And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.…
I. We cannot but be struck with THE MINUTE PARTICULARITY OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. See at how many critical points Joseph's life touches the lives of others, and is, thereby, carried so much the farther forward towards the attainment by him of the place which God was preparing for him. When I get to a great railway junction, and find trains coming m together from the east, and the north, and the south, just in time to join another that is starting from that point for the west, I should be regarded as a simpleton if I spoke of that as a wonderful coincidence. And yet on the great Railroad of Life, when I come to such a junction and meet there a train that leads me on to some significant sphere of service, I am supposed to be a simpleton if I refer that to the over-ruling providence of God. But I am not a simpleton — I am only reasoning in that department as I would in the domain of literature or daily travelling; and he who repudiates God's providence is the fool, according to that scathing utterance of the Psalmist — "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
II. We are reminded by this history also that THE CHARACTER OF THE INDIVIDUAL HAS AS MUCH TO DO WITH WHAT I HAVE CALLED THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLOT OF HIS LIFE AS THE PLAN OR PURPOSE OF GOD HAS. Providence is not fatalism. Joseph, if he had chosen to act otherwise than he did, might have thrown away all the opportunities which these places of junction in his life afforded him. The men that fail in life do not fail for want of such opportunities as Joseph had, but for want of the character to see these opportunities, and the ability to use them. Keep near to God, therefore, form your character according to His principles, and then, even though you may be in a prison, you will find a way to serve Him, and will feel that somehow you are on the road to your success, and in training for your sphere.
III. We may learn that THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THEMSELVES UPHELD IN TROUBLE, ARE THE MOST EFFICIENT HELPERS OF OTHERS WHEN THEY ARE IN TRIAL. Young as Joseph was, he had not seen enough sorrow to dispose him to sympathize with others in their affliction. And in the suggestive question which he put to his fellow-prisoners, "do not interpretations belong to God?" he not only expresses his own faith, but in the most delicate and skilful manner indicates to them the source whence alone true consolation comes. More than thirty years ago, just at the beginning of my ministry, I was in the house of a beloved pastor, when he was called to pass through the greatest trial that a man can know, in the death of a truly good and noble wife. Two mornings after, the postman brought in a sheaf of letters. I think there were more than twenty of them, but each was from a brother minister who had been led through the same dark valley, and who was seeking to comfort him with the comfort wherewith himself had been comforted of God. Only a few evenings ago I met a Christian lady, with whom I was comparing notes regarding the experience of the loss of little children, and she said to me, "I never see the death of a little child announced in the newspaper but I have an impulse to write to the parents and speak comfortably to them." Thus we may console ourselves under our own trials with the thought that God is endowing us thereby with the gift of sympathy, and fitting us to become " sons of consolation" to others in affliction. The price is costly, but the learning is precious.
IV. THOSE WHOM WE BENEFIT HAVE OFTEN VERY POOR REMEMBRANCE OF KINDNESS. Men too often write the record of grudges in marble, and of favours in water. Nay, such is the perversity of human nature, that not unfrequently men return evil for the good which has been done them. One spoke to an English statesman of the violent enmity which another evinced towards him. "Yes," was the reply, "and I cannot understand it, for I never did him any kindness that I can remember." The sarcasm was bitter, but there was enough of truth in it to give it point; and every one who seeks to be a helper of others learns, sooner or later, to give over looking for human gratitude, and to think mainly of the Lord Jesus Christ and His appreciation.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.