“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
God’s steadfast love for Joseph, the grandson of Isaac and Rebekah and son of Jacob and Rachel, is certainly hard to miss in Genesis 39.
The LORD was with Joseph in Egypt as he worked for his master, Potiphar. And Potiphar noticed this uniqueness about Joseph because the LORD caused all that Joseph did to succeed. The LORD had even blessed Potiphar’s house, field and all that he had, not for Potiphar’s sake but for Joseph’s sake.
Potiphar put Joseph in charge of all he had, but then Potiphar’s wife entangled herself in lustful sin. Joseph never compromised his strong conviction to refuse this married woman’s adulterous requests day after day. But feeling rejected by Joseph, she falsely accused him of harassing her, causing him to be unjustly thrown into the king’s prison.
This event is unfortunate. But it does not signal “even a temporary loss of divine superintendence of Joseph’s life and God’s purpose for His people, Israel,” John MacArthur notes.
Joseph’s circumstances were grim; imprisonment alongside the king’s prisoners was surely painful. Psalm 105:18-19 says, “His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.”
He was tested indeed but not abandoned. God’s steadfast love for Joseph never ceased.
“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Genesis 39:21
Even in prison, Joseph is put in charge — of the other prisoners and of whatever work was done. Verse 23 says, “The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.”
John MacArthur notes that Joseph yet again “rose to a position of trust and authority and proved to be trustworthy enough not to need any oversight.”
In fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham, the LORD blessed Joseph and showed steadfast love for him. Yet right along with God’s steadfast love for Joseph came affliction: a storm of false accusations, loss, imprisonment, pain and suffering.
J.C. Ryle sums up the lesson for us so clearly:
“Let us mark well this lesson. If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end—all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from this world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm.”
Praise be to God for His steadfast love and for all the lessons we learn by affliction.