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The sacred historian prosecutes in this Chapter the subject of Israel's contest with the remaining Canaanites, after the death of Joshua. The chapter opens in the enquiry of Israel of the Lord, who should go before them to the subjugation and destruction of their enemies. The Lord's answer. The several tribes divide in their war, some are successful more than others. several of the tribes permit the Canaanites to remain with them, contrary to the command of the Lord.
If the Reader regards the book of the Judges merely as an history, still he will discover in it sufficient to demonstrate the faithfulness of God to his promises. But, if he reads it also with a spiritual reference to the church of God shadowing forth beside the history some greater events connected with it, he will find this Sepher Shophtim (for so is it, in the original, very properly called, that is, the Book of Judges) not an uninteresting part of the sacred record. As Joshua was an eminent type of Jesus, do we not feel our minds led to the gospel history, and the case of the apostles, at the departure of Jesus? Well might the disciples enquire who shall go in and out before us, when the Lord is returned to his Father? See John 14:1-2 . We cannot be at a loss to assign the cause, wherefore Judah was chosen. The dying Patriarch looking forward to him who after the flesh was to spring from Judah, declared, that Judah was him whom his brethren should praise, whose hand should be in the neck of his enemies, and whose father ' s children should bow down before him. Genesis 49:8 , etc. And when we behold him who is expressly called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, whom all nations shall praise, and whose victory over the neck of his enemies hath been so marked, we cannot but discover the striking affinity. Hebrews 7:14 ; Revelation 5:5 .
It should seem that, as this verse is inclosed in a parenthesis, it only meant to notice what had been said before. Probably Jerusalem was taken in the wars of Joshua. See Joshua 10:1 , etc.
Judah, under the banner of the Lord, goeth on victoriously. Reader! how profitable is it ever to keep in view His arm, in whom alone we are victorious? If God be for us, who shall be against us? That is a sweet Scripture, and a sweet promise, Isaiah 54:15-17 .
We had this interesting account before, in the preceding book of Joshua, to which I therefore refer the Reader. See Joshua 15:15-19 .
Doth not this account of the Kerites being with Judah throw some light upon that part of Israel's history, which we read respecting them in a period distant from this more than thirty years? See Numbers 10:29 , etc. The Kerites were of this man's family.
Here we trace the want of faith, and consequently the want of courage, in Israel. What were the chariots of iron, when God fought the battles of Israel? But is not this, in a spiritual sense, the very case of Israel now? The faith of Peter could prompt him to attempt walking on the water, to come to Jesus, at his command. But we are told that when he saw the waves boisterous, his faith forsook him. Oh! for a portion of that faith which can quench the violence of fire, and out of weakness can make strong. Hebrews 11:34 .
Though Joshua, we are told, had given this place to Caleb before, yet the possession of it was probably only now. See Joshua 14:13-14 . And were not the victories of Jesus the same? Though Jehovah had given him the heathen for his inheritance, as well as to raise up the tribes of Jacob; yet Jesus had to conquer both before that he took possession of either. But under the sure prospect Christ considers them as already obtained. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine. All mine, (Christ said to the Father) are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. Psalms 60:7 ; John 17:10 .
Here we have another example of unbelief, and consequently of culpable timidity. The Lord had expressly commanded that there should be no affinity, nor treaty, with the Canaanites. But alas! Israel forgets the Lord's precept, and the Canaanites dwell in the land. Reader! Is it not too often so, with spiritual Israel? Oh! for that glorious period, when the Canaanite shall be no longer in the land, Zechariah 14:21 , compared with Deuteronomy 7:23-24; Deuteronomy 7:23-24 .
The success of the house of Joseph is particularly marked in the cause of it. The Lord was with them. In the Chaldee paraphrase of this passage it is said, the word of Jehovah was with them, a well known title of Jesus. And in this sense how very precious it is to see the Lord Jesus with his people, leading them on to sure conquest and victory! We have abundant reason to bless the Holy Ghost for the clear explanation of those passages which speak of the uncreated Word, in his decidedly referring to the person of Jesus, as that beautiful passage in the revelation shows, Revelation 19:11-13 .
Bethel is a memorable name in scripture, ever since the Patriarch Jacob made it so. All true believers in Jesus know this name, and can tell, as Jacob did, what Bethel visits mean. Reader! was not that spot, that place, a true Bethel, or house of God to your soul, when the visions of God first began ') See Genesis 28:19 ; Exodus 3:2-6 .
Is there not a spiritual illustration of this scripture? May we not, without overstraining the passage, observe that the man, showing the house of Joseph the way into the city, but afterwards departing to the Hittites, and still preserving the original name of Luz, is a representation of those who act as ministers in the Lord's hand, to show the spiritual house of Joseph the way to the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, but not settling in it themselves? Like direction posts on the road, which point the traveler on his journey, but move not a step towards it. Very different are those guides spoken of in scripture, who not only direct to the way of salvation, but say, Come, and let us go up to the house of the Lord. Micah 4:2 .
I include all these verses within one view, because one general observation suits the whole. We see in them the sad picture of Israel's want of faith, and consequently want of courage. Had those tribes trusted to the arm of God, they would not have feared the power of man. Had they called to mind that it was their rock which had sold them, and that their Lord had shut them up, their chariots of iron would have been considered by them but as the reeds of Egypt; but one of them would have chased a thousand, and two of them have put ten thousand to flight. Deuteronomy 32:30 . But Reader! while we behold the sad defect of Israel, let us look nearer home. How often doth that guilt breed fear, which like the Canaanite, dwells in our hearts, in our affections and lusts; and hence we forget our strength in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Oh! for more of that faith in lively exercise, which overcometh the world. 1 John 5:4 .
SEE, my soul, in the history of Israel, what conflicts await the believer after a work of grace is begun in the heart. Let not him that putteth on the harness boast like him that putteth it off. Never, until that we undress for the grave, can the soldiers in the holy army of Jesus be said to have done with battle. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. But oh! what a sweet relief to the mind is it, in the consciousness that the issue is not doubtful. Though the Canaanite be still in the land, the promise is, that he shall not always be. There is a rest which remaineth for the people of God. Blessed God! comfort the souls of thy people with this assurance. And, until the day of deliverance comes, may we fight under his banner, and in his strength, who is the Lord our Righteousness.
Dearest Jesus! at the very mention of thy name, methinks, new strength is imparted to my soul. How infinitely dost thou transcend thy type of Israel's Joshua, in all that is precious and endearing! He was not able to continue, by reason of death. But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Oh! how sweet, how very sweet is that assurance! Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Be thou ever with me in all my trials, difficulties, and temptations. Be thou with me in all my happier hours of seeming prosperity and quiet. Be thou ever with me, to soften every evil, and to heighten every joy. Upheld by thine arm, which bringeth salvation, I shall be more than conqueror. And surrounded with thy love, my cup will run over. Oh! for the lively actings of faith thus to be always in the spiritual company of Jesus, and to live to him and with him, to the Father's praise, and the Spirit ' s grace, which maketh his people accepted in the beloved.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34