The Tarnished Silver Spoon (Part One)


Genesis 37:1-11

The vast majority of people have the desire to be rich. Part of this is fueled by jealousy. I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man’s jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4 CSB). Part of it is the assumption that wealth is the answer to trouble in this world. People imagine, “If only I could live the life of the rich and the famous, I would be out of the misery that I’m in. If only I had been brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, how happy I would be!”

In order to dissuade us from such sentiments, the Spirit tells us in the Scriptures numerous stories of people who had wealth and still had many problems. Think, for example, of Abraham, Job, and Solomon. The Lord wants us to know that the silver spoon is tarnished in this world (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:4-11). Sin has corrupted us, and all creation is under the curse because of human sin. We cannot find rest and contentment in this world. In God’s word, we learn to have confidence in the living God. Any trust in riches will not last, and riches cannot meet your deepest needs. Trust in the Lord and the promises of grace. In this series of articles, we will see how God’s plan of grace worked in and through the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob.

In order to grasp what is happening in the life of Joseph, we need to know how his story fits into the story of God’s glory. The Lord of all had been acting in his family opening for generations as he worked out his missional plan. Remember what the Lord had said to Abraham. Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:1-3 CSB). This plan would involve the sending of God’s Son, the Messiah, to us. Through Abraham’s seed, blessing would come to all the peoples of the earth.

As we observe the family into which Joseph was born, we can make a few observations.

  • Joseph was born into a family that was very much in the good purposes of God. This alone would make his spoon “silver”. God’s people today are likewise born into this family by grace through faith in Christ.
  • God blessed his family financially. Over the years Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob accumulated a large amount of wealth. To the worldly minded person, this would make “Joseph’s spoon” seem very silver.
  • But this family was bitterly divided. Joseph’s father Jacob had four wives. That alone would be enough to insure that rivalries would develop. After the death of his mother Rachel, Joseph would be more exposed to the internal strife, because Rachel was not present to counter the schemes of the other women and their children. This is where we see a lot of tarnish on the silver spoon.

Yet, behind this tragedy was God, working all things for the good of this family, and all the people’s of the world. The Lord would act to make this divided household into a great nation (Genesis 12:2). In four hundred years, this family would plunder the wealth of the greatest nation on the earth, the Egyptian Empire. But far greater was the spiritual riches of the gospel promise that was God’s goal. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you (Galatians 3:8 CSB).

What mercy Joseph received to be brought up in a home where the true God was worshiped and loved! He early learned whom and how to worship. God would protect him through the trial he would face as young man in a land of terrible idolatry. As Joseph followed the Lord, he would have to sort through this perplexity: How does the gracious plan of God make sense with the sorrow and physical sufferings that he would have to endure? Joseph would need to learn to live by faith. We must also.

What challenges of faith are you facing today? Health? Job and finances? Family issues? The Lord doesn’t promise us easy or quick solutions. The problems our faith must encounter can be long and difficult. Have confidence in God and his long term plan.

Grace and peace, David