Now therefore, Pharaoh should look for a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt.
John 16:20). In the prison he was learning lessons of the soul, - unlearning the spirit of censoriousness and of self-complacency (Genesis 37:2), - and, by obeying, learning how to rule. And the course of events bore him on to what was prepared for him. Had he remained at home, or returned thither, or had Potiphar not cast him into prison, he would not have been the head of a great work in Egypt, the helper of his family, the instrument of fulfilling God's promise. Not one step of his course was in vain; his sufferings were blessings.
I. IN SUFFERING WRONG WE ARE FOLLOWING CHRIST. He suffered for us, "leaving us an example" (1 Peter 2:21) of willingness to suffer for the good of others. This is the principle of self-sacrifice; not a self-willed sacrifice (Colossians 2:23), but the submission of the will to God (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 10:7). "This is acceptable with God" - to accept as from him what he sends, though we may-not see its use (Hebrews 12:5-7).
II. FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN THE DISCIPLINE OF SUFFERING IS NEEDFUL. If it was so in our Lord's sinless human nature (Hebrews 2:10), how much more in us, who must be taught to subdue the flesh to the spirit I Without trial Christian courage and fruit-bearing graces would fail (John 15:2), as without the winter's cold the forest tree would not form sound wood. And trial calls them into exercise (Romans 5:3), and through a sense of our weakness draws us nearer to God (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
III. NOT ONLY TRIAL IN GENERAL, BUT EVERY PART OF IT WORKS GOOD. To every part the promise applies (John 16:20). So it was with Joseph. God lays no stroke without cause (Hebrews 12:10). The conviction of this works practical patience. This particular suffering has its own loving message.
IV. WE OFTEN CANNOT FORESEE THE PURPOSE OF TRIALS. How different was the end to which God was leading Joseph from anything he could have expected or hoped for! Yet far better. We can see but a very little way along the path by which God is leading us. We walk by faith that his guidance is unerring, and that which he has provided is best (Ephesians 3:20). - M.
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.
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. 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.)
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.)
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