Pharaoh dreamed.I. THAT APPARENTLY INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS MAY OFTEN GROW INTO AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE WORLD'S HISTORY.
II. THAT GOD CHOOSES THE INSTRUMENTS OF REVELATION ACCORDING TO HIS OWN GOOD PLEASURE.
III. THAT GOD CAN SUDDENLY ARREST THE ATTENTION OF THOSE WHO ARE THE FARTHEST REMOVED FROM EVERY EARTHLY FEAR.
(T. H. Leale)
I. THE SUMMONING OF JOSEPH TO INTERPRET PHARAOH'S DREAM.
1. The long waiting of Joseph before he attained his emancipation.
2. The wisdom of this delay in respect of Joseph's circumstances.
3. Pharaoh's prophetic dream.
4. The chief butler's forgetfulness.
II. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM.
1. The graceful way in which Joseph refers all to God.
2. Joseph's calmness, produced by the consciousness of God's presence.
3. Joseph's plan in the interpretation of the dream. It was simply a providential foresight for the future.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Homilist.1. The dream was formed of elements with which the dreamer was somewhat familiar.
2. The dream was a Divine communication to the mind of a heathen.
3. The dream brought trouble into the heart of a monarch.
4. The dream could only be interpreted by a devout Theist.
I. THE REVOLUTIONS OF PROVIDENCE. Alternations mark the earthly history of the human world.
1. They tend to promote our spiritual discipline.
2. They remind us of the activity of God.
3. They tend to inspire us with a sense of our dependence upon Him.
4. This method tends, moreover, to give a meaning to the Bible.
5. This method often prepares the mind to receive the truths of the Bible.
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF WISDOM.
1. It invested Joseph with a chastened humility of soul.
2. It enabled Joseph to solve the distressing inquiries of the monarch.
3. It exalted Joseph to supremacy in the kingdom.
III. THE DUTY OF RULERS. They should be —
1. How great is the Governor of the world.
2. How worthless the world is without religion.
3. How important to be in fellowship with the great God.
I. A MAN-MADE KING IS, AT THE BEST, IMPOTENT.
1. A dream is enough to terrify him. Yet is not this cowardly? Why should the great Pharaoh be alarmed by a night-vision? Has he not an enormous army at his back? Ah, verily, there is another Power, active, mightier, more august, hedging him on every side! What if this strange Power should be unfriendly! No wonder that Pharaoh's knees tremble. He is like a fly upon the unseen mechanism of the universe. He is but a waif upon the stormy Atlantic. What is this all-surrounding Power? Possibly it may be God!
2. Further, he is a very dependent man. He cannot do without astrologers, magicians, butlers, and bakers. No; it would not do for the king to be independent. The temptation to play the tyrant would be irresistible. He is only one part of the social system, though it may be the most prominent.
3. The king is dependent upon the most obscure in his kingdom. On an imprisoned slave Pharaoh and all Egypt have to depend. Verily nobleness and worth may be found in the lowliest lot!
II. THE RING IS AN ALLY OF GOD.
1. Joseph's first utterance was to acknowledge God. In substance he says, "I am powerless; God can meet the case." Hers was a great opportunity for ostentation, self-display. His bearing is calm, princely, royal. Of himself he can do nothing; but he has brought the true God into court, and "with God nothing is impossible."
2. This was an act of heroic faith. Joseph stood alone in that awestruck assembly. Magnates, officers, stewards, magicians, all were worshippers of Egypt's countless idols. To disparage the ancient idols, powerful for long ages, were perilous to a young man and a foreigner.
III. THE REAL KING IS TRAINED IN ADVERSITY.
1. It is clear that Joseph was master of the situation. Etymologically, the word king means "the man that knows." It was this that made Elijah great and powerful in the face of idolatrous Israel. This gave Daniel sovereign influence in the Chaldean court. This made Luther a monarch among men. "Them that honour Me, I will honour."
2. For this royal position Joseph had been skilfully trained.
IV. THE REAL KING IS SUPREME IN EVERY EMERGENCY. Most sailors can steer the ship in fine weather; it requires a real pilot to steer safely through a storm. Pharaoh might do well enough at the helm of affairs, so long as harvests were copious, and the nation was well fed. But in presence of a night-vision, Pharaoh lost his balance; in presence of a famine, Pharaoh was staggered.
(J. Dickerson Davies, M. A.)
I. THE VICISSITUDES OF LIFE. Prosperity and adversity succeed each other. Life generally is as variable as an April day. If a man has seven years of uninterrupted happiness, he must not expect that it will continue much longer. The most prosperous men are liable to surprises. Families that have for years been free from sickness or bereavemant may suddenly be overshadowed by the angel of death. Hopes may be blighted when they are near fulfilment, and pleasure may be followed by severe and protracted trial.
II. THE OVER-RULING PROVIDENCE OF GOD. Whatever may be the opinions held by some, we say unhesitatingly that God has the affairs of all nations and of all men under His immediate control; that He gives or withholds, as seemeth good unto Him, but always in a way consistent with human freedom. And He invites our confidence.
III. THE DUTY OF USING THE PRESENT WELL. Although we are not to be overanxious about the future, we are not to disregard it altogether. We cannot tell what demands may be made upon our resources. We must provide, as far as possible, against sickness and adversity. We must not ignore the claims of others.
(F. J. Austin.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
I do remember my faults this day.
Homilist.I. THE POWER OF MEMORY. "I do remember." Memory, a faculty of mind, wonderful, varies in its strength and exercise, accompanied by pains as well as pleasures. The effect depends upon the state of the soul, and on the character of the things remembered, whether good or evil, painful or pleasant (see Job 21:6; Psalm 63:6; Psalm 77:3; Psalm 137:1; Ezekiel 16:61; Ezekiel 20:43; Ephesians 2:11; Luke 16:25; Revelation 14:13.) Beware. Do some evil deed, commit some wrong against your neighbour or your God; and, try as you will, you cannot quite forget. Memory may slumber for a while, but will some day awake.
II. THE POWER OF ASSOCIATION. "This day." Why then? For two years all had seemingly been forgotten. Now chord of association touched: Pharaoh's dreams. This power is often appealed to in Scripture. Type, symbol, parable, all recognize, and receive much of their value from association. In the special case before us, behold the hand of God. The great designs of Providence are ripe for execution. Hence the butler is roused to action. It needs but a touch of association, and the long-forgotten promise is recalled. Joseph's release immediately follows.
III. THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. "My faults." Mark the power conscience:
1. In exciting a sense of personal blameworthiness.
(1) (2) 2. In exciting a feeling of painful remorse. (1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(2) 2. In exciting a feeling of painful remorse. (1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
2. In exciting a feeling of painful remorse.
(1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (Homilist.)
I. WE ARE ALL CHARGEABLE WITH FAULTS (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:12; Psalm 19:12; Psalm 143:2; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8; Romans 3:23). Yet "did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgot him." It was forgetfulness most inexcusable; it was ingratitude most unkind I But what are our faults? We have offended, not the king of Egypt, but the King of kings, the King of heaven, the Greatest and Best of all beings. We have forgotten, not the son of Jacob, but the Son of God, the Lord of life and glory.
II. WE ARE LIABLE TO FORGET OUR FAULTS.
1. The evidence of this. Men have convictions of sin, but they stifle them.
2. The causes of this.
(1) (2) (3) (4) III. Various circumstances are adapted to REMIND US OF OUR FAULTS. 1. Providential occurrences. Some of these regard ourselves, the affliction of our persons, or our immediate connections. Other providential occurrences regard the condition of those about us: they strike our observation. We witness sometimes She difficulties in which others are involved; we think of what occasioned such difficulties, and are reminded of similar causes in ourselves, which might have produced similar effects. 2. The ministry of God's Word. IV. When we are reminded of our faults we should be ready to confess them (1 John 1:8, 9). What, then, have we to confess to God? What are the faults which "this day" we remember? We must go to Him with all our faults, with all our follies, and with all the iniquity of our sin. V. Confession of faults should always be attended with REAL AMENDMENT. (T. Kidd.)
(2) (3) (4) III. Various circumstances are adapted to REMIND US OF OUR FAULTS. 1. Providential occurrences. Some of these regard ourselves, the affliction of our persons, or our immediate connections. Other providential occurrences regard the condition of those about us: they strike our observation. We witness sometimes She difficulties in which others are involved; we think of what occasioned such difficulties, and are reminded of similar causes in ourselves, which might have produced similar effects. 2. The ministry of God's Word. IV. When we are reminded of our faults we should be ready to confess them (1 John 1:8, 9). What, then, have we to confess to God? What are the faults which "this day" we remember? We must go to Him with all our faults, with all our follies, and with all the iniquity of our sin. V. Confession of faults should always be attended with REAL AMENDMENT. (T. Kidd.)
(3) (4) III. Various circumstances are adapted to REMIND US OF OUR FAULTS. 1. Providential occurrences. Some of these regard ourselves, the affliction of our persons, or our immediate connections. Other providential occurrences regard the condition of those about us: they strike our observation. We witness sometimes She difficulties in which others are involved; we think of what occasioned such difficulties, and are reminded of similar causes in ourselves, which might have produced similar effects. 2. The ministry of God's Word. IV. When we are reminded of our faults we should be ready to confess them (1 John 1:8, 9). What, then, have we to confess to God? What are the faults which "this day" we remember? We must go to Him with all our faults, with all our follies, and with all the iniquity of our sin. V. Confession of faults should always be attended with REAL AMENDMENT. (T. Kidd.)
III. Various circumstances are adapted to REMIND US OF OUR FAULTS. 2. The ministry of God's Word. V. Confession of faults should always be attended with REAL AMENDMENT. (T. Kidd.)
III. Various circumstances are adapted to REMIND US OF OUR FAULTS.
2. The ministry of God's Word.
V. Confession of faults should always be attended with REAL AMENDMENT.
Homiletic Review.There are some truths in this verse which I wish you to understand and remember. I shall name and illustrate five of these.
I. THE POWER OF INGRATITUDE. Joseph's request to the butler, and the butler's reply. How easily he might have kept his promise I Have you been ungrateful to any one — parents, teachers, Jesus? If so, repent at once.
II. THE POWER OF MEMORY. As the bridge spans the river, so the butler's memory went back over two years. He saw Joseph in prison and his broken promise. How kind God has been in giving us such a wonderful faculty! Use it well in connection with pure objects, good books, and godly persons. You will then have always excellent and instructive companions.
III. THE POWER OF A SINGLE EVENT. What caused the butler to remember Joseph? The king's dream. How suggestive often are little things! A book, a portrait, a stone, a shoe.
IV. THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. The butler began to think about his faults.
V. THE POWER OF INTERCESSION. The butler interceded with the king for Joseph. This led to Joseph's freedom and exaltation. Do not forget this. Act upon it. The good which you may secure for others in this way.
I. We shall first call your attention to the BUTLER'S FAULTS, for his faults are ours, only ours are on a larger scale: "I do remember my faults this day." His particular fault was that he had forgotten Joseph; that, having promised to remember him when it should be well with him, he had altogether overlooked the circumstances which occurred in the prison, and had been enjoying himself, and leaving his friend to pine in obscurity.
1. Here, then, is the first fault — the butler had forgotten a friend. That is never a thing to be said in a man's praise. We ought to write the deeds of friendship as much as possible in marble; and that man is unworthy of esteem who can readily forget favours received. As I never shall forget when, at the foot of the Cross, I saw the interpretation of all my inward griefs; when I looked up and saw the flowing of my Saviour's precious blood, and had the great riddle all unriddled. My brethren, what a discovery was that when we learned the secret that we were to be saved not by what we were or were to be, but saved by what Christ had done for us I Happy day I we see Jesus as the cluster crushed until the heart's blood flows, and can by faith go in unto the King, with Jesus Christ's own precious blood and offer that, just as the butler stood before Pharaoh with the wine-cup in his hand, I bear a cup filled not with my blood, but His blood: not the blood from me as a cluster of the vine of earth, but the blood of Jesus as a cluster of heaven's own vintage, pouring out its precious floods to make glad the heart of God and man.
2. Here lies our fault: that we have forgotten all this — not forgotten the fact, but forgotten to love Him who gave us that soul-comforting, heart-cheering interpretation.
3. We have not, however, quite done with the case of the butler and Joseph. The request which Joseph made of the butler was a very natural one. He said, "Think of me when it is well with thee." He asked no hard, difficult, exacting favour, but simply, "Think of me, and speak to Pharaoh." What the Saviour asks of us, His servants, is most natural and most simple, and quite as much for our good as it is for His glory. Among other things, He has said to all of you who love Him, "This do in remembrance of Me."
4. I have stated the butler's case, but I shall want to pause a minute or two over this head just to go into the reason of his fault. Why was it that he did not recollect Joseph? There is always a reason for everything, if we do but try to find out. He must have been swayed by one of the three reasons.(1) Perhaps the butler was naturally ungrateful. We do not know, but that may have been the case: he may have been a person who could receive unbounded favours without a due sense of obligation. I trust that is not our case in the fullest and most unmitigated sense, but I am afraid we must all plead guilty in a measure.(2) Perhaps, however, worldly care choked the memory. The chief butler had a great deal to do: he had many under-servants, and, having to wait in a palace, much care was required. He who serves a despot like the king of Egypt must be very particular in his service. It is very possible that the butler was so busy with his work and his gains, and looking after his fellow-servants and all that, that he forgot poor Joseph. Is it not very possible that this may be the case with us? We forget the Lord Jesus to whom we are bound by such ties, because our business is so large, our family so numerous, our cares so pressing, our bills and bonds so urgent, and even because perhaps our gains are so large.(3) I am half ashamed to have to say one thing more. I am afraid that the butler forgot Joseph out of pride; because he had grown such a great man, and Joseph was in prison. I do not suppose that this operates with many of you, but I have known it with some professed believers. When they were little in Israel, when they first professed to have found peace, oh how they acknowledged Jesus! But they got on in the world and prospered, and then they could not worship among those poor people who were good enough for them once — they now drive to a more fashionable place of worship, where the Lord Jesus is seldom heard of. They feel themselves bound to get into a higher class of society, as they call it, and the poor despised cause of Jesus is beneath them, forgetting, as they foolishly do, that the day will come when Christ's cause shall be uppermost; when the world shall go down and the faithful followers of the Lord Jesus shall 'be peers and princes even in this world, and reign with Him; He being King of kings and Lord of lords, and they sitting upon His throne and sharing in His royal dignity. I hope none of you have forgotten Christ because of that.
II. The second point is this — WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES BROUGHT THE FAULT TO THE BUTLER'S MIND? The same circumstances which surround us this morning
1. First, he met with a person in the same condition as that in which he once was. King Pharaoh had dreamed a dream, and wished for an interpretation. Joseph could interpret; and the butler remembered his fault. Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are those in the world who are in the same state of mind as you were once in. They once loved sin and hated God, and were strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; but in some of them there has been the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, and they have dreamed a dream. They are awakened, although not yet enlightened. Salvation is a riddle to them at present, and they want the interpretation. Do you not remember how the gospel was blessed to you? Do you not desire to send it to others? If you cannot preach yourself, will you not help me in my life-work of training others to preach Jesus?
2. The next thing that recalled the butler's thought was this: he saw that many means had been used to interpret Pharaoh's dream, but they had all failed. We read that Pharaoh sent for his wise men, but they could not interpret his dream. You are in a like case. Do not you feel a want, if you cannot go and preach yourselves, to help others to do so?
3. Then, again, if the butler could have known it, he had other motives for remembering Joseph. It was through Joseph that the whole land of Egypt was blessed. Joseph comes out of prison, and interprets the dream which God had given to the head of the state, and that interpretation preserved all Egypt, yea, and all other nations during seven years of dearth. Only Joseph could do it. Oh, brethren, you know that it is only Jesus who is the balm of Gilead, for the wounds of this poor dying world. You know that there is nothing which can bless our land, and all other lands, like the Cross of Jesus Christ.
4. Once more, surely the butler would have remembered Joseph had he known to what an exaltation Joseph would be brought. Think of the splendour which yet wilt surround our Lord Jesus I He shall come, beloved, He shall come in the chariots of salvation. The day draweth nigh when all things shall be put under Him. Kings shall yield their crowns to His superior sway, and whole sheaves of sceptres, plucked from tyrants' hands, shall be gathered beneath His arm. You by testifying of Him are promoting the extension of His kingdom, and doing the best that in you lies to gather together the scattered who are to be the jewels of His crown.
III. In the "last place, I have some few things to say by way of COMMENDATION OF THE BUTLER'S REMEMBRANCE. It is a pity he forgot Joseph, but it is a great blessing that he did not always forget him. It is a sad thing that you and I should have done so little; it is a mercy that there is time left for us to do more.
1. I like the butler's remembrance, first of all, because it was very humbling to him.
2. I commend his remembrance for another thing, namely, that it was so personal. "I do remember my faults this day." What capital memories we have for treasuring up other people's faults, for once let us keep to ourselves. Let the confession begin with the minister. "I do remember my faults this day."
3. The best part of it, perhaps, was the practical nature of the confession. The moment he remembered his fault, he redressed it as far as he could, Now, dear friends, if you recollect your fault to the Lord Jesus, may you have grace not to fall into it again! If you have not spoken for Him, speak to-day. If you have not given to His cause, give now I If you have not devoted yourselves as you ought to have done to the promotion of His kingdom, do it now.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph.I. HIS LONG WAITING FOR NOTICE AND DELIVERANCE. The religious mind will see in this the wisdom of God.
1. In regard to the education of character.
2. In its adaptation to the circumstances of the individual.
3. In its elevation above all human infirmities.
II. THE MANIFEST HAND OF GOD IN IT. It was wisely ordered that Joseph should be under no obligation to Pharaoh for his deliverance. It is for his own sake that Pharaoh sends for Joseph. The chief butler was suffered to forget his friend, the prophet of his deliverance, and was forced to remember him only by circumstances. To neither of them was Joseph indebted. Thus it was God's design that the chosen family should be under obligations to none. Their calling was to impart blessings to mankind, and not to receive.
III. HIS PIETY THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW.
1. His simplicity of character. He makes no long speech. He does not use the opportunity to glorify himself, or to plead for liberty and reward. His manner was dignified and respectful, yet marked by great openness and simplicity of character. Joseph is the same in the palace or in the prison.
2. His humility. He indulged in no spirit of boasting, though this compliment from the king would have tempted weaker men to be vain and proud (ver. 15). Joseph never forgot his character as a witness for God.
3. His calmness. He was conscious of God's presence and of his own integrity, so he could afford to be calm before the rulers of this world.
4. His kindly consideration for others. Pharaoh might have reason for the worst fears when he heard of the interpretation of the baker's dream. Though a king he was not exempt from the common evils of human nature; nor from death — the chief calamity. But Joseph hastens to remove all fear of an unfavourable interpretation from his mind, by assuring him that the future had in it nothing but what would make for the peace of Pharaoh.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. This sickness would, no doubt, again and again be felt by Joseph, when his patience was so long and so severely tried.
II. Look now at the means by which the deliverance of Joseph was brought about.
III. The perplexity of Pharaoh would only be increased by the inability of his wise men to resolve his doubts.
IV. Look now at Joseph's introduction to Pharaoh.
V. See now what Joseph did, after interpreting Pharaoh's dream. He did not stop there. He suggested the practical use to be made of the Divine revelation which was now granted.
I. OBSERVE JOSEPH'S SUDDEN ELEVATION.
1. The elevation was unanimous. The imprisoned Hebrew had surprised king and statesmen with his high and noble qualities. By subtle methods God moved their hearts, and in a short hour Joseph was raised from prison to the highest pinnacle of power.
2. His main recommendation was spiritual Pharaoh recognized him at once as a man in whom dwelt the Spirit of God. The power of the Spirit is available for any emergency.
3. He was entrusted with supreme authority. Such was the high estimate of Joseph, created in all minds, that they felt he was worthy of the largest trust. They could trust him as they trusted the law of gravitation. A Christian will never abuse his power. Now, Joseph's early dreams begin to be realized.
II. MARK HIS EMINENT CHARACTER.
1. It was transparent with honesty. Looking down into the clear waters of an Italian lake at night, you may see every star of heaven faithfully reflected; so, looking into Joseph's character, every grace and virtue of heaven seemed there to shine. His mind was the mirror of an honest purpose.
2. It was a character marked by energy. Indolence, so common among Orientals, found no place in him. Soon as duty was discovered, it was discharged.
3. He was as religious in prosperity as in adversity. This is solid worth; this is rare piety. That tree is well-rooted which, can bear the scorching heat of summer, as well as the cold blast of a winter's storm; so that man's soul is well-rooted in God who is as prayerful in a mansion as he was in a prison. When children were born in Joseph's house the God of his fathers was not forgotten.
III. CONSIDER HIS SAGACIOUS POLICY.
1. Joseph was a great economist. In His administration God is a great economist, and Joseph followed God. Our spiritual riches should supply the lack in others.
2. Joseph was a man of order. Nothing was left at haphazard. In an enterprise so vast order was essential to success.
3. Joseph's policy turned disaster into blessings. In Potiphar's house, and in the State prison, Joseph had been learning daily the kind of administration prevalent in Egypt. His vigorous mind detected its weak points. He saw how easily discontent and sedition might arise; he saw where corruption and misrule crept in. And now he found an opportunity for applying a remedy. As the Prime Minister for Pharaoh, he made the sceptre of the king everywhere more powerful.
(J. Dickerson Davies, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Behold there come seven years of great plenty.
I. BOLDNESS. The true prophet has no fear of man. He speaks the word which God hath given him, regardless of consequences He is ready to reprove even kings — to utter truths, however unwelcome. It required some courage to enter upon the perilous task of announcing to this Egyptian despot famine of seven years. But Joseph had all the boldness of a man who felt that he was inspired by God.
II. DIRECTNESS. Joseph spoke out at once, without any hesitation. There was no shuffling to gain time; no muttering — no incantations, after the manner of heathen oracles and prophets. This simple and clear directness is the special characteristic of Holy Scriptures; and by which they are distinguished from the literature of the world, which upon the deepest and most concerning questions never reaches a stable conclusion.
III. POSITIVENESS. Joseph's interpretation was throughout explicit and clear. There are no signs of doubt or misgiving. This Divine certainty is the common mark of all God's prophets.
(T. H. Leale.)
Let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn.I. HIS PRESENCE OF MIND. Equal to the situation.
II. THE KINDNESS AND OPENNESS OF HIS NATURE.
III. HIS SELF-COMMAND.
IV. HIS PRACTICAL GOOD SENSE.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. His wisdom and prudential sagacity in counsel. The interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams was from God. Joseph knew it to be so. He had, therefore, the most assured and unshaken confidence of the correspondence of the coming facts with the Divine pre-intimation; and in this confidence he tenders his advice to the king, in the prospect of what was before him, without hesitation. The word of the God of truth is always sure. The counsel of Joseph was obviously wise and excellent. Like many similar counsels, it commends itself, when suggested, to instant approbation, while yet to many minds it might not at once occur. How very difficult it is, both in public and in private life, to get men to judge and to act with single-eyed simplicity, according to the real merits of measures, when these measures happen not to be their own! If they chance to originate with political opponents — or, in more private life, with those who are not in the number of their friends — how difficult it is to get them treated with fairness! Another important practical lesson is suggested by the counsel of Joseph: the general lesson of providence for the future. This is a duty incumbent on all. It is virtuous prudence; the "prudence which forseeth the evil and hideth itself." The remark has a special bearing on the labouring classes of the community. This laying up for the time of scarcity bore a close resemblance to the principle of friendly societies and provident or savings banks. There is such perpetual alteration and exchange of conditions, that no man can say with certainty to-day what his own circumstances, or those of any other person, may be to-morrow.
1. There may, surely, be providence, without over-anxiety.
2. But surely there may be providence, without covetousness.
3. The duty of providence, then, must not be an excuse for refusing the claims of benevolence.There may be scriptural providence, without cold-hearted and close-handed selfishness.
(R. Wardlaw, M. A.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
1. Seek from above wisdom and prudence for the discreet guidance of all your own affairs, and of those of others still more especially, when they are entrusted to your management. "The Lord giveth wisdom."
2. Be thankful for the blessings of plenty and of freedom, in the measure in which providence has, in this favoured land, seen meet to bestow them.
3. The marvellous and lamentable difference between the manner in which mankind in general are affected by what relates to the life of the body and what relates to the life of the soul — to temporal and to eternal interests. Oh, how much in earnest about "the life that now is" — and about the means of its sustenance and prolongation, though it can last at the longest but for a few years, and, even in the midst of the abundance of all that is fitted to support it, may not last a few days.
(R. Wardlaw, D. D,)
(Things not Generally Known.)
Pharaoh said unto his servants: Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
I. Following this line of thought, then, we notice PHARAOH AS REPRESENTING THE MAN OF THE WORLD DISCOVERING HIS NEED. Not one is there but sees that his resources are sure to vanish at some future day and leave him poverty-stricken and famine-pinched. What were the millions of Vanderbilt as he lay in the agonies of an apoplectic stroke? The day is coming when the man of largest wealth, of greatest intellect, of supremest power, shall be like a great steamer adrift in mid-ocean with its shaft broken, rolling in the trough of the sea and signalling for help.
II. Under such circumstances EVERY MAN DESIRES TO PUT HIS RELIANCE IN SOME ONE WHOSE QUALITIES FIT HIM TO GIVE HELP,
1. Joseph was a man in whom was the Spirit of God. Joseph was remarkably free from selfishness: he was not plotting for his own advancement. He was pure, controlled by the Spirit.
2. Joseph was a man who was discreet and wise.
3. Now, to trace our parallel, the qualities which distinguished Joseph are pre-eminently those which make Christ the one above all others to whom men turn for help. His character is beyond reproach. The Spirit of God is in him. He impresses the world with his purity, his unselfishness, his sinlessness, his inspiration. He is manifestly the messenger of God to men. He knows just what to do in the awful emergency in which we are placed. He inspires confidence in his wisdom as never has another.
III. Following the parallel, notice THE SUPREME AUTHORITY WHICH PHARAOH GAVE TO JOSEPH. Our relation to Christ is not one of abject dependence; it is not slavish; it is more like that of Pharaoh to Joseph: one of dignity, of co-operation. We yield to Christ because He has a right to be supreme; because He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We do not lose our individuals. We do not yield the dignity of the individual choice. Sometimes children travel by express. They are labelled with a suitable tag; are cared for, fed, and sent along as merchandize would be; have no care, or responsibility, or duty. Not so do we pass on through life to heaven. There are those, indeed, who think that, having been once properly labelled by church membership, they have nothing further to do, but that the church or the clergy will assume all responsibility and guarantee them heaven. But such is not the gospel scheme. With our own clear understanding and deliberate decision, we step on board the gospel train and trust our Conductor. He knows best. He tells us what to do, and we intelligently and gladly do it.
IV. Another parallel is found in THE EXALTATION OF JOSEPH.
(A. P. Foster, D. D.)
I. THE QUALITIES DEMANDED IN A WISE RULER.
1. Natural ability.
2. The ability to bear up under troubles.
3. Inspired wisdom.
II. THE CHARACTER OF JOSEPH'S ADMINISTRATION.
1. It was characterized by a wise economy.
2. It was characterized by a wise method.Frugality was to be enforced by lawful means. The amount received as taxes and purchased at a fair price, was not to be given away, but must be sold again. The nation must protect itself against the free expenditures of its citizens. The government, notwithstanding its despotism, was made the servant of the people. And Joseph and his officers, scattered over all the empire, outgeneraled all the ignorance of the realm. For this he was as truly inspired as ever was Isaiah.
(D. O. Mears.)
I. HIS WISDOM AND PRUDENCE.
1. In acting upon the best advice he had.
2. In choosing a fit man for the crisis.
3. In removing all social disabilities from this foreigner. New name. Marriage with daughter of priest of Ori.
II. HIS PIETY.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. EXALTED FROM BONDAGE.
1. "Can we find such a one as this?"
(1) (2) 2. "God hath showed thee all this." (1) (2) (3) 3. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." (1) (2) II. INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY. 3. The royal rule (ver. 44). 1. "Ring,... vestures,... chain chariot." (1) (2) (3) 2. "He set him over all the land of Egypt." (1) (2) 3. "I am Pharaoh." (1) (2) 3. Sovereignty delegated. III. RULING WITH WISDOM. 1. Planning the work (ver. 45). 2. Gathering the food (ver. 48). 3. Providing for emergency. (American Sunday School Times.)
(2) 2. "God hath showed thee all this." (1) (2) (3) 3. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." (1) (2) II. INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY. 3. The royal rule (ver. 44). 1. "Ring,... vestures,... chain chariot." (1) (2) (3) 2. "He set him over all the land of Egypt." (1) (2) 3. "I am Pharaoh." (1) (2) 3. Sovereignty delegated. III. RULING WITH WISDOM. 1. Planning the work (ver. 45). 2. Gathering the food (ver. 48). 3. Providing for emergency. (American Sunday School Times.)
2. "God hath showed thee all this."
(1) (2) (3) 3. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." (1) (2) II. INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY. 3. The royal rule (ver. 44). 1. "Ring,... vestures,... chain chariot." (1) (2) (3) 2. "He set him over all the land of Egypt." (1) (2) 3. "I am Pharaoh." (1) (2) 3. Sovereignty delegated. III. RULING WITH WISDOM. 1. Planning the work (ver. 45). 2. Gathering the food (ver. 48). 3. Providing for emergency. (American Sunday School Times.)
3. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." II. INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY. 3. The royal rule (ver. 44). 1. "Ring,... vestures,... chain chariot." 2. "He set him over all the land of Egypt." 3. "I am Pharaoh." 3. Sovereignty delegated. III. RULING WITH WISDOM. 1. Planning the work (ver. 45). 2. Gathering the food (ver. 48). 3. Providing for emergency. (American Sunday School Times.)
3. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou."
II. INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY.
3. The royal rule (ver. 44).
1. "Ring,... vestures,... chain chariot."
2. "He set him over all the land of Egypt."
3. "I am Pharaoh."
3. Sovereignty delegated.
III. RULING WITH WISDOM.
1. Planning the work (ver. 45).
2. Gathering the food (ver. 48).
3. Providing for emergency.
(American Sunday School Times.)
I. Joseph's elevation is A CONCRETE INSTANCE OF THE GREAT DOCTRINE OF PROVIDENCE WHICH RUNS THROUGH THE WHOLE OLD TESTAMENT. We may almost take this history as a type of the ideal history of the good man as set forth there, and as a shadowy anticipation, therefore, at once of the fortunes of Israel as a nation, and of his course who is the realized ideal of the Old Testament righteous man, and of Israel. A late psalm (Psalm 105) gives the key-note when it says "Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him." No man's freedom is interfered with, and yet all is carried out according to the plan in the mind of the great Architect. Thus God builds in silence, using even sins and follies. "I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me." Not less clearly do we learn the uses of adversity, and see the law working which leads men into the pit, that they may there learn lessons which shall serve them on the heights, and that their lives may be manifestly ordered by God. The steel out of which God forges His polished shafts has to be
"Heated hot with hopes and fears,
And plunged in baths of hissing tears,
And battered with the shocks of doom,"
before it is ready for His service. So, in the apparent remoteness and real presence of God's guiding hand in the moulding of the separate deeds into a whole, in the leading of His servant through suffering to authority, and making the sorrow, like emery-paper, the occasion of bringing out a finer polish, this history embodies God's law of dealing with men.
II. This history points the lesson THAT THE BEST WAY TO BE FIT FOR, AND SO TO GET INTO, A WIDER SPHERE, IS TO FILL A NARROWER AS WELL AS WE CAN. Joseph served his apprenticeship to governing a nation in governing Potiphar's house and the prison. The capacities tested and strengthened on the lower level are promoted to the higher. With many exceptions, no doubt, where pretenders are taken to be adepts, and modest merit is overlooked, still, on the whole, this is the law by which position and influence are allotted. The tools do, on the average, come to the hand that can use them.
III. We may learn, too, THAT THE MEANING OF ELEVATION IS SERVICE. Foolish ambition looks up and covets the outside trappings; a true man thinks of duty, not of show, and finds that every crown is a crown of thorns, and that place and influence only mean heavy responsibility and endless work, mostly repaid with thanklessness.
IV. This story teaches us, too, THE PLACE OF RELIGION IN COMMON LIFE. It is possible to keep up unbroken communion with God amid the roar of the busy street, as in the inmost corner of his secret place. The communion which expresses itself in the continual reference of all common actions to his will, and is fed by constant realizing of his help; and by lowly dependence on him for strength to do the prosaic tasks of business or statesmanship, is as real as that which gazes in absorbed contemplation on his beauty. True, the former will never be realized unless there is much of the latter. Joseph would not have been able to hold by God, when he was busy in the storehouses, if he had not held much intercourse with him in the blessed quiet of the prison.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Homilist.I. IT WAS UNEXPECTED
II. A PROMOTION WHICH DID NOT DESTROY THE MAN.
III. A PROMOTION FOR WHICH HE HAD BEEN TRAINED.
IV. A PROMOTION HIGHLY BENEFICIAL TO OTHERS.
I. JOSEPH'S UNEXPECTED PROMOTION.
II. JOSEPH'S WISE ADMINISTRATION.
1. The trust now committed to Joseph was vast in its responsibility.
2. The manner in which he met the responsibility, and performed his official duty, proves him to have been as well qualified in mental ability as he was in moral character.(1) He gave personal attention to his duty.(2) He wisely prepared, during the years of plenty, for the years of want.
III. JOSEPH'S RECOGNITION OF GOD IN HIS HOME-LIFE. Seen in names of sons. Lessons:
1. If children of God, we should learn from Joseph's promotion not to be discouraged under any circumstances.
2. The personal attention of Joseph to his onerous and important duty, and his wisdom in organising his work, contain very wholesome and timely lessons for the young men of to-day.
3. Joseph's recognition of God in his home, in the very flush of abundant prosperity and honour, not only reveals the beautiful symmetry of his character, but proves that neither positions of honour, nor the accumulation of wealth, need dim the light of piety or interrupt our relations with God.
(D. G. Hughes, M. A.)
I. PHARAOH'S DREAMS.
II. JOSEPH'S ADVICE.
1. He informs Pharaoh that the dreams were(1) A warning;(2) A benevolent warning.
2. He advises the king(1)to choose a discreet man to undertake the special management of the measures which must be taken in view of the threatened period of "scarcity";(2) To make provision for one-fifth part o the land to be "taken up" (i.e., handed over to the king for "governmental" use);(3) To store up the produce of the plentiful years that it might be in readiness for the coming time of dearth.
III. JOSEPH'S ELEVATION. Lessons:
1. Patience of hope.
2. Assurance of hope. We may always — we should always — look forward confidently to the fulfilment of God's promises which " exceed all that we can desire."
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
I. THE FORGOTTEN PRISONER. Forgotten by man, but remembered by God. While the butler was forgetting, God was thinking about Joseph, and so ordering events that even the forgetful butler should be presently of use.
II. THE TROUBLED MONARCH. Even king's have their troubles. It is often true that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Joseph in prison, and Daniel in the lion's den, more to be envied than Pharaoh and Dairus. Pharaoh's visions. Both different in machinery, but evidently the same in meaning. The great magicians, &c., summoned. Their wisdom is perfect folly. They knew not the mind of God. Could not explain visions that came from a Deity they did not serve.
III. THE EXALTED CAPTIVE. Joseph's advice sounds wise and prudent in the ears of Pharaoh. Learn:
1. To remember those who have benefited us.
2. Jesus the great deliverer of the prisoner.
3. Let us prepare to enter the presence of the great King.
4. There is a palace in heaven for all who love, serve, and trust God.
(J. C. Gray.)
Genesis 41:43), that the people might see him and show their respect. He doubtless wore all the insignia of his high position: rich garments, the golden chain, ring, and sceptre, and ostrich feather, so frequently represented on the monuments. How such a pageant appeared as that in which he was now the central figure, is well illustrated by an old Egyptian picture in the tomb of Mry-Ra at Tell el Amarna. This picture represents King Chueneten paying a visit to his god Ra. His majesty reclines in an elegant chariot drawn by richly comparisoned horses. Two heralds run before him swinging wands, to make a way through the curious crowds which press on to see the monarch. To the right and left, servants can be seen, scarcely able to keep up with the fiery stallions. The royal personage himself is attended on each side by his body-guard, with their standards, behind whom, in carriages, ride high officials, in richly coloured dresses. Directly behind the king's chariot rides the queen, and after her the little princesses, two together in one chariot. The elder governs the horses, which are decked with beautiful tufts of feathers, while the younger clings lovingly to her sister. Six court chariots filled with ladies, and as many more on each side occupied by chamberlains, close the procession. On the right and left of the entire party, servants swing their staffs.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Isaiah 45:1, 5). "Can we find such a man as this, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" What had Joseph that he had not received? There was none like him in the land, because the Spirit of God had communicated to him an uncommon measure of wisdom.
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
One Thousand New lllustrations.In 1831 there was a musical society in Milan which was preparing to bring out Haydn's "Creation," when all of a sudden the maestro in charge took fright at the difficulty of his task, and laid down his baton. One Massini, a singing teacher, who was to direct the choral part, said to the committee, "I know but one man here who can help us out of our plight." "Who is he?" said Count Borromeo, the president. "His name is Verdi, and he reads the most puzzling scores at sight," was Massini's answer. "Well," said the count, "send for him." Massini obeyed, and Verdi soon made his appearance. He was handed the score of "The Creation," and he undertook to direct the performance. Rehearsals commenced, and the final rendering of the oratorio was set down as most creditable to all concerned. From that time Verdi's reputation was assured.
(One Thousand New lllustrations.)
(Things Not Generally Known.)
Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.I. THE RIPENESS OF HIS AGE AND EXPERIENCE. Providence, which prepares events, also prepares men for them.
II. THE PRACTICAL CHARACTER OF HIS MIND. Not puffed up by pride. At once betakes himself to business.
III. THE CHEERFUL AND HOPEFUL CHARACTER OF HIS PIETY (vers. 51, 52).
1. He desires to forget all that is evil in the past.
2. He is thankful for present mercies.
(T. H. Leale.)
American Sunday School Times.1. "Joseph went out over the land of Egypt."
(1) (2) (3) 2. The earth brought forth by handfuls." (1) (2) (3) (4) 3. "Laid up the food in the cities." (1) (2) (3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
(2) (3) 2. The earth brought forth by handfuls." (1) (2) (3) (4) 3. "Laid up the food in the cities." (1) (2) (3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
(3) 2. The earth brought forth by handfuls." (1) (2) (3) (4) 3. "Laid up the food in the cities." (1) (2) (3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
2. The earth brought forth by handfuls."
3. "Laid up the food in the cities." (2) (3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
3. "Laid up the food in the cities."
(2) (3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
(3) (4) (American Sunday School Times.)
(4) (American Sunday School Times.)
(American Sunday School Times.)
I. THAT HE WAS CONSCIOUS OF THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY RESTING UPON HIM. This is indicated to us —
1. In his superintending the work personally.
2. In his sparing no trouble in the execution of the work.
3. In the regard he paid to justice.
II. THAT HE MANIFESTED GREAT WISDOM IN THE EXECUTION OF THE WORK,
1. Inasmuch as he commenced it without delay.
2. Inasmuch as he persevered to the end.
3. Inasmuch as his arrangements answered the best purpose.
III. THE SUCCESSFUL ISSUE OF THE UNDERTAKING.
1. It conferred incalculable benefits on his fellow-creatures.
2. He gained the approbation of the king.
"Thresh for yourselves,
Thresh for yourselves;
O oxen, thresh for yourselves,
O oxen, thresh for yourselves;
Measure for yourselves,
Measure for your masters."
The granaries are likewise frequently represented on the monuments. They appear to have been public buildings, usually of vast extent, and divided into vaults, some of which had arched roofs. Immediately at the entrance was a room in which the corn was deposited when brought from the threshing floor, h flight of Steps led to the vault, whither it was carried, in baskets, on men's shoulders.
Manasseh: for God, said he, hath made me forget.I. GOD'S KINDNESS TO JOSEPH.
1. A blessed oblivion.
2. A rich fruitfulness (ver. 52).
II. JOSEPH'S GRATEFUL MEMORIAL OF GOD'S KINDNESS.
(M. Dods, D. D.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
(Prof. J. G. Murphy.)
Old Testament Anecdotes."When in Amsterdam, Holland, last summer," says a traveller, "I was much interested in a visit we made to a place then famous for polishing diamonds. We saw the men engaged in the work. When a diamond is found it is rough and dark like a common pebble. It takes a long time to polish it, and it is very hard work. It is held by means of a piece of metal close to the surface of a large wheel, which is kept going round. Fine diamond dust is put on this wheel, nothing else being hard enough to polish the diamond. And this work is kept on for months and sometimes several years before it is finished. And if a diamond is intended for a king, then the greater time and trouble are spent upon it." Jesus calls His people His jewels. To fit them for beautifying His crown, they must be polished like diamonds, and He makes use of the troubles He sends to polish His jewels.
(Old Testament Anecdotes.)
Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians.I. JOSEPH'S ADMINISTRATION.
1. It showed great prudence and skill.
2. It showed a spirit of dependence upon God.
3. It was the exhibition of a character worthy of the highest confidence.
1. How quickly adversity awaits upon prosperity.
2. What an advantage to have a true and powerful friend in the day of calamity.
3. God often brings about His purposes of love and mercy by affliction.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. JOSEPH OPENED THE STOREHOUSES BY ROYAL AUTHORITY.
1. The king was only to be approached through Joseph (ver. 55). So with Jesus (John 14:6).
2. The king commanded that Joseph should be obeyed (ver. 55; see John 5:23).
3. In all the land no other could open a storehouse save Joseph (see John 3:35).
II. JOSEPH WAS A FIT PERSON TO BE THUS AUTHORIZED TO OPEN THE STOREHOUSES,
1. He planned the storehouses, and was justly appointed to control them (vers. 33-36, 38).
2. He carried out the storage, and so proved himself practical as well as inventive (ver. 49).
3. He did it on a noble scale (ver. 49).
III. JOSEPH ACTUALLY OPENED THE STOREHOUSES.
1. For this purpose he filled them. Grace is meant to be used.
2. To have kept them closed would have been no gain to him.
3. He opened them at a fit time (vers. 55, 56).
4. He kept them open while the famine lasted.
IV. JOSEPH OPENED THE STOREHOUSE TO ALL COMERS. Yet Joseph did but sell, while Jesus gives without money.
V. JOSEPH ACQUIRED POSSESSION OF ALL EGYPT FOR THE KING. Full submission and consecration are the grand result of infinite love.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Providence puts an end to plenty at His will, however sensual men think not of it.
2. The fruitfulest land becometh barren if God speak the word; even Egypt.
3. Periods of full conditions are observable by men; God's Spirit notes them (ver. 54).
4. In the design of Providence, wants succeed plenty at the heels.
5. Entrance of dearth, though grievous, yet may make but small impression on souls.
6. Not a word of God falleth to the ground, but as He saith, so it is.
7. Providence orders lands for scarcity as well as plenty.
8. God can give bread to Egypt when He denieth it to other nations for His own ends (ver. 54).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Providence orders some countries to depend on others for their sustenance.
2. Wants make nations stoop and seek about for the support of life.
3. Grace can make poor captives become preservers of nations.
4. Sore plagues may be made to make men inquire after and prize abused mercies.
5. General judgments are sent to manifest God's special ends of grace to His (ver. 57).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Doris, D. D.)
Ephesians 3:8: "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Riches of Christ!" said he to himself;" 'Unsearchable riches of Christ!' What have I preached of these? What do I know of these?" Under the blessing of the Spirit of God he was thus awakened to a new life and a new ministry. Are there not some yet living who might put to their own consciences similar questions?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Ephesians 1:3). Our election is by Him (ver. 4). Our adoption is by Him (ver. 5). Our redemption and remission of sins are both through Him. All the gracious transactions between God and His people are through Christ. God loves us through Christ; He hears our prayers through Christ; He forgives us all our sins through Christ. Through Christ He justifies us; through Christ He sanctifies us; through Christ Pie upholds us; through Christ He perfects us. All His relations to us are through Christ; all we have is from Christ; all we expect to have hangs upon Him. He is the golden hinge upon which all our salvation turns.
(George Lawson, D. D.).