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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 13-19

Dividing the Inheritances

Joshua 14:6-15 ; Joshua 15:13-19


We have come to a very interesting place in the early history of Israel even to the dividing of the land, and to the allotting of the inheritances to each tribe, and family.

The sad phase of all of this is given to the student for consideration. It is his to consider those who failed of their inheritances, and of entrance into Canaan.

1. A story of unbelief. We remember how the Children of Israel under Moses had come up to Kadesh-barnea. At that time spies were sent out to bring a report of the land. Ten of the twelve brought a bad report. All of this discouraged the hearts of the elders in Israel, and they refused to go up.

The result was that the Lord swore in His wrath saying, "Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb * * and * * Joshua."

A fuller statement of the unbelief of the elders is given in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 . There we read of five things which sprang up from unbelief, and which marred the wilderness journey of those who were turned back from entering into Canaan.

(1) They lusted after evil things. They were not satisfied with the Heavenly manna, the angels' food which God gave unto them; nor were they satisfied with the meat, the quails, which He gave.

How many there are, today, who lust after evil things and forget the spiritual. They think more of the garlic and onions of Egypt, than they do of the Heavenly Bread. They think more of the red lentil porridge, than they think of the Heavenly Manna. They would rather drink from the wells of men, than to drink the Water of Life which conies from the Riven Rock.

(2) They were idolaters. Our mind goes at once to the golden calf which they worshiped when they sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play.

(3) They committed fornication; they tempted Christ; they murmured. In all of this they sinned. In one day there fell twenty-three thousand. Another day, they were destroyed by the serpents. Still later they were destroyed of the destroyer.

2. The lesson which we should learn. It is written: "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

In line with the warning above, the Holy Spirit has written two chapters in Hebrews reminding us of how the fathers tempted the Holy Ghost and proved Him, and saw His works forty years.

We read that they hardened their hearts in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. Again we read that the Holy Spirit sware in His wrath and said: "They shall not enter into My rest." With this historical statement recorded, the Spirit adds: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God."

Thus, as we see those who utterly failed to enter into their Canaan rest and their inheritances, we are reminded that there remaineth a rest unto the children of God, and that into that rest some must enter. The warning, however, is distinctly made, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."


1. Each tribe received something. We have just read how the elders of Moses' day had failed to receive anything. Their bodies, with the exception of those of Caleb and Joshua, all fell in the wilderness. We now read that thirty years later, each tribe of Israel received an inheritance.

There is a passage in the New Testament which coincides with this: "Then shall every man have praise of God." Our conclusion is, therefore, that all of the faithful will receive something by way of reward. It is written that a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple shall receive its reward.

There are many people who vainly imagine that our present life, after we are saved, receives nothing when Christ comes by way of reward. They imagine that all will be alike in Heaven. Not so. Our God is not unfaithful, that He should forget our work and labor of love which we have showed toward His Name, in that we have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Every one of us, therefore, should be occupying with all fidelity till He come.

2. Each tribe received a different portion. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to reward His saints He will give to every one according as his work shall be.

The nobleman who went into a far country, left his servants to serve and to trade until the time of his return. When he returned he rewarded them according to that which they had gained.

Rewards will be based primarily upon three things. First, the life we have lived. Secondly, the faith we have held; and, thirdly, the work we have done. In all of this, let us seek to be faithful. It was a happy day when Israel had divided unto them their inheritances. It will be a happy day for us when ours are divided unto us.


1. Rewards are based upon worth. Our key verse says: "And Caleb * * said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea."

Caleb is reminding Joshua of the promise which God had made unto Moses concerning himself and Joshua. This promise of rewards was based upon their fidelity to God and their unswerving faith when they returned from espying the land. Caleb said: "I brought him word again as it was in mine heart." Then he added: "I wholly followed the Lord my God."

Christians should live their lives, not for present-hour rewards, but for those rewards which Christ will bring with Him when He comes. Christians should serve the Lord, knowing that of the Lord, they shall receive according to that which they do.

In the world we may have tribulation. For the while, it may seem as though there is no reward for faithfulness. However, we need to remember what Paul said in the Spirit: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day ."

The undershepherd is to feed the flock of God, with the understanding that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, he shall receive his crown.

2. Rewards are enlarged by faithfulness in the midst of adversity. Caleb stresses the fact that he followed fully, while his brethren who were spies with him, brought back an evil report of the land, and made the heart of the people to melt. It is one thing to be faithful, it is another thing to be faithful in the midst of predominant opposing forces.

There is something about Enoch which magnifies his fidelity and his testimony. He dwelt in the middle of an age which began with Adam, and ended with the Flood. While the apostasy swept the world he was true.


1. Promises of long standing are still good. The 9th verse has something illuminating in it. Caleb said: "And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever."

God's Word is always good. It is forever settled in Heaven. The fact that centuries may pass, or even millenniums, between a promise and its fulfillment, has nothing to do with the certainty of God's Word.

Our works, which are wrought today, awaith the time of Christ's Return for their full reward.

The fact that Moses, and Joshua, and David, and Paul, lived so far back in the years, does not mean that they have, therefore, lost every possibility of reward at Christ's Coming.

When we stand in the Millennial Kingdom we will be able to say, "There hath not failed one good thing of all that God hath spoken." Every promise of God is yea, and Amen, in Christ Jesus.

Every promise in the Book is mine,

Every chapter, every verse, every line,

'Tis the promise of His love,

Written from the courts above,

'Tis a Word that's all Divine,

In the glory it will shine,

It is mine.

2. Promises must be claimed. It was not unseemly for Caleb to press his claim. It was not uncouth for him to remind Joshua of the words spoken of the Lord, by the lips of Moses.

We not only have the right to claim God's promises, but we honor God in so doing. If He hath spoken, we show our faith in His Word when we claim the verity of its promise. The truth is that God wants us to put in our claims. He delights in having us place our feet upon His pledges. When we pray, claiming some promise from the pen of the Spirit we honor the Spirit.

There is one thing against which we must guard. That is the misquotations of Scripture, and the misapplication thereof. Satan said to Christ: "It is written." Christ quickly replied: "It is written again."


1. Caleb was kept alive in order that he might inherit his inheritance. In Joshua 14:10 he said: "Behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses." Caleb reminded Joshua that he was forty years old when he had returned with a good report of the land, when he had received the promise of his inheritance. He said that through Divine power he had been kept alive by God until his eighty-fifth year. Yet said he: "I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in."

2. The inheritance had been kept as securely as Caleb was kept. We love to put it this way: Caleb was kept for his inheritance, and the inheritance was kept for Caleb. Thus it is that God works at both ends of the line.

In the Epistle of Peter we read these words: "An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you." The word "reserved" means "kept." There is hardly anyone who will read this study who will doubt God's keeping power, so far as our Heavenly inheritance is concerned. He is not only able to keep it, but He will keep is undefiled. There is no danger of a cyclone coming, or of some devastating fire to sweep the Heavenly Mansions from the Glory. They are kept awaiting the day when we shall enter in.

It is in this that the believer greatly rejoices, even though for a season he may be in heaviness through manifold temptations. He rejoices that he is kept for an inheritance which is kept for him, Joshua lived to see the day which proved that he who had been kept entered into an inheritance which had been kept for him. The forty-five years of trial did not mar God's keeping power.


1. He who had helped him hitherto. Caleb stood before Joshua and said in effect: God hath hitherto helped me, and He will not fail me now. Caleb knew that the God of yesterday would prove the God of today. The God that he served was not a God merely who had wrought, but a God who could work.

Would that this vision of the Almighty might grip us at this very hour. Too many of us are living on past glories. We delight in reciting the conquests of yesterday. We live in the victories of the past. Church history, with its stories of the martyrs of the faith, with its messages of great achievements and marvelous blessing, thrill us.

We delight to study the biographies of such men as Paul and Melanchthon, as Luther and Calvin, as Spurgeon and Moody. While we do this, we find that the church of our own day is being swept with apostasy, swayed by unbelief, and engulfed with a deluge of worldliness. Are there no present-day herpes and heroines to stem the tide?

2. He who would still help. Caleb asked for no easy inheritance. To be sure the Lord had brought him into the land. To be sure He had led him through forty-five years, and renewed his strength as the eagle's. However, the place which he asked for an inheritance was a place which had not yet been fully overcome. Therefore, Caleb said: "If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said."

At forty years of age, Caleb had told the Children of Israel how the Anakims were there, but said he, "Our God is abundantly able." Caleb, now at eighty-five years of age, had lost none, of his old-time faith. He was still ready for an aggressive warfare, not, however, in his own strength.

He placed his faith in the Lord, and therefore he was ready to fight.

To us one of the beautiful verses of Scripture is Joshua 14:13 . "And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb * * Hebron for an inheritance."

VI. CALEB'S GENEROSITY (Joshua 15:16-17 )

1. Our minds go to the marriage in the skies. Joshua 15:16 says: "And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife." Then we read: "And Othniel * * took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."

(1) Our Lord is Christ the Warrior. Our Lord met Satan and his principalities and powers upon the Cross. There in a battle unto the death, He vanquished them, triumphing over them in it.

(2) Our Lord by virtue of His conquest has been given a wonderful Bride to become His wife. That was a great day when Othniel took Achsah to be his wife. It was a day of feasting and of rejoicing. That will be a more wonderful day when Jesus Christ takes His wife unto Himself. It will be a memorable feast, that will crown that Heavenly Marriage.

We read in Revelation 19:1-21 , "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife hath made herself ready." After describing the beauty of the bride, as she was arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, the angel said unto John, "Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

2. Our minds go to the inheritance of the Bride. Caleb gave unto his daughter and unto Othniel a marvelous inheritance. Will God not give unto His Son, and to the Bride of the Lamb, a wonderful inheritance?

In the Book of Revelation we read: "Come hither, I will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." Then John was carried away, in the Spirit, to a great and high mountain and he saw that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God.

We are entranced as we view the glory of that City. Its light was like unto a stone most precious. The city had a wall great and high. It had twelve gates, and every several gate was one pearl. The street of the City was pure gold. The City had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord did lighten it and the Lamb was the Light thereof.


A Blessing to conserve a blessing. Caleb had given to Othniel not alone his daughter as a reward for his valor, but he had given also a certain land for him to possess. Now, in addition to the land they made another request of Caleb. His daughter said: "Thou hast given me a south land: give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs."

It was necessary in order to conserve the fertility of the land to have water wherewith it could be watered. Therefore, the springs were given, both the upper and the nether springs. Let us consider these two springs in their spiritual significance.

1. The upper springs suggest the believer's spiritual blessings. We who live down here are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. The things not seen, take precedence over the things seen; the things which are above, superabound over the things which are beneath.

Saints who are journeying among men delight in setting their affection on the things above, not on the things which are upon the earth.

May we enumerate some of those spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ. These are the waters which flow from the upper springs. In Ephesians chapter 1 we read of the blessings in the Heavenlies as follows:

(1) We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

(2) We are predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself.

(3) We are acclaimed as accepted in the Beloved.

(4) Through Him and His Blood we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.

(5) In Him we have obtained an inheritance.

(6). In Him, after we believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, until the Redemption of the purchased possession.

2. The nether springs. These stand for our earthly and temporal blessings. We do not have time to enumerate them. They are, however, all included in one verse of Scripture: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus."


Let us not be satisfied with small things. God has a great inheritance for us, A friend of mine, a great preacher who died only a little while ago, once told me this story. He was staying with a friend, and, while dressing, out of his bedroom window he saw a sea gull in the back yard trying to take a bath in a pie dish filled with rain water! The poor bird's wings were clipped, and it was tamed because of that fact Fancy a sea gull, born to free-wheel over an ocean, and born to circle the moon and the stars, a gull, the child of empires and worlds, trying to feed itself and satisfy itself in a pie dish!

There are thousands of people who arc doing no better than that today. We cannot satisfy our immortal interests, our Divine nature, with the things that we can handle any more than that poor little clipped-wing sea gull could satisfy himself in a pie dish. From The Beauty of Jesus, by Gipsy Smith.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 15". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/joshua-15.html.
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