10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.” (Genesis 39:10 (ESV)
Joseph encountered an intense conflict which has destroyed many a leader: adultery. Yet Joseph stayed noble and true to the holy God he loved and the human master he served. He would not commit what he called, “this great wickedness and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9 ESV).
As it is so often the case with conflict, the temptation continued. Potiphar’s wife was relentless. She would not give up. The Bible says “she spoke to Joseph day after day” (Genesis 39:10 ESV). What she said to Joseph is intimated in the statement “that he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her” (Genesis 39:10 ESV). Joseph remained true to God in spite of intense conflict. He would not compromise his convictions, but neither would Potiphar’s wife alter her desires.
When the text says that Joseph would not listen to her, it does not mean he did not hear what she had to say. He heard her and understood her. However, he would not comply with her, but resisted her advances.
Desperate people often do desperate things. Or, as filmmaker and comedian Woody Allen once stated in explaining his sexual affair with his wife’s adopted daughter, “The heart wants what it wants…. There’s no logic to those things”
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Joseph could not see it at the time, but his service in Potiphar’s house was actually good training for his future vocation. The authority he held under Potiphar (Gen. 39:1–6a) would, in effect, be excellent schooling for the high position of stewardship we know he will be given under Pharaoh (41:37–57). Joseph’s life,
Puritan Matthew Henry comments: “What God intends men for he will be sure, some way or other, to qualify them for. Our Lord also prepares us spiritually, as befits our calling as His holy people (Ps. 144:1; 2 Tim. 1:8–9), and this is true in Joseph’s life as well, as today’s passage illustrates. One way our Father equips us for ministry is by allowing temptations into our lives so that in suffering under and resisting against them He can establish us all the more firmly in the truth (1 Peter 5:6–11).”
Today’s passage is an excellent example when dealing with temptation. Joseph would not wrong his master and he would not offend his God. This is the truth which strengthens the believer’s aversion to sin.
Consider this truth: “When tempted to sin, we should first remind ourselves that evil offends the Lord. Yet we should also consider how the act might hurt another person in order to motivate ourselves to refrain from sin and the harm it does to other people.”
Soli deo Gloria!