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What a deeply interesting life was that of Jacob the supplanter! It is a life full of incident. And in that life the story of Joseph is perhaps the most illuminative. The dreaming days are over. The house of Potiphar, with its subtle temptation, and the prison with its dark despair are for ever gone, and Joseph sits a ruler, the ruler of Egypt. Famine drives his brothers, at their father's request, to seek his face, known only to them as the great Egyptian governor. They bow themselves before the brother whom they had wronged and he recognizes them. They knew him not, but he knew them, and was moved towards them. He would have them all before him, and in the presence of them all he desired to make himself known to them. But Benjamin, the son of his own mother, was not with them. He must be brought, and so they are sent back for him, with the instruction that they should see his face no more unless he were with them. When the brothers begin preparations for their return to Egypt, having obtained a very reluctant permission for Benjamin to accompany them, Jacob suggests that in addition to taking double money they 'should carry down the man a present' to propitiate him, and thereby gain his favour. That was the old Jacob of a former day who would rely upon his own resources, his own cunning, his own artfulness.
I. Notice, then, this characteristic relapse. It is generally the presence of untoward circumstances which causes this relapse. We are thrown back upon our own resources, as it were, and the first question we ask is this, 'What shall we do'? And the answer is almost invariably a relapse to a former type, to the embracing of a former stratagem. We have all yet to learn the philosophy of inactivity. 'What shall we do' seems to be the first question uppermost in all minds when confronted with difficulty and danger. When in the straight betwixt two, in the difficult place, contending with circumstances and events over which we have no control, for the existence of which we cannot be responsible, our salvation rests in the Divine revealing, and not in our own plans and schemes. 'Carry down the man a present' if you like, but remember it will have no effect upon the issue of the day.
II. Having regard then to this important truth that God determines the issue and that none of our plans and schemes are at all necessary, that God is first and must always be first, it may become a gracious and courteous act to 'carry down the man a present'. It may be well for us to consider this. A little sympathy, a little attention, a little consideration, these are the things which sweeten life for us all. God is so often wounded in the house of His friends by the utter neglect of those little presents, the little courtesies, the little tokens of love. Every man, woman, and child has something they can give. Society is enriched or impoverished by the individual gifts or negligences of its members. The home is made happy, or dull and miserable, upon the same principle. Give! Don't think so much about what you can get, but more about what you can give. Remember that your salvation is the free gift of God, 'Without money and without price'.
J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p. 137.
References. XLIII. 27. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. i. p. 350. XLIII. 30, 31. C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 98. XLIII. F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 156.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 43". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter