A Spurgeon Snapshot: What was Joseph Up To? (Genesis 42:17)

“So Joseph imprisoned them together for three days.” Genesis‬ ‭42‬:‭17‬ ‭CSB‬‬

I’ve often wondered about the mind games Joseph played with his brothers. Accusing them of being spies. Locking them up. Keeping Simeon. Returning their silver. Was he getting revenge for how the had treated them years before?

Spurgeon suggests that it was all designed to bring his brothers to repentance. That Joseph arranged these trials so his brothers would say, in verses 21 and 22:

“Then they said to each other, “Obviously, we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us.” But Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn’t listen. Now we must account for his blood!””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭42‬:‭21‬-‭22‬ ‭CSB‬‬

You see confession: “We saw his distress… but we would not listen.”

You see taking responsibility for sin: “Now we must account for his blood!”

Spurgeon wrote:

When the Lord Jesus Christ intended to save us … he began by convincing us of our iniquity. He dealt heavy blows on our self-righteousness. He laid us in the dust and seemed to roll us in the mire….

It was all to wean us from self-righteousness, to pull us up by the roots…to compel us to rest in his blood and righteousness and to seek our soul’s life entirely from him. The great blessing of salvation is often preceded by thick clouds and tempests.

Spurgeon Study Bible, p 60.

It wasn’t spite or pettiness. It was love. It was wounding, but it was also healing (Job 5:18). It was kindness that leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). It didn’t seem like kindness at the time. It never does. But there is a Hand behind the hardship.

There always is.

I am using the Spurgeon Study Bible for my Bible Read Through in 2023. All of the study notes are quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writing. For more on Charles Spurgeon, click here. The Spurgeon Study Bible is available from Lifeway, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.



One response to “A Spurgeon Snapshot: What was Joseph Up To? (Genesis 42:17)”

  1. […] couple of days ago, I wrote about the mind games Joseph seemed to be playing with his brothers (see A Spurgeon Snapshot: What was Joseph Up To?) I talked about how these tests were designed to bring the brothers to repentance and to root out […]

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