenced me to depart
to the lowest hell I could not have complained; but to meet me in love, to
pardon, relieve, and save me—this is a miracle of grace. Does the Lord
say, ‘I receive thee to my heart, and I intend to bless thee henceforth
and for ever’? Then does he act like a God. Who but he would speak thus?
His grace awakens an amazement which is not soon forgotten or easily
expressed. The soul cries in surprise and delight—
“Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear?
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood his grace,
Long provoked him to his face.
Tell it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell!”
IV. My time has fled, or I should have asked you to notice HER HUMBLE
WORSHIP. Her humble worship was expressed by her using an expressive name
for the angel of the Lord. She worshipped God heartily and intelligently,
according to her knowledge. She did not use the first word that came to
hand, but she spake fitly, thoughtfully, and well. She knew that the Lord
was the seeing God, for he had seen her; and so she worshipped him under
that title, “Thou God seest me.” We cannot worship “The Unknown God”; at
least, such worship lacks eyes and light, and is fitter for owls and bats
than for man.
Yet be it observed that she worshipped beyond her knowledge, according to
her apprehension; for she said, “Have I here also looked after him?” as if
she knew that she had not fully seen the Lord, but had only looked at him
as he retreated from her. Like Moses, in a later day, she had only beheld
the back parts of God, the skirts of his garments; his face she had not
seen. The Hebrew has that force. Hagar felt there was much more of God
than she had seen, and in that belief she worshipped and adored with
Her worship was wonderfully personal. It is not “God sees,” but “Thou God
seest me”; and it is not, “Has God looked after his creature?” but “Have I
here also looked after him that seeth me?” True religion is always
personal, but it becomes wonderfully so when a man is specially arrested
by sovereign grace; for then he adores as if he were the only man in the
universe, and beholds God as if no other eye throughout all the ages had
ever beheld him. Oh, it is wonderful to feel alone with the Lord, while
the Lord is searching you through and through.
Remark again, that her worship proved itself deeply true, for it was
followed by immediate practical obedience to the command of the Lord.
Obedience is the best of worship. She returned unto her mistress, and was
subject unto her. Oh for grace this morning, if God meets with us, not to
tarry a single minute in rebellion, but to return at once to subjection to
the Lord! Oh, to cry with Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” and then to live
henceforth as in his sight! It were well to keep the finger for ever in
the print of the nails, that we might never lose our fellowship with
Jesus, nor our joy in the great Father, nor our subjection to the
ever-blessed Spirit of all grace.
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 for
ever 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
Brethren, there is a God, and we know it. He is not an abstraction far
away; but he is a reality, and sees and observes, and takes care of men
and women. Many of us have proved this to be a fact. Now, next time you
eat, worship him that lives and sees; next time you drink, worship him
that lives and sees. Let our tables and our wells remind us of him who
removes our hunger and quenches our thirst.
Better still, let this very name of God—“the living and the seeing One”—be
as a well of water to you, for the comfort of your hearts. By this may
your griefs be assuaged. “Mother is dead!” What a loss is the death of a
mother to many a girl, and to many a young man! “Mother is dead” is the
token of temptation without defence. Such a stay and holdfast mother often
is, that when she is gone Satan gets a dire advantage over a young soul.
Yet if mother be gone, the Lord lives, and all the gentleness and kindness
of a mother are treasured up in him. God lives: think of that, and be
comforted. This well is never dry. Your father is dead, or your dear, kind
brother is dead, and you are left alone to bear the buffetings of a cruel
world. Never mind. Let not your heart fail you. Do not run away. God lives
and sees. He in whom is all fatherhood, and all friendship, and all
kindness, still stands hear you watching for your good. Come and drink at
this well. The waters are cool and clear. Drink, and live. Did I hear you
cry out in anguish, “Nobody cares for me”? Do you say, “Nobody knows me in
this terrible city. Here I am in this great London as much deserted as
Robinson Crusoe on his lone island”? I know what you mean. London is worse
than a wilderness to many; a man may lay himself down and die in these
streets, and nobody will care for him. The millions will pass him by; not
for want of kindness, but from want of thought. There is no such horrible
wilderness as a wilderness of men. Yet, take comfort: the living God sees
thee! He seeth not as man seeth, with a mere gaze of cold notice; but his
heart goes with his eye. You have not prayed yet, but he hears your
affliction. Oh, begin to pray, and he will speedily deliver! Spread your
case before him, and he will regard your petition. I would encourage you
to get alone, if you are in sorrow and sin, and tell it all out before
God, and see if he does not deliver you. Some of us have gone to him in
plights as terrible as yours, and we have ordered our cases before him,
and he has answered us. We can truly say, “He hath delivered us”; and
therefore we encourage you to seek his face in like manner. May the Lord
bring you to seek him at once, for his great love’s sake, and then to him
shall be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
GOD’S OVERTAKING MERCY
Genesis 16:8, 13
PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 17TH, 1916.
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
On Lord’s Day Evening, 22nd February, 1871.
“And he [the angel of the Lord] said,
Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence comest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she
said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.”—Genesis 16:8.
“And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest
me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth
HAGAR had lived for many years in Abraham’s family. This was no small
advantage. While all the rest of the world was in heathendom, the light
shone brightly in Abraham’s tent. Not only was Abraham himself a
worshipper of the Most High God, but he commanded his household after him.
We may rest assured that there were family gatherings for devotion—that
the patriarch took occasion, both by precept and example, to teach the
knowledge of the true God to all that were in his service. His was the
central spot of light in the world, and all around him was the thick gloom
of heathenism. Yet I do not find that Hagar, during the years she lived
with Abraham, even when she saw his faith in going forth from his kindred
and his country, and dwelling in tents in the promised land—I do not find
that she herself received any personal call from God, or had a word from
the angel of mercy to her own soul. And truly in this she is like very
many servants, ay, and sons and daughters too, in godly families who are
surrounded by the light, but yet see not; who are where God speaks, and
yet he has not spoken personally to them; who enjoy the means of grace,
but have never yet got the grace of the means—who are themselves strangers
in the midst of Israel, foreigners, though they dwell in the land itself.
Now it would be a source of the greatest imaginable joy to many of us if
some of these should be called as Hagar was—should hear the voice from
heaven, and be enabled to make the double discovery which she made,
namely, that God saw her, and that she might come into contact with
God—might look to him who had seen her.
At this time I shall first direct your attention to a very interesting
I. THE SINGULAR SEASON CHOSEN BY GOD FOR THE INTERPOSITION OF HIS
Let us dwell on that a moment. God displays his sovereignty in saving
souls, both in the souls whom he chooses to save, in the instrumentality
he uses in calling them, and in the conditions of mind in which he finds
them when he is pleased to look upon them in mercy.
Now Hagar at that time—at the time when the angel called to her—seemed to
be in somewhat an unlikely state to be visited of God. She was, first of
all, at that moment smarting under a sense of wrong. She felt that Sarah
had not treated her well, and in all probability Sarah had not. The
Eastern mistress is often very tyrannical towards her servants, and Hagar
stood very much in the position of a slave. We do not doubt but what the
jealous wife had been very severe—unjustly severe towards the woman. There
she sat by the well, feeling bitterness in her own soul, that in the house
of good people where she had expected better things she had been treated
with injustice. It did not seem likely that the God of Abraham should call
her, when her heart was seething like a pot with indignation against the
household where God was worshipped. At the same time, as she turned the
matter over and her soul grew more and more bitter within her, I should
not wonder but what she felt she had brought a good deal of it upon
herself. She was but the servant, and she had desired to play the
mistress. She had despised the mistress; no doubt spoken to her very
contemptuously; and now it had returned upon her, and she was made to
suffer for her own pride. Her proud, fierce spirit, perhaps, did not admit
it, but yet she must have felt in her conscience that much of what was
wrong about her she had, notwithstanding, brought upon herself. Now when a
person is under such a feeling as that, disturbed, tossed to and fro,
vexed, distracted, it does not seem a likely time for them to hear the
voice of God speaking to their souls.
Moreover, at that moment she was leaving all that was good; she had turned
her back upon the household, the chosen household—left it, I will not say
deliberately, but at any rate she had left it; she was going down into
Egypt—going “anywhere, anywhere out of the world,” so that she could but
get away from the place where her bondage had become irksome. She was
going she scarce knew where, but she did know probably that she was going
into heathendom, among heathenish people. The best she could hope to meet
with was separation from God. She could not but feel that it was black
darkness which was before her, and she was rushing madly into it because
her high spirit would not bend—would not bow—would not yield before the
majesty of the Most High. I think I see her there, her eyes red with
weeping, her spirit broken down with the hunger of her journey, sitting a
while and refreshed a moment, and resolved not to stoop and never to go
back, and then again shuddering at the darkness that lay before her, and
afraid to go on. It was in such a state as that that God met with her; to
all intents and purposes she was a friendless, outcast woman. She had left
the only tents where she could claim a shelter; she had gone into the
wilderness—no father, no mother, no brother, no sister to care for her.
She turned her back upon those who had any interest in her, and now she
was left alone, alone, alone in a desert land, without an eye to pity or a
hand to help. It was then, under those peculiar circumstances of trial and
of sin commingled, that God met with her.
I have been wondering in my soul, when I turned over this text, whether
there would stray into this Tabernacle some kindred case, and whether,
though no angel spake, yet the voice of man might be to-night the voice of
the messenger of the covenant to some poor soul. I know thee not by name,
nor face, yet I know well thy feeling. It may be to-night thou art sorely
angry, greatly vexed, smarting, wrathful, thou hast made up thy mind to
choose the world and give up every semblance of that which is good. It may
be to-night that thou hast lost everything that makes earth worth living
in. Thou longest for death, thou wouldest almost seek the place where the
lamps quiver on the dark river, for thy spirit is bitterness itself, thy
lamp of hope is gone out. Oh! but it may be that this is the night when
God’s mighty mercy is ordained to meet with thee—the very evening in which
the Lord shall call out thy name, and thou shalt feel that he knows thee,
thy case, and thy circumstances, and that he has come to call thee to
himself as thou never mightest have been called had not these extremities
of thine brought God to thy rescue and to thy salvation! I do not suppose
that there will be anyone whose case exactly resembles that of the text,
but it has sometimes happened that the turning point of human life has
been the point of great sorrow, and great penury, and distress of mind on
account of some gigantic fault, or it has been the time of some dreadful
alternative put before the soul, in which it seemed as though it must be
God or devil that night, heaven or hell that night, eternal joy or eternal
misery that night. On some such strange occasion as this in your mental
history you have come here to-night; may God, who is here, speak with you.
A singular season for mercy. Now, secondly, let us look at:—
II. THE MODE OF MERCY, OR THE HOME QUESTIONS WHICH THE ANGEL PUT TO
She is sitting there by the well; it is in a desert; it may be a little
oasis on the road; but there is no one within sight, nor any probability
of any caravan passing that way. As she sits quite still she hears a
voice, “Hagar.” She starts, she looks up, and there is a brightness like
the sun above her; brighter than the sun at noonday does it shine. She can
scarce bear the light, and she hears it again, “Hagar, Sarah’s maid.”
Whoever it is that is speaking knows who she is, and what she is, and all
about her. “Whence comest thou? and whither wilt thou go?” She is so
startled, she has just been thinking of the place from whence she came,
and that dismal question had just been starting her mind. “Whither wilt
thou go?” She felt that there was no place for her to go to. It was only a
choice of equal horror—she knew not where to go. Now remark this, that
very often the gospel call comes to the sons of men not by a voice heard
by the ear, but through the ministry in the way of describing the person’s
case with minute accuracy. It was the Saviour’s way of doing it when he
was on earth. The woman was by the well; the Saviour spoke to her. The
words did not seem to take effect. He turned the subject, and he said,
“Go, call thy husband and come hither.” “I have no husband,” said she. If
she could blush, she blushed then—“I have no husband.” “Thou hast well
said, ‘I have no husband,’ for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom
thou now hast is not thy husband. In that saidst thou truly.” Then the
shock went to her very heart; she perceived that he who spoke was
something more than man. And when the gospel fully preached describes the
sinner, paints him, photographs him, holds it before him, and makes him
say, “Why, that is myself; he speaks of me—it is even me,” then it is that
the soul perceives what Hagar perceived, that God saw her, and that she
might look to God.
Now I shall not endeavour to make any picture of you, dear hearer. If I
were to try it I could not do it; it is only the Lord himself that guides
us in such matters; but I will put the question to you, “Whence comest
thou?” Did you come into the condition in which you now are out of a godly
parentage? Have you got into London sin, but was there a time once when
you knelt at your mother’s knee at eventide and repeated a gracious
prayer? Ah! you have spent many a day and many a night in the haunts of
sin! You were once a teacher in the Sabbath school—once a lover of the
gospel (at least professedly so) which now you turn from and abhor.
“Whence comest thou?” From old impressions that have been forgotten, from
an old profession that has been disgraced, honourable once, dishonourable
now—a servant of God once ostensibly, but now a servant at the devil’s
altar—a ringleader in sin it may be, though once thou wert at heaven’s own
gates. “Whence comest thou?” Remember whence thou hast fallen, and repent.
And “whither wilt thou go?” Oh! let me put the question! You stand
to-night just here, “Whither wilt thou go?” Another sin tempts thee
to-night; wilt thou commit it? I would fain stand with thee, as the old
Scythian did of old when his country was about to be invaded by the foe.
He drew a line before the chieftain of the invading host, and said, “Cross
that line, and there is war for ever; stay there, and there may be peace.”
I put a line before your steps to-night; in the name of the everlasting
God, I charge you cease from that sin. Once more commit it, and it may be
that no mercy’s trumpet shall ever sound out a message of forgiveness to
thee again. “Whither wilt thou go?” Oh! go not like a dog to thy vomit,
like the sow that was washed to her wallowing; go not further, for
“whither wilt thou go” in the future? A man who sins to-day will sin worse
to-morrow, and the next day worse. Many a young man when he has commenced
with what are called the follies of London life had no idea that he would
end it debauched, depraved, and abandoned. Many a woman when she has once
begun to trifle with sin had no idea that her name would be coupled one
day with infamy. Many a young man at his master’s till is scrupulously
honest to-day, and never dreams that he will one day be a thief. Yet he is
about to take a step that will surely make him so—the first step to evil.
Oh! “whither wilt thou go?” I believe that many a man, many a woman, if
they could go back twenty years and be young people again and have their
history written, the true history as they lived it, would say, “I never
shall live so. Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” They
would have been indignant at the supposition that they could ever be
capable of the transgression into which they have now actually fallen.
“Whither wilt thou go?” Halt! halt! ye that that are marching on to evil,
halt! in the name of him that liveth, halt! lest you march to damnation
and take one step that shall be your inevitable ruin, for this is the
worst of it. “Whither wilt thou go?” The way of sin is the way of
destruction. Men cannot sin and be happy. The end, the end, the end, the
end of it, oh! think of it! It is not to-day, nor to-morrow, but it is
that dying hour; nay, it is not that only, it is that hour when, up from
among the dead, you shall arise amidst the ringing of the last judgment
trump. It is that opening of the books, that reading of the several
dooms—that separation of the righteous from the wicked—it is that which
hangs upon this question, “Whither wilt thou go?” Oh! go not to the
judgment unforgiven—go not to the judgment to be condemned, to be cast
into the place “where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not
quenched.” God save you, sinner; may he save you to-night instrumentally
by the force of those two questions, “Whence comest thou? Whither wilt
And now let us notice attentively, having observed the remarkable season
and the home questions, let us notice attentively:—
III. THE DISCOVERY AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
The description had been so accurate; “Hagar, Sarah’s maid.” The questions
had been so pertinent, had stuck so close to her soul; “Whence comest
thou? and whither wilt thou go?” that she said, “It is God, it is God that
speaks to me.” And there came home to her what she had often heard before,
but never felt. “There is a God; God is not an impalpable somebody up
there, who has nothing to do with me, but there is God here, here, and he
sees me; it is God that deals with me—not far away, asleep, or blind, but
God sees me.” Oh! it is a glorious thing when a soul starts up to that
conviction, “I am not alone, I am not friendless after all; there is a
God, and a God who sees me and who takes such notice of me that he speaks
to me.” A man is never saved until he gets to feel something of the
nearness of God, God in Christ Jesus, but yet God. Consciousness of Deity
is one of the marks of salvation. Now Hagar’s thoughts must have been
something like this. After all, there is somebody that has seen me, and
marked all my past life, though I did not see him. He knows everything
that I have done or thought, or said, and I perceive now that he has
spoken to me, that he cares about me. I thought Abraham did not care for
me, Sarah was angry, and then I said, “No man cares for my soul, and I
will away.” Now I see that God was watching me, and he has cared about me,
and though he did not interpose to help me just then, just when I was so
bitterly oppressed, yet I know he has cared for me, for at last, when I
was sitting on this well alone, he spoke to my soul. Sinner, I pray the
Holy Ghost to make just this discovery to you, that, after all, God does
care about you. He that made the heavens and the earth does think of you.
Though you are little, and less than nothing as compared with the bulk of
his vast creation, yet on you he sets his eyes, for you he has a care.
“Well,” said she in her soul, “seeing that he cares for me, he will
interpose on my behalf.” The angel, who spake, spoke words of comfort to
her heart—told her that there was a happier lot in future in store for her
than she dreamed—sent her away with a comfortable word ringing in her
ears. Oh! soul, I pray God to do that for thee to-night. Thou hast said,
“God has forgotten me.” He knows all about thee. It may be this is the
truth—I hope it is—that thy name is written on the palms of Jesus’ hands.
What if it should turn out that thou, rebellious sinner that thou art, art
one whom God loved before the foundation of the world? What if thou art
one of his chosen, whom the Saviour bought with blood? What if thou art
one that shall surely sit in heaven, and wear the white robe, and sing the
new song—what if thou art a favoured one of the Most High? Oh! I think I
hear you say, “If I had half a thought that that was true, I would not lie
down in despair; I would up and bestir myself, and I would have done with
my old companions; I would have done with my old sins, if that were true.”
Oh! soul, I cannot tell thee that it is true—I hope it is—but I can tell
thee one thing that is true, namely, that if thou wilt now come and put
thy trust in Jesus Christ, and repent of thine iniquities, then it is all
true. I can only know thine election by thy calling; I can only tell thy
calling by thy repentance and by thy faith, and if thou shouldest find
peace to-night, and I pray thou mayest, then thou art God’s beloved. He
that made the heavens loves thee; he that made the earth bought thee with
his blood, and heaven would not be complete without thee. What if thou
hast been far off by wicked works, yet still thou art a child, and heaven
shall yet ring with music on thy return. What if thou hast been lost in
the filth of drunkenness and all manner of lasciviousness, yet still a
piece of God’s precious silver, the house shall be swept for thee, and the
candle lit, and thou shalt be found and put into the Saviour’s treasury
yet. Oh! what hope this ought to make well up in the poor hopeless
sinner’s heart! It is not because of your goodness, but because of his
infinite goodness that he comes to meet with you, unworthy as you are, for
he sees you, sees you; with thoughts of love he sees you, and to-night he
interposes as he calls you by your name.
Now when Hagar made that discovery she made another at the same time. She
said, “Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”—as much as to
say, and probably she had not known it before, that as God could come to
her, so she could go to God. “God has looked after me, and now I can look
after him.” There is not a great gulf between the creature and the
Creator. We can send messages to heaven, and receive blessings from
heaven. She felt from that moment that God was real, and living, and
appreciable, and that God would hear her prayers and answer her petitions,
and had really and literally spoken to her. Oh! I do not know anything
that puts such strength into a man, such encouragement, such joy, makes
him so patient, as the belief that God has spoken to him—that God has
spoken in words of love and promise to him. Why, from that day poor Hagar
would say, “I will go back; I will go back. The God of Abraham has spoken
to me. Abraham may be unkind, but I will bear it, for Abraham’s God has
spoken to me. Sarah may be more cross than ever—never mind, I do not know
that I can tell her of it, but oh! it will be such a joy in my soul—God
has spoken to me, assured me of his favour, given me a blessing.” Now that
young man who thinks he has been so badly treated, if he gets his sins
pardoned to-night, and the Lord speaks with him, he will go back and say,
“I daresay I was as much to blame as anybody, but, whether or no, I am
saved and I can put up with anything now.” And that man that is so poor
that he would hardly dare come even into this Tabernacle because his
clothes were so shabby, and he was ready to say, “I will give up the
battle of life; I will never try again”—oh! if he were able to say, “I
know that God has spoken with me to-night, brought me to the Saviour’s
feet, and blotted out my sin”—oh! dear brother, you will pick up the
weapons again and go to the battle of life once more, and your poverty
will seem to have lost its edge; the bitterness will have departed; the
iron will not enter into your soul. Get a word from God, and know that you
are his child, and you can say, “Now blow ye winds, rage ye waves, and all
ye elements let forth your fury, the God that rules you all is now my
friend; no hurt can you do to me.” If you notice, it was just so with
Hagar when she had heard the voice of the Lord, and perceived that God saw
her and that she could speak to God—then at once she went back. Told to go
back, back she went—submitted herself. You don’t find her again
personally—though the old blood came up afterwards in her son—you don’t
find her quarrelling with her mistress, but she patiently bears her lot,
in the recollection of the blessing that she had received. This is just
the way with men, wilful, wayward, headstrong—when they get the grace of
God, they bend their shoulders to Christ’s yoke and they become tame and
gentle. Because they are happy in God’s love they are patient at the ills
of this life. Remember the story of the poor raving maniac. They had often
bound him with chains, but he snapped them asunder. He had left his
family—gone to dwell among the tombs. He made night hideous with his
screams and howlings. Men dared not pass that way, for he was worse than a
wild beast. He had cut himself and rent his flesh, torn himself with
stones and briars—none could tame him. But after Jesus had said to the
evil spirit, “I charge thee that thou come out of him,” we find him
clothed, which he had not been for many a day, in his right mind, and
sitting at the feet of Jesus. Oh! if some wild spirit be here now, some
spirit driven to it by suffering, by neglect, by injustice from others,
and also by its own personal sin, if the Lord bring thee to trust in
Jesus, his dear Son, and see thy sin all laid upon him, then thou wilt,
even at this moment, be a different man. Thy wife will scarce know thee,
nor thy children either; thou wilt become another than thou hast ever been
before. Thou wilt go back to thy business, back to thy burdens, back to
thy sufferings, and bear it all for the sake of him that spake out of
heaven and saved thy soul.
Now the most of this I daresay is not applicable to the most of you. You
know I have been thinking, while preaching, that you might say I had not
been preaching except to some one or two that were here. Well, I will tell
you my excuse. “What man of you, if he hath an hundred sheep, if he lose
one, doth not leave the ninety and nine, and go after that which is gone
astray?” After that gone-astray one I have gone, and my Master too. Amen.