Summary: Joseph in Prison. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Genesis chapter 39 verse 21 to chapter 40 verse 23.


• I was relieved recently to find out that I’m not the only one who forgets things.

• According to researcher Karen Bolla.

• Everyone does at one time or another.

• These are the six things people most often forget:

• (6). faces 42%

• (5). what was said 49%

• (4). words 53%

• (3). telephone numbers 57%

• (2). where something is 60%

• (1). names 83%

• And if you can’t remember whether you’ve just done something;

• You join 38 percent of the population.


• Physician to patient:

• “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times—I do not treat amnesia cases!”

In the chapter before us this morning:

• Joseph seems to be a forgotten man;

• In fact the very last verse of our chapter finishes with the words (verse 23)

“The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him”.

From a human perspective:

• It would appear God had also abandoned and forgotten him too:

• Now if you can cast your mind back to the previous chapter.

• Joseph had been true to God and he refused to be seduced by Potipher’s wife;

• As a result of his faithfulness to God; he has now been wrongly imprisoned;

• And while in prison he has to bear the stigma of being a rapist!

• Chapter 41 verse 1 tells us that he would be in prison for two whole years.

(A). Joseph in prison (Ch 39 vs 21-23)

(1). Josephs secret (Ch 39 vs 21-23)

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”


• A man went out to his car one morning;

• Only to discover that it wouldn’t turn over because the battery had been stolen.

• After lifting up the bonnet,

• He discovered a note where the battery should be, it read:

“I’m sorry I had to take your battery, but it was an emergency and I had to get to the hospital.

I will return your battery as soon as I can.”

• The following morning he woke up;

• To find his battery had been returned and alongside it was another note:

“Thank you so much for the use of your battery. To express our appreciation and to make up for the inconvenience we have caused you, here are two tickets to the theatre for this Saturday’s top show!.

• The couple was ecstatic.

• They had heard how good the show was and were thrilled at the opportunity to go.

• What a wonderful turn of events this had been.

• But when they returned home from the show they discovered, to their dismay,

• That their apartment had been burgled.

• The theatre tickets had simply been a ruse to get them out of the house.

Now Joseph’s could empathise with those twp people:

• For him life, too, had taken several curious turns of events.

• Whenever things were at long last looking up;

• The situation soon took a turn for the worse;

• And Joseph wound find himself in even worse circumstances than before!

• He has gone from being head of Potiphar’s household;

• To being imprisoned and with his reputation in tatters.


• Where was God in all of this?

• We can see God in the good things.

• We can even see Him in the questionable things.

• But where is God when everything seems unfair?

• Where is God when the dungeon experience occurs?

• Does His silence mean He's absent?


• We're not left to wonder at the answers to those questions.

• Genesis chapter 39 verse 21 tells us clearly, "The LORD was with Joseph."

• That's where God was. He was right there.

• He never left and he did not abandon Joseph!

• Deep in our hearts we believe in a God who is good.

• Yet how shallow is our understanding of His goodness,

• Especially since we see many things that seem to deny it.

• Corrie Ten Boom clarified the issue for us. She wrote:

“Often I have heard people say, ‘How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!’ Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp.

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