And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp to Gilgal.…
You all know something of a struggle that is continually going on in your own hearts between good and evil. You have all heard of the battle against sin. Well, the five kings are for us five sins, which day by day are warring against us. And let us be quite sure of this, if we do not conquer them they will conquer us.
I. Here is the first — KING ANGER. What boy or girl is there who has not felt this king rising in his heart, and leading him on to unkind words and bad deeds. Kill the very first angry thought, and then it won't have time to grow into a great king to trouble you and all near you.
II. "But," says some child, "I'm not given to being angry. I have a very good temper. I'm not afraid of that king." Don't be too sure. He may turn up some time when you are not ready for him. And in any case I fear, from the way yon speak, that there is another king you will have to keep a very good look-out against — KING PRIDE. Do you know what he is? Some one gave a very good description of pride when he said that pride was a great big "I" and a very little "you." Some of you, I am sure, have read "Alice in Wonderland"; and you remember what happened to Alice when she ate the piece of cake marked, "Eat me." She found herself growing taller, and taller, and taller, until at length everything looked quite small beneath her. Now King Pride does for us all what the wonderful cake did for Mice. He puffs us up. He makes us very high and very great in our own sight. And the only way to deal with him is to do like Joshua's soldiers, and to take this king and put our foot upon his neck, and crush him to the ground.
III. But we must pass on to our third king; and dangerous as were the first two, he is more dangerous still, for his name is KING FALSEHOOD. Have you ever told a lie, ever said what was not quite true to get your own way, or to save yourself from punishment? If you have, then you are letting King Falsehood reign over you, and a cruel, hard master you will soon find him to be. Determine at all costs to say nothing but what is strictly true. Once a great and good man was thrown into prison because he had written paper which displeased King Charles I. He was tried and condemned to death for what he had written; but the king sent messengers to him in prison to say that if he would only deny having written the paper and signed it, he would be set free. And how do you think he answered? "I did sign that paper. I could save my life by telling a lie, but I would rather a thousand times tell the truth, even though my life must be the cost." That was noble. Be like that hero, Algernon Sydney.
IV. Our fourth king need not detain us long — KING DISOBEDIENCE. He needs no explanation, but perhaps you will remember best about him if I tell you how he was once conquered by a brave English boy. Henry Havelock was his name, and at twelve o'clock one day his father left him on London Bridge, and told him to wait till he came back. One hour, two hours, three hours passed, and still the father did not come; but King Disobedience did. "Why wait any longer?" he whispered to Henry. "Your father has forgotten you, and will not expect you to remain. It is quite excusable to disobey him now after all these hours. You had better run home." But the boy would not consent. He had been told to wait till his father came, and like a soldier's son he drove the enemy back at every point. At seven o'clock that evening his wife asked General Havelock, "Where is Henry? I have not seen him all the afternoon." The General started up. "Oh," he said, "he's on London Bridge! I left him there at twelve o'clock, and told him to wait for me. In the hurry of business I quite forgot about him. But he's there still, I'm sure." And there indeed he was when his father went to fetch him. Seven long, weary hours he had waited, and fought King Disobedience. And hard though the battle had been he had won.
V. And now there remains only one king; but he is so big and so strong that I shall ask the printer to print his name in extra large letters — KING SELF. Have you ever heard two voices inside you; one saying, "Please yourself. Take your own way. Why should you think about other people?" And the other saying, "No, be generous; be kind. Give up what pleases yourself, and help others." I think you have, and I think you know which is the voice of King Self, and what a poor sort of a king he is to follow. He can make no one happy. Somehow the boy who is always trying to please himself is the boy who is never pleased at all. And then how uncomfortable he makes all round him. It was only because God had helped him that Joshua was able to defeat the five kings. And so shall we conquer if we fight in God's strength, not in our own. Kneel down to Him then, and ask Him to be with you, and to make you "more than conquerors" for Jesus' sake.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.