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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 43

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 9


‘I will be surety for him.’

Genesis 43:9

I. I will be surety for him,’ said Judah; and so he became, in a faint and far-off way, the forerunner of Jesus.

II. ‘I am Surety for thee,’ my Lord whispers to my heart; and then He asks me to remember the flawless perfection of His obedience. I should have kept the holy law of God, but I have broken all its precepts—I have sought out many inventions of my own. But the Well-beloved Son takes my place, and fulfils commandment after commandment; and His righteousness is counted mine.

III. ‘I am Surety for thee,’ says the Lord again; and He points me to the wonder and the worth of His sacrifice on the Cross. I deserve to die. The sword hangs over my head. The sentence is written against me. But my Saviour, ‘both Victor and Victim,’ loves me and gives Himself for me. The Good Shepherd lays down His life.

Out of pity Jesus said,

He’d bear the punishment instead.

IV. ‘I am Surety for thee,’ my Lord tells me once more; and He directs my eyes upward to His priesthood in the heavenly places. Day and night there is no pause in His intercessions on my behalf. Day and night He ever liveth to plead for me. O, prevailing and persevering grace of Jesus Christ! It gains for me, unworthy, helpless, every good gift and every perfect boon.


‘The older sort of worshippers, the Rev. C. P. Golightly used to catch with guile. His plan was to announce from the pulpit on a Sunday afternoon, what next Sunday afternoon the sermon would be about. Of course he made a judicious selection of subjects— e.g., Noah in the ark, Jonah in the whale’s belly, Daniel in the lion’s den, and so on. The church used to be thronged to suffocation; and Golightly on emerging from the vestry in his M.A.’s gown was devoured by the eyes of the expectant rustics; some of them by a slight confusion of ideas, seeming to suppose that it was Noah himself, Daniel, or Jonah, as the case might be, who had come back in order to relate his experiences. We were talking about the character and sayings of Jacob—full of human pathos. “Come now,” said I, “tell me which you consider the most human of all his utterances.” Instantly—in a deep tone of mournful reproach which quite startled me—he exclaimed, “Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother.” ’

Verses 30-31


‘He entered into his chamber, and wept there. And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself.’

Genesis 43:30-31

The text exhibits the contrast between the secret life and the outward life of each one of us; between the chamber and the banqueting-room; between the man whom God sees and the man whom the world sees, in each one of us. It is to the thought of secret sorrows that the text directs us; sorrows which, however keenly felt in secret, must be disguised and suppressed in the presence of others.

I. The trouble of Joseph, on this occasion, was one of the heart or affections. His pent-up love was overwhelming; it could only be relieved by a burst of tears; he entered into his chamber and wept there. Where is the house in which affection is not the source of some secret trouble? Loneliness of heart, unrequited love, is a calamity; God sees it, God pities it; but be brave in His strength to endure it, and do not put aside, in perverseness or self-will, that offer of Divine love which, in the long run, will be worth all else to you.

II. It is but a step from this to the next example—that of anxiety about the souls of others. What words could more aptly designate such a life of anxious watching than those which speak of a weeping in the chamber and a refraining oneself below—a couch watered with tears, yet a face which must smile by day that it may not tell its tale? Well is it written of such a sufferer, that he went out and refrained himself that he might not reveal, that he might not betray!

III. Think next of those distresses which come to us from the inward strivings of sin; from those restless workings of inward corruption which make the life of so many one long toil and conflict. These, too, above all, are secret things. They are our secrets, but they exist. They make a large part of our existence, and we have to refrain ourselves not to show them. (1) To some I would say, Do not nurse your secret sorrows. Sorrows of affection grow by pondering. They are loud calls to work. (2) To stronger men, who have no experiences of secret sorrow, I would say, Beware of disregarding and despising those who have. Make room for others. Recognise the existence of secret sorrow as an explanation of many phenomena of character.

—Dean Vaughan.


(1) ‘Joseph’s disclosure of himself to his brethren is not only a piece of the most wonderful pathos in any literature, but it teaches great truths and forebodes greater. It is the very sublime of patient love, which has no memory for injuries, and no revenge but good. There, away back in these wild days, among the fierce and ignoble passions of his brethren, the calm forgiveness of the ruler, who could so easily have crushed them all, shines out like a bit of peaceful blue sky amid ragged thunder-clouds. Sorrow had so completely done its work in killing the seeds of anger, that not even the sunshine of power could cause them to germinate. This man had learned love where he had found God, and had brought the pearl of great price from the depths. He is not overcome of evil, but overcomes evil with good; and thus, from the earliest age, Israel had recorded a pattern of that divine gentleness which was afterwards perfected in the Brother who stoops from his throne to forgive his enemies and to soothe their fears.’

(2) ‘If we are having certain discipline at the hands of Christ, we must anoint our heads, wash our faces, and say our loveliest things about Him so that none may guess. But all the while we may penetrate His disguise, and exchange shy glances of love. Happy are they who will speak behind His back as before His face.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 43". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-43.html. 1876.
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