I am always inspired by stories in Old Testament history that are a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do. These prophetic happenings probably went unrecognised at the time, but with the clarity of hindsight we can see much better what God was foretelling. Just recently I have been reading the Psalms in an Amplified Version where this verse has an expanded understanding which reminds us of one such prophetic incident.
The situation may well be familiar to you. Joseph had become a ruler in Egypt and the sons of Jacob had come looking for grain for their starving families. Joseph had recognised them, but they were still ignorant of who he really was, but he asked them about their family and received welcome news about his father and his younger brother at home. So, Joseph demanded that they should bring Benjamin, on the grounds that he needed further assurance that they were not spies, and he also kept Simeon as a captive until they returned with Benjamin.
Jacob was very much against the idea of letting Benjamin out of his sight. He complained that, since Joseph had gone, his well-being depended on having Benjamin with him. But eventually, due to the worsening of the famine, and, presumably, partly because Simeon was still being held captive, Judah persuaded Jacob, saying he would stand surety for bringing Benjamin back to father Jacob alive and well.
All goes well in Egypt and they get more grain. However, their problems start on the return journey. They are stopped and searched, because it seems a special silver cup has gone missing from Joseph’s house. It is obvious from the story that Joseph had engineered this in order to bring them back. Joseph then commands that whoever had the cup in his sack would be held as a slave in punishment. The cup is eventually found in Benjamin’s sack, so, in desperation, Judah offers himself in Benjamin’s place, pleading with Joseph. ‘Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad, as a slave to my lord and let the lad go up with his brothers’ (Genesis 44:33).
Now we can see something of why this verse refers to the story of Judah and Benjamin and what it is prophetically pointing us to. It foretells of the One who is yet to come (when the psalm was written), but whom we now can know as the One who came to save us. The details may be a bit different, but there are some patterns that show the way God would unfold His plan. Judah promised his father that he would bring Benjamin back, but then had to offer himself to redeem Benjamin from a life of slavery.
In a similar way, our Saviour came, having promised His Heavenly Father that He would offer Himself to redeem us. As the story indicates, Jesus, the lion of Judah, stands surety for us and offers His life to free us from slavery by taking our place. How exciting that the psalmist recognised the intent of Father God and His great love for each of His children! He foretells, by referencing an old well-known story, the coming of the One who is more committed than Judah, to give His life for each of His younger brothers and sisters.
Prayer: Father open our eyes to see all You want to reveal to us through well-known Bible stories, we long to know more of Your ways. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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