Joseph in Potiphar’s House
Open Your Bible
Genesis 39:1-23, Genesis 40:1-23, Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 25:14
BY Erin Davis
At first glance, Joseph’s story reads like a set of extraordinary circumstances lived by an ordinary man. If that’s the case, it would be enough to hold our collective attention for a moment, but not one second more. So why is it we are still talking about him?
Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob (Genesis 37:3). You may have heard of his coat of many colors, or perhaps the time his brothers sold him into slavery (vv.3, 27–28). Joseph stood firm against the temptations of Potiphar’s wife, even though doing so landed him in prison. (Genesis 39). He’s the one who relocated the baby nation of Israel to Egypt and protected them from eventual famine (Genesis 47).
These are the facts we see on the surface, but look again. There is an undercurrent to Joseph’s story that points to a deeper truth. We see it written all over Genesis 39. We read that the Lord “was with Joseph,” and when his master realized this, he also saw that “the LORD made everything he did successful” (vv.2–3). The Lord remained “with Joseph and extended kindness to him,” blessing “the Egyptian’s house” and making everything he did successful (vv. 5,21–23). It’s clear that while on a human level Joseph’s life was marked by betrayal, fear, and desperate circumstances, on the supernatural level, his story is about so much more—because of God’s favor.
When Joseph’s brothers plotted his death—
God preserved his life.
When the schemes of man made Joseph a slave and a refugee—
God gave him favor in a foreign land.
When he was falsely accused and thrown in jail—
God infused Joseph’s prison time with purpose.
When there was no way for Joseph to free himself from his shackles—
God set Him free.
When Joseph was cut off from his family—
God made a way for radical reconciliation.
When Joseph lived in a land of famine—
God filled his storehouses.
Joseph was a nobody. Just an overlooked kid with a string of bad luck. Nothing to see here—but God. God was using the circumstances of Joseph’s life to tell a bigger, more important story: the story about His glory.
God’s story of grace is the undercurrent of our lives too. He proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He remains faithful to us, even when we are not (1 Corinthians 10:13). He is “rich in mercy, [and] because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. [We] are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4–5).
The reality of God’s grace turns every moment of rejection, every false accusation or overlooked achievement, every fear and every famine, into an opportunity to showcase His glory. He is the point—not us. Thousands of years later, we are still compelled to remember the story of a shepherd boy turned slave, who was transformed from a prisoner into a man of great power—not by Joseph’s strength of character or accomplishment, but by God’s design and power.