Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us individually.
I. THE FORGETFUL INGRATE. This man was a courtier, a permitted adviser of the Pharaoh of Egypt, but he is sent to the common prison. Joseph gives him much cheer, attention, and kindness. He seeks in every way to relieve the monotony of prison life, and becomes a prophet and religious helper. He sees the butler one day sad of countenance, and learns the reason. Readily he, by Divine help, interpreted the perplexing dream. His words are verified. The chief butler was doubtless profuse in his thanks and promises, but we see how he kept them. Perhaps the forgetfulness was convenient. He did not wish, after his restoration, to remind his monarch - even by making a request - of his having been formerly in disfavor. He possibly never intended to make any effort, unless it should be a gain to himself. He is a very different man in prison and out. This is the way of men in life. Favors slip from the memory like floods from a smoothly-worn rock. We might here possibly find out certain things in our own conduct which would indicate a similar forgetfulness of favors. For example, Christ came as the good Joseph to share our captive state. Think of what love he showed in bearing so much suffering for us. Do not put aside the thought of it as not being definitely for you. It was for each one, as if there were none other for whom to suffer. Some have not believed, have not come out from prison, but have preferred the darkness to light, have thought that the atonement was all unnecessary. They cannot understand how evil is their state until brought out of it. A beggar would not be troubled about his patches and rags in the common lodging-house; but let him be taken into a room of decently-arrayed people, and he then feels the difference, and shudders at his degraded appearance. When once brought into Christ's light we see from what we have been saved, and should be grateful to him. Some have been brought into union with him, and afterwards have declined from his way. Dangerous state. We should blame others who were ungrateful; what if we have been! The longer action is postponed, the deeper the ingratitude, and the less likelihood is there that the favor will he felt. The longer postponed, the harder to acknowledge. Thus the butler may have hesitated to speak of Joseph because he would have to reveal his own ingratitude. Possibly he hoped Joseph was dead. Not so; Joseph lives. Forgotten by man, he is not forgotten by God. God will yet bring the forgetful one and his benefactor face to face.
II. AROUSED MEMORIES. Wonderful is that faculty of the mind whereby we can imagine ourselves to exist in the past. Some have weak memories, others strong. Some have memories for places and thoughts, others for dates, figures, and words. Whether memory be strong or weak, the power of association is such that at times facts long past will be brought back most vividly. Revisiting places of interest, traversing certain countries, will bring to memory past friendships, and perhaps even subjects of conversation formerly held there. A house in which one has been born or trained becomes a complete history in time. Certain seasons arouse memories of the past, as birthdays, wedding days, Christmas time, or Easter. Certain circumstances also arouse memory. Pharaoh's perplexity concerning his dream forcibly reminded the butler of his morning of sadness in the prison. "I do remember," &c. The butler implied that he repented of his sins and of his forgetfulness. He may not have been very sincere, but as a courtier he introduces a subject in that way. Let us remember our faults, our inconsistencies as Christians, our hesitation to confess Christ, our excusing ourselves on the ground of the doings of others. Let us be plain with ourselves. Let us not see the motes in the eyes of others, and forget the beams in our own. Let us remember them that we may be humbled, may gain experience of how to avoid them in the future, may gain strength to resist, may gain pardon for past faults, and learn thereby more of the infinite forbearance and love of God, who is so willing to blot out our transgressions, and even the memory of our sins. - H.
Pharaoh dreamed.I. THAT APPARENTLY INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS MAY OFTEN GROW INTO AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE WORLD'S HISTORY.
II. THAT GOD CHOOSES THE INSTRUMENTS OF REVELATION ACCORDING TO HIS OWN GOOD PLEASURE.
III. THAT GOD CAN SUDDENLY ARREST THE ATTENTION OF THOSE WHO ARE THE FARTHEST REMOVED FROM EVERY EARTHLY FEAR.
(T. H. Leale)
1. The long waiting of Joseph before he attained his emancipation.
2. The wisdom of this delay in respect of Joseph's circumstances.
3. Pharaoh's prophetic dream.
4. The chief butler's forgetfulness.
II. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM.
1. The graceful way in which Joseph refers all to God.
2. Joseph's calmness, produced by the consciousness of God's presence.
3. Joseph's plan in the interpretation of the dream. It was simply a providential foresight for the future.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Homilist.1. The dream was formed of elements with which the dreamer was somewhat familiar.
2. The dream was a Divine communication to the mind of a heathen.
3. The dream brought trouble into the heart of a monarch.
4. The dream could only be interpreted by a devout Theist.
I. THE REVOLUTIONS OF PROVIDENCE. Alternations mark the earthly history of the human world.
1. They tend to promote our spiritual discipline.
2. They remind us of the activity of God.
3. They tend to inspire us with a sense of our dependence upon Him.
4. This method tends, moreover, to give a meaning to the Bible.
5. This method often prepares the mind to receive the truths of the Bible.
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF WISDOM.
1. It invested Joseph with a chastened humility of soul.
2. It enabled Joseph to solve the distressing inquiries of the monarch.
3. It exalted Joseph to supremacy in the kingdom.
III. THE DUTY OF RULERS. They should be —
1. How great is the Governor of the world.
2. How worthless the world is without religion.
3. How important to be in fellowship with the great God.
I. A MAN-MADE KING IS, AT THE BEST, IMPOTENT.
1. A dream is enough to terrify him. Yet is not this cowardly? Why should the great Pharaoh be alarmed by a night-vision? Has he not an enormous army at his back? Ah, verily, there is another Power, active, mightier, more august, hedging him on every side! What if this strange Power should be unfriendly! No wonder that Pharaoh's knees tremble. He is like a fly upon the unseen mechanism of the universe. He is but a waif upon the stormy Atlantic. What is this all-surrounding Power? Possibly it may be God!
2. Further, he is a very dependent man. He cannot do without astrologers, magicians, butlers, and bakers. No; it would not do for the king to be independent. The temptation to play the tyrant would be irresistible. He is only one part of the social system, though it may be the most prominent.
3. The king is dependent upon the most obscure in his kingdom. On an imprisoned slave Pharaoh and all Egypt have to depend. Verily nobleness and worth may be found in the lowliest lot!
II. THE RING IS AN ALLY OF GOD.
1. Joseph's first utterance was to acknowledge God. In substance he says, "I am powerless; God can meet the case." Hers was a great opportunity for ostentation, self-display. His bearing is calm, princely, royal. Of himself he can do nothing; but he has brought the true God into court, and "with God nothing is impossible."
2. This was an act of heroic faith. Joseph stood alone in that awestruck assembly. Magnates, officers, stewards, magicians, all were worshippers of Egypt's countless idols. To disparage the ancient idols, powerful for long ages, were perilous to a young man and a foreigner.
III. THE REAL KING IS TRAINED IN ADVERSITY.
1. It is clear that Joseph was master of the situation. Etymologically, the word king means "the man that knows." It was this that made Elijah great and powerful in the face of idolatrous Israel. This gave Daniel sovereign influence in the Chaldean court. This made Luther a monarch among men. "Them that honour Me, I will honour."
2. For this royal position Joseph had been skilfully trained.
IV. THE REAL KING IS SUPREME IN EVERY EMERGENCY. Most sailors can steer the ship in fine weather; it requires a real pilot to steer safely through a storm. Pharaoh might do well enough at the helm of affairs, so long as harvests were copious, and the nation was well fed. But in presence of a night-vision, Pharaoh lost his balance; in presence of a famine, Pharaoh was staggered.
(J. Dickerson Davies, M. A.)I. THE VICISSITUDES OF LIFE. Prosperity and adversity succeed each other. Life generally is as variable as an April day. If a man has seven years of uninterrupted happiness, he must not expect that it will continue much longer. The most prosperous men are liable to surprises. Families that have for years been free from sickness or bereavemant may suddenly be overshadowed by the angel of death. Hopes may be blighted when they are near fulfilment, and pleasure may be followed by severe and protracted trial.
II. THE OVER-RULING PROVIDENCE OF GOD. Whatever may be the opinions held by some, we say unhesitatingly that God has the affairs of all nations and of all men under His immediate control; that He gives or withholds, as seemeth good unto Him, but always in a way consistent with human freedom. And He invites our confidence.
III. THE DUTY OF USING THE PRESENT WELL. Although we are not to be overanxious about the future, we are not to disregard it altogether. We cannot tell what demands may be made upon our resources. We must provide, as far as possible, against sickness and adversity. We must not ignore the claims of others.
(F. J. Austin.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
PeopleAsenath, Egyptians, Joseph, Manasseh, Pharaoh, Potipherah, Zaphnathpaaneah
PlacesEgypt, Nile River, On
TopicsBodyguard, Bondman, Captain, Captain's, Chief, Dream, Dreams, Executioners, Giving, Guard, Hebrew, Interpret, Interpretation, Interpreted, Interpreteth, Life-guard, Recount, Related, Sense, Servant, Youth
Outline1. Pharaoh has two dreams.
9. Joseph interprets them.
33. He gives Pharaoh counsel, and is highly advanced, and married.
46. The seven years of plenty.
50. He begets children.
53. The famine begins.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 41:12
LibraryThe Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
The Earliest Chapters in Divine Revelation
Man's Chief End
The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
Second Great Group of Parables.
The Roman Pilgrimage: the Miracles which were Wrought in It.
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
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