We’re almost full circle with Joseph. Dreams got him into trouble as a young man, but now, many years later, dreams are going to bring him out of trouble. As a young man we see Joseph filled with pride, often bragging to his brothers about his dreams. Now that he’s before Pharaoh, rather than take any glory for himself, he wants Pharaoh to know that any interpretation he gets comes from God, not himself.
Joseph not only gives Pharaoh the correct interpretation of the dreams, but then goes on to tell Pharaoh what to do. Don’t miss that. Here is a prisoner, having the boldness to tell the Pharaoh, the guy in charge of all of Egypt, what to do. Motivated by compassion for the people of Egypt, he advises Pharaoh to put structures in place to bring in grain into all the cities so there will be food during the famine. And so Pharaoh follows his instructions, and we see Egypt prosper during a time of famine.
This is a personal passion of mine. That the people of God are faithful to God and are motivated by compassion for their town/city/nation. People of God that allow God to move them into significant positions so that a whole area can prosper. What would our towns and city look like if Christian men and women were able to get into key positions, not motivated by their own pride but motivated to serve their town/city and empowered by the wisdom of God?
And I believe this can apply to all of us. You may not meet with leaders of countries, but maybe God wants to give you influence with your boss, so that your department can flourish. But make sure that it comes from a place of serving God faithfully and a genuine care for those around you.
Finally we see the circle come a little further round. Many years ago Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, and Joseph was at the mercy of them. Now, unknowingly, Jacob is sending the brothers to go to Joseph and they are going to be at his mercy.
Joseph is obviously not honest with them straight away. This may be because he’s still angry with them and initially wants to punish them, or it may be a test to see what kind of men they are all these years later. Maybe they’re still cruel and cowardly.
He hears from their conversations that they are repentant for what they had done to him many years ago. And so he comes up with a plan to get them to come back with his youngest brother, Benjamin. He accuses them of being spies and imprisons Simeon, threatening to only release him when they can prove that their story of being twelve brothers is true. He then blesses them by giving them back their silver, even though they don’t realise it straight away.
Unfortunately, Jacob doesn’t trust his sons to keep Benjamin safe and so Simeon is left imprisoned and the family slowly begins to run out of food.
This psalm is attributed to King David and fits into the category of lament psalm. It opens with perhaps the most common question asked by those who are suffering. “How long Lord?” Being a short psalm, Psalm 13 is one of the clearest examples of the key steps involved in biblical lament.
Psalm 13:1-2 - Brings complaint before God
Psalm 13:3-4 - Asks God to intervene
Psalm 13:5-6 - Declares trust in God
The psalmist begins with a real sense that God is distant. It feels like God has forgotten them, or is hiding from them, and they’re not hiding these feelings from God. Without God, they’ve been left to ruminate through this problem on their own. Anyone who has been in this position knows how dangerous it is to just be left with your own thoughts. How quickly that can begin to spiral.
The psalmist is filled with sorrow, and it feels like their enemy is looming. The psalm doesn’t explicitly say, but many think that the ‘enemy’ is death. When the writer makes his request of God, he asks that God “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3). To have bright eyes meant being healthy while having dim eyes meant you were wasting away (see Deuteronomy 34:7; Job 17:7).
Having made their complaint, and asked God to intervene, the psalmist ends by lifting their own spirit and placing their trust in God. They remind themselves of God’s faithfulness and his love. Though now they mourn, there will come a time when they can rejoice in God. And so the psalmist will continue to sing and praise God. God has been faithful in the past, and he will continue to be faithful.
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.
Spoken Gospel follow the story of Joseph, looking at how his seeming fall from grace, actually set up his rise to great authority.
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.
BibleProject have done an animated recap of Genesis 12-50 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Genesis.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Genesis and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.
This bible study devotional covers Genesis chapters 42-45. Spoken Gospel look at the story of God raising up one man to provide food for their corner of the world.