12th January

Genesis 38-40; Psalm 12

Bible in a Year
4 minutes

Genesis 38-40

Just as things were getting good in the story of Joseph, we switch to Judah. This seems like a weird, completely unrelated, story but in the wider context of the whole Bible it has two purposes. Firstly, when the twelve brothers end up becoming the twelve tribes of Israel, it is the tribe of Judah that comes out on top as the tribe that the kings come from. David and his descendants are all from Judah.

Because of this, it’s helpful to set Judah apart from his brothers a little with this story. Secondly, as we move even further forward with the history of God’s people, the nation of Israel splits into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. The southern kingdom is called Judah. The northern kingdom is sometimes referred to as Joseph (or Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons). So mirroring the two future kingdoms, we have stories about these two brothers next to each other.

Which brings us to the story itself. If you not realised it yet, these are very broken people that seem to be always making poor decisions. Judah gets married, has sons, finds a wife for his first son, who is the killed by God for his wickedness.

At this time, the most important thing was to have children. In having children you continued the family name after your dead. So if a man died before getting his wife pregnant, the responsibility went to his brother to get her pregnant with a child, and to everyone concerned that child would be considered the dead man’s, so that that family line would continue.

But Oman ditched on his responsibility and God killed him too. We then have Judah also ditch on his responsibility to make sure his third son married Tamar, and so Tamar gets him back. While he believed that his daughter-in-law has been playing the harlot, we can see what he can’t. This situation is all because he failed in his responsibilities. not Tamar.

And so we pick back up with Joseph, in slavery to a man called Potiphar but still being blessed by God. We should all be seeking the kind of favour that God was giving Joseph, that in what ever we do we are able to do it well enough that those in charge of us can trust us completely.

In turn, Potiphar’s house was also blessed. We are blessed so that we can also be a blessing to others. We see the evidence of Joseph’s willingness to live faithful to God in his unwillingness to mess around with Potiphar’s wife.

Unfortunately, Potiphar doesn’t see this and has him thrown in prison. But it’s still clear God is in control and has his eyes on Joseph, because, even there, God blesses him to the point where Joseph basically ends up running the prison.

Finally, we see Joseph’s gift with dreams begin to come back into the for. Two servants of Pharaoh end up in prison and each has a dream. Joseph interprets them, one will be restored to his position, the other will die. And true to Joseph’s word, it happens exactly as he said it would. Unfortunately for Joseph, the surviving servant forgets all about him and he continues in prison another two years.

While the lesson learned from Judah is a little unclear, Joseph gives us a very clear lesson from this period of his life. Trust God by doing the right thing, serve faithfully in every situation, and seek God’s blessing and favour so that we can be blessings to those around us. Because as we’ll find out tomorrow, it’s going to start working out for Joseph.

Psalm 12

This psalm is attributed to King David and fits into the category of lament psalm. It follows the similar structure of a chiasm (where the passage reflects itself) that we’ve seen before.

A) Psalm 12:1 - A godly man ceases to be

B) Psalm 12:2 - People speak falsely

C) Psalm 12:3-4 - God condemns the wicked

C) Psalm 12:5 - God vindicates the righteous

B) Psalm 12:6-7 - God’s words are pure and truthful

A) Psalm 12:8 - The wicked continue to wander freely

The psalmist brings his complaint to God. It seems like there is no one godly left on earth. It’s like they’ve all disappeared. To the psalmist, it looks like everyone around them lies. They mean one thing and say another.

This leads to the psalmist’s big ask of God. Condemn the wicked for their evil. Cut off their tongues so they can no longer lie. For those that things this is a big gruesome, it’s important to remember this is poetry. The writer is using figurative language to ask God to stop the people lying.

Having brought his request, the psalmist now declares his trust in God. Just as he has asked God to condemn the wicked, God will also vindicate the righteous. Those that are poor and needy will be protected and made safe.

In contrast with the lying words of man, God’s words are like silver. They are faithful and true.They can be trusted. God is not a liar and always keeps his word.

But then the psalmist ends by slipping back into focusing on his problems. Just as all the godly seem to have disappeared, the wicked seemed to be all around.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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  • THE RISE OF JOSEPH | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Genesis 39-41

    Spoken Gospel

    Spoken Gospel follow the story of Joseph, looking at how his seeming fall from grace, actually set up his rise to great authority.

  • Further Study

    Overview: Genesis Ch. 12-50


    Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.

    The Book of Genesis - Part 2


    BibleProject have done an animated recap of Genesis 12-50 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Genesis.

    The Bible Explained: Genesis


    Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Genesis and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.

    JOSEPH AND JUDAH | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Chapters 37-38


    Joseph is clearly set apart from her brothers. We also see another brother highlighted in these passages. Joseph and Judah.

© Bryn Joslin