Genesis 12:15). And the brethren were evidently people of large possessions with a considerable retinue, as they were to carry food for so many; and they had brought the proof required that they were true men. Had Joseph intended to do them harm he might have done it before. It was conscious guilt that made them fear. What they had done to their brother suggested similar treatment being meted to them. Perhaps they had almost forgotten it. But God left not himself without witness to bring their sin to remembrance. The stain of sin on the conscience is indelible. Time cannot remove it. Occupation may turn the thoughts from it, but it returns again and again. The act of wrong may be little thought of at the time. Only afterwards is it felt that it cannot be undone (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9). This explains the attitude of so many toward God. Why is there such slowness to receive the gospel just as it is offered? When men are bidden to their brother's table; when his will is declared they shall sup with me (cf. Revelation 3:20), why is there such shrinking as if they were being led into danger; as if God were laying some obligation on them which they cannot fulfill, to bring them into bondage for ever? It is because of sin in the heart; perhaps unfelt, unthought of; but it is there, the fact of a self-chosen life. And if these are invited to closer communion with God, straightway they are afraid; suspicious of God. And hence, when the gospel invitation is pressed, and the Lamb of God held up, and the power of the blood of Christ and the welcome for all proclaimed, and they are bidden to trust, to accept salvation, men try to fortify their position: "O sir, we have done this or that (cf. Matthew 18:26), clinging to distrust instead of striving against it.
I. THIS DISTRUST AND SUSPICION OF GOD ARISES FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN NOT FULLY RECOGNIZED AS SIN; while the man is still trying to set good deeds against bad ones, or to find. excuses for faults. It is the effect of sin before conviction by the Holy Spirit. Real conviction brings to God (Psalm 51:4; Luke 18:13). It is unacknowledged sin that separates.
II. DISTRUST IS REMOVED BY A REAL BELIEF IN THE ATONEMENT (Hebrews 9:25), God's plan for reconciling the sinful to himself (Romans 3:26). Hence this is the turning point of the spiritual life (John 3:18); the great work (John 6:29) out of which, as from a germ, the whole Christian life must grow. - M.
1. Just orders are readily entertained by honest servants from their masters (ver. 17).
And they came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they communed with him.I. HE LISTENS PATIENTLY TO THE EXPLANATION OF THEIR CONDUCT, OFFERED BY JOSEPH'S BRETHREN.
II. HE TREATS THEM WITH A WISE KINDNESS AND WITH PIETY.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. The house of kindness may sometimes terrify souls as the house of dangers.
3. Innocency itself may be suspicious of wrong charges, to raise up fear.
4. Groundless jealousies pretend dangers where none are (ver. 18).
5. Wisdom suggests unto innocency a fair defence to prevent danger (ver 19).
6. Innocency's plain acknowledgment of its designs is its best apology (ver. 20.)
7. Declaration of events of providence as they are tends to justify the innocent.
8. Where providence orders good, souls may make question of receiving or keeping it (ver. 21).
9. Just souls will deal justly in dealing with others about buying, &c.
10. Innoceney may plead ignorance of the fact of sin plainly, being not guilty (ver. 22).
11. Upright hearts in power will speak peace and encouragement to fearful spirits.
12. Good hearts teach to ascribe all good providences unto God in covenant.
13. Just men will own their acts to discharge the innocent. So the steward.
14. Conditions being performed, hostages must be in justice returned (ver. 23).
15. Good hospitality will labour, to afford room and all convenient refreshings to its guests.
16. Hospitality in truth, provides for beasts as well as men (ver. 24).
17. Prudence will put men upon care to prepare a present for rulers in time of danger.
18. Courtesy from hosts gives opportunity for guests to express their returns.
19. Noon refreshments are suitable to morning's labours.
20. Good rulers are careful first to work and then to eat (ver. 25).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
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