And they said one to another, We are truly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he sought us…
Jacob's sons did not think that the man who had treated them with such severity knew anything concerning their conduct to their poor brother, but they knew that there is a God in the heavens, who knoweth and judgeth all the actions of the children of men. In this knowledge they were trained up by their father. But although they had been the children of a man who knew not God, this reflection might have occurred to them in the day of trouble, Adoni-bezek, king of Jerusalem, had his education amongst the most hardened sinners that ever lived in the world, and was himself one of the most hard-hearted tyrants that ever disgraced a throne; yet, when sore trouble came upon him, he acknowledged that it was the infliction of just punishment from God (Judges 1.). It is said of the virtuous Dion, the Syracusan, that when he was compelled to flee from his country, and knocked at some doors that did not open unto him as they would have done in former times, he meekly observed to his servant, that perhaps himself, in the time of his prosperity, had not always opened his door to the stranger. When we meet from men with treatment which we did not deserve, it may be of use, for calming our spirits, to consider whether we have not been guilty of as bad, or even worse conduct, to some of our neighhours. What if God has commissioned these men who behave ill to us, as His messengers, to execute His anger for offences against some of their fellow-men? Look forward, ye who have hitherto lived in ease and prosperity. The day of trouble will come. Plant not your dying pillow before hand with thorns and briars. If no reverse of circumstances should come upon you before you till you die, yet you are sure that you must die; and a death-bed will be the very worst place for such reflections as awakened conscience may produce. Bitter was the anguish of Joseph's brethren, but it would have been ten times more bitter if they had seen inevitable death before their eyes. They had little prospect of repairing the injury done to Joseph; but they might yet live to repair in some degree the wrong they had done to their father, and to seek with tears and supplications the forgiveness of their sins from God. Look back on your former conduct. Consider whether you have not done some injuries that may yet be repaired, or neglected some important duties that may yet be done, before you go to that place where there is no counsel, nor device, nor work. O death! how terrible are thy approaches to the man who is conscious that he hath shut his ears against the cry of the poor, or against the loud calls of the Son of God, urging him to improve the space given him for repentance!
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
WEB: They said one to another, "We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn't listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us."