Meanwhile, Joseph had been taken down to Egypt, where an Egyptian named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
(1) to betoken the retributive judgment of God, and
(2) illustrate his grace. Joseph is lost, and still Divinely protected. Judah is a wanderer from his brethren; a sensual, self-willed, degenerate man; yet it is in the line of this same wanderer that the promised seed shall appear. The whole is a lesson on the evil of separation from the people of God. Luther asks why such things were placed in Scripture, and answers,
(1) That no one should be self-righteous, and
(2) that no one should despair, and
(3) to remind us that Gentiles by natural right are brothers, mother, sisters to our Lord; the word of salvation is a word for the whole world. - R.
1. We have all our captivities at some time or other in our experience. The essence of Joseph's trial here was that he was taken whither he had no wish to go, and was prevented from going back again to the home in which his father was sitting mourning for his loss. But is not interference with our comfort or our liberty still the bitter element in all our afflictions? Take bodily illness, for example, and when you get at the root of the discomfort of it, you find it in the union of these two things: you are where you do not want to be — where you would never have thought of putting yourself — and you are held there, whether you will or not, by a Power that is stronger than your own. No external force constrains you, no fetters are on your limbs, yet you are held where you are against your own liking, and you do not relish the situation — you are a captive. But the same thing comes out in almost every sort of trial. You are, let me suppose, in business perplexity. But that is not of your own choosing; if you could have managed it, you would have been in quite different circumstances. Yet, in spite of you, things have gone against you. Men whom you had implicitly trusted, and whom you would have had no more thought of doubting than you would think now of doubting your mother's love, have proved deceitful; or the course of trade has gone against you, and you are brought to a stand. You have been carried away perhaps by brothers, perhaps by Ishmaelites — for the race is not yet extinct — from the Canaan of comfort to the Egypt captivity, and you are now in helpless perplexity. It may be standing, not like Joseph, in the slave-pen, but in the market place of labour, and condemned to do nothing, because "no man hath hired" you. Ah! there are many, too many always, in a largo city like this who are in just such circumstances. What then? Let them learn from Joseph here that the first thing to do in a captivity is to acquiesce in it as the will of God concerning them.
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt.I. ITS EXTRAORDINARY NATURE. Cast off by his own brethren, he rises amongst strangers to dignity and honour.
II. ITS BASIS AND SECURITY.
1. His own bearing and conduct.
2. The favour of God.
III. ITS LESSONS.
1. That God's blessings and grace are with His people everywhere, and under the severest trials.
2. That God's blessing and grace are manifest to Others (ver. 3).
3. That God blesses others for the sake of His people (ver. 5).
4. That God is still working out His designs, even when they seem to fail.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. But then, in the second place, we must learn from Joseph to make the best of our remaining opportunities in our captivity. If he was to be a slave, Joseph was determined he would be the best of slaves, and what he was required to do he would do with his might and with his heart. This is a most important consideration, and it may, perhaps, help to explain why similar trials have had such different results in different persons. One has been bemoaning that it is not with him as it used to be, while the other has discovered that some talents have been still left him, and he has set to work with these. One has been saying, "If I had only the resources which I once possessed I could do something; but now they have gone, I am helpless." But the other has been soliloquizing thus: "If I can do nothing else I can at least do this, little as it is; and if I put it into the hand of Christ, He can make it great"; and so we account for the unhappiness and uselessness of the one, and for the happiness and usefulness of the other. Nor will it do to say that this difference is a mere thing of temperament. It is a thing of character. The one acts in faith, recognizing God's hand in his affliction, the other acts in unbelief, seeing nothing but his own calamity, and that only increases his affliction. So we come to this: keep fast hold of God's hand in your captivity, and do your best in that which is open to you. That will ultimately bring you out of it; but if you lose that you will lose everything.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Homilist.I. THAT A GOOD MAN IN CAPTIVITY CAN ENJOY GOD'S PRESENCE.
II. THAT A GOOD MAN IN BONDAGE CAN SHOW FORTH GOD'S GLORY.
III. THAT A GOOD MAN IN SLAVERY CAN DEVELOP THE HUMANITY OF OTHERS.
IV. THAT A GOOD MAN IN BONDAGE MAY BE TRUSTED.
V. THAT A GOOD MAN IS A GREAT BLESSING WHEREVER HE MAY BE FOUND.
1. The fact of having parted with the restraints and wholesome influences of home.
2. Joseph's new position also placed him among strangers.
3. Joseph's lot was also that of inexperience surrounded with the numerous and glaring temptations of a great city.
4. How Joseph's new lot subjected his religious principles to the test.
(J. Leyburn, D. D.)I. JOSEPH'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS MASTER.
II. JOSEPH'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS GOD.
III. JOSEPH'S SOURCE OF HELP AND GLADNESS. The Lord was with him. CONCLUSION: — What shall we learn from this part of Joseph's history? That amidst darkness — of sorrow (Joseph exiled); of trial (Joseph tempted); of injustice (Joseph imprisoned) — there always arises light for the faithful and pure of heart. Let us ask God to make us from our earliest years, and in all circumstances, honest, diligent, pure-minded, patient; and let us never lose hold of our trust in God's help.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
I. RELIGION TRANSFORMS A SLAVE INTO A HERO.
1. Outward circumstance is a trivial thing. "An officer of Pharaoh bought him of the Ishmaelites." It is a frightful degradation to be reduced to a chattel; yet it is only external degradation. But the man need not be degraded. Slavery may give scope for the play of noble principles. Integrity, faithfulness, goodness, piety, love, are untouched, are free to develop.
2. Man's judgment is often in opposition to God's.
3. In the darkest night true piety shines the more brightly. Doubtless, Joseph was "cast down," yet was he "not in despair." Instead of repining, he kept a brave heart. Here in Potiphar's mansion is one doing God's will as angels do it in heaven. There is a noble seraph within this apparent slave.
II. RELIGION BRINGS MEN INTO PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD. "The Lord was with him: the Lord made all that he did to prosper."
1. A good man is a mystery to onlookers. There is something about him which the world cannot understand. He is patient when others fume and fret. He is buoyant when others are submerged. An unseen Anchor hold his barque, let the storm howl as it may.
2. This superior factor in life is conspicuous. "His master saw that the Lord was with him." Such diligence, honesty, thoughtfulness, promptitude, were unusual, unconventional, superhuman. Some men have a trick of concealing their religion. Joseph allowed his light naturally to shine out.
3. God is an active Partner in honest work. The source of Joseph's prosperity is revealed: "The Lord made it to prosper." A merchant in feeble health once accounted for his successful conduct of a gigantic business by saying that God was his acting Partner. This is the fellowship of the Spirit. A true Christian is man plus God.
III. RELIGION MAKES A MAN A MEDIUM OF BLESSING TO OTHERS. "The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake." Potiphar is not even named: Joseph is everything.
1. A good man is the channel of good to others. Here is God's law of mediation. A man prospers in business through the prayers of a pious servant. A father is raised up from a bed of fever for the sake of a child. A husband is saved from moral wreck by the faith and love of a wife. The God-fearing are the salt of the earth. For Joseph's sake, the fields of Potiphar are fruitful.
2. Real prosperity embraces all the interests of mankind. "The blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house and in the field." The beneficent effect of religion is commensurate with man. It blesses domestic life, agriculture, commerce, politics, literature. It enhances all human joy; it soothes all human sorrow. It kindles a lamp in the darkness of the grave. It fills the heart with an immortal hope.
(J. Dickerson Davies, M. A.)
(J. S. Van Dyke.)1. Histories of the wicked and righteous are set together by God's Spirit to abase sin and heighten grace in the Church. So of Judah and Joseph.
2. Providence determining to bring any to greatness, leads them usually first into a low estate. Joseph dreams of dignities, but first meets with slavery.
3. Men-selling, though it be great sin in man, yet is it permitted and ordered by God.
4. God's choicest ones may be bought and sold by the hands of strangers and enemies.
5. Providence orders the slavery of His own to such men, by whom more fitly they may be preferred.
6. Egypt may be the house of bondage to God's servants in order to greater freedom (ver. 1).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)I. First, then, we will contemplate THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH JOSEPH WENT DOWN TO EGYPT.
1. It was not by his own choice. This is intimated by the emphatic expression " he was brought down." It appears that his brethren became envious of him; and they so indulged this bad feeling of the heart (Genesis 37:18-20). In saying that it is similar to the case of some persons, I do not mean that the same treatment is experienced by them, though unhappily this is the case with many who are torn from their native shores and sold into captivity and bondage against their will; but what I mean is, that their position in life is often fixed for a time without any power on their part to shape their own course. They are governed by the force of circumstances, and find themselves fixed in situations, not because they have chosen it so to be, but because things have tended to that particular position in which they find themselves placed — without their own choice, and without their own control. On the other hand, there is a dissimilarity between the case of Joseph and some others. Time, circumstances, means, are all such that they can, apparently, make their own election, and direct their own pursuits.
2. It was with the prospect of servitude before him. The Midianites bought him to sell him as a slave. That Joseph's being a servant, distinguished as he was by only being removed two descents from Abraham, and honoured as he was also — as we shall afterwards find — by God himself, has sanctified, as it were, the employment of servitude and made it honourable. It can never be a disgrace to us to be employed as he was, especially if we pursue our calling in the way that he pursued his. And how was that? perhaps some may ask. We answer that he pursued it faithfully. While he served his master he was faithful to the confidence reposed in him. He was an honest man, and this conduct led to his services being viewed by his master with acceptance. But we mark another trait in the character of Joseph; he was attentive to his duties. But there was a principle in Joseph's conduct that we must not omit to notice — he feared God. In this was the secret of his prosperity. But in further contemplating the circumstances under which Joseph went down to Egypt, we observe that —
3. He was brought down thither really, though not apparently at the time, by God. This Joseph himself acknowledged to his brethren in an interview with them some few years afterwards (Genesis 46:7, 8). Was it God, then, who excited in Joseph's brethren that feeling of envy which existed in their breasts — the feeling which led them first to resolve on his murder, and then to agree to report to his father that some evil beast had slain him? No; it was not God who was the author of this conduct. The whole of it was sinful; and God is not the author of sin.
II. What are the LESSONS WE LEARN FROM THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE HAVE BEEN CONTEMPLATING?
1. To acknowledge God in all our ways.
2. To confide in God under all circumstances. We can scarcely conceive, humanly speaking, of any circumstances being more dark and mysterious than those in which Joseph was placed. "It was good for me that I was afflicted." And, eventually, our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). On this point, then, I will conclude in the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:10), "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."
3. To repress every bad feeling of the heart.
4. That the providence of God attends those that love Him. But God does not lead all His children to degrees of honour and usefulness equal to those of Joseph. Among His people there are those who may be compared to vessels of gold, and of silver, of wood, and of earth; some to honour and some to dishonour" (2 Timothy 2:20).
(W. Blackley, B. A.)
And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man. —
(J. Parker, D. D.)Acts 7:9. Observe, however, that the portraits of Scripture give us not only the outer, but the inner life of the man. Man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart; and so the Scriptural descriptions of men are not of their visible life alone, but of their spiritual life. Here we have Joseph as God saw him, the real Joseph. Externally it did not always appear that God was with him, for he did not always seem to be a prosperous man; but when you come to look into the inmost soul of this servant of God, you see his true likeness — he lived in communion with the Most High, and God blessed him: "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man." This striking likeness of Joseph strongly reminds us of our Master and Lord, that greater Joseph, who is Lord over all the world for the sake of Israel. Peter, in his sermon to the household of Cornelius, said of our Lord that He "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him." Exactly what had been said of Joseph. It is wonderful that the same words should describe both Jesus and Joseph, the perfect Saviour and the imperfect patriarch. This having the Lord with us is the inheritance of all the saints; for what is the apostolic benediction in the Epistles but a desire that the triune God may be with us? To the Church in Rome Paul saith, "Now the God of peace be with you all." To the Church in Corinth he writes, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." To the Thessalonians he saith, "The Lord be with you all." Did not our glorious Lord say, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"?
I. First, we will run over Joseph's life, and note THE FACT "The Lord was with Joseph."
1. God was gracious to Joseph as a child. Happy are those who have Christ with them in the morning, for they shall walk with Him all day, and sweetly rest with Him at eventide.
2. "The Lord was with Joseph" when Joseph was at home, and He did not desert him when he was sent away from his dear father and his beloved home and was sold for a slave. I think I see him in the slave market exposed for sale. We have heard with what trembling anxiety the slave peers into the faces of those who are about to buy. Will he get a good master? Will one purchase him who will treat him like a man, or one who will use him worse than a brute? " The Lord was with Joseph" as he stood there to be sold, and he fell into good hands. When he was taken away to his master's house, and the various duties of his service were allotted to him, the Lord was with Joseph. The house of the Egyptian had never been so pure, so honest, so honoured before. Beneath Joseph's charge it was secretly the temple of his devotions, and manifestly the abode of comfort and confidence. That Hebrew slave had a glory of character about him, which all perceived, and especially his master, for we read: "His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight."
3. Then came a crisis in his history, the time of testing. We see Joseph tried by a temptation in which, alas, so many perish. He was attacked in a point at which youth is peculiarly vulnerable. His comely person made him the object of unholy solicitations from one upon whose goodwill his comfort greatly depended, and had it not been that the Lord was with him he must have fallen. Slavery itself was a small calamity compared with that which would have happened to young Joseph had he been enslaved by wicked passions. Happily the Lord was with him, and enabled him to overcome the tempter with the question, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" He fled. That flight was the truest display of courage. It is the only way of victory in sins of the flesh. The apostle says, "Flee youthful lusts which war against the soul." When Telemachus was in the isle of Calypso, his mentor cried, "Fly, Telemachus, fly; there remains no hope of a victory but by flight." Wisely Joseph left his garment and fled, for God was with him.
4. The scene shifts again, and he who bad been first a favoured child at home, and then a slave, and then a tempted one, now becomes a prisoner. The prisons of Egypt were, doubtless, as horrible as all such places were in the olden times, and here is Joseph in the noisome dungeon. He evidently felt his imprisonment very much, for we are told in the Psalms that "the iron entered into his soul." He felt it a cruel thing to be under such a slander, and to suffer for his innocence. A young man so pure, so chaste, must have felt it to be sharper than a whip of scorpions to be accused as he was; yet as he sat down in the gloom of his cell, the Lord was with him. The degradation of a prison had not deprived him of his Divine Companion. Blessed be the name of the Lord, He does not forsake His people when they are in disgrace: nay, He is more pleasant with them when they are falsely accused than at any other time, and He cheers them in their low estate. God was with him, and very soon the kindly manners, the gentleness, the activity, the truthfulness, the industry of Joseph had won upon the keeper of the prison, so that Joseph rose again to the top, and was the overseer of the prison. Like a cork, which you may push down, but it is sure to come up again, so was Joseph: he must swim, he could not drown, the Lord was with him. The Lord's presence made him a king and a priest wherever he went, and men tacitly owned his influence. In the little kingdom of the prison Joseph reigned, for " God was with him."
5. Joseph was made ruler over all Egypt, and God was with him. Well did the king say, "Can we find such a man as this is in whom the Spirit of God is?" His policy in storing up corn in the plenteous years succeeded admirably, for God was evidently working by him to preserve the human race from extinction by famine.
6. God was with him in bringing down his father and the family into Egypt, and locating them in Goshen, and with him till he himself came to die, when he "took an oath of the children of Israel, saying God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." The Lord was with him, and kept him faithful to the covenant, and the covenanted race, even to the close of a long life of one hundred and ten years.
II. We shall next review THE EVIDENCE OF THE FACT that God was with him.
1. The first evidence of it is this: he was always under the influence of the Divine presence, and lived in the enjoyment of it.
2. The next evidence is this: God was certainly with Joseph because he was pure in heart. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God"; no other can do so. What fellowship hath light with darkness, or what concord hath Christ with Belial? The intense purity of Joseph was a proof that the thrice holy God was ever with him. He will keep the feet of His saints. When they are tempted He will deliver them from evil, for His presence sheds an atmosphere of holiness around the heart in which He dwells.
3. The next evidence in Joseph's case was the diligence with which he exercised himself wherever he was. God was with Joseph, and therefore the man of God hardly cared as to the outward circumstances of his position, but began at once to work that which is good.
4. But notice again, God was with Joseph, and that made him tender and sympathetic. Some men who are prompt enough in business are rough, coarse, hard; but not so Joseph. His tenderness distinguishes him; he is full of loving consideration. He loved with all his soul, and so will every man who has God with him, for "God is love." If you do not love, God is net with you. If you go through the world, selfish and morose, bitter, suspicious, bigoted, hard, the devil is with you, God is not; for where God is He expands the spirit, He causes us to love all mankind with the love of benevolence, and He makes us take a sweet complacency in the chosen brotherhood of Israel, so that we specially delight to do good to all those of the household of faith.
5. Another mark of God's presence with Joseph is his great wisdom. He did everything as it ought to be done. You can scarcely alter anything in Joseph's life to improve it, and I think if I admire his wisdom in one thing more than another it is in his wonderful silence. It is easy to talk, comparatively easy to talk well, but to be quiet is the difficulty.
6. "God was with him," and this is the last evidence I give of it, that he was kept faithful to the covenant, faithful to Israel and to Israel's God right through. Joseph stuck to his people and to their God: though he must live in Egypt, he will not be an Egyptian; he will not even leave his dead body to lie in an Egyptian pyramid. The Egyptians built a costly tomb for Joseph: it stands to this day, but his body is not there. "I charge you," says he, "take my bones with you; for I do not belong to Egypt, my place is in the land of promise." "He gave commandment concerning his bones." Let others do as they will; as for me, my lot is cast with those who follow the Lord fully. Yes, my Lord, where Thou dwellest I will dwell; Thy people shall be my people, and Thy God my God, and may my children be Thy children to the last generation. If the Lord is with you that is what you will say, but if He is not with you, and you prosper in" the world, and increase in riches, you will turn your back on Christ and His people, and we shall have to say as Paul did, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."
III. Thirdly, let us observe, THE RESULT OF GOD'S BEING WITH JOSEPH. The result was that "he was a prosperous man"; but notice that, although the Lord was with Joseph, it did not screen him from hatred. "The Lord was with him," but his brethren hated him. Ay, and if the Lord loves a man, the world will spite him. Furthermore, "The Lord was with Joseph," bat it did not screen him from temptation of the worst kind: it did not prevent his mistress casting her wicked eyes upon him. The best of men may be tempted to the worst of crimes. The presence of God did not screen him from slander: the base woman accused him of outrageous wickedness, and God permitted Potiphar to believe her. Nay, the Divine presence did not screen him from pain: he sat in prison wearing fetters till the iron entered into his soul, and yet " the Lord was with him." That presence did not save him from disappointment. He said to the butler, "Think of me when it is well with thee"; but the butler altogether forgot him. Everything may seem to go against you, and yet God may be with you. The Lord does not promise you that you shall have what looks like prosperity, but you shall have what is real prosperity in the better sense. Now, what did God's being with Joseph do for him?
1. First, it saved him from gross sin. He flees, he shuts his ears: he flees and conquers, for God is with him.
2. God was with him, and the next result was it enabled him to act grandly. Wherever he is he does the right thing, does it splendidly.
3. In such a manner did God help Joseph that he was enabled to fulfil a glorious destiny, for if Noah be the world's second father, what shall we say of Joseph, but that he was its foster nurse? The human race had died of famine if Joseph's foresight had not laid by in store the produce of the seven plenteous years, for there was a famine over all lands.
4. Also it gave him a very happy life, for taking the life of Joseph all through it is an enviable one. Nobody would think of putting him down among the miserable. If we had to make a selection of unhappy men, we certainly should not think of Joseph. No, it was a great life and a happy life; and such will yours be if God be with you.
5. And, to finish, God gave Joseph and his family a double portion in Israel, which never happened to any other of the twelve sons of Jacob. Those who begin early with God, and stand fast to the end, and hold to God both in trouble and prosperity, shall see their children brought to the Lord, and in their children they shall possess the double, yea, the Lord shall render unto them double for all they may lose in honour for His name's sake.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. G. Salter.)
1. It was because of Joseph's simplicity. By this I do not mean that he was foolish. I mean that he was just what he seemed to be, and seemed to be just what he was. He didn't deceive folks. He had no small, mean ways. Perhaps you may say that he would have escaped the trouble that was coming if he had not had this simplicity; but he did not need to escape it; it was far better that it should come. It is best to do right, no matter what comes. Joseph's trouble did not hurt him, it did him good; and all the trouble that will ever come to you from doing right will be a blessing to you.
2. God was with Joseph, and he was prosperous, because of his obedience. When Jacob's sons had been away from home some time, their father began to be anxious. I can't make you understand the full meaning of this word anxious; but when you are men and women and have children of your own, you will know without being told. Well, Jacob was anxious about his sons; he was afraid something had happened to them, and wanted to hear from them. In those days, and in that part of the world, there was no mail, and people usually travelled from place to place in large companies called caravans. This is the way they travelled then, and the way they travel now. But there was no caravan going where his sons were, and so Jacob wanted some person to go alone, and there was no one who was so trustworthy and so fearless, who would go and come so quickly, and do his errand so well, as Joseph. So his father said to him: "Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? Come and I will send thee unto them." And Joseph answered promptly: "Here am I"; which means, I am ready to go; send me. And his father sent him. Now Joseph's obedience is shown here, not merely in his saying, "Here am I," nor in his starting off at once, but in his going, and going until he found them. Many boys and girls say, "I will go," and some actually start, but that is all they do. They find a difficulty and come back, saying, "I can't"; or they are drawn away by bad company; or for some other reason they give it up. But see how Joseph did. When he came to Shechem, where his brothers had been, they were not there, but while he was searching for them he came across a man who told him they had gone to Dothan, fourteen miles farther. Many a lad of seventeen hearing this would have gone back, for Joseph was nearly ninety miles from home, alone, and in a dangerous country. But this was not Joseph's way. His father had sent him to find his brothers, and he was determined to do it, no matter if it did take him fourteen miles farther than he thought they were, and more than a hundred miles from the tents of Jacob in Hebron. This is obedience that is obedience, to do what you are told to, to face dangers, to overcome difficulties. I want these children to do what they are told to, whatever it costs. It cost Joseph his liberty and almost his life, but it was the foundation of all his future greatness; it was worth more than liberty or life; it was worth ten thousand times more than the coat of many colours, or his father's favouritism, or the throne of Egypt. Obedience taught Joseph how to command, and no one knows how to command who has not learned first how to obey.
3. God was with Joseph, and he was prosperous because of his moral courage. I suppose you know the meaning of courage. It is bravery, fearlessness. A boy who leaps overboard to save a drowning companion is courageous; so is a man who rushes into a burning building to save persons from being burned. This is courage. But what is moral courage? It is that which makes one do right when people will blame him, or laugh at him, or try to injure him for doing so. It is easier for many to be knocked down than to be laughed at or blamed. I don't know that Joseph ever struck a blow in his life; and we do know that when his brothers sold him he cried very hard, and begged them not to do it; for afterwards 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." But his moral courage was shown by the way he behaved in adversity. He dared to do right wherever he was. No matter how wicked those about him were, he would not do a wrong thing. Nor is this all; he gave his reasons. He said, "How, then, can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" And then he kept away from temptation. But Joseph showed moral courage in still another way. When he was accused falsely and punished, he did not try to save himself by exposing his accuser. He said to himself: "I will suffer rather than ruin the reputation of this woman; may be she will repent"; and what was still better, he chose to go to prison rather than remain in temptation.
4. And another reason for Joseph's prosperity was his patience. To be patient is to bear quietly any evil, such as pain, toil, affliction. Joseph's affliction lasted about thirteen years. All this time he was a slave, and part of it — two years certainly — he was a prisoner. This was a long time, but he made it seem shorter by always trying to deserve something better.
5. Another reason for Joseph's prosperity was his spirit of forgiveness. It is said of the North American Indians that they never forget an injury and never forget a kindness; this may be well for a heathen savage, but it will not do for a Christian child. Christ said, forgive your enemies.
6. Once more, God was with Joseph and he was prosperous because of his trust in God. Joseph trusted in God when he was a boy, when he went away from home, and when he was sold to the Ishmaelites, when he was in the prison, and when he was on the throne. It was this that sustained him in his trials, that kept him in temptation, and that made him a wise and virtuous ruler.
(E. N. Pomeroy.)
I. PROSPERITY IS A LEGITIMATE OBJECT OF PURSUIT. Our great care should be to pursue it lawfully — to use none but upright and honourable means for its attainment.
II. The counsels given by wise and practical men as to THE BEST MEANS OF SECURING LEGITIMATE SUCCESS are manifold — all agreeing in the main. One writer says, "If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counsellor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian angel." Another likens prosperity to a ladder having six steps — faith, industry, perseverance, temperance, probity, independence. This, I think, is a ladder by which you are sure to rise, and to rise safely.
III. PROSPERITY HAS ITS DUTIES. Wealth always brings with itself responsibilities. Divine learning is needed for this stewardship. One of the first duties of a prosperous man is hearty gratitude to God. This will show itself in works of benevolence and religion, and cheerful consecration to God.
IV. PROSPERITY HAS ITS ANXIETIES. Care disfigures its face. One of the most successful men of this century, when surrounded by immense wealth and supposed to be enjoying it, wrote to a friend: "I live like a galley-slave, constantly occupied, and often pass the night without sleeping. I am wrapt in a labyrinth of affairs, and worn out with care."
V. PROSPERITY HAS ITS DANGERS. It may prove a great blessing to a man, or a great curse. Many have been ruined by success. Valerian, the Roman Emperor, before he was raised to the throne, was temperate, wise, and virtuous; but after his investment with the purple he completely changed, and was notorious for meanness, imprudence, and general incapacity.
(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)1. The greatness of God disdains not to be with the lowness of His servants. God and Joseph are together.
2. God's special presence of grace is vouchsafed to such as are more especially humbled.
3. God's gracious presence maketh souls prosperous, wherever they be.
4. Gracious souls, though in bondage, will abide faithful unto Egyptian masters.
5. Providence in exercising saints usually proportions employment to endowment. Joseph for the house (ver 2).
6. God maketh sinful masters to see that He is present graciously with their servants.
7. Gracious servants make house, and all affairs prosper unto ungracious masters.
8. God maketh wicked men to see that they prosper by reason of His servants (ver. 3).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
The Lord blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph's sake. —cornu copiae — "a horn of plenty," and for his sake the Egyptian's stores are multiplied to an extent he had not previously known. And cases similar to this are also often seen. Pious servants and pious slaves have frequently been blessings to their master's house. Even in instances where the slave has been treated cruelly, his prayers, offered up in secret for his owner's weal, have been answered in a manner the most remarkable, and his efforts to promote that owner's interests have been crowned with very considerable success. Generally, however, it is only when the master acts towards his servant or towards his slave with justice that the blessing of heaven descends upon his house. It was from the time that Potiphar raised Joseph from the position of a slave to one of comparative dignity and honour that the Lord blessed him. (Thornley Smith.) (J. Parker, D. D.) (G. Lawson, D. D.) 2. Grace in the eyes of men and rulers justly gotten, is a blessing desirable here below. 3. A gracious Joseph may be an Egyptian's favourite. 4. Favour with men of place usually draws favourites nearer to themselves. 5. Gradual is the preferment which Providence ordereth to His saints from men. 6. Grace, prudence, and fidelity win hearts of great men to trust strangers rather than their own. 7. Providence ordereth lowest slavery the way to greatest oversight in greatest charges (ver. 4). 8. The time of doing good and lifting up saints, is the time of good to them that do it. 9. Jehovah himself rewardeth the good done unto His servants. 10. All outward blessings in the house and in the field are the blessings of God. 11. The gracious ones of God are the means of procuring blessing to all where they dwell. 12. Those rulers best provide for families, and states, who commit affairs to faithful ones (ver. 5). 13. Faithfulness in servants worketh confidence in their rulers. 14. It is the rare commendation of gracious servants, that the hearts of masters may be secure in them. (G. Hughes, B. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)1. God's favour to His servants maketh them to be favoured by men.
2. Grace in the eyes of men and rulers justly gotten, is a blessing desirable here below.
3. A gracious Joseph may be an Egyptian's favourite.
4. Favour with men of place usually draws favourites nearer to themselves.
5. Gradual is the preferment which Providence ordereth to His saints from men.
6. Grace, prudence, and fidelity win hearts of great men to trust strangers rather than their own.
7. Providence ordereth lowest slavery the way to greatest oversight in greatest charges (ver. 4).
8. The time of doing good and lifting up saints, is the time of good to them that do it.
9. Jehovah himself rewardeth the good done unto His servants.
10. All outward blessings in the house and in the field are the blessings of God.
11. The gracious ones of God are the means of procuring blessing to all where they dwell.
12. Those rulers best provide for families, and states, who commit affairs to faithful ones (ver. 5).
13. Faithfulness in servants worketh confidence in their rulers.
14. It is the rare commendation of gracious servants, that the hearts of masters may be secure in them.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)