Verses 33–45

Here is, I. The good advice that Joseph gave to Pharaoh, which was, 1. That in the years of plenty he should lay up for the years of famine, buy up corn when it was cheap, that he might both enrich himself and supply the country when it would be dear and scarce. Note, Fair warning should always be followed with good counsel. Therefore the prudent man foresees the evil, that he may hide himself. God has in his word told us of a day of trial and exigence before us, when we shall need all the grace we can get, and all little enough, “Now, therefore, provide accordingly.” Note, further, Times of gathering must be diligently improved, because there will come a time of spending. Let us go to the ant, and learn of her this wisdom, Prov. 6:6-8. 2. Because that which is everybody’s work commonly proves nobody’s work, he advises Pharaoh to appoint officers who should make it their business, and to select some one person to preside in the affair, Gen. 41:33. Probably, if Joseph had not advised this, it would not have been done; Pharaoh’s counsellors could no more improve the dream than his magicians interpret it; therefore it is said of him (Ps. 105:22) that he taught the senators wisdom. Hence we may justly infer with Solomon (Eccl. 4:13), Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king.

II. The great honour that Pharaoh did to Joseph. 1. He gave him an honourable testimony: He is a man in whom the Spirit of God is; and this puts a great excellency upon any man; such men ought to be valued, Gen. 41:38. He is a nonsuch for prudence: There is none so discreet and wise as thou art, Gen. 41:39. Now he is abundantly recompensed for the disgrace that had been done him; and his righteousness is as the morning-light, Ps. 37:6. 2. He put him into an honourable office; not only employed him to buy up corn, but made him prime-minister of state, comptroller of the household—Thou shalt be over my house, chief justice of the kingdom—according to thy word shall all my people be ruled, or armed, as some read it, and then it bespeaks him general of the forces. Him commission was very ample: I have set thee over all the land of Egypt (Gen. 41:41); without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot (Gen. 41:44); all the affairs of the kingdom must pass through his hand. Nay (Gen. 41:40), only in the throne will I be greater than thou. Note, It is the wisdom of princes to prefer those, and the happiness of people to have those preferred, to places of power and trust, in whom the Spirit of God is. It is probable that there were those about the court who opposed Joseph’s preferment, which occasioned Pharaoh so often to repeat the grant, and with that solemn sanction (Gen. 41:44), I am Pharaoh. When the proposal was made that there should be a corn-master-general nominated, it is said (Gen. 41:37), Pharaoh’s servants were all pleased with the proposal, each hoping for the place; but when Pharaoh said to them, “Joseph shall be the man,” we do not read that they made him any answer, being uneasy at it, and acquiescing only because they could not help it. Joseph had enemies, no doubt, archers that shot at him, and hated him (Gen. 49:23), as Daniel, Dan. 6:4. 3. He put upon him all the marks of honour imaginable, to recommend him to the esteem and respect of the people as the king’s favourite, and one whom he delighted to honour. (1.) He gave him his own ring, as a ratification of his commission, and in token of peculiar favour; or it was like delivering him the great seal. (2.) He put fine clothes upon him, instead of his prison garments. For those that are in kings’ palaces must wear soft clothing; he that, in the morning, was dragging his fetters of iron, before night was adorned with a chain of gold. (3.) He made him ride in the second chariot to his own, and ordered all to do homage to him: “Bow the knee, as to Pharaoh himself.” (4.) He gave him a new name, to show his authority over him, and yet such a name as bespoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah—A revealer of secrets. (5.) He married him honourably to a prince’s daughter. Where God had been liberal in giving wisdom and other merits, Pharaoh was not sparing in conferring honours. Now this preferment of Joseph was, [1.] An abundant recompense for his innocent and patient suffering, a lasting instance of the equity and goodness of Providence, and an encouragement to all good people to trust in a good God. [2.] It was typical of the exaltation of Christ, that great revealer of secrets (John 1:18), or, as some translate Joseph’s new name, the Saviour of the world. The brightest glories of the upper world are put upon him, the highest trust is lodged in his hand, and all power is given to him both in heaven and earth. He is gatherer, keeper, and disposer, of all the stores of divine grace, and chief ruler of the kingdom of God among men. The work of ministers is to cry before him, “Bow the knee; kiss the Son.”