If you shall say in your heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?…
To a man about to journey into a strange country nothing gives more comfort or confidence than if there be put into his hand, by way of guide through it, a book written by someone who has travelled that country before him. He will read that book not for entertainment, but instruction; that he may learn beforehand how to make his way, what to take with him, what to beware of, and whither to betake himself for rest and refreshment on the way. In like manner the Bible has been given us to make us acquainted with the way itself, with the difficulties and the dangers of it, with the enemies that we shall meet with in it, and our only way of overcoming them.
I. THE SPIRITUAL STATE HERE REPRESENTED. The Jewish Church in the wilderness may be here regarded as a type or figure of the Church of Christ in the world, and the case of each member of the one as prefiguring in some particulars the condition of each believer in the other. But like as Israel, though free from Egypt and from all fear of being carried thither again, notwithstanding, had not overcome all enemies, but was to fight his way against them and never give them quarter, but fight on till they were utterly destroyed; so now is the believer in Christ called to fight the good "fight of faith, and lay hold upon eternal life." We may perceive, then, that the situation of Israel when Moses addressed them in the words of the text, represents to us the present state of the follower of Christ, and the warfare which he has to war under Christ as his captain against the enemies of his salvation.
II. THE FEARS WHICH COMMONLY ATTEND THIS STATE. The strength and number of the enemies whom Israel had to fight was well known to that people; but the Lord Himself had repeatedly put them in mind of it, saying continually, after He had numbered them over, that they were "seven nations greater and mightier than Israel." But why did God say so? Was it to make them afraid of these nations? No; but to enliven their faith and exercise their dependence upon God. It was quite true, and a notorious truth, that those nations were in point of strength and number quite an overmatch for Israel; so that it was impossible for him in his own strength to dispossess them. It was also true that, till they were dispossessed, the land of promise could not be enjoyed; so that these two considerations, the strength end number of the enemies of Israel and his own weakness, were the more immediate causes of his fears. The fears often felt by the Christian are much of the same kind. His enemies are of three kinds — the world, the flesh, and the devil: mighty all of them, and many; for the world and the flesh and the devil have marshalled under them whole hosts of enemies, of whom anyone, encountered by the Christian in his own strength, would be too strong. And oh I should he compare himself with them, what painful cause has he for the acknowledgment, "These are more than I!" It is in such a ease too natural for him to look within himself, and, pausing upon what he finds there, ask, almost in despair, "How can I dispossess them?" But mark how graciously the Lord anticipates, prevents such fears: "If thou shalt say in thine heart (He too well knows His people will say so), These nations am more than I: how can I dispossess them?" — this is their —
III. ENCOURAGEMENT. "Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember," etc. What God had done to Egypt and her king, Israel had seen and knew: it was because of this that they were then where they were, and that they were not in Egypt now; and God calls upon them to remember, for encouragement, what they had been in time past, "Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt"; and what had been done for their deliverance, and who had been the doer of it, Himself, the Lord their God: thus every word appears to have an emphasis intended to encourage them against their fears. Now, this encouragement, which God addressed to them, may serve as a figure of that which forms the encouragement of every Christian; for it is now the privilege of every Christian to look, for his encouragement, at the redemption wrought for him by Christ. Under all his fears he should remember what a wretched, lost condition Christ redeemed His people from, and how and why He did it. That state is thus described in Ephesians 2:1. This was the state of every one of us by nature. And how were they set free from it? By no less an act of love than the death of God's own Son in His dead people's stead (Romans 5:6). We see, then, that the encouragement of a true Christian, under all his fears and against all the enemies of his soul, is in that sure covenant and rich provision of all things his soul can need, through that redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Does he find the world too strong for him; does he dread the rage and malice of its children who are set against him, or the snares and perils which the God of this world sets about his path? Or does he tremble at that overwhelming crowd of cares which comes upon him daily with his first waking thought? Let him not be afraid of these things, but let him well remember what Christ did for him when he was dead in trespasses and sins; and thus strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, let him cast all his care on God. Does he dread the power of his own corruptions, and ask, "How can I dispossess them? Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Let him faithfully remember the encouragement suggested by the text, and he shall soon say also with the apostle, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Or lastly, is he troubled by the fear of death, "the last enemy that shall be destroyed"? Christ, his Redeemer, through His own death, hath abolished death by destroying him that had the power of death — that is, the devil. In short, the Christian's "life is hid," and so kept safe from every enemy, "with Christ in God."
(F. F. Clark, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?