19 My master asked his servants, saying, ‘Do you have a father, or another brother?’
20 And we said to my master, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a younger brother, the child of his old age. His other brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’
21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’
22 But we said to my master, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he ever leaves his father, his father would die.’
23 Then you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’
24 “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my master.
25 Then when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’
26 we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we can go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons.
28 One left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces, and I have never seen him since.
29 If you take this one also from me, and injury happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’
30 “So now, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life,
31 as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol.
32 For your servant has become a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’
33 So Now, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.
34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I am afraid to look on the evil that would find my father.”
a pledge of safety
Judah’s words stand as a monument to the passion of an intercessor. In the previous text we saw him pleading on the basis of his love for Benjamin and his concern for his father. In this text, Judah says that he had become a pledge of safety for Benjamin. His life was now invested in the protection of his brother. True intercessory prayer breaks through the boundaries of personal existence and responsibility. It is a kind of self-imposed bondage. It says to the LORD, “bring peace to my brother, or take away my own.” We feel the consequences of our brother’s slavery so much that it becomes our own. It takes more than just a casual mention in prayer for that to happen, but it does happen. This kind of passionate prayer is still no guarantee that we can free our brother. But it does reassure us that our prayers are reaching God. We know this because that passion can only come from the LORD himself.
LORD, make us pledges of safety for our brothers in bondage. May we learn the skill of praying with your passion for the lost.