Updated: Sep 27, 2019
“They bruised his feet with shackles. His neck was locked in irons” (Psalm 105:18)
I recently found these verses. I have read the whole Bible but for some reason I do not remember seeing them before. I have always been fascinated by Joseph’s story, the spoiled and dreamy boy who was sold as a slave by his brothers and ended up becoming governor of all Egypt; however listening to this somber reference in the book of Psalms makes my heart understand the hardness of his process.
I think there was always something different in him, a prophetic destiny and special favor from the Most High; that's why I find it so hard to see him in the dark dungeon, chained to the cold walls of a damp cell, dirty and dewy, shackled around his feet and neck like a rabid dog. It is easier to imagine him already bathed and shaved, dressed in fine linen clothes, wearing on his neck the gold necklace of Egyptian royalty and on his finger the seal of absolute authority given by Pharaoh himself.
The problem with Joseph was that he was born to occupy a privileged place in a deeply divided family. His father Jacob was married to two women, Rachel and Leah. Rachel, Joseph's mother was the love of his life; from the day they first met he was shocked by her beauty, he chose her among all women and decided that it was worth any sacrifice to make her his wife. On the other hand there was Leah; from the beginning she was never his type. She just had 'delicate eyes' (or perhaps defective ones) and lacked feminine charm. He could look at her and see nothing appealing, like a bundle of clothes in a corner. Besides that, she was the stone in his shoe, the call of duty, a scam of his father-in-law, a sufficient and necessary condition for Jacob to get to marry his beloved Rachel.
Jacob struggled every day not to seem unfair between the two, after all Leah had the potential to give birth to an entire army on her own, and she did without uttering the slightest complaint. He took the children of Leah and placed them on a scale with the love of Rachel on the opposite side. He just had to keep his emotions under control all the time hoping that one thing would compensate the other ... but then Joseph was born to Rachel! The balance suddenly shattered, Jacob's feelings emerged to the surface, now he was too old to keep his emotions from the rest of the family, so he unleashed them like wild horses.
I imagine that Jacob woke up one morning and called for Joseph, "Dear son, can you see this beautiful colorful tunic? The women of the family spun it especially for you with the best wool and the brightest tones. Only very important people can afford one of these, and my son! You must wear it all the time so that anyone who sees you, even from afar, can recognize you. I love you so much that I want everyone to know that you are Joseph, Jacob’s beloved son, the very fiber of my heart. "
Wait a minute! A thought has just crossed my mind and I think it is to change everything. For a moment I’m uncertain whether I'm talking about Joseph or the other One. He is the other favorite in shackles, the Beloved in disgrace. The prophet Isaiah said of him, "He was despised and rejected —a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care." (Is 53: 3); and also: "... But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands" (Is 53:10).
Who is the prophet talking about? Who is the one who would make an offering for sin and yet come back from death and flourish? He is JESUS! He is the Father’s favorite! The entire Scripture points out to Him, every prophet spoke about him, and so do the many sufferings of Joseph, but also his final exaltation and government. He is the one who has received all authority from the hands of the Almighty God; he has been given a name above any other in heaven, on earth, or under the earth.
He is JESUS! He is the heir of all things, who has sat at the right hand of God’s throne until all things are subject to his government, until the day comes when every knee will bow before him and every tongue will confess him Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11). About him King David prophesied, “You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots!” (Psalm 2: 7-9).
Suddenly, I can understand Joseph’s story…