Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said to him…
I. A LIFE BUILT ON GOD'S PROMISE. Five times in his short speech does he refer to the word which "the Lord spake." The word of promise to Caleb dealt with two things — his prolonged life and his possession of the land "whereinto he went" (Numbers 14:24). For five and forty years he had kept this word "hid in his heart," and now he puts out a hand, unweakened by age and long-delayed fulfilment, to grasp the realisation — a grand example of steady, persistent faith, which waits for the vision, though it tarry, and buoyantly welcomes it when it comes at last! A life thus filled with trust in God's faithful word has ever present instalments of accomplishment, as brooks by the way, to keep its hope fresh. The prolongation of Caleb's life was the pledge to him of the fulfilment of the remoter promise. Such a life is consciously surrounded with Divine operations, too plain to be ignored, and when looked at in retrospect, presents one solid and homogeneous mass of preserving providences, which are all summed up in saying, "Behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He spake... while Israel walked in the wilderness." Such a life has hope burning as a guiding star to the very end. The hopes of age are few and tremulous, if they be limited to earth. When the feast is near an end, appetite is dulled, and there is little to do but to get up and go away. But if we set our hope on God, our hope is immortal. He keeps the good wine till the last.
II. A LIFE WHICH BEARS BEING REMEMBERED. We may freely admit that the tone of this retrospect savours of an earlier stage in the process of revelation than ours, and that, if this were a complete account given by a man of his life, we should miss in it the voice of humble penitence, which must always sound through a Christian autobiography. But still, a life of trust and following Christ, however imperfectly, does yield calm remembrances, which nothing else does, and for the lack of which nothing can compensate. If we would lay up for ourselves against old age the treasure of such calm and humble memories, we must in youth and manhood choose God for our God, and Lake heed to follow Him, though we may be singular; and to do it wholly.
"I backward east mine e'e
On prospects drear,"
said poor, brilliant Robert Burns, whose youth of riotous pleasure burnt itself out before he was forty, and had been full of self-reproach and bitterness long before the end. Many a life which grasps at delight and spurns the slow-going puritanical ways of God-fearing, sense-coercing Christians, comes at last to be gnawed by memories sharp and poisonous like a serpent's tooth. The only way to secure that at the end we may be able to say, "I have fought a good fight," is to become Christ's soldier. Recruits for His army are most surely enlisted in youth.
III. A LIFE-PRESERVING YOUTHFUL VIGOUR TO OLD AGE. This "old young man," as Thomas Fuller calls him, followed the Lord wholly; therefore he "brought forth fruit in old age," and the aged tree was "full of sap and green" in all its gnarled branches. In a very true sense a man may keep himself young all his days. A youth and manhood of Christian sobriety and self-restraint, temperate, chaste, and free from the "sins of youth," which rot "the bones" and "lie down with" their victims "in the dust," is likely to conserve physical vigour, A life of Christian devotion and faith will keep its spring flowers blowing till late autumn, and blossom and fruit will hang together. The buoyancy, carelessness, hopefulness, cheeriness of youth are not far away from the aged heart, which lives by faith, and therefore dwells at ease, and is glad and secure, though the shadows of evening be falling.
IV. A LIFE STILL EAGER AT LAST FOR FURTHER ENTERPRISE. That is the true temper of the Christian soldier, seeking the hardest, not the easiest, work, and finding in danger an attraction. How nobly it has been exemplified in many a mission field, to which, whenever disease has smitten down one, two have been ready to go! An old Highland legend tells how his foster-brothers made a ring round the chief in a battle, and how, as each that shielded him with his own body fell, the foster-father cried, "Another for Hector," and another strode into the fatal empty place. The annals of the Church are full of like incidents. The call for another to stand in some deadly breach for the sake of the elder brother has never been sounded in vain; and to-day American and English Christianity is showing that the old heroic fire burns yet, in the men who, on the Congo and elsewhere, have hazarded their lives for the name of Jesus, and been drawn to the field by its very dangers.
(A. Maclaren. D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.
WEB: Then the children of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal. Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know the thing that Yahweh spoke to Moses the man of God concerning me and concerning you in Kadesh Barnea.