From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day One
An Egyptian slave, Hagar encountered God in the desert and addressed him as El Roi, "the God who sees me." Notably, this is the only occurrence of El Roi in the Bible.
Hagar's God is the One who numbers the hairs on our heads and who knows our circumstances, past, present, and future. When you pray to El Roi, you are praying to the one who knows everything about you.
She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi [the "well of the Living One who sees me"]. (Genesis 16:13-14)
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."
"Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?"
"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered.
Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."
The angel of the LORD also said to her:
"You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone's hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers."
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi ["the well of the Living One who sees me"]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. (Genesis 16:1-16)
Lord, I praise you for you know the whole story. From beginning to end, you see it all. Give me the humility to admit my limitations. For I don't always see the past accurately, my vision of the present is often blurred, and I am blind when it comes to the future. Help me fasten my eyes on you, trusting in your vision for my life and in your watchful care.
Understanding the Name
In the ancient world it was not uncommon for an infertile wife to arrange for a slave girl to sleep with her husband so that the family could have an heir. In fact, Ishmael, the son born to Abraham and Hagar, would have been considered Sarah's legal offspring. Hagar and Ishmael might have fared better had Hagar not forgotten her place the moment she learned of her pregnancy. Still, Sarah's treatment of her seems inexcusable and harsh. In the midst of her difficulties, Hagar learned that El Roi (EL raw-EE) was watching over her and that he had a plan to bless her and her son. One of Abraham's grandsons, Esau, married Ishmael's daughter, and it was the Ishmaelite traders (also referred to as Midianite merchants in Genesis 37:26-28), themselves descended from an Egyptian slave, who transported his great-grandson Joseph into slavery in Egypt.
Studying the Name
Why do you think the angel of the Lord began his communication with Hagar by questioning her?
Describe what Hagar must have been feeling when she fled from Sarah into the desert. Now describe circumstances in your own life that may have produced similar emotions.
What images come immediately to mind when you hear the name El Roi, "The God who sees me"? How have you experienced God's watchful care?
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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.