Thursday, June 4, 2015

Potiphar's wife - what can we learn?


I found myself wondering while I studied this . . . wonder if Potiphar's wife would have acted differently if she'd had more to do? If she wasn't bored?

Well, be that as it may, we pick up our story and find that she kept after Joseph. She asked him many times to come and join her in her bed. No wonder he tried to avoid her! For crying out loud, lady, can't you take a hint?

Now, she had nothing else to occupy her mind and attention, so she waited her chance. She probably made herself as desirable as she could . . . just the right clothing, perfumed hair and body, her best jewels . . . that day when they were alone, she caught hold of his clothing and asked him once more. But Joseph could not be persuaded, and he turned and ran -- but she kept pulling on his cloak, and he left it behind with her. Oh, boy. A woman spurned. And probably fearful that he would tell his master.

So she hatched a story; she told the servants that he had tried to rape her. Then she told that story to Potiphar when he came home.  He was outraged, and took Joseph to the prison.

Clang!

The doors shut.  Potiphar stalked away.
There are two interesting things here. First, Potiphar had every right to have Joseph executed, but he didn't. And second, he didn't throw him into just any prison; he took him to the prison where the king's prisoners were kept.

Have you ever wondered if Potiphar suspected his wife was lying? It kinda looks that way to me! Maybe he could see that his wife was a hollow shell of who she used to be; she wasn't the woman he loved before -- her soul was decaying from lust and hate. She may have been surrounded by luxury, but she was spiritually poor. She was full of herself, and that left no room for God.

Looks pretty bad for Joseph, doesn't it? Looks like a pawn in this situation, and now he's been tossed aside, and most folks don't leave this prison alive. But he's not a loser. He's a winner, just as those who follow God and yearn for righteousness are:

                           I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with
                           integrity.  (I Chronicles 29:17)

                           Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked,
                           or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company
                           of mockers, but who delight in the law of the Lord, and
                          meditate on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Temptation is a very difficult thing to deal with. Temptations come in all sizes and shapes. For some, it may be a sensual or sexual enticement. For others, it may be the allure of power or notoriety. Still others may be tempted by the temporary appeal of food. It seems to be true, though, that humans are sorely tempted in the sexual department.

As Christians, we must be vigilant. If we find ourselves becoming emotionally involved in a relationship that is inappropriate, we need to break that habit before we act on those desires. We must fight the tendency to daydream about a relationship that we think would be so much better than what we have. It's probably good to remember our grandmother telling us the "Grass is always greener" over there, where we aren't supposed to be.

We need to focus on our relationships that are pure; we need to devote ourselves to the ones that we've committed to. And we need to pray that God will help us to draw closer to Him in the only relationship that will give us lasting (eternal) peace. He will show us what is right, and He will give us power to resist temptation.

                    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And
                    God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can
                    bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that
                    you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13)

                    Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help
                    those who are being tempted.  (Hebrews 2:18)

                    As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His
                    people, both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:2)

                    Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within
                    me. (Psalm 51:10)

We know what happened to Joseph . . . we know the rest of his story. We don't know what happened to Potiphar's wife. Did she continue to desire empty pleasures? Did she keep on wanting things that were not really hers?

We can learn a lot from her, even if we don't know her name. Let's commit to keep our hearts pure, full of love for those He has placed in our lives; let's ask Him to help us stay away from temptations; let's hunger for His righteousness and His peace. Those are the pleasures that will last!

3 comments:

Austin Towers said...

A thoughtful post, Jacque! Dealing with temptations is a daily battle for all of us!

I was wondering whether one could say that Potiphar's wife is a type of Satan and Joseph a type of Christ and by extension, the Church! I haven't really thought this through, but thanks for making me delve a bit deeper here!

Belinda said...

I would imagine Joseph wasn't the first, nor the last of her attempts to seduce. It's really sad to think that that was all there was in her life to give her a measure of happiness. One could almost feel sorry for her.

I believe there are few who could resist the temptation when presented with it constantly. Only those who have drawn close to God and held fast to Him. I admit there have been times when I have given in to one temptation or another simply because I was all about my own satisfaction and not God's will. And I always feel guilty when that happens, and a little embarrassed because I KNOW I could have held out, if I had held on to Him.

Great study!!

Cathy said...

I suspect it's highly unlikely that Potiphar and his wife married for love. That would have been highly unusual in that time and place. Most marriages were arranged by the families for either political or financial reasons. Often, the two getting married didn't even meet before the wedding day, and their feelings didn't enter into the equation. Sometimes love would come after marriage, but not always. It's something that we can't even begin to imagine in our day and age. In fact, when we hear about it still happening in a few areas of the world, we are shocked and scandalized. But looking at history, marrying freely, for love, is actually a very recent thing.