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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 105

Verses 1-45

The Trial of Joseph

Psalms 105:19

The career of Joseph is of the kind to which we give the name of romance. That word is a vague one, and it would cost us some pains to define; but we all think we know a romance when we hear it, and the tale of Joseph is one. A boy of genius, hated by his brothers because he was a genius and knew it, led through startling vicissitudes of fortune, from a father's partial love to the estate of slave, from the black arch of a dungeon to the splendour round a throne; then the marshal of a drama of poetic justice, apt almost beyond the devices of fiction; last in a scene of rarely equalled pathos binding up again the ruptured bond of home, and crowning the boy's dream of dominion over his father's house by a fulfilment as sweet as it was wonderful. What have we here but the very authentic stuff of romance, even as you would find it in an Odyssey of Greeks, or a tale of Arabians, or a chivalrous fiction of our North.

I. Joseph's tale is our tale. I called it a romance; and I call the moral life of a man or woman a romance. There is a region of your life to which the marvellous cleaves and cannot be separated. The moment we have to think not of the trader or labourer or citizen, but of the spiritual being that wears the name which is ours, that moment our life is touched with mystery. I see not why one should be more thrilled by the romance which Joseph lived between home and prison and palace, than by the romance we live ourselves between cradle and life-work and the grave.

II. Is Joseph's prison also ours? That, too. And in it are spent the more part of our days. A prison not of brick or stone; a prison with walls of glass, and you can see through them; of air, and you cannot touch them; but the walls hold you caged as if they were iron or granite. The name of that prison is Life in the Flesh.

III. 'The promise of Jehovah tried him.' How blessed is it when this, the most universal trial of the religious life the contradiction between our faith and the things which do appear is felt by us, to remember that it is trial, that the promise is only trying us. How supportable is this world of appearances when once we have seen that these daunting and humiliating appearances are there only that we may have our chance of resisting them, of refusing to be brow-beaten, of asserting against them the Divine assurance in our hearts that we are not what we seem, and this mortal encompassment is not the fact.

References. CV. 19. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1277. CV. 24. G. S. Barrett, Old Testament Outlines, p. 140. CV. 41. J. Davies, Penny Pulpit, No. 1513, p. 241. CV. International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 339.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 105". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/psalms-105.html. 1910.