Genesis 16

1 Hagar was probably attained during their sojourn in Egypt (Gen 12:10+).
2 To be childless in those days was considered a curse. Abraham was approximately 85 and Sarah was 76. They were both past the age when couples stopped having children.

Sarah saw the hopelessness of her situation and proposed the use of a custom of the surrounding people. By assisting a concubine during childbirth, the wife could claim the child as her own. However, they would soon find out that this kind of adulterous behavior would not bring the happiness to the family that they hoped.

It is also unusual that people feel that they can assist God with His promises, even committing sin to try to fulfil them. Perhaps Abraham rationalized the situation by remembering that God said his body would produce a child, but did not specifically mention Sarah (Gen 15:4). In a moment of weakness, Abraham's faith faltered and he did what his wife suggested.

3 The picture we get is of Sarah literally taking Hagar and handing her over to Abraham. It is ironic that Sarah blames Abraham for the heartache this would cause. To her credit, though, Abraham was the head of the household and should have known better than to give in to this sinful suggestion.

Hagar had no say in the matter. She was a slave and had to do whatever her master wanted.

4 Although Sarah was going to claim the child, the fact remained that Sarah did not give birth to the child. The slave woman, having conceived, saw herself as better than her barren mistress and did not restrain her contempt.
5 Sarah now blames Abraham for the thoughts that go on in Hagar's head. She even calls down God's judgement on him although she is partly to blame. This whole situation was irrational and sinful. Everyone was hurt, and the hurt would extend to their children and their descendants.

Sometimes we do not see the long term effects of our sins. They can be quite profound.

6 Abraham does not argue the point. He merely points out that Hagar is still Sarah's slave, and Sarah could punish her any way she pleased. Legally, Sarah could have killed Hagar because saves were considered property. Perhaps Abraham should have known that placing Hagar in the hands of his jealous wife would make matters even worse, but he was unaccustomed to handling this kind of situation. He compromised his morals again by knowingly placing someone in a dangerous position. He surprisingly shows little concern for his first, yet unborn, child.

Sarah took full advantage as Hagar's mistress. Hagar suffered the full wrath of her mistress and could not get protection from anywhere else. She felt she had to escape this situation and fled back to her homeland.

7 This is the first appearance of the Angel of God. This is not a created angel - it is God appearing in a theophany. Interestingly, the Angle is not first seen by a righteous man, but by a mistreated, probably pagan slave woman carrying an illegitimate child.
9 God does not help Hagar escape, nor does He promise to make her life with Sarah easier. However, His purpose for Hagar and her child would be fulfilled by her return to her mistress.

Sometimes God will call us to remain in a harsh situation, although we badly want to leave. With God's help, we can find the courage and endurance necessary to stay. That kind of obedience is a testimony to our faith in God.

When we create a bad circumstance by sin (or suffer the consequences of someone else's sin), running away does not typically solve the problem. We can not make past sin go away so we have to deal with them. Of course, relying on God and His forgiveness is the best way to deal with past sins.

10 Hagar's child would benefit from the promise given to Abraham.
11 Ishmael means "God hears." A firstborn son was considered a high blessing in those days.
12 Ishmael was foretold to be a wild man with many enemies. Certainly, his strange family situation would contribute to this, but of course, he is ultimately responsible for his own behavior.
13 Hagar is deeply touched knowing that God would specifically come to her in this manner and tell her these things. It was common to name places after the significant events that happened there.
15 By divine providence, Abraham names the child as God had told Hagar.