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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 39

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 9

Genesis 39:9

We are accustomed to admire the mere act of resistance to temptation, by whomsoever and howsoever offered. But there is a vast difference between the ways in which temptation is resisted. Some, knowing the thing desired of them to be essentially wrong, have recourse to cowardly shifts and evasions. They are unable to comply; thus much they will answer; but for this inability they will render all sorts of secondary and insufficient reasons, and keep back the right one. How very different from this weak and ineffectual course is the refusal of one who fearlessly states at once the right and master reason why he should not yield to temptation; "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" One of the lowest advantages of the brave and decided course is that such a person has the least trouble after all. His place is ascertained; his colours are shown. He is no waverer, and the crowd of busy mischief-makers cease from him and let him alone. The noble words of our text let us into the whole secret of endurance.

I. The answer of Joseph implies a sense of direct accountableness to God. This sense of responsibility leads at once to a truer estimate of right and wrong. While we tarry on the level of the world's maxims and habits, and try to decide our line of conduct, many a matter seems ambiguous and difficult to determine; but rise to the throne of God, and look down from thence, and all is clear. Oh for that second and better nature, sprung from the habit of seeing God in everything, which, when doubts, when questionings, when temptations arise, asks counsel at once of Him, runs into the strong tower of His name, and is safe.

II. This answer implies a sense of sin. Sin is a word of which the world knows not the meaning. Men must know what God is, or they cannot know what sin is. When Joseph spoke of sinning against God, he used this term of a positive and definite God, who had manifested Himself, and with whom he was in covenant. To sin against Him, to break His positive command, was to reject and despise his covenant God; to tread under foot His promises and His mercies.

III. This reply shows that true courage and seasonable boldness which ever characterise the genuine soldier of heaven. In every occupation of life, in all intercourse, in toil and in recreation, our Christian armour should be worn, and never be laid aside. The moment our allegiance is tested, the moment that the world requires what God forbids or forbids what God requires, we must stand to our arms, and admit no thought of a surrender.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii., p. 245.

I. At once we recognise the presence of the Holy Ghost in this scene. He is its light and glory, its power and victory. God the Holy fills the entire field of vision, and Joseph is strengthened by an all-pervading awe of Him. The recognition of God keeps him from sin. His sacred presence blocks the way. This Authority ruling in and for righteousness shuts out all possibility of yielding.

II. This passage gives evidence of a large access of energy to Joseph's conscience, from his perfect identification of God with his own personal purity.

III. Joseph differed from Jacob in that he had no Bethel visions, and from Abraham in not hearing the Divine voice; but he had the Divine facts of life, and in them he read the ideas and will of God. The oldest of all Bibles, the Bible of human experience, was before him, and he read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested its contents.

J. Clifford, Daily Strength for Daily Living, p. 57.

References: Genesis 39:9 . C. Kingsley, Gospel of the Pentateuch, p. 103.Genesis 39:12 . Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 207. Genesis 39:20 . S. Cox, Expositor's Notebook, p. 40; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 369. 39:20-40:14. Parker, vol. i., p. 302.Genesis 39:21 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 94, and vol. xxii., p. 159. Genesis 40:0 F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 140; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 150; W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 61.Genesis 40:7 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 90. Genesis 40:8 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xii., p. 139. Genesis 40:9-11 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 70. Genesis 41:0 F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 146; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 189; Parker, vol. i., p. 311.Genesis 41:1-25 . Parker, vol. i., p. 311.Genesis 41:1-37 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 162.Genesis 41:1-46 . W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 76. Genesis 41:4 . Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 185.Genesis 41:9 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 680; J. Burns, Sketches of Sermons on the Parables, etc., p. 314.Genesis 41:37-57 . M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 209; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 171. 41:46-42:22. Parker, vol. i., p. 320. Genesis 41:47-52 . W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 91.Genesis 41:51 . Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 401.Genesis 41:56 . Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, p. 24.Genesis 42:0 M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 231; F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 152.Genesis 42:1 , Genesis 42:2 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 234.Genesis 42:1-17 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 240. Genesis 42:1-24 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 179. Genesis 42:1-38 . W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 108; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 102.Genesis 42:2 . Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 142.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 39". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/genesis-39.html.
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