The Reading: Psalm 105:16-22
“… until what he had said came to pass” (v. 19) RSV
Joseph had been his father’s favourite son. He had been given a special coat that showed his privilege. But his brothers sold him into slavery. At first he did well inEgyptbecoming the head slave in Potiphar’s household. But then he was falsely accused and committed to prison.
This Psalm describes his life in prison; it was not pleasant – “His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron” (v.18). However, once again he rose through the ranks of prisoners and was put in charge.
But things got still worse! His hopes had been raised for his imminent release after he had interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s butler. But his hopes were dashed because the butler conveniently ‘forgot’ Joseph. Oh, cruel fate! More years passed, more waiting, more hoping.
What was happening to Joseph during this time? This Psalm tells us that “the word of the Lord tested him” (v.19). This does not mean some arbitrary and sadistic test. It means that Joseph was put through a trial out of which he would emerge strengthened. Stretching and purging are necessary, though painful, ways for us to be strengthened.
He was changed from a spoilt prodigy into a mature and humbled man. When he was eventually brought up into Pharaoh’s presence he not only interpreted his dream, but went on to be in charge of all the wealth ofEgypt!
Furthermore, when his brothers and father arrived during the famine, he was able to say: “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” (Gen. 50:20). Waiting is a great opportunity for us to learn humility and maturity. Let us also see the hand of God in frustrating circumstances. Do we really believe he loves us and wants the best for us?
Teach me, O God, to see you at work in all the frustration and delays of life. May I praise you all my days. Amen.
1 See more of what Joseph said to his brothers
2 See how Paul has the same message