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Questions to Consider
1. Briefly review lesson 28 (link above) to refresh your memory on the storyline of Joseph, then read today’s passage. Why do you think Joseph’s story starts in chapter 37, is “interrupted” by the story about Judah, his sons, and Tamar in chapter 38, and then picks back up in chapter 39?
2. How did Potiphar (1) come to acquire Joseph?
3. Carefully examine the description of Potiphar in verses 1-2 and Potiphar’s house, status, and living conditions in verses 1-6. Make a list of the things we can infer about “Mrs. Potiphar” from this information- where and how she lived, her social status, socioeconomic level, etc. Was it likely that Mrs. Potiphar was a Believer in the one true God?
4. Read verses 6-19, closely examining Mrs. Potiphar’s words and actions. Write a character sketch of Mrs. Potiphar, adding in the information from your list from question 3. What adjectives would you use to describe Mrs. Potiphar?
5. Describe Mrs. Potiphar’s outward sins. Outward sin can always be traced back to an inward sinful thought or attitude of heart. What was Mrs. Potiphar’s inward sin? How is lust a form of coveting? When a person covets or lusts after something or someone that doesn’t belong to her, what does that tell us about her attitude toward what she already has and the God who blessed her with those things?
6. The New Testament equates coveting with idolatry. Why?
7. Imagine you are a biblical counselor, and a modern day, recently born again Mrs. Potiphar comes to you for help with her struggle against lust and coveting. Considering questions 5 and 6, what sinful heart attitude would you help her to identify as the cause of her lust and coveting?
In previous lessons, we have explored the biblical model of repentance: putting off the old self (stop doing the sin), renewing your mind (learn what the Bible says about this sin), and putting on the new self (replacing sinful actions with godly actions). How could you apply these passages, using the put off/renew/put on model, to Mrs. Potiphar’s root sin of discontentment? How could thankfulness to God and serving others be the godly opposite of coveting and lust?
8. In what ways was Joseph’s righteous behavior a testimony to the one true God? How could 2 Timothy 3:12-13 apply to his situation in this chapter? Does God guarantee us that things will always go smoothly if we’re obedient to Him? If not, why should we obey Him?
9. Consider this chapter in light of current events of apparently godly men being accused of sexual harassment, abuse, and misogyny. Apply Proverbs 18:17 to both situations: “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.” Why is it important to carefully and biblically examine those making accusations as well as the accused, so that the guilty are punished and the innocent are not? What were the consequences of a false accusation for Joseph, and how did God care for him? (19-23)
Do you struggle against the sin of a discontent heart like Mrs. Potiphar did, causing you to lust for and covet things, people, or life circumstances that God has not chosen to give you? Examine and repent of your sin using the put off/renew/put on model. List one Bible verse to memorize that will help you with the “renew” stage. List three specific godly actions you can do (put on) to replace sinful actions (put off). This week, memorize your verse and carry your list with you to remind you of the godly action you can take when you’re tempted to sin. Pray daily, asking God to strengthen you to resist temptation and obey Him.
Suggested Memory Verse
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.