Yes, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:…
I. THE PLEASANT LAND. Palestine was a country in many views highly desirable — in itself compact, and possessing special facilities of commerce with Asia, Africa, and Europe, all the known quarters of the globe. As to its intrinsic character, we have it portrayed in Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Palestine, in all the glory of culture, must have been a "pleasant land." We know, however, that this country, with all its distinguishing institutions, formed but a shadow of better things to come; and it becomes us now to be enjoying a land still more pleasant. The Kingdom of God has come to many thousands, has come with power; and its blessings, to which those of Judea were not for a moment to be compared, are brought nigh to the remotest and most unworthy. Its inhabitants He hath delivered from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them. Their depraved and perverse hearts He renovates by the agency of His good Spirit, purifying them unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Whatever fightings they may have, they have peace with God; whatever vicissitudes, an immovable kingdom; whatever sorrows, everlasting consolation; whatever poverty, unsearchable riches; whatever disappointments and repulses, victory at last over sin and death and the grave. But I would point you to another land, in which the emblem of the text finds a more perfect accomplishment. True, we are here favoured with a morning, and the morning star shines bright: yet it is only the morning, and the shadows of the night largely intermingle with the dawning of the day. But in that "better country which is an heavenly," sunshine is qualified by shadow no longer. There Jesus appears in all that glory which He had with the Father before the world was — the distinctive glory of mediatorial triumph and recompense enhancing His Divine effulgence — and "the nations of them that are saved do walk in His light."
II. CONTEMPT OF THE PLEASANT LAND. "Every gift of God is good and nothing to be despised." Nay, not only are manifest mercies to be gratefully acknowledged, but we are forbidden to despise the chastening of the Lord, and enjoined to count it all joy when we fall into manifold temptations or trials. And how, then, can God look upon our conduct without anger when we treat with contempt a promised inheritance? As to the liability to this sin, it might appear that our inheritance being more valuable than that of the ancient and literal Canaan, it would be less readily and less probably disparaged. But alas! the things of God are not so appreciable to natural and unaided perception. The eye sees not their beauty, the ear hears not their melody, the nostrils smell not their odour, the tongue tastes not their deliciousness. We have had samples of heaven itself; its righteousness has come down to us; its celestial truth has been proclaimed to our guilty and perishing world; and humanity has discredited and disrelished all.
III. THE SOURCE OF THE ISRAELITES' CONTEMPT. "They believed not His word." If we had only full confidence in the Saviour, if we but eyed Him with a completion and constancy of trust at all commensurate with His trustworthiness, what distressing apprehensions of Him would vanish, what ravishing views of Him would succeed! How sure would heaven become! We should feel as secure of it as if we were already there, and something like as happy.
(D. King, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: