[GEN:39:1-6], [GEN:39:19-23]; [1PE:2:18-24].

Lesson 34 - Senior

Memory Verse

"For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God" (I Peter 2:20).

Cross References

I Joseph's Prosperity and Faithful Stewardship

1. Joseph taken into new surroundings, as slave in Potiphar's house, [GEN:39:1-2]; [GEN:45:8].

2. He remains faithful to God and is rewarded by God's blessing and prosperity, [GEN:39:2-3]; [PS:1:1-3].

3. Potiphar promotes him to a position of responsibility, and because of Joseph, is blessed by God, [GEN:39:4-5]; [GEN:12:3]; [PRO:16:7].

4. Joseph proves himself a faithful steward, [GEN:39:6]; [1CO:4:2].

II Joseph's Test and Unjust Imprisonment

1. Joseph, is falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, [GEN:39:19]; [PE:4:4-5].

2. Potiphar orders Joseph's imprisonment without a fair or impartial trial, [GEN:39:20]; [PS:105:17-19].

3. God is present during his time of adversity and trial, [GEN:39:21]; [PS:34:19]; [ISA:43:2]; [1CO:10:13].

4. Joseph is still a faithful steward, even while in prison, [GEN:39:21-23]; [1PE:2:18-24]; [ROM:12:17-18].


Joseph is now found in surroundings entirely different from those he had known as a child. His father had great wealth in herds and flocks; but it probably remained for this new experience in the house of Potiphar, in Egypt, to show this young man the real elegance and sumptuousness of life in circles of oriental splendour. He was sold by his brothers into a life of slavery; but we find that even this discouraging prospect did not cause him to forsake the God of his father and grandparents. As a child he had been a true son, successfully withstanding the evil example and influence of his brothers; but now his virtue is to be put to a sterner test than ever before. Through it all he proved God's keeping power in the most trying circumstances, and because of his fidelity he has become a shining example to men of all ages.

God, in His original call to Abraham, promised the greatest of heavenly and earthly blessings to that man of God and to his seed after him. Here we see an instance of the fulfilment of His promise: "I will bless them that bless thee." Joseph became a favoured servant of the Egyptian officer; and God honoured His promise by blessing Potiphar for Joseph's sake. God does not forget His covenants. He is not slack concerning His promises. We can afford to "stake our claim" on every one of them and depend upon them in every crisis of life.

A sinner can tell whether a person is really serving God or not. Joseph's master saw that God was with him. He faith-fully served his master to the best of his ability and proved that he could be trusted in every detail.

There is a great lesson for us here. When we are employed by someone, we should, make that employer feel by our faithful and efficient service, that we are the most reliable person in his organisation. In this way he will see the great transformation that God has made in our lives and will become acquainted with the marvellous power in the Gospel of Christ.

A certain knowledge of the true God was current in Egypt, in spite of the fact that His worship was neither established nor tolerated there. This was probably due to the godly life of Abraham, who had sojourned in that heathen land. Potiphar had some knowledge of God, because he recognised the fact that the Lord was with Joseph. How careful we should be as we live among sinful men! Wherever we go someone is watching us to see if we live up to the standards of the religion that we profess to have. There is no place, where our influence, is not felt if we are really in touch with God and Heaven, and no place where our light will not brighten the darkness, if the Light of the world is in our hearts. Joseph was a faithful servant of his God no matter where he was found -- in the field with his brothers, in the house of Potiphar as a servant or as a steward, in jail under an unjust sentence, or on the throne as governor of Egypt.

When the tides of life are running smoothly, and all seems to be going well, we must diligently watch lest the enemy of our soul lay a trap and ensnare us. Temptations will come to every one of us. By them we prove our fidelity and love of God. Joseph was no exception, and temptation came to him when everything was apparently going along very well.

As a favoured person in his master's house, Joseph had the responsibility of seeing that all the operational details of that wealthy man's estate were carried out. His duties brought him in contact with the wife of his master, and because he was a goodly man she sought to seduce him and lead him into sin. To have yielded to her wishes and suggestions would have meant that he would betray his God and his master. He feared God and loved Him and did not want to do anything that would displease Him. He also felt a great debt of gratitude to his master, Potiphar, who had originally bought him for a slave but who had since that time given him great favour and trust.

Some temptations must be manfully met, resisted and overcome, but we must fly from others. In a case of this kind, if we attempt to contend or reason we shall be ruined. A good maxim to follow is: "Resist the first overtures of sin." Joseph's conduct is remarkably instructive. He did not parley or confer with flesh and blood, because he knew that Egypt was a nation of idolaters, where sin abounded in its worst forms, and the help he might receive would be no help at all.

He was away from the restraints of home and its influences. Many persons in like circumstances have reasoned that they should "fall in with the crowd" and "do as the Romans do." But not this godly man. His piety was not a matter of latitude or longitude. He believed in a God Who was a living Judge, sure to punish the violator of His laws, but Who also was a loving God, ready to reward His loyal servants. He sought to serve this God in all places and circumstances. He did in Egypt precisely as he would have done in Canaan.

Satan's custom is to first tempt man to sin, and then if the temptation is not successful, to accuse him of actually having done it. He is the "accuser" of the brethren. Potiphar's wife tempted Joseph; and failing of her purpose, she charged him with the crime she would have had him commit. She sought by this means to obtain revenge against Joseph and also to save herself from every embarrassment that might come. Every one of us has been accused by the enemy of doing some wrong deed, when that accusation was only a lie concocted by him with a diabolical intent to ensnare us and cause us to doubt the work of grace that God had done in our hearts. Under such circumstances there is no place for parleying with the devil. It is then that we must resist him with all the strength God gives us, and flee from the hell-fostered temptation and accusation. To take any other course will mean that we will be defeated.

Here the hardest part of Joseph's period of probation, testing, and schooling begins. To be sold into bondage, as a slave, was a severe test of the confidence he had in Almighty God as a protector of His own. But now to be cast into prison on a false charge, when to have yielded to the evil and to have forgotten God and His moral laws and principles would have freed him from this suffering, was a supreme test indeed. But, thank God, Joseph stood true to God and proved that he could be trusted in a place of high honour in the divine plan for the future.

Someone has said, "Those birds soar the highest that have had the hardest upbringing." God permits His servants to go through periods of hard trial, that every bit of dross may be removed and also that they may learn a strict reliance upon God for every emergency in life.

The immediate result of Joseph's untainted life in prison was another position of trust and confidence, bestowed upon him by the keeper of the prison. The ultimate result of it was the eventual governorship of Egypt and the eternal favour of the great God of Heaven and earth.


1. Who bought Joseph when he was sold as a slave by the Ishmaelites?

2. What kind of service did Joseph render to his new master?

3. What will God do for those who favour and bless His people?

4. How old was Joseph at this time?

5. Did Joseph retain his original good favour with his master?

6. What attitude should we take toward the trials that come our way, particularly those in which we suffer wrongfully?

7. Did the unfair prison sentence put bitterness in Joseph's heart toward God?

8. Was Joseph's master familiar in any way with the God of Abraham and Isaac?

9. Why is the proverb "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" a very poor one to follow?

10. Tell what lessons in practical Christianity you received from this lesson.