What Israel learned from Joseph

Posted Jun 23, 2022

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Daily Scripture

THURSDAY 6.23.22 Psalm 105:16-22, 34:4-6

Psalm 105

16 When God called for a famine in the land,
destroying every source of food, 17 he sent a man ahead of them,
who was sold as a slave: it was Joseph.
18 Joseph’s feet hurt in his shackles;
his neck was in an iron collar,
19 until what he predicted actually happened,
until what the LORD had said proved him true.
20 The king sent for Joseph and set him free;
the ruler of many people released him.
21 The king made Joseph master of his house and ruler over everything he owned,
22 to make sure his princes acted according to his will,
and to teach wisdom to his advisors.

Psalm 34

4 I sought the LORD and he answered me.
He delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to God will shine;
their faces are never ashamed.
6 This suffering person cried out:
the LORD listened and saved him from every trouble.

Reflection Questions

Psalm 105 poetically recounted Israel’s early history, including portions of Joseph’s story as Genesis told it. Psalm 34 probably grew from a time when David, though already anointed king, still had to use all his wiles to keep jealous King Saul from killing him. Its language harked back to Joseph. It’s “someone who has had to cry out, a different word, used elsewhere of the Israelites crying out in Egypt.” * Both Psalms praised, not human ingenuity, but God’s guiding providence.

  • In “Stone the Crows” in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Joseph sings, “Anyone from anywhere can make it/If they get a lucky break.” ** Neither Genesis nor Psalms said Joseph got a “lucky break.” The Hebrew writers said the real story was that God’s people, like Joseph, needed patience to trust God’s work, which is sometimes done unseen in the background of life. Which perspective do you find more persuasive to guide your life?
  • Psalm 105 answered the question, “What do we have to be grateful for?” “It…doesn’t relate to what God has done for a particular generation….It reminds Israel to be grateful for the extraordinary sequence of events that lay at the foundation of every century in its life….The story it will go on to tell shows how Yahweh is the one from whom Israel is to seek help.” *** How can Joseph’s story teach you to trust God, instead of asking, “What have you done for me lately”?


Lord Jesus, especially when things get tough, I find it hard to think beyond the current week or month. Teach me to trust in the long sweep of your work with and for your human servants, from Joseph all the way to now. Amen.

* John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1–72. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, p. 107.
** From the 1999 film version of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ with Lyrics by Tim Rice & Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
*** John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 2: Psalms 73–150. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014, p. 106.

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Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Anytime I've ever heard anyone say that the Bible is boring, I think to myself, "Obviously you've never read about Joseph and his brothers." Their story reads like a telenovela. I mean, the drama! Just when you think it can't take another twist, sure enough it does. It's got jealousy, deception, seduction, essentially everything juicy. Let me tell you, there's not a one of them who comes off as the obvious "good guy." We tend to think highly of Joseph, but is there any question that he was a brat in his younger years? I'm not saying he was sell-him-into-slavery-and-pretend-he's-dead bratty, but he definitely wasn't innocent. Seriously, these brothers - they were all a mess!

But that's what I appreciate about them - they were a mess. It makes me feel better, because at times, I'm also a mess. My mess may look different than theirs, but it's a mess all the same. And I read how God redeemed their mess, taking what seemed to be a complete loss of a situation and turning it completely around for good.

Maybe you've got a mess of your own. It could be something you've done or even something done to you. It may seem that there is no good that could possibly come of it. But I have to believe that if God can redeem the sons of Israel, then there's hope for all of us yet.

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