Page images


[ocr errors]

Ver. 16–19. But before telling us the issue of the above, the sacred writer informs us of the request of the baker. Observing the success of his companion, he is encouraged to tell his dream also ; but here is a sad reverse. In three days his life will be taken from him! Whether he would suffer justly or unjustly, we know not; but as his death was so near, it was an advantage for him to know it : and if he had been properly affected, he had now an opportunity of inquiring at the hand of a servant of God, concerning his eternal salvation.

Ver. 20—23. The third day after these things, being Pharaoh's birth-day, both these prisoners were brought forth. Whether they were put to a formal trial, or whether their fate was determined by the mere will of the king, we are not informed ; but the

l chief butler was reinstated in his office, and the chief baker hanged, according to the word of the Lord by his servant Joseph.

We should now have expected to read of the chief butler's intercession to the king in behalf of an amiable and injured young Hebrew, whom he had met with in prison. But instead of this, we are told, Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him! Alas, what a selfish creature is man! How strangely does prosperity intoxicate and drown the mind. How common is it for people in high life to forget the poor, even those to whom they have been under the greatest obligations. Well, be it so; Joseph's God did not forget him : and we, amidst all the neglects of creatures, may take comfort in this, Jesus does not neglect us. Though exalted far above all principalities and powers, he is not elated with his glory, so as to forget his poor suffering people upon earth. Only let us be concerned not to forget him. He who needs not our esteem, as we do his, bath yet in love condescended to ask us to do thus and thus in remembrance of him!




Gen. xli.

VER. 1-14. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. It is not the intenseness of our trials, but the duration of them, that is the greatest test of patience. Two full years longer must Joseph remain in prison. How long he was at the house of Potipbar before he was sent to this dismal place, I do not recollect that we ase informed ; but we learn that it was thirteen years in the whole : for when he came out of Canaan he was but seventeen, and was thirty when he stood before Pharaob. God seldom makes haste to accomplish his designs. His movements, like those of a comet, fetch a large compass, but all comes right at last. The time is now come for Joseph's advancement, and God makes way for it by causing Pbaraoh himself to dream. Abraham made a point of not laying himself under obligation to the king of Sodom; and though Joseph, in the grief of his soul, would gladly have been obliged to both Pharaoh and the butler for his deliverance, yet God will so order it that he shall be obliged to neither of them. Pharaoh shall send for him : but it shall be for his own sake. Though a poor friendless young man himself, yet he is a servant of the great King, and must maintain the honour of his Lord. It might be for this that God suffered the butler to forget him, that he might not take from a thread to a shoe-latchet what was theirs, and that the king of Egypt might not have to say, I have made Jsraél rich. Abraham and his posterity were made to impart blessedness to mankind, rather than to receive it from them. If it be more blessed to give than to receive, theirs it is to be thus blessed, and thus honoured. Oh, the depth of the wisdom and goodness of God; not only in giving, but in withholding his gifts till the time when they shall best subserve the ends for which they are conferred !

And now that the set time to favour Joseph is come, events rise in quick succession. Pharaoh's mind is impressed with an extraordinary dream—the same is repeated in another form-each appears to portend something of importance-his spirit is troubled -he sends for his magicians, and wise men ; but their wisdom fails them—all are nonplused—what is to be done ?--Just now it occurs to the butler, that this had once been his own case- -Oh, and I have forgotten my kind and worthy friend! Stupid creature! That is the man for the king.'-Obtaining an audience he confesses the whole truth, and ingenuously acknowledges his faults.- Joseph is now sent for in haste.--He shaves himself, changes his raiment, and obeys the summons. Thus, in a few hours, he is delivered from the dungeon, and introduced to the court of what was then perhaps the first nation upon earth. Werè we acquainted with the event, with what anxious solicitude should we follow him ; and even as it is, we cannot wholly divest our. selves of these feelings.

Ver. 15-24. Being introduced to the king, he is told for what cause he is sent for. I have, said Pharaoh, dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it : and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream, to interpret it. The meaning of this was, that he had a case in hand which baffled all the wise men of Egypt, but that from what he had heard of Joseph, he supposed he might be a wiser man, or more deeply skilled in occult science, than any of them. Such a compliment from a king would have been too much for a vain mind : if he had affected to disclaim superior wisdom, it would have been done in a manner which betrayed what lurked within. But Joseph feared God; and is the same man in a palace as in a prison. It is not in me, said he, God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. In this brief answer we see a spirit of genuine humility, disclaiming all that kind of wisdom for which Pharaoh seemed very willing to give him

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

credit, or indeed any other, but what God gave him. We see also a disinterested concern to glorify the true God, in the face of the mightiest votaries of idolatry, who had power to do what they pleased with him. It is observable, he does not say the God of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or the God of the Hebrews. Such language might have been understood by Pharaoh and his courtiers as setting up one titular deity in opposition to others, the God of his country against the gods of Egypt: but he simply says God; a term which would lead their thoughts to the One great Supreme, before whom all idols would fall to the ground. Thus, with great wisdom, modesty, and firmness, he states truth, and leaves error to fall of its own accord. In assuring Pharaoh that God would give him an answer of peace, he would remove all fear from his mind of an unfavourable interpretation, which, from the butler's report, he might have some reason to apprehend ; inasmuch as though he had foretold his restoration to office, yet, he had prophetically hanged the chief baker.

Pharaoh's mind being thus relieved and encouraged, he without farther hesitation proceeds to tell bis dreams of the fat and leanfleshed kine, and of the rank and withered ears of corn.

Ver. 25-31. The answer of Joseph is worthy of the man of God. You perceive no shuffling to gain time, no juggling, no peeping and muttering, no words of dark or doubtful meaning: all is clear as light, and explicit as the day.

· The dreams are one ; and they were sent of God to forewarn the king of what he would shortly bring to pass. The seven good kine, and the seven good ears, are seven years of plenty ; and the seven evil kine, and thin ears, are seven years of famine. And the reason of the dream being doubled is to express its certainty, and the near approach of the events signified by it.'

Ver. 32-36. Having made the matter plain, and so relieved the king's mind, he does not conclude without offering a word of counsel; the substance of which was to provide from the surplus of the seven good years, for the supply of the seven succeeding ones. If he had only interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, he might have gratified his curiosity, but that had been all. Knowledge is of but little use, any farther than as it is converted into practice.

Vol. V.


« PreviousContinue »