37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
Joseph has interpreted the dream and counseled what to do about it, and all of it is “good in the eyes of Pharaoh.” For starters, he believes the interpretation. Not only does it match all of the symbols that he saw, but presumably the message rings true with the feelings of the dream. Also, he is in favor of what Joseph has suggested they should do about it. Joseph has shown how they can prepare against and circumvent the shadow of death. He has given a good interpretation and good advice.
Joseph began this whole thing by humbly stating that it was not he would interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, but God. By his humility he has actually put himself in a better place than if he had claimed the wisdom in and of himself. A man who is cunning is useful only until his skills are exceeded. But Joseph has claimed to be a servant of God, and thus his foreknowledge cannot be exceeded. After all, each of Pharaoh’s “wise men” had failed to interpret this dream, but one “inspired man” had easily prevailed.
Pharaoh recognizes this distinction and wonders aloud to his servants where else they could ever find such a man as this, one who carries the Spirit of God. Throughout the Old Testament we will hear of many rulers who depend upon just such a man of God to counsel and forewarn them, and it seems that that long and noble pattern begins right here with Pharaoh and Joseph.
33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
Joseph not only interprets the dream, now he provides the solution to its problem, too. If the seven years of plenty came and no one knew that it would be followed by seven years of famine, who knows but whether they would live in rich indulgence, consuming all that they wished and selling the excess for riches, which would all do them little good when their storehouses were empty and their bellies ached. But, they do know better now, and these seven years of plenty can be years of preparation.
Joseph’s plan illustrates how incredible the harvest in the seven years of plenty will be, given that a mere fifth of each year’s yield will be enough to survive a corresponding year of famine. In fact, enough to survive and still have extra grain to sell to starving neighbors. God is providing all the resources that they need and more, if they only have the wisdom to make use of it.
This is Joseph’s counsel to Pharaoh, and it is worth noting that he is, indeed, counseling Pharaoh. To me this seems a very bold maneuver on his part. He had been summoned only to interpret a dream, and he had fulfilled that, but then, unbidden, he ventured to tell Pharaoh how to do his own job. But as we will see in the next verses, Pharaoh was not offended by Joseph’s boldness at all. On the contrary, he was delighted just to have found one who had such clarity and vision.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
A wise man will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels
Yesterday we discussed how even if we don’t know how to do everything perfectly, we are still meant to try our best. We should move forward with the definition of “good” as we understand it in the moment, and then be open to improvement and correction as we go. Not only this, but we should even seek out that improvement, looking for mentors to instruct and correct us along our way.
At first we may not feel a need to seek out mentors. We’ll likely find that we already have them by default. With the family we were born with and the friends we came by in our youth, most of us have already put together an entire council to direct us without any conscious thought on the matter.
At some point, though, we ought to take a look at who we are being influenced by, and ask ourselves whether they are worthy to that have power over us. They might be or they might not be. “I’m your father” or “I’ve been your friend since grade school” are not reason enough, they need to have something more.
Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
As I’ve chosen which mentors I will hold onto or let go of in life, I have found the qualities mentioned in the verse above to be an excellent guide. I do not just look for mentors that speak about these qualities (there are many who invoke these words without meaning), I look for those that actually live them. I want to be led by people whose good words are matched by the lives they are living. I want to be led by example, not just dictation.
When I find someone whose life is in complete harmony with their principles, when I find someone who has integrity through and through…then I know that I have found someone I can learn from.
And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him
Rehoboam had a choice for what sort of king he was going to be. He sought counsel from two parties for how to present himself to his subjects, and received two different versions of the image he could bear. Ultimately he choose to fashion himself after the more foolish counsel, and lost the majority of his kingdom as a result.
Each of us likes to think that we are strictly in charge of our own formation. We believe we are impervious to advertisements and social pressures, that we make up our own mind and no one has a hold on us. But, frankly, that belief ignores the reality of our nature. We are beings that are composed of what we consume, and what we choose to fill ourselves with will then become what comes out of us after.
So if you spend all your time among any particular group, eventually their outlook will rub off on you. Rehoboam was naturally more inclined to side with those that he had spent his youth with. He framed his reality from the environment he had shared with them, even though it meant taking a stance that was so obviously foolish.