Jean Racine, a French playwright living in the days of Louis XIV, understood what “royal favor” was all about. Having written two works praise-worthy of the king, Racine was honored by a widely sought-after invitation to the palace. His great reward: he would watch Louis XIV wake up in the morning. This high honor was usually only enjoyed by the bluebloods of France.
Favor is something we seek as humans. We want people to like and respect us. We equate favor with influence. If we have favor in our workplace, in our community, and in our government, we might be able to implement our agenda. The Bible, however, is clear on the nature of “human favor.” Seeking it becomes a corrupt human ambition: look no further than examples like King Saul in the Old Testament and Pontius Pilate in the New Testament. In today’s reading, we see how God can grant and use human favor for His purposes.
Clearly, Pharaoh’s favor wasn’t something that Moses had sought. In fact, a sure way to lose favor was Moses’ habit of showing up every other week before Pharaoh’s court to announce impending disaster. Moses’ only goal was to obey God. He didn’t curry favor with court officials. He never made empty campaign promises. He spoke the truth, acted in God’s stead, and not surprisingly, grew to be highly regarded among the Egyptians. They were forced to admit his spiritual authority and power.
The favor Moses gained was never something he sought intentionally, and it didn’t serve simply to enhance his personal reputation. Moses was granted favor in the sight of the Egyptians (and presumably in the eyes of Hebrews) as a way to generate their support of his leadership.
The Hebrew people were also granted favor. When they fled after the final plague, God commanded them to ask their Egyptian neighbors to send them off with farewell gifts of gold and silver, and these gifts were later used in the construction of the tabernacle (cf. Exodus 35).