Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
gen 16:1We have here the marriage of Abram to Hagar, who was his secondary wife. Herein, though he may be excused, he cannot be justified; for from the beginning it was not so: and when it was so, it seems to have proceeded from an irregular desire to build up their families, for the speedier peopling of the world. But now we must not do so? Christ has reduced this matter to the first institution, and makes the marriage union to be between one man and one woman only.
gen 16:4We have here the ill consequences of Abram's marriage to Hagar: a deal of mischief it made presently. Hagar no sooner perceives herself with child, but she looks scornfully upon her mistress; upbraids her perhaps with her barrenness, and insults over her. Sarai falls upon Abram, and very unjustly charges him with the injury, suspecting that he countenanced Hagar's insolence: and as one not willing to hear what Abram had to say she rashly appeals to God. The Lord judge between me and thee, as if Abram had refused to right her. When passion is upon the throne, reason is out of doors, and is neither heard nor spoken. Those are not always in the right that are most forward in appealing to God. Rash and bold imprecations are commonly evidences of guilt and a bad cause.
gen 16:6Thy maid is in thy hand - Though she was his wife, he would not countenance her in any thing disrespectful to Sarai. Those who would keep up peace and love, must return first answers to hard accusations; husbands and wives particularly should endeavour not to be both angry together. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her - Making her to serve with rigour; she fled from her face - She not only avoided her wrath for the present, but totally deserted her service.
gen 16:7Here is the first mention we have in scripture of an angel's appearance, who arrested her in her flight. It should seem she was making towards her own country, for she was in the way to Shur, which lay towards Egypt. 'Twere well if our afflictions would make us think of our home, the better county. But Hagar was now out of the way of her duty, and going farther astray, when the angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopt in a sinful way, either by conscience or providence.
gen 16:8And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid - As a check to her pride. Though she was Abram's wife, yet he calls her Sarai's maid to humble her. As a rebuke to her flight. Sarai's maid ought to be in Sarai's tent, and not wandering in the wilderness. Whence comest thou - Consider that thou art running away both from the duty thou wast bound to, and the privileges thou wast blest with, in Abram's tent. And Whither wilt thou go? - Thou art running thyself into sin in Egypt; if she return to that people, she will return to their gods. And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress - She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress; and yet, excuses it, that it was from the face, or displeasure, of her mistress.
gen 16:9And the angel said, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand - Go home and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better.
gen 16:10I will multiply thy seed exceedingly - Heb. multiplying I will multiply it, that is, multiply it in every age, so as to perpetuate it. 'Tis supposed that the Turks at this day descended from Ishmael, and they are a great people.
gen 16:11Ishmael, that is, God will hear; and the reason is, because the Lord hath heard: he hath, and therefore he will. The experience we have had of God's seasonable kindness in distress should encourage us to hope for the like help in the like exigencies. Even there, where there is little cry of devotion, the God of pity hears the cry of affliction: tears speak as well as prayers.
gen 16:12He will be a wild man - A wild ass of a man, so the word is: rude, and bold and fearing no man; untamed, untractable, living at large, and impatient of service and restraint. His hand will be against every man - That is his sin, and every man's hand against him - That is his punishment. Note, Those that have turbulent spirits have commonly troublesome lives: they that are provoking, and injurious to others, must expect to be repaid in their own coin. And yet, he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren - Though threatened and insulted by all his neighbours, yet he shall keep his ground, and, for Abram's sake more than his own, shall be able to make his part good with them. Accordingly we read, Gen 25:18, that he died, as he lived, in the presence of all his brethren.
gen 16:13And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her - That is, thus she made confession of his name, Thou God seest me - This should be with her, his name for ever, and this his memorial, by which she will know him, and remember him while she lives, Thou God seest me. Thou seest my sorrow and affliction. This Hagar especially refers to: when we have brought ourselves into distress by our own folly, yet God has not forsaken us. Thou seest the sincerity of my repentance. Thou seest me, if in any instance I depart from thee. This thought should always restrain us from sin, and excite us to duty, Thou God seest me. Have I here also looked after him that seeth me? - Probably she knew not who it was that talked with her till he was departing, and then looking after him, with a reflexion like that of the two disciples, Luk 24:31-32. Here also - Not only in Abram's tent, and at his altar, but here also, in this wilderness: here, where I never expected it, where I was out of the way of my duty?
gen 16:14The well was called Beer - lahai - roi - The well of him that lives and sees me. 'Tis likely Hagar put this name upon it, and it was retained long after. This was the place where the God of glory manifested the special care he took of a poor woman in distress. Those that are graciously admitted into communion with God, and receive seasonable comforts from him, should tell others what he has done for their souls, that they also may be encouraged to seek him and trust in him.