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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 23

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verses 10-11


Joshua 23:10-11. The Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God.

MUCH as patriotism and valour are admired, and deservedly as, in many instances, they have been rewarded by men, they are of no value in the sight of God, if they be not accompanied with true piety. Their utility to the state of which we are members is undoubted; but their moral excellence depends on their union with religion. Abstracted from a regard to God, they are a mere compound of pride and selfishness; but, regulated by religion, they are in a high degree amiable and praiseworthy. Many bright examples of patriotism, united with piety, are set before us in the Scriptures; but none shines with greater lustre than that of Joshua: when his whole nation was sinking under desponding fears, he encouraged them by his unshaken fortitude and confidence in God [Note: Numbers 14:6-9.]; and when he had vanquished all their enemies, and put them into the quiet possession of the promised land, he still improved his influence to confirm their faith, and to establish them in the paths of righteousness. The words before us are part of his dying address to all the elders of Israel. In applying them to the present occasion, we shall shew,


To whom our successes have been owing—

God has promised to interpose on behalf of those who wait upon him—
[His promises to hear the prayers of individuals are numberless [Note: Matthew 7:7.]. And the same are made also to repenting nations [Note: 2 Chronicles 7:14.].]

His interpositions on behalf of our nation have been signally manifest—
[We may be led to ascribe them to the valour of our forces, or the skill of our commanders. But it is God who endues them both with skill and courage, and gives the victory to whomsoever he will. Besides, there have been many peculiar circumstances which owed their origin to him alone. And, while these mark his providential care, they compel us to acknowledge that “it is he who fighteth for us [Note: Here the particular circumstances may be mentioned, and be illustrated by Psalms 44:3.].”]

Nor are we without a hope, that his mercies to us have been sent in accomplishment of his promise—
[Many have mourned over the troubles of the land, and have made earnest intercession with God on our behalf. And though there is nothing meritorious in their petitions, yet when God sends the mercies for which we have prayed, we have reason to hope that he has sent them in answer to our prayers.]

Whatever may be our opinion respecting this, it becomes us to consider,


The improvement we should make of them—

Every mercy from God is an additional obligation to love and serve him—
[God has commanded us to love him with all our heart: and he is worthy of our supreme regard on account of the perfections of his nature, and the dispensations of his grace. But he is also to be loved in a peculiar manner for hearing and answering our prayers [Note: Psalms 116:1.]. The effect produced on the mind of David, should result from every expression of the divine goodness towards us [Note: Psa 18:1 with the title of the Psalm.].]

But we are very prone to forget all his benefits—
[However earnest we may be in a season of affliction, we become remiss and careless when the affliction is removed. We are like metal, which is melted in the furnace, but returns speedily to its original hardness as soon as it is taken from the fire. Like the Jews we “forget the Rock that bought us.” Even good “Hezekiah requited not the Lord according to all that he had done for him [Note: 2 Chronicles 32:25.].” And too many amongst ourselves forget to pay the vows which we have offered in a time of trouble.]

On this account we should take good heed to remember them—
[Nothing is more displeasing to God than ingratitude. Nor will he overlook it even in his most highly favoured servants [Note: 2 Chronicles 32:25.]. But “shall we thus requite the Lord?” Let us rather survey with gratitude the mercies we have received. Let us habitually behold the hand of God in them. And let us anxiously inquire, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto me?”]

This subject may teach us,

Where to look for future successes—

[If we look to our fleets and armies we may expect nothing but defeat. We are indeed to use all possible means of defence, but not to trust in any of them [Note: Isaiah 22:11.]. Our eyes must be directed unto God alone. “The battle is not ours but his.” “He can save by many or by few.” Were we ever so superior to our enemies he could bring us down like Sennacherib [Note: Isaiah 10:8-19.]; or if we were reduced to ever so low an ebb, he could render us victorious [Note: Isaiah 10:4.]. And it is certain that if we “walk in pride, he will abase” us; but if we humbly seek his aid, he will support and deliver us.]


Where to look for success in our spiritual warfare—

[Whatever external peace we might enjoy, we yet should have a warfare to maintain. There never will be one moment’s truce with our spiritual enemies. The world, the flesh, and the devil, will incessantly fight against us; and we must conflict with them even to the end. But God fighteth for those who put their trust in him. Let us call upon him, and he will clothe us with armour from the arsenal of heaven [Note: Ephesians 6:13.]. The Captain of our salvation will go forth with us to the battle. He will shield our head, and strengthen our arm, and make us “more than conquerors” over all. Let us then “love him” for the victories we have already gained. Let us take good heed to ourselves that we never rob him of his glory. Let us thankfully ascribe our every success to him [Note: Psalms 115:1.]: and begin the song which we shall shortly sing in heaven, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:57.].”]

Verse 14


Joshua 23:14. Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

IT has been common in all ages to pay peculiar attention to the words of dying men: and the more eminent their characters were, the more regard has been shewn to their last instructions or advice. The person speaking in the text, was, in some points of view, distinguished even above Moses himself: for though Moses was the appointed instrument of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, he was forced to leave them to the care of Joshua, who alone was commissioned to settle them in Canaan; and who was therefore a more illustrious type of Jesus, whose name he bore, and whose character he prefigured. The dying words of such a person, when speaking under the dictates of inspiration, may well be considered as calling for more than ordinary attention: especially when the scope of them was to vindicate the honour of God, and they were delivered in a way of solemn appeal to the whole nation of the Jews. But they have yet a further claim to our regard, because, though primarily applicable to those to whom they were immediately addressed, they are equally applicable to the Lord’s people, in every place, and every age.
To illustrate them in this view, we shall,


Notice some of those good things which the Lord our God has spoken concerning us—

In order to mark, what we are principally to insist upon, the faithfulness of God in performing his promises, we will specify some that were made,


To the Church at large—

[God promised to the Church the gift of his dear Son [Note: Genesis 3:15; Genesis 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 53:6; Daniel 9:24; Jeremiah 23:6.] — — — the abiding presence of his Spirit [Note: Proverbs 1:23; Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joh 15:26.John 16:14; John 16:8; Zechariah 12:10; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22.] — — — and a final triumph over all our enemies [Note: Isaiah 27:2; Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 54:17; Jeremiah 31:35-37; Matthew 16:18.] — — —]


To individual members in particular—

[Though the names of individuals are not specified, their characters are delineated, and that too in such a way, that all who study the sacred oracles may read, as it were, their names in them. There are distinct promises made to the humble [Note: Isaiah 66:2; James 4:6; Isaiah 57:15.] — — — the weak [Note: Isaiah 42:3-4; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 41:14-15; Isaiah 41:17-18; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Amos 9:9.] — — — the tempted [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18.] — — — the backslidden [Note: Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4.] — — — and especially to them that trust in God [Note: Isaiah 26:3; Psalms 125:1; Jeremiah 17:7-8.] — — — In that class is every rank and order of true Christians comprehended, “Verily it shall be well with the righteous [Note: Isaiah 3:10.].”

These are “great,” “exceeding great and precious, promises [Note: 2 Peter 1:4.];” and the persons who correspond with the different characters, are at full liberty to apply them to themselves.]

Having taken a short view of the promises, we may proceed to,


Shew the faithfulness of God in fulfilling them—

There is in the minds of all who have heard the Gospel, a general conviction of the truth and faithfulness of God—
[It is seen that God has already fulfilled all that he has promised in reference to the Church at large. Besides what he did for the Jews [Note: Joshua 21:43-45.], he has sent his Son; he has poured out his Spirit; he has maintained his Church, notwithstanding all the efforts that have been used both by men and devils to destroy it. And from hence we feel a persuasion, that his word shall be fulfilled in other respects also. We do not indeed suffer our convictions to operate as they ought; yet we revolt at the idea that “God should lie [Note: Numbers 23:19.],” and we know that “he cannot deny himself [Note: 2 Timothy 2:13.]” — — —]

All who have ever sought after God at all, have had proofs of his veracity in their own experience—
[The Israelites “knew in all their hearts, and in all their souls,” that God had fulfilled his promises to them. And are there any who have ever called upon him, or trusted in him, and not found him ready to hear their prayers, and to supply their wants? If we look back to seasons of peculiar trial, shall we not find some manifestations of his mercy, sufficient to shew, that, if we have not received more from him, it has been owing to our own backwardness to ask, rather than to any unwillingness in him to give? — — —]
Nor can the whole universe produce one single instance wherein his promises have failed—
[We can make the same appeal to you, as Joshua, after sixty years’ experience, did to the Israelites. Bring forth every promise from the Bible; then search the annals of the world; and inquire of every creature in it, to find one single instance of God’s violating or forgetting a promise: and if one instance can be proved, we will consent that his word shall henceforth be called in question. Tell us then, To whom has he “been a wilderness [Note: Jeremiah 2:31.]?” What penitent, believing, and obedient soul hath he ever forsaken [Note: Hebrews 13:5; Isaiah 49:14-15; Isaiah 54:7-10.]? He himself bids you “testify against him [Note: Micah 6:3.].” But we defy the whole world to impeach his veracity, or to contradict our assertion, when we say, that “all which he hath promised us is come to pass; not one thing hath failed thereof” — — — God may have delayed the accomplishment of his promises, or fulfilled them in a way that was not expected: but not one of them has ever failed.]


Those who have not considered the faithfulness of God—

[In spite of the general conviction of God’s truth that floats upon our minds, there is a proneness in us to indulge a thought, that his mercy will in some way or other interpose to prevent the execution of his threatenings. But the veracity of God is pledged as much for the accomplishment of his threatenings as of his promises: and of this he labours in the most earnest manner to persuade us [Note: Ezekiel 24:13-14.]. How many, alas! are now experiencing in hell what they would not believe when they were on earth! Let us learn to “tremble at God’s word.” Let us remember, that though the antediluvian scoffers said, as others now do, “Where is the promise of his coming [Note: 2 Peter 3:3-4.]?” he did come at last, though he bore with them a hundred and twenty years. And in like manner he will overwhelm us also at last with the deluge of his wrath, if we enter not into the ark before the door be shut against us — — — “We are going the way of all the earth,” whether we be old or young, rich or poor: and as death finds us, so shall we remain for ever. Stay not then till death overtake you; but join yourselves to the Lord, and to his people. “Come with us, and we will do you good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel [Note: Numbers 10:29.].”]


Those who are tempted to doubt his faithfulness—

[Let not delays lead you to harbour unbelieving fears. God sent not his Son till four thousand years after he had announced his purpose to the world: nor did he bring Israel out of Egypt till the time fixed in his promises was just expired. If a few more hours had elapsed, his promise to Abraham would have been broken: but God remembered the very day; and then inclined the rebellious Pharaoh to submit: yea, he disposed the Egyptians to “thrust his people out” from their land, on “the self-same day” that he had fixed four hundred and thirty years before [Note: Exodus 12:51.]. Tarry then the Lord’s leisure. Take the promises of God as your support, and “claim them as your heritage for ever [Note: Psalms 119:111.].” Be not hasty in concluding that God will not accomplish them [Note: 1 Samuel 27:1; Ezekiel 37:11.]; but take them with you to a throne of grace, and plead them as the saints of old were wont to do [Note: Genesis 32:12.]: then you shall find them all to be “yea, and amen, in Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:20.].” “If things be marvellous in your eyes, do not imagine that they must therefore be so in the eyes of God [Note: Zechariah 8:6.];” for as “there is nothing too hard for him” to do, so there is nothing too great, or too good, for him to give to his believing people.]


Those who are relying on his faithfulness—

[It cannot but be a source of unspeakable comfort to observe, in how many passages the faithfulness of God is expressly pledged for the performance of his promises. Does he promise to forgive our sins [Note: 1 John 1:9.], to deliver us from temptation [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13.], to further in us the great work of sanctification [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.], and to preserve us to the end [Note: 2 Thessalonians 3:3.]? We are told in each, that he is “faithful to do it” for us. It is also delightful to reflect, that “his word is tried [Note: 2 Samuel 22:31.].” Solomon’s testimony was precisely that which is given in the text [Note: 1 Kings 8:56.]: and, the more we trust in God, the more evidence shall we have that “he keepeth covenant and mercy to a thousand generations [Note: Deuteronomy 7:9.].” But remember that his fidelity to you requires in you fidelity to him: it lays you under a tenfold obligation to “hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering [Note: Hebrews 10:23.].” See then that ye bear in mind the vows that are upon you, and that ye execute all that ye have undertaken in your baptismal covenant. Labour to be found “children that will not lie; so will He be” your faithful and almighty “Saviour [Note: Isaiah 63:8.].”]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 23". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/joshua-23.html. 1832.
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