In these verses the writer traces the events which led to the exile of the patriarchal family from the promised land to their settlement in Egypt. We see how God created a mighty famine in the land of Canaan that drove the chosen people down into Egypt for 400 years (v. 16). God uses the forces of nature to fashion the destiny of men and nations. Next, we see how Joseph was a link in the chain of divine providence (v. 17). Man views Joseph’s life as being sold; God views him as being sent. In this divine process we see Joseph fettered with iron that hurt his feet (v. 18), forgotten in prison for several years, having been falsely accused of molesting his mater’s wife (v. 19) and finally freed for good behavior (v. 20). He was eighteen when he was sold into Egypt as a slave by his jealous brothers. He was thirty when he was made to stand before Pharaoh. We don’t know how many years he spent in prison but he was released in God’s time to fulfill God’s purpose.
Joseph became Pharaoh’s prime minister which gave him supreme power, second only to that of the Pharaoh himself (vv. 21-22). No doubt there were many in the country in high places that were deeply jealous of Joseph. Seldom if ever has there been a man who rose from such severe adversity to supreme advancement. This was all part of God’s divine program whereby the chosen people might find a refuge in Egypt and thereby develop into a nation. They entered Egypt as a family and left there 400 years later as a nation whose number frightened the Egyptians. The psalmist mentions both the swelling population and their subsequent persecution (vv. 23-24). They became “stronger than their enemies.”
When God allows adversity to come into my life it is for my good (Romans 8:28). It may seem very bad at the time it is happening but, as in the case of Joseph, in the end it will prove to be what God is trying to do in and through adversity in my life.
Wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, "Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!" When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free; he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions, to bind his princes at his pleasure and to teach his elders wisdom. Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the LORD made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
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