Friday, September 23, 2011

Genesis 39:6b-11

We read yesterday about how Joseph’s presence brought an overflow of blessing from God to Potiphar’s household. Potiphar saw the hand of God on Joseph, but apparently his wife, a cougar on the prowl, saw only a hunk:

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” (Gen 39:6b-7)

According to Beth Moore, this is the only time Scripture describes a man as “well-built and handsome.” She points out that being so good-looking can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. For a young man, like Joseph, the attention of Mrs. Potiphar, would be a curse! She worked her feminine charms on him daily:

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. (vs. 8-11)

Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Flee youthful lusts.” (2 Tim 2:22) Joseph avoided even being around Mrs. Potiphar. When she made her advances he rebuffed her, telling her he could not “sin against God.” And Jon Courson points out that it was this attitude that enabled Joseph to bear up under the temptation. Courson writes:

This is what is known throughout Scripture as “the fear of the Lord.” Joseph was in constant awareness of the “there-ness” of God - an awareness equally convicting and comforting. Yes, he was severed from his family and his country, but Joseph knew he was never alone. (Courson’s Application Commentary: Old Testament, P. 176)

Joseph could have sat down and tried to talk things over with this woman. He could have counseled her about her marriage or attempted to convert her to his God. But he actively avoided her, and, finally, ran from her. Often Christian pastors have a struggle with “pastor worship” from a congregation, and need to daily fight this fight. Ethical pastors will avoid ever being alone in a room with a woman, because they are so aware of the potential for disaster - even in just the appearance of wrong. We, too, would be wise to avoid anything which tempts our thoughts to stray. If certain music can carry you back to the good old days with an old boyfriend, avoid the music! If you receive a Facebook friend request from an old flame, DON’T accept it! If even going to a class reunion will be a possible temptation, DON’T go!

Joseph did all the right things, and yet, we’ll see next that it did not keep him from painful trials! Practicing the presence of God, as Joseph did constantly, will be what keeps him from falling into despair. Can’t wait to see what happens next!


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