The Reading: Psalm 105:16-22
“his neck was put in a collar of iron” (v.18) RSV
Joseph was a young man with a bright future ahead of him. God gave him dreams that one day his father and mother and brothers would all bow down before him. He became his father’s favourite son and was consequently given a coat with long sleeves (which meant he was above manual work). Surely, he must have reckoned life was going to be continual ease and privilege.
How wrong he was. In order for God to be able to exalt him, he had first to bring him down a few pegs. Joseph was arrogant and conceited. So much so, that his brothers hated his guts. They decided to get rid of him. At first they were going to kill him, but eventually they sold him to some passing traders. He ended up in Egypt. He must have been hurt, angry and embittered.
He was sold in the market as a slave and was brought into the household of Potiphar (who was captain of the guard). There he quickly rose through the ranks. But he was betrayed by his master’s wife who accused him of attempted rape. He was thrown into prison where “his neck was put in a collar of iron” (v.18). While in prison he again rose to a position of trust, but even after interpreting the dreams of the imprisoned butler and baker of Pharaoh’s household, he still remained forgotten for some years more.
Finally his break came. He had learned his lesson. He was now humbled and useful to God. Pharaoh summoned him to interpret his dream. The result was that Joseph became second-in-command to Pharaoh in all the land, and was in charge of all the food supplies.
When his brothers came looking for food because of the famine, Joseph had learned such grace that he told them that what they had done to him they had “meant for evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). God can indeed restore the lost years.
Thank you Lord that you redeem my past and integrate it into my future. Amen.
1 Who became useful to God and to his master after conversion?
2 Did Joseph regret his ‘lost’ years?