THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE
Holy One, I thank You for what You have done in my life in the past: I trust You for what You will do in the future.
Read GENESIS 39
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.’1
It is not the future Joseph expects, but it is better than he might have hoped for, having been sold into slavery by his brothers. His story is typical of many of our lives – full of ups and downs.
Initially, Joseph unexpectedly prospers (1–6). Purchased by Potiphar, a senior imperial servant who needs someone reliable to run his affairs, Joseph proves equal to the task. While his own abilities contribute, the real cause of his success is God’s blessing (3,5). However, Joseph then walks into a major problem (6–18): Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce her husband’s trusted but handsome steward. What a model he is when facing such a situation – not of his own making. Joseph refuses to compromise one inch, valuing his integrity. He wisely tries to avoid her, at which point she changes tactics, becomes contemptuous of him and accusatory (17). Accusations have tremendous and destructive power, whether there’s any basis to them or not, and Joseph is in no position to defend himself or pursue justice. Today, as then, powerful people either get their way, silence their victims, or plot revenge. This results in Joseph’s punishment (19,20). The form of his incarceration leaves a doubt as to whether Potiphar fully believes his wife. Whether he does or not, Joseph’s confinement leads to his renewed prosperity (20–23). It teaches a powerful lesson: who we are is always more important than where we are or what we face.
How Joseph has grown in character! He is now consistently exemplary. Yet, through it all, the key message is not about him but that ‘The Lord was with Joseph …’ (2,21,23) even when the reverse seems to be the case. Believers can look to the Lord for the same providential care, no matter what their circumstances might be.
As you look back on life, can you testify, ‘The Lord was with me’, even in the difficulties?
Amazing One, I know the devil is the master of the surprise attack, subtle in his approach, leading to my surrender. I pray I may have the fortitude of Joseph in the face of temptation.
1 Prov 16:1