"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Gen. 50:20.
Joseph's brethren had plotted and planned against their brother. Apparently their malicious designs were successful. The youth had been put down into the pit—then sold to the Midianites into slavery. They had accomplished their full wickedness. They "thought evil...but God―." "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Taken into Egypt, "the Lord was with Joseph," and he prospered. Then again, while there, evil was thought against him. For sin—not his own—he was thrown into prison. His "feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron [or, his soul came into iron]: until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him." Psa. 105:18, 19. In body and in spirit he was bound "until the time."
At length that time arrived. The discipline was effected. The mellowing and the molding were perfected. Joseph comes forth to be lord over all Egypt for the blessing of the people of that land and of all people around, and for the succor of his father and of the very brethren who had thought evil against him.
"God" had "meant it" all "unto good"—good for Joseph himself, good for others through him.
"God is above everything, and there is none above Him," it has been said.
And He means good unto His own all through their history. That which is painful, and apparently contrary, will be used by His gracious hand for our ultimate benefit, and then through us for the help of others. Comforted in affliction ourselves, then we may comfort others. The affliction is overruled thus for the education of the believer in service, that he may be employed to encourage others with the comforting of God which he has known (2 Cor. 1:4).
"In the thing wherein they [the enemy] dealt proudly He [God] was above them." Ex. 18:11.
"There shall no evil happen to the just." Prov. 12:21.
"When He makes bare His arm,
Who shall His strength withstand?
When He His people's cause defends,
Who then can stay His hand?"
+First published as Songs for the Night Seasons by Inglis Fleming. New York: Loizeaux Bros., [n.d.].