John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1 (Genesis 39:1)

Verse 1

1.And Joseph was brought down. For the purpose of connecting it with the remaining part of the history, Moses repeats what he had briefly touched upon, that Joseph had been sold to Potiphar the Egyptian: he then subjoins that God was with Joseph, so that he prospered in all things. For although it often happens that all things proceed with wicked men according to their wish, whom God nevertheless does not bless with his favor; still the sentiment is true and the expression of it proper, that it is never well with men, except so far as the Lord shows himself to be gracious to them. For he vouchsafes his blessing, for a time, even to reprobates, with whom he is justly angry, in order that he may gently invite and even allure them to repentance; and may render them more inexcusable, if they remain obstinate; meanwhile, he curses their felicity. Therefore, while they think they have reached the height of fortune, their prosperity, in which they delighted themselves, is turned into ruin. Now whensoever God deprives men of his blessing, whether they be strangers or of his own household, they must necessarily decline; because no good flows except from Him as the fountain. The world indeed forms for itself a goddess of fortune, who whirls round the affairs of men; or each man adores his own industry; but Scripture draws us away from this depraved imagination, and declares that adversity is a sign of God’s absence, but prosperity, a sign of his presence. However, there is not the least doubt that the peculiar and extraordinary favor of God appeared towards Joseph, so that he was plainly known to be blessed by God. Moses immediately afterwards adds, that Joseph was in the house of his master, to teach us that he was not at once elevated to an honorable condition. There was nothing more desirable than liberty; but he is reckoned among the slaves, and lives precariously, holding his life itself subject to the will of his master. Let us then learn, even amidst our sufferings, to perceive the grace of God; and let it suffice us, when anything severe is to be endured, to have our cup mingled with some portion of sweetness, lest we should be ungrateful to God, who, in this manner, declares that he is present with us.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible