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Please Hold

“But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness.” (Gen. 40:14)

After Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream and gave him the good news, he had only one request. Remember me. Help me. In my version, Joseph asks the cupbearer for kindness. That word is a very important biblical word…the Hebrew is hesed.

Hesed is used throughout the OT and is often associated with God. We sometimes translate it as “loving kindness.” Translated as “kindness” here, it sounds like Joseph is asking for a favor or that the cupbearer would do him a “solid.”

But the word is a lot deeper. It combines the ideas of loyalty and love. And most often, the term is used in a covenant setting. A covenant is a voluntarily entered into agreement, and it can be between God and humans or between humans, promising hesed.

But the most beautiful image of hesed is what God does for us. God has bound himself to us – covenanted himself, and he remains utterly faithful to that commitment. Psalm 136 tells us “His hesed endures forever.” Even when we fail him…even when we sin, Jeremiah reminds us: “Because of the Lord’s hesed (faithful love) we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22–23, CSB)

In other words, hesed is a big deal. Joseph appeals to the Egyptian cupbearer for the highest commitment he could make: show me some hesed. Make a covenant promise that you won’t forget me…pinky swear! We’re not told of the cupbearer’s response, but we can imagine that it was positive. After all, this is an exciting turn of events for him.

It turns out Joseph’s interpretation was correct. The Chief Cupbearer, who made sure the Pharaoh’s wine wasn’t poisoned, perhaps the most trustworthy position in the Pharaoh’s house, was free!

He was once again a trusted advisor of Pharaoh. Can you imagine what Joseph was thinking? I imagine that every time he heard footsteps in the prison hallway…every time he heard keys rattling… “This is it! I’m a free man! The Cupbearer is coming! He remembered!”

Day after disappointing day…nothing. It must have dawned on Joseph slowly…but he began to get it. There was no hesed for him. The Cupbearer had forgotten him.

I imagine that Joseph thought even God had forgotten him and withheld his divine hesed. But he had not! God simply had some other plans for Joseph.

And he hasn’t forgotten you, either. Join us Sunday for my sermon “Please Hold” and I’ll show you how I know.


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