November 24, 2009

Out of Reach

Genesis 39:1-2, 6-23

He left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Genesis 39:12


When she laid eyes on Joseph, Potiphar’s wife knew he was made-to-measure for her pleasure. But he refused her advances and stayed out of reach, day after day. He would not sin against God. When she did manage to grab him, he tore away and ran out of the house, but she kept his cloak to use against him.

Though he had been wise in avoiding temptation, Joseph nevertheless suffered the consequences of folly—not his, but hers. Potiphar’s wife is like the woman Folly in Proverbs 9:13-17 who sends out invitations to pleasure in her house. The wise will not accept her invitations, but Folly is persistent and deceitful.

Joseph had not sinned against his neighbor or against God. Like Noah, he was righteous in God’s eyes. In prison Joseph stayed safely out of the temptress’s reach, but not out of the reach of God’s care and blessing. Joseph demonstrated great wisdom so that the warden gave him responsibility for the other prisoners. God was training Joseph in prison for a greater task in the future.

We do not know what designs others may have for us; they may lead us into unexpected darkness and suffering for no good reason. Though we try to be wise in the ways of God, we may still be waylaid by Folly. But we are never out of God’s reach to bless and strengthen us for the tasks that lie ahead.

Give me wisdom, Lord, that I may do what is right in your eyes, no matter the road you ask me to walk. Help me to trust in you always, for you are with me. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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