This phrase is taken from the life of Jospeh, not in Genesis, in Psalms. I have often been struck by the phrase. It was the ‘word of the Lord’ that tested Joseph. To better understand the idea, I will break it down and we will look at other examples in scripture that illustrate the same principle then reflect on how to apply it to our lives. We start with the phrase then the context.
19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. Psalm 105:19 (NKJV)
Psalm 105 chronicles the history of Israel. We all have a story and this is the story of a nation. Embedded in this national story is a key character, Joseph. The idea of the ‘word of the Lord’ here is that Joseph was given great promises, then he quickly experienced the opposite. The story of his promises, slavery and imprisonment and eventual rise to their fulfillment is found in Genesis 37-50. A significant portion of the book of history. Joseph’s test and fulfillment took place over a long period, thirteen years. He was sold by his brothers at age 17 (Genesis 37:2) and raised up out of prison and given authority by Pharoah at age 30 (Genesis 41:46).
Joseph received prophetic promises via a dream from Yahweh then endured hardship and affliction with the word. The word, these promises, tested him until it they came to pass and he had developed the character to carry the authority he was given. Abraham and Sarah waited years for the promised son. We know that Abraham was 75 when Yahweh first promised him descendants (Genesis 12:1-7) and that he was 100 when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). The promise of a son born to him was more explicit in Genesis 15:1-4 but we do not know Abraham’s age then. We do know that Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born to Hagar. Like his descendant who followed him the word of the Lord had tested Abraham.
While two examples do not constitute a pattern there are many more in scripture. David was anointed as king and soon became a fugitive instead. The word of the Lord tested him over many years. Moses knew he was called by Yahweh to deliver Israel (Exodus 2:11-13, Acts 7:25). He tried in his own strength and then spent 40 years in the wilderness until he encountered Yahweh at the burning bush (Acts 7:25-30). The word of the Lord tested him.
We even see this pattern in the life of Jesus. He was baptized in the Jordan and received affirmation from His Father that He was the beloved Son and His Father was pleased with Him (Matthew 3:17). What followed was a glorious entry into ministry – no actually, what happened was He was immediately led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by Satan (Matthew 4:1). The word of the Lord tested Him.
Given these examples and this pattern should we expect different treatment? He has called each of us and once He calls us, He tests us. One of the words He spoke to me nearly three decades ago was 1 Corinthians 4:2.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)
This means like Paul who wrote it, our faithfulness is the primary test. Joseph had to remain faithful and hold onto his dreams after slavery followed by prison. Abraham has to hold onto the promise of a son in spite of his circumstances – he and Sarah both past the fathering and bearing stage of their lives. David had to remain focused on his calling and commission to be king well the present king sought his death. Moses had to believe Yahweh after his failure and subsequent encounter in the wilderness. Jesus – I, nor anyone else, fully understands His humanity but I believe He had to develop and walk out a trust relationship with His Father in spite of His wilderness experience.
I have a list of things He has spoken to me both directly and through others over the years. Some I am walking in, some I am not. As these words test me, I seek to be found faithful. How about you? What are you reflecting on? How is the test going?