Joshua 19
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics

I. THE IDEA OF BROTHERHOOD MUST BE RECOGNISED IN ORDER THAT TRUE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE MAY BE ESTABLISHED. Justice does not imply equality. To deal equally with all is often unjust, since different men have different needs. It would have been unjust to have given equal portions to Judah and Simeon. In the family, justice does not require the treatment of all the children alike, but the treatment of each according to his disposition and requirements. But in order to do this there must be mutual understanding and sympathy Therefore these are necessary for the administration of justice. Rude social equality will not regenerate society. The idea of brotherhood must come first and bring with it the thoughtfulness and sympathy, without which we cannot be just to one another. Note: Providence is often more just than it appears, because it does not aim at establishing a mechanical equality, but studies the individual condition of each man, and acts according to special requirements of special cases which may be entirely unknown to us.

II. THE IDEA OF BROTHERHOOD MUST BE REALISED IF MEN WOULD SEE THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE. Judah had too much. Few men are willing to admit that they have too much, and hence they often wrong others and greedily hold what they do not need. Until men feel their brotherhood with others they will not see the measure by which to judge whether or no they have more than their due share of the advantages of life. Selfishness magnifies a man's needs and deserts, and minimises the requirements and merits of others. To be just we must conquer selfishness with brotherliness.

III. THE IDEA OF BROTHERHOOD MUST TAKE POSSESSION OF MEN BEFORE THEY CAN PRACTISE THAT MUTUAL ACCOMMODATION WHICH IS REQUIRED BY JUSTICE. The children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of the children of Judah. This could only be enjoyed peaceably so long as the two tribes lived on terms of brotherly kindness. Justice will not be obtained under a system of jealous competition in a selfish race for wealth. This leads to the weak and unfortunate losing, and the strong and fortunate gaining, more than is fair. The idea of brotherhood will prevent men from taking unfair advantage of one another, will establish the principle of cooperation in place of that of competition, and will substitute the mutual benefits of the family for the selfish profits of a state of internecine warfare.

IV. THE IDEA OF BROTHERHOOD CAN ONLY BE FULLY REALISED UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. Revolutions which have dispensed with Christianity have boasted of their power to realise this idea, but the attempt to do so has too often led through bloodshed to despotism. Christianity realises it

(1) by pointing to a common fatherhood,

(2) by joining to one brother, Christ,

(3) by exalting brotherly charity to the first rank among the Christian graces (1 Corinthians 13:13). - W.F.A.

I. JOSHUA RECEIVED AN INHERITANCE AMONG HIS BRETHREN. After labour and battle come rest and recompense. Though Joshua was a man of war he was not to spend all his days in fighting. It is sometimes well that the active should have a quiet time of retirement in old age. For all God's servants there is an inheritance of rest when this world's work is done (Hebrews 4:9).

II. JOSHUA'S INHERITANCE WAS GIVEN ACCORDING TO A DIVINE PROMISE. True devotion is founded on unselfish motives. Yet the prospect of reward is added by God's grace as an encouragement. Christ looked forward to His reward (Hebrews 12:2). We are only guilty of acting from low motives when the idea of personal profit is allowed to conflict with duty, or when it is the chief motive leading us to perform any duty.

III. JOSHUA'S INHERITANCE WAS SIMILAR TO THAT OF HIS BRETHREN. He was the ruler of the people, yet he took no regal honours. He had led them to victory, yet he received no exceptional reward. Like Cincinnatus, he quietly retired to private life when he had completed his great task. This is a grand example of unselfishness, simplicity, and humility. It is noble to covet high service rather than rich rewards. Ambition is a sin of low selfishness cloaked with a false semblance of magnificence. The Christian is called to fulfil the highest service with the lowliest humility (Luke 22:26). Christians are all brethren under one Master (Matthew 23:8). Joshua is a type of Christ in his great work and unselfish humility (John 13:18-16).

IV. JOSHUA RECEIVED HIS INHERITANCE FROM THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE. He was not forward to take it for himself. He submitted to the choice and will of the people. It is a mark of true magnanimity to refuse to use influence and power to gain personal advantages. Joshua is a noble example of a man who exercised authority over others without developing a spirit of despotism which would fetter the popular choice. It is a great thing to have a strong, united government ruling over a free people.

V. JOSHUA DID NOT RECEIVE HIS INHERITANCE TILL AFTER ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE HAD RECEIVED THEIR POSSESSIONS. He was first in service, last in reward. The true Christian spirit will put self last. He who is rightly devoted to duty will not seek for his reward before his task is completed. The world is too often tardy in recognising these who have rendered it most valuable service. - W.F.A.

When they had made an end of dividing the land, Joshua gets his share. Not first, as kings usually do, but last. When all are helped, then comes his turn. Though he waits longest, yet it does come to him. And when it does come it is all the more welcome from being well earned. Observe two or three things that are thus brought before us.

I. A TRAIT OF HONOUR. Honour is the bloom of uprightness; the finer instinctive working of it in matters too delicate to be touched by law. It is not so common as it ought to be; for our natures are often coarse, and honour is always costly. We prefer going in for cheaper virtues, especially for such of them as are loud and obvious, as well as cheap. Even those who attend to the "honest and just and true" of Paul's precept, sometimes overlook "the pure and the lovely and that which is of good report." Here Joshua comes out, as we would expect him, as a man of honour. Such faith as he had never existed in a selfish heart; such courage as marked him, naturally had emotions of similar nobility to keep it company. Doubtless, some foolish and flattering friends urged him to accept his lot first; and pleaded, perhaps, his first right to it, both as faithful spy and successful leader. Something before Shakespeare had whispered -

"Love thyself last: let all the ends thou aim'st at
Be thy country's, God's, and Truth's."

And the still small voice of sacred honour within him did not speak in vain. Like as in a sinking ship, a brave captain is the last to leave her and seek for safety, so Joshua elects to be the last served. All the best bits of the country others eagerly go in for. Joshua sees it disposed of by lot, but is not moved by the sight of its going to envy others, nor does he catch any greed from the contagion of their example. Quite calm, feeling rich in enriching others, at rest in giving others rest, he has rewards above any freehold, and joys above any wealth. There is here an example all ought to follow. The insistance on our rights is sometimes a duty. In the interest of others we may be obliged to resist and dispute injustice. But such insistance ought always to be practised with regret, and avoided wherever possible. The precept requiring us to give the cloak to him who covets the coat certainly inculcates the surrender of rights wherever any moral advantage can accrue from it. For our own sake, to keep the soul in proper and worthy mood, we ought to cultivate this honourableness that thinks of something sublimer than its private rights. And for the sake of others also, for honour is one of the subtlest, but the strongest, forces of good anywhere existent. It allures men to a better way, charms them to integrity, is a root of brotherliness and peace. Especially should all leaders of their fellows cultivate this honour. It is not too common amongst either sovereigns or statesmen. Men are apt to forget that selfishness is vulgar, whether it seeks to get a throne, in ambition, or to keep its halfpence in sordid avarice. All selfishness is mean; and in the great it is greatly mischievous. It breeds civil wars; it corrupts the patriotism of a people; it prevents the rise of that confidence in the justice and the patriotism and the wisdom of the rulers which gives the nations rest. In leaders in smaller circles - boroughs, churches - there is the same scope for this high principle. Israel was blessed in this, that its most unselfish man was its leader. And he who was highest in place was highest in honour. Secondly observe -

II. HONOUR HAS ITS REWARD AT LAST. He had had abundant reward all through. Rivalries and competitions which, under a selfish ruler, would have broken out, and perhaps flamed up into strife and tumult, are repressed by the silent, dignified example of one whose thoughts were above the vulgar delights of wealth. And this reward of being able to compose the conflicting claims of a great multitude was the grandest reward he could have. To win victory over his nation's foes, and keep contentment and peace in her own borders, was reward indeed. But he does not go without even the material reward. All Israel come and give him Timnath-serah. We cannot identify it now with any definiteness. But it was doubtless worthy of the nation that gave it - of the man that received it. Honour often seems, to the coarse hearted, to go without reward. But that is only because the reward is of a sort too subtle for coarse vision to detect. It has always a grand reward in the influence with which it crowns the head of him who practises it. It has, besides, even common outward rewards. The race is not always to the swift, nor the gold to the greedy. We make our own world, and teach men how to deal with us. The world is froward to the froward; it is honourable to the honourable. The fairest treatment men ever give is given to those who treat them fairly. The best masters get the best service. The truest friends form richest friendships. Honourable men rarely meet with dishonourable treatment. And without any clamour or fighting they get a better Timnath-serah than in any other way they could have gained. "Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Lastly observe -

III. THE INHERITANCE GOT BY DESERT, AND HELD WITHOUT BEING ENVIED, IS THE PERFECTION OF A LOT. Not all riches comfort us. Ill-gotten riches curse us. Riches gotten by others and passed on to us are insipid. Wealth gathered by penury is a burden. But the lot that comes as the reward of diligence, consecration, honour, has a special sweetness, and the man who gets it has a special power of enjoying it. Especially when it is ungrudged; no neighbour coveting it; no peasant thinking that by right it should be his; all men glad to see it in such worthy hands. We shall do well to resolve that we will have no fortune and no inheritance which ages not in its way resemble TIMNATH-SERAH. - G.

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