In this article, we will continue our study of the names of God. This time we will be looking at El Roi, what it means, and how we can learn that He is the God Who Sees Me. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dive in…
Life can get busy, and we can easily feel overwhelmed by the pressures of work or school, or even family life. Everyone seems to want or need something from you.
It is easy to feel like you are drowning in the pressures of life with no one who understands or cares. It can really feel lonely, and you feel so hidden. I know I have gone through seasons like this.
Have you ever felt that way? If you have, you may relate to what Hagar went through and felt. Let’s explore her story, as it will reveal to us who El Roi is!
El Roi and Hagar
Hagar gave God one of His names at the well in the desert, where He changed her. Hagar called the well Beerlahairoi – The well of the Living One seeing me.
בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִיBᵉʼêr la-Chay Rôʼîy, be-ayr’ lakh-ah’ee ro-ee’; from H875 and H2416 (with prefix) and H7203; well of a living (One) my Seer; Beer-Lachai-Roi, a place in the Desert:—Beer-lahai-roi.
Hagar called God El Roi, the God who saw her. No other man gave God any of His names, so this is quite a unique encounter.
Hagar worked for Abram and Sarai, and as a slave, she had very little say in what happened to her. Now Abram had a promise from God that he would have an heir, but time seemed to be running out.
Sarai was beautiful, and Abram loved her, but she was barren. Sarai decided to follow the customs of Canaan and gave her maid Hagar to Abram to bear a son for them.
This was not God’s plan for them, but Sarai had lost hope of being a mother at age seventy-five. So, she took matters into her own hands. Not always a great idea.
Abram agreed, and Hagar had no choice in the matter. Soon Hagar was carrying a child, and Sarai regretted her decision.
Her regret made her treat Hagar harshly, so harshly that Hagar fled into the wilderness with no provisions. But Hagar isn’t 100% innocent, as it says in scripture that when she got pregnant, she despised Sarai.
That seems like a really tough and bad situation all together. Plus, hagar is now pregnant and destitute in the desert in ancient times. Ouch!
In this place of fear and hopelessness, the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar. He called her by name and knew who she was. He gave her good news and bad news.
God told Hagar that she needed to return to Sarai and that she needed to submit to her mistress. That could not have been easy to hear.
Next, God told her that He had heard her misery. He knew what she was going through. Despite her affliction, she would have a son who would become a great nation. God told her that her son’s name should be Ishmael, which means God will hear.
This encounter with God transformed Hagar. Her situation had not changed, but God saw her need and heard her sorrow.
I love this song that Nicole C. Mullen’s did on the name El Roi.
What Does El Roi Mean In Hebrew?
El refers to God and is usually followed by one of the names that define Him.
For instance, in Malachi 2:10, where we read that one God has made us all, the form El describes God. El is also translated as mighty, powerful, and strong.
Have we not all one Father?
Has not one God (El) created us?
Why do we deal treacherously with one another
By profaning the covenant of the fathers?
– Malachi 2:10 (El has been added to the verse to show you the translation in Hebrew)
In the Strong’s Concordance, you see a little more in-depth what El means.
אֵלʼêl, ale; shortened from H352; strength; as adjective, mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity):—God (god), × goodly, × great, idol, might(-y one), power, strong. Compare names in ‘-el.’
רֳאִי rŏ îy, ro-ee’; from H7200; sight, whether abstractly (vision) or concretely (a spectacle):—gazingstock, look to, (that) see(-th).
רָאָה râʼâh, raw-aw’; a primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitive, intransitive and causative):—advise self, appear, approve, behold, × certainly, consider, discern, (make to) enjoy, have experience, gaze, take heed, × indeed, × joyfully, lo, look (on, one another, one on another, one upon another, out, up, upon), mark, meet, × be near, perceive, present, provide, regard, (have) respect, (fore-, cause to, let) see(-r, -m, one another), shew (self), × sight of others, (e-) spy, stare, × surely, × think, view, visions.
To understand more clearly what it means to be seen and why that changed Hagar, let’s look deeper into some examples of God looking at or seeing us and what this means.
What Does It Mean To Be Seen By El Roi?
Starting with Hagar, it is apparent that Abram and Sarai referred to her only as a maid (Genesis 16:1-8), but God spoke to her by name. Not only did God see her, but he knew her.
When God sees you, He doesn’t only give you a passing glance. He knows everything about us. God knew us before we were made, and He knows how many hairs are on our heads.
To be seen by God means to be cared for, known, and valued.
We see here that because God saw Hagar, it meant that He knew her name and situation, and He cared for her. We can lose our identity in a crowd, but God still knows each of us by name.
John 10:1-3 tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and He calls His sheep by name. That means He knows each one’s past, present, and future. He sees each one of us and calls us each by name.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. – John 10:1-3
When we feel lonely, unheard, unseen, and unloved, we have a comforting promise. El Roi sees us and is interested in our situation.
He loves us enough to know our names and know what we need. El Roi even gave Hagar’s unborn son the name Ishmael to assure her that God would always hear him and keep His promise. In Gen 21:17, God speaks to Hagar again and assures her He heard Ishmael.
El Roi Sees Our Hearts
God does not change, and Jesus did everything He saw His Father do. We see Jesus showing compassion to another woman by a well who felt forgotten and discarded by society.
People saw only the superficial details about this woman. They saw her as sinful because she had had many husbands, but they did not know why.
Jews saw her merely as a Samaritan, a nationality they would not even speak to, but Jesus saw her heart. Jesus saw her longing for a place of acceptance and worship.
When she realized that Jesus was the Messiah, her first query was regarding where she should legally worship. Her thoughts were eternal, not her immediate situation.
Jesus saw her heart and her desire for a relationship with God. Jesus did not see her as men see but as God, our El Roi, sees her. Jesus also gives her the beautiful promise that God sees her everywhere.
She did not need to only worship in a temple. She could worship in Spirit and truth. Likewise, El Roi sees you everywhere.
In the Old Testament, we also see how Samuel looked at situations as a man did, but God saw people’s hearts instead. We read in 1 Samuel 16 how Samuel was sent to Jesse’s home to anoint one of his sons as the next king. God did not tell Samuel which son He had chosen for this job.
We see that Samuel looked at each of Jesse’s sons and thought that they were handsome and good candidates as rulers, but God did not choose any of the sons Jesse or Samuel thought should be king.
Jesse had to have David fetched from the fields where he tended the flock of sheep. David’s father had not thought he was worthy of being the next king.
God saw David’s heart, and even though the Bible says that David was good to look at (roi), that was not the deciding factor for God.
God needed a man with a heart that yielded to Him so that God could lead His people through a God-fearing man. David was not perfect, but David’s heart aligned perfectly with God. This is one of my favorite verses because it shows how much God sees within us.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
El Roi Sees Your True Value
God has always wanted to have a relationship with mankind. He made us in His image, and each one is precious. He cares enough to know your name and situation today, just as Jesus knew who Zacchaeus was when he passed by and saw him in the tree.
God sees our hurts and needs and has made a way to ensure that we are reconciled with Him eternally without sadness or tears. Through the victory of Jesus on the cross, our God, who is omnipresent and omniscient, our El Roi, has made it possible for us to have eternal life with Him.
He cares so much for each of us that He does not only know our names but has engraved each name on His palms.
Whether in a crowd like Zacchaeus, a boardroom at work like David, or in the desert of your deepest despair like Hagar, El Roi, the Living God who sees us is with us. He loves us and understands what we are going through.
He does not look at us like a kid watching ants on an ant farm. El Roi watches over us continuously and is always present to help us when we are in trouble.
God does not always remove or evaluate the situation the way we do. God sent Hagar back to live with Sarai and Abram until the time was right for her to leave.
Your situation may not change overnight, but knowing that God sees you and your situation means you are never alone. You do not need to call on God and explain your problem. El Roi sees you and knows all your needs, and He has a plan!
More On The Names Of God Series
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…