Purchased, but Purposed


S-U-C-C-E-S-S, we are… the BEST! I learned those words way back in middle-school cheer practice, but it’s amazing how often we believe them to be true in our real lives. When we experience success, we often attribute it to ourselves. After all, we’re the best! In today’s passage, however, we see what true success looks like. We like to think it’s solely about our human accomplishments. But, the continuing story of Joseph shows us that true success is revealed in perseverance and faithfulness, and in the God who makes himself known.

  • How do you tend to define success in your own life?


1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. This passage takes up the story of Joseph just after his brothers sold him into slavery at the hands of Egypt-bound Ishmaelites (Genesis 37). What all do we learn about Joseph and Potiphar from verses 1-2?
  2. Why did Potiphar favor Joseph and make him the overseer of his house (vss. 3-4)? Who was ultimately responsible for Joseph’s success though (vss. 2-3)?
  3. What happened to Potiphar’s household as the result of his making Joseph its overseer (vs. 5)?
  4. Reread the passage, noticing every occurrence of “the Lord.” What did the Lord do, and what were the ensuing effects for Joseph (and consequently, for Potiphar)?
  5. How have you seen the blessing of the Lord in your own life? How has his favor opened the door for your success? And, have you attributed your success to him or credited yourself for it?


After Joseph was purchased by Pharaoh’s official, we see a story only God could write: Joseph went from being a trafficked slave to a successful steward of an entire Egyptian household. “The Lord was with Joseph.” The blessing and favor of God are always his to give—we are the recipients, not the earners. And, God’s blessing even affected those around Joseph; they did not worship Joseph’s God but could still see the evidence of his presence. May we always be mindful that we are simply the beneficiaries of God’s blessing and favor, and our success will always be attributable to him.

  • Ask God to be with you and show you his favor—not for your own success and glory, but for his.