Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.The Trial of Joseph
The career of Joseph is of the kind to which we give the name of romance. That word is a vague one, and it would cost us some pains to define; but we all think we know a romance when we hear it, and the tale of Joseph is one. A boy of genius, hated by his brothers because he was a genius and knew it, led through startling vicissitudes of fortune, from a father's partial love to the estate of slave, from the black arch of a dungeon to the splendour round a throne; then the marshal of a drama of poetic justice, apt almost beyond the devices of fiction; last in a scene of rarely equalled pathos binding up again the ruptured bond of home, and crowning the boy's dream of dominion over his father's house by a fulfilment as sweet as it was wonderful. What have we here but the very authentic stuff of romance, even as you would find it in an Odyssey of Greeks, or a tale of Arabians, or a chivalrous fiction of our North.
I. Joseph's tale is our tale. I called it a romance; and I call the moral life of a man or woman a romance. There is a region of your life to which the marvellous cleaves and cannot be separated. The moment we have to think not of the trader or labourer or citizen, but of the spiritual being that wears the name which is ours, that moment our life is touched with mystery. I see not why one should be more thrilled by the romance which Joseph lived between home and prison and palace, than by the romance we live ourselves between cradle and life-work and the grave.
II. Is Joseph's prison also ours? That, too. And in it are spent the more part of our days. A prison not of brick or stone; a prison with walls of glass, and you can see through them; of air, and you cannot touch them; but the walls hold you caged as if they were iron or granite. The name of that prison is Life in the Flesh.
III. 'The promise of Jehovah tried him.' How blessed is it when this, the most universal trial of the religious life—the contradiction between our faith and the things which do appear—is felt by us, to remember that it is trial, that the promise is only trying us. How supportable is this world of appearances when once we have seen that these daunting and humiliating appearances are there only that we may have our chance of resisting them, of refusing to be brow-beaten, of asserting against them the Divine assurance in our hearts that we are not what we seem, and this mortal encompassment is not the fact.
References.—CV. 19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1277. CV. 24.—G. S. Barrett, Old Testament Outlines, p. 140. CV. 41.—J. Davies, Penny Pulpit, No. 1513, p. 241. CV.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 339.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.
He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:
When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.
When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;
He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.
Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.
He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.
They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.
He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.
Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.
He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.
He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.
He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.
He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number,
And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.
He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.
He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.
He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:
And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;
That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.