AT THIS time of the day, we turn our thoughts to GOD. Psalm 94.19 says that thinking about GOD brings true comfort and delight. O, then, what good things are now before us! That part of the Text I intend to speak on today (as GOD shall help me) is the part where it is spoken that “Joseph asked.” Genesis 40.6,7. In regard to this asking of Joseph, I have three things for you. I. What the Word “ask” means. II. The questions Joseph asked. III. The instructions.
I now begin. I. What the Word “ask” means. In our English language, the first definition for “ask” that Dr. Webster gives in his original 1828 dictionary is “to request.” The example of the usage of this word that he gives is Judges 18.5 “Ask counsel of God.” Which, in his thinking, is: “Request counsel of God.” It is exceptional that the Hebrew Word that is used in our Text for the Word “asked” also means “to request.” This means that in the Text, when Joseph asked his question, the idea is he made a request of the officers of Pharaoh.
II. The questions Joseph asked. When the Hebrew Word for “asked” is considered through Joseph's life, it appears there were three different questions Joseph asked. The first question is in our Text. The Words read: “And Joseph asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?” The second question is in Genesis 43.7. In this Verse, when Joseph saw his bad brothers after many years, he asked them how they were, how the Family was, how Father was, and how the youngest brother was. The third question is in Genesis 43.27. In this Verse, when Joseph happened to see these same brothers again, he asked his brothers again of their welfare and how father was. When the three questions of Joseph are laid side by side, there is one feature that is in all of them. All three questions discovers the graciousness of Joseph. Joseph cared for the officers of Pharaoh. Joseph cared for his brothers. It was, in part, from this inward quality in Joseph that these questions came.
III. The instructions. What may be learned from these things? There are two instructions. 1. The first instruction is all this points to JESUS. In the graciousness of Joseph, there is a reflection of the brighter Grace of JESUS. John 1.17 says: “Grace came by Jesus Christ.” In Luke 4.22, when JESUS preached the Word, it is written that the people “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” And, say, what were some of the “gracious words” JESUS said? In Matthew 12.31, He said: “All manner of sin shall be forgiven.” In Matthew 4.17, He said: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In John 6.47, He said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” Surely, no tender soul who has ever felt the guilt of sin can deny these are Gracious Words. And why all this Grace? Even because of this. JESUS' Words are a stream of Grace. The very spring and source of all this Grace is laid out in I Corinthians 15.3. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” JESUS dying for our sins was the most gracious act that was ever done in this cold world. This explains why JESUS spoke His Gracious Words. If there were no Cross, there would have been no Gracious Words. JESUS' Gracious Words are built squarely on the sure foundation of the Cross.
2. The second instruction is learn from Joseph's way of speaking. I wonder, how do you ask your questions? I showed today from the Scripture how Joseph asked his questions. One question Joseph asked to the officers of Pharaoh. The other questions Joseph asked to his brothers. In the questions Joseph asked, there was a graciousness in his tone. For what was the Hebrew word used? Joseph “requested.” This is how Joseph asked his questions. He asked his questions with grace.
Down through the years, I have admired how Dr. Jay Green translated the phrase “I pray thee.” In the Old Testament, the phrase “I pray thee” appears 156 times. It is one of those phrases that keep reappearing. One of these Verses is I Samuel 10.15. “Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.” Dr. Green says this phrase “I pray thee” in the Hebrew means “please.” Therefore all up and down the Old Testament, there is the idea of please. In Fact, Joseph himself used the phrase in Genesis 40.14.
In conclusion, let me encourage you today. Take care about the way you speak. Strive to speak well. In Matthew 12.36, JESUS said you'll meet your words again one day. JESUS' exact Words are: “I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Therefore Colossians 4.6 should be obeyed. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” Which speaks that attention should be paid to your questions. As you go through life, don't be demanding all the time. Sprinkle in the word “please.” After all, you are asking someone to do something for you. And once someone does something for you, say “thank you.” Someone was just kind to you. I am persuaded this way of speaking is pleasing in the sight of GOD. Amen.