You shall not be affrighted at them: for the LORD your God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
The manner in which the possession of Canaan is invariably spoken of is worthy of notice. Moses never supposes it impossible that they should reach Canaan; the style of his expression is uniformly that of certainty; he does not say, "If the Lord," but "when." This confidence did not rest on human grounds, for their enemies were in themselves formidable, but on the Divine promise. Those who have the Lord's promise are safe, and they who trust in it are happy. But another fact is, that the Lord condescends to the state of His people; He knoweth their frame, and remembereth they are dust that they are prone to fear. True, there is no cause for fear, but their infirmity may lead them to do so. Hence He anticipates those fears, provides a remedy, and suggests every consideration calculated to encourage them.
I. THE FEARS WHICH THEY WERE IN DANGER OF INDULGING.
1. The superior strength of their enemies.
2. The consequent difficulty of dispossessing them. A few, comparatively, against many; the weak against the strong. How can I dispossess them? Is not the case very similar now? The Christian cannot be blind to the fact that his enemies are greater and mightier than he; the hosts of hell are marshalled against him. Legion is their name, implying unity, order, zeal, and perseverance. The enemies are mighty, and have overcome their thousands. There are few who have not been tempted to consider the contest hopeless, and to say, "Surely I shall one day perish." Now if there be one here saying this in his heart, let him attend —
II. TO THE ENCOURAGEMENTS PROVIDED AGAINST THOSE FEARS.
1. A recollection of God's past dealings. Thou shalt remember well what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt. The difficulties there were as great as they could be; — Pharaoh had chariots and horsemen; the Israelites were despised slaves; he had power, and was determined to use it in retaining them; yet the Lord brought them out, and therefore they need not fear now.
2. They were instructed as to the Lord's future methods. So shall the Lord do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid: He had ten thousand ways of weakening the power of the enemy; the whole kingdom of nature was at His command; He could send the hornet among them; even the insect tribe shall be made subservient to the accomplishment of God's design towards them. Joshua records the fulfilment of this promise (Deuteronomy 24:12). But this conquest was to be gradual. The Lord thy God will put out those nations by little and little. Immediate and entire victory would have been attended with undesirable consequences; God therefore gave them as much as in their circumstances was good for them.
3. Assurance was given of final victory. And are there not equal encouragements now, to everyone anxious to attain the heavenly Canaan? There is, however, this happy difference in the two cases: that when once the Christian has passed over the Jordan of death, every difficulty will be over, every enemy conquered, he will have the land in possession.In conclusion, I would say —
1. Let no one expect the victor, who fights in his own strength.
2. Let no one despair of victory who fights in the Lord's strength.
(George Breay, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.