Proficient and Prosperous (verses 1-6)
In fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 15:13, Joseph had now been taken down to Egypt. He has been abused by his brothers, taken away from his homeland, and he is no longer a free man. Yet, the Lord is with Him. Even in his enslavement, he experiences success and because his convictions were crystal clear, even Potiphar was able to see “that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand” (v. 3). God blessed Joseph so that he could be a blessing to others. Though most of Joseph’s prosperity flowed directly into the hands of others, he remained a good employee and a wise manager marked with integrity.
- Joseph’s convictions were clear, leaving no doubt regarding the God that he served. What about your life? Does your profession of Christianity lack clarity? What about your job, does your performance give evidence of Christianity? Are you using the gifts that God has given you to influence and bless others?
Proposal Repudiated (verses 7-18)
The words of Potiphar’s wife to Joseph, “Lie with me,” are not merely a request, they are a command from a superior. However, Joseph responds with a three-fold refusal: (1) it would betray the trust to the one who had “put all in my charge;” (2) it would damage a marriage since “you are his wife;” (3) it would be “great evil” because it would be to “sin against God.” All sin has a horizontal impact against fellow man as well as a vertical impact against God.
Potiphar’s wife continues to relentlessly pursue Joseph with incessant enticement, “day after day.” But Joseph did not even flirt with the temptation: “he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her” (c.f. Proverbs 5:8, 1 Corinthians 6:18). Finally, when she could not entice him, she strategically plans a time to get him alone and resorts to force. Joseph flees, but his clothing is used to present a false report. Following the lies of Potiphar’s wife, he is again taken prisoner in spite of his faithfulness.
- Joseph called the proposition of Potiphar’s wife what it was: “great evil and sin.” Do you call your sin what it is? Or do you minimize your sin and prefer to call it merely offenses, mistakes, shortcomings, mess-ups, etc.? Satan is a wordsmith—are you? How seriously are you treating sin and temptation? Are you avoiding it with as much intentionality as Joseph? Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Hebrews 4:15 and consider how the truths might apply in your own life.
Prison is the Prize (verses 19-23)
Potiphar was not likely convinced of his wife’s allegations, which is evidenced by the fact that he ordered that Joseph be sent to the place where the king’s prisoners were confined rather than ordering his death. Still, his anger burned over the situation, and his hands were tied. As Joseph finds himself in prison, he experienced deeper humiliation, yet not so deep that God was not present. The Lord did not take Joseph out of any of his troubles, but He did extend His kindness to Him and enable Joseph to prosper in the midst of the adversity (c.f. Hebrews 13:5). Joseph was given favor in the sight of the chief jailer and because of his trustworthiness, he was put in charge of everything.
- The path we are called to walk can be difficult, confusing, and disorienting. We may feel abandoned or alone. However, in all of life’s trials and temptations, God’s grace is sufficient for us. What are some of the evidences of God’s grace and kindness to you in your present circumstances? In what ways should God’s presence in Joseph’s life up to this point be an encouragement to all believers?
- The pattern in Joseph’s life so far is one of exaltation to humiliation. He has gone from being the favorite son to a slave, from Potiphar’s personal servant to a prisoner, and now governor. There is a similar pattern of exaltation and humiliation seen in Christ. He is the eternal Son of God who humbled Himself to take on flesh, to die and be buried, and then to be raised up again and seated at the right hand of God. Our hope is not merely the kindness God has shown to Joseph, but the kindness God has shown to us by giving us a Savior who accomplished the work of salvation on our behalf and has now been seated to reign forever.