Genesis 41:14-16 (New American Standard Bible)
Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
By the time we get to today’s passage in Joseph’s story, he has already experienced an incredible rollercoaster of a life. He was Jacob’s youngest, favorite, spoiled son. He was almost murdered by his older brothers, who, as a less violent alternative, decided to sell him into slavery. As a slave in Egypt, he rose to a position of influence in the household of Potiphar, but then was thrown into prison when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. While in prison he successfully interpreted the dreams of two fellow prisoners, one of whom, after his release, promptly forgot all about Joseph. Joseph has now languished in prison for several long years. The Hebrew word used in verse 14 above for “dungeon” is bor, which can also be translated as pit, cistern, or well. This is the same word that was used for the pit into which the brothers had thrown Joseph in 37:22. From one pit to another. And Joseph waited. And waited.
Then suddenly, the doors to his prison are thrown open, and he is taken into the light. It must have been pretty shocking to be hauled out, cleaned up, and presented to the most powerful person in Egypt. Pharaoh tells Joseph that he’s heard about his ability to interpret dreams, and gives him the opportunity to demonstrate his talent. But unlike the previous counselors– the “wise men” who have stood recently in front of Pharaoh– Joseph does not grovel, brag, or prevaricate. He simply replies, “It is beyond my power to do this, but God can tell you what it means and set you at ease” (New Living Translation).
This humble statement must have absolutely floored Pharaoh and the people of the court listening in. If any of those disgraced counselors were standing nearby, they would have been appalled– clearly this guy had no idea how to handle Pharaoh!
In Matthew 5:5, Jesus tells a gathered crowd that “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” That is such very different advice than we’re often given by the world. We’re taught to be assertive or even aggressive, to be strong, independent, tough and callous. In the midst of a world clamoring for attention at center-stage, it is ironic that a humble, loving, gentle attitude can be a true scene-stealer.
What character traits would you say are most valued by the world around you? What is your understanding of how God wants you to act in your daily life? How is it challenging for you to live as a Christ-follower?