Is not this it in which my lord drinks, and whereby indeed he divines? you have done evil in so doing.
Divination by cups was practiced by the ancient Egyptians. But no reason to suppose that Joseph actually used this art. It would have been inconsistent with his habitual faithfulness to God, and with the ascription to him alone of the power to reveal secrets (Genesis 40:7-41:16). He was now acting a part. He spoke in the character of an Egyptian ruler, to whom the nation ascribed supernatural wisdom. We need not now inquire how far he was right in this. But his object was to try his brethren, whether, and how much, they loved their father and their young brother. He contrived that Benjamin should appear to have incurred the penalty of servitude. What would the rest do? Would they, as they had done to him, leave their brother in slavery? Would they go home and deceive their father by a false story of his death? Could they bear to renew his grief? Had they learned that God marked their actions, and ordained the things that happened to them? The cup hidden in Benjamin's sack was indeed that whereby he was divining their secret thoughts. They Stood the test. They acknowledged God's hand, and refused to purchase their own safety at the price of their brother's freedom (contrast Genesis 37:26, 27, with Genesis 44:30, 34). Forthwith the clouds passed away. In him whom they feared they found a brother.
I. GOD BY HIS PROVIDENCE TRIES THE SPIRIT THAT IS IN US. The events of our lives are ordered so as to bring this about (Deuteronomy 8:2). They are to us as Joseph's cup. Daily work, family life, professional duties, the common intercourse of society, raise questions which are answered according as God or self rules the heart and guides the actions. Hence no part of our life is unimportant in a spiritual point of view. Things, in themselves of small account, test the character and motives of the life, as floating straws show the current; and this all the more because their spiritual bearing is not apparent. Kindness, truth, unselfishness, in little matters, reveal the man more truly than on greater and more conspicuous occasions (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3).
II. TRIALS ARE SENT IN LOVE AS INSTRUMENTS OF BLESSING (James 1:12). Through their operation the Christian life is matured (Romans 5:3-5). Every grace must be exercised in order to grow, and trial is the opportunity of exercise. Without trial there could be no real victory over evil, no real submission of the will to God. We pray to be kept from temptation. To run into it is to court a fall. But where God sends trial grace is provided (1 Corinthians 10:13), answering every need; help for the falling or fallen as well as strength for the steadfast.
III. How TO STAND IN THE DAY OF TRIAL. In each of the messages to the Churches (Revelation 2., 3.) trial is implied now of persecution, now of false doctrine, now of indolent spiritual ease. And the blessing is "to him that overcometh." How? "By the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 12:11), i.e. by faith in it. Not merely belief in the doctrine, but realizing what the work of Christ has won for us, and the love of the Father from which it proceeds, and the claim which the mercies of God make upon us (Romans 12:1). The first step is receiving with an undoubting spirit the love of God; not letting in unbelief in the garb of humility. The next is keeping that truth present in the mind in the midst of daily work, that the love of Christ may constrain the direction of our life. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.