“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)” (Genesis 49:22-24)
Joseph is such a beautiful type of Jesus. To read the story of his life is to discover that he was a deeply sensitive man. Scripture records Joseph weeping more than any other person in the Bible (Genesis 42:24; 43:30; 45:2; 45:14,15; 46:29; 50:1,17). Here is a man who suffered much, not at the hands of strangers, but by the actions of those who ought to have loved him as a brother. And yet, so unlike the typical, natural response, he does not allow their hatred of him to produce the same heart in him. He is strengthened and kept by his God so beautifully.
We read: “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.” (Gen. 49:23) His response: “But his bow abode in strength …” (Gen. 49:24) What does this mean? It means he did not shoot back. By the strength and help of the Lord, he did not retaliate. His bow “abode” (i.e., sat still.) It stayed unstrung.
Not only did Joseph not repay evil with evil, but he had great compassion and mercy upon those who so spitefully mistreated him. Instead of exacting revenge upon them (as they expected he would) he showed them kindness and did them good. “Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Gen. 50:21)
The only better example we have of such overcoming love is Jesus Christ Himself. Like Joseph, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). And like Joseph, when He is hurt; He does not hurt in return. He loves His enemies; He blesses those who curse Him; He does good to those who hate Him. He is known for His mercy, not His malice. This was the glory of Joseph; this is the glory of Jesus.
Joseph was able to patiently endure the pain he suffered because “his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Gen. 49:24) We can be strengthened to do the same by our Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, Jesus Christ.
No matter how many arrows have pierced your heart, the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ can keep your soul from being infected by bitterness, hatred, and revenge. Your bow does not need an arrow. The “archer” doesn’t even need to know how much they have hurt you. The Lord knows your pain. He felt it. He longs for you to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering.