EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
—Being brought to the point, no other answer was possible. If they must give up Jehovah or the idols, the idols must go first.
(22,23) Ye are witnesses . . . that ye have chosen you the Lord . . . Now therefore put away . . . the strange gods.—This was the practical conclusion to which Joshua desired that they should come. But we do not read that they did anything in obedience to these words. We read of no images being buried or burned, as in the days of Jacob by David (Genesis 35:4; 2Samuel 5:21). There is only a verbal promise: “The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey.”Joshua 24:21-22
. Nay, but we will serve the Lord —
Namely, him only, and not strange gods. Ye are witnesses against yourselves —
This solemn profession will be a swift witness against you, if hereafter ye apostatize from God. They said, We are witnesses —
Here they renew their choice of Jehovah for their God and king, which their forefathers made when they came out of Egypt, Exodus 19:7
; Exodus 24:7
; and acknowledge they should be self-condemned if they did not make it good.
24:15-28 It is essential that the service of God's people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle whence all acceptable service of God can spring. The Father seeks only such to worship him, as worship him in spirit and in truth. The carnal mind of man is enmity against God, therefore, is not capable of such spiritual worship. Hence the necessity of being born again. But numbers rest in mere forms, as tasks imposed upon them. Joshua puts them to their choice; but not as if it were indifferent whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is laid plainly before you. He resolves to do this, whatever others did. Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream. They must not do as the most do, but as the best do. And no one can behave himself as he ought in any station, who does not deeply consider his religious duties in family relations. The Israelites agree with Joshua, being influenced by the example of a man who had been so great a blessing to them; We also will serve the Lord. See how much good great men do, by their influence, if zealous in religion. Joshua brings them to express full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord. They must come off from all confidence in their own sufficiency, else their purposes would be in vain. The service of God being made their deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant. He set up a monument of it. In this affecting manner Joshua took his last leave of them; if they perished, their blood would be upon their own heads. Though the house of God, the Lord's table, and even the walls and trees before which we have uttered our solemn purposes of serving him, would bear witness against us if we deny him, yet we may trust in him, that he will put his fear into our hearts, that we shall not depart from him. God alone can give grace, yet he blesses our endeavours to engage men to his service.
Choose - Service of God in sincerity and truth can only result from a free and willing allegiance of the heart. This accordingly is what Joshua invites, as Moses had done before him (Deuteronomy 30:15
14-28. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth—After having enumerated so many grounds for national gratitude, Joshua calls on them to declare, in a public and solemn manner, whether they will be faithful and obedient to the God of Israel. He avowed this to be his own unalterable resolution, and urged them, if they were sincere in making a similar avowal, "to put away the strange gods that were among them"—a requirement which seems to imply that some were suspected of a strong hankering for, or concealed practice of, the idolatry, whether in the form of Zabaism, the fire-worship of their Chaldean ancestors, or the grosser superstitions of the Canaanites.
To wit, him only, and not strange gods, as was supposed by Joshua, Joshua 24:20
And the people said unto Joshua, nay,.... We will not serve strange gods:
but we will serve the Lord; according to his revealed will, and him only. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.