Started From The Top Now We’re Here (Genesis 39)


Ain’t nothin’ like a gooood man… This song used to annoy the mess out of me when I was younger but it’s so catchy and really, like, so true. There’s this longing inside of a lot of us for a good man or a good woman. We want to connect with someone on a romantic, even sexual level. The desire for intimacy and closeness is embedded deep within us. So when a good man or good woman or honestly just a good-looking man or woman comes our way, everything in us pulls in their direction. It feels impossible to resist.

Of course, as any self-respecting motivational meme will tell you, a lot of the time we must resist! Like, for instance, Joseph did in Genesis 39. Joseph has been through more trauma in just a few years than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime. Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph begins what could only have looked like lifelong servitude. Yet, somehow, Joseph becomes great. He is a brilliant administrator. He is intelligent and wise, and he runs the household of one of the most powerful men in Egypt (Potiphar, Captain of the Guard to Pharaoh), literally singlehandedly (verse 6). What a privilege!

Yet it didn’t last long. Joseph, unfortunately (?), was very handsome. I love how the Bible calls him “well-built” (verse 6); that lets you know! Joseph was fine. And Potiphar’s wife, as a being with eyes, knew this. She wanted to sleep with Joseph. She wanted to sleep with him so bad that she pestered him over and over when he refused, despite his flawless arguments for why he shouldn’t (verses 8-9). So she decides to play dirty. One day, Potiphar’s wife traps Joseph by clearing the house and calling him to her, again begging him to sleep with her. Joseph literally runs away from this desperate woman, but this makes her mad. She screams and makes a fuss and lies to her husband and all the servants, claiming Joseph tried to rape her.

Joseph is thrown in jail. Lied on and unfairly punished, Joseph begins what could only have looked like a life sentence. Yet, somehow, Joseph becomes great. This brilliant, intelligent, wise man runs an entire prison singlehandedly (verse 23). This seems to be a pattern for him. And God’s not quite done yet.

The Treasures Within:


I’m sorry, I don’t know if I could have done what Joseph did. Every fiber of his being was probably urging him to have sex with Potiphar’s wife. I mean, come on, imagine such a powerful dude marrying anyone who was not gorgeous. People didn’t often marry for love in those days – they were extremely selective! Potiphar’s wife was probably absolutely stunning to look at. If someone as attractive as Potiphar’s wife was throwing themself at you, could you resist?

Yet Joseph did. He could have allowed himself to grow bitter and angry at the God who had allowed him to be sold into slavery, but instead Joseph faithfully obeyed Him. When he explained to Potiphar’s wife why he would not sleep with her, he cited the Lord. Joseph may have wanted to, but he was determined to be faithful to God first.

Not only did Joseph resist temptation, but he ran from temptation. How many of us do the exact opposite? We run towards temptation. We step gleefully into it. We tease ourselves, thinking of what pleasure this sin or that sin will bring us, all the while trying to pretend that we’re not really going to do it. This is wrong, destructive, and dangerous. Like Joseph, we must flee temptation (verse 12), either by physically leaving a situation or refocusing our minds on God and His promises and love. When you see the devil coming your way, RUN!


Joseph acted as a true man of faith. He was faithful to his God, but it looks like his God was not faithful to him. Joseph has been unfairly forced into slavery by his wicked brothers. God teases him with some relief, some success, only to rip it away by allowing Joseph to be unfairly forced into prison! It’s one thing when you do something wrong and the consequences come to bite you; it’s quite another when you do nothing wrong and still suffer. God brought Joseph from the hilltops straight down into the valley.

Yet. Joseph. Still. Became. Great. What happened to Joseph looks to us like a fall from grace. It is devastating. It is unfortunate. It is disappointing. It is especially so when we consider what Joseph did for God – he obeyed Him in the most adverse circumstances! When we obey God, is He not supposed to bless us? When we make it through a trial or a storm, are we not supposed to look up and see a bright and beautiful morning coming our way? Isn’t God supposed to make us better and stronger, bless us after the pain, make all our suffering worth it? Isn’t God supposed to give us success?

But are not His ways higher than our ways? God doesn’t think like us! God is so supernatural, so wise, so creative, and on such a higher level than anything or anyone we can comprehend, that extremely basic notions of things like success are flipped upside down and all around in His eyes. God gave Joseph success. The parallel between Joseph as the head of household for Egypt’s finest and Joseph as the head of a lowly prison is purposeful. Prison Joseph = Rich Steward Joseph = Success. God’s goodness, His gifts, and His plans are not limited by things like prisons, things we look down on. What God can do for us transcends our circumstances. Our success is not truly measured by an earthly barometer, but by a divine one.

Why don’t we take a second look at ourselves, our circumstances, our life? The next time you obey God only to see things get worse, try to imagine God’s high ways and unknowable thoughts. You may not understand, but you will find faith and strength. And that will be true success.

God’s Message To Us:

“I will give you success when you obey Me.” When we are faithful to God, He is faithful to us. His faithfulness is usually not what we were expecting, but that’s really how it’s supposed to be, right? Where do we get off thinking we can predict or dictate how God will bless us? It all comes down to faith. A powerful Man has promised us love and blessings and eternal life. He has promised us understanding and joy. He has promised us success. Thankfully, He’s also promised us the faith we need to stay in step with His plans. We have the tools we need to truly succeed. Now all we need to do is use them.

What do you think? What did you find interesting in Joseph’s response to his situation? What do you think God wants you to know from this chapter?


2 thoughts on “Started From The Top Now We’re Here (Genesis 39)

  1. I think the way Joseph survived that successful rise in Potiphar’s house and then the plunge into a dungeon was that he believed that God was sovereign. Joseph believed that God was ordering his steps. He didn’t grumble about what his seductress had done to him, because he believed that God had done it.


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