Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister…
I. THE DIVINE COMMISSION IS GIVEN TO MEN WHO ARE PECULIARLY FITTED FOR THE WORK. In one respect all men are weak; but in their weakness they must not be weaklings. God can use all men; but He never calls one to a burden that is beyond his ability to carry. Man must become worthy or willing before God will commission him to any work. God cannot make much of any man who does not make much of himself. We too often speak as if God gives man his character; it is all wrong. By Divine help every man makes himself and develops his own powers, for the exercise or misuse of which he alone is responsible. It is every man's privilege to be worthy of receiving the Divine call.
II. THE SOURCE OF ALL STRENGTH IS GOD.
1. God wants strong men. There is no strength without symmetry. Samson's strength was counterbalanced by his moral weakness. Benedict Arnold ranked among the nation's heroes at Ticonderoga, but the lurking perfidy of his heart betrayed the traitor at last. The intellectual brilliancy of an Aaron Burr could not raise him to any greatness so long as his moral nature was corrupt. Washington was as great a power in national affairs on account of his moral nature as from his civic deeds; so of Lincoln and Grant.
2. All strength springs from within. You cannot make any man stronger than he is. Place him in favouring circumstances, but these cannot control him, except as they mark his weakness. You may bolster men, but this gives no manhood; may extol them above their deserts, but all the puffs of adulation make them no stronger. The whole world cannot make any man to be worth more than he is in himself. This strength is possible to all. Take away bodily fear, or timidity as to others' opinions, and every man can be strong. There is no sight more sublime than man enduring the flames that scorch him in the path of duty; mightier than the mighty rebukes of millions as he walks alone; undismayed, as Christlike he stands with some repentant child of sin, for Christ's sake. The "image of God" can surpass in sublimity and divinity all else the world has ever seen, because the measure of the obstacles he overcomes marks the heroism of his own soul.
3. God promises help in thus gaining strength. What power in the words: "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee," &c. Stronger yet the promise: "The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." There is no strength without God. Power comes only when the watchward is "Immanuel." "I can do all things," &c. There is no truly great man who is ungodly. It takes a great hope to give great courage.
III. THEY WHOSE STRENGTH IS IN GOD ARE INVINCIBLE. There is no such bulwark as the truth; no such power as comes from the consciousness of doing right. There is no such strength as the man possesses whose conscience is clear. One such man can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. It is not necessary for men with truth on their side to take up the world's methods in their plans and plottings. Men in whom God dwells are as truly unharmed by evil as they are by the storms that can do no more than wet their cheeks. The world cannot crush God's children; it can crown with thorns, but it cannot, with all its might, cast off from memory the crown of the just. It can build bonfires, make dungeons, and sharpen sabres, but it cannot weaken the joys that count all these only as symbols of their swift entrance upon a better life.
IV. THE BOUNDS OF ALL SUCCESSFUL SERVICE ARE IN THE WRITTEN WORD. So far as history has a voice, God has never left Himself without a witness of His truth. Sinai's law was but the expression of principles long before partially known. Twice in the record of this commission of Joshua the condition of prosperity is given as obedience "to all the law" made known through Moses: "Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left," &c. It was this same law that should never depart out of his mouth; day and night he should meditate upon its precepts, and watch closely "to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous," &c. The truth of this grand principle has been stamped upon the world wherever civilisation has gained a hold.
(David O. Mears.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
WEB: Now it happened after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying,