The faith that Abram demonstrates and for which he receives righteous accreditation from God (Genesis 15:6) proves frail in Genesis 16. Instead of trusting God to give Abram an heir who will have descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:4-5), he takes matters into his own hands. At the urging of his wife, Sarai, Abram has sex with her servant named Hagar. This leads to trouble. Sarai, as no surprise, becomes jealous of Hagar. Hagar is cast out of the home, making Hagar incredibly vulnerable. God hears Hagar’s cry of destitution, for she and her child would have certainly died without intervention. This action proves “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in a time of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
But Abram, too, receives kindness and love from God. This story shows that even those God calls righteous—like drunken Noah and lying and distrustful Abram—have sins that God forgives. This will be one of many examples that contradict the popular idea that the God of the Old Testament is vengeful and hateful in contrast to the gracious God of the New Testament. The Old Testament is, at least, the story of God being gracious over and over to people who do not deserve such kindness or promises. God certainly judges in the Old Testament, but His kindness always overshadows His judgment. Grace to and through Abram’s seed will define the plot of the Old Testament.