And the LORD your God will put out those nations before you by little and little: you may not consume them at once…
The victory over our enemies, that is, over our sins, will, in general, not be sudden, but gradual. Final success is promised: the first attempt to resist is a pledge of that final success; continued resistance is a continued pledge of that result; it needs only to persevere in the struggle, and the victory is ours — ours already in prospect. We must be prepared, therefore, for a continuous warfare. Sometimes we shall prevail over the temptation of the day — then we shall be encouraged; the next day, perhaps, we shall be defeated by it, and then we shall be humbled. Sometimes we shall look back, and feel that we have advanced. At other times we shall be conscious of a loss of ground, and we shall betake ourselves afresh to humiliation and prayer. But, on the whole, there will be no doubt so long as we continue to struggle, by faith not in ourselves but in Christ, that we are making progress. Things which once seemed impossible will have become easy; things which once seemed irresistible will have been found conquerable in the name of Christ. "By little and little" our foes are giving way before us. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and find us with His armour on, maintaining the post which He has assigned. Nor is this an arbitrary arrangement, but one calculated for our good. "Thou mayest not destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee." The sudden and final discomfiture of our foes at the moment of our first onset would not, in all probability, promote but defeat our ultimate good. There is a lesson to be learned, without which virtue itself might be a curse and not a blessing. That lesson is humility. He who would see God must be a humble man; and humility is a grace of gradual attainment. It comes by difficulty, sorrow, conflict, often by defeat. Worse than any fall is that pride which precedes it — that pride which, without a fall, would never be humbled. Was there danger lest the beasts of the field should increase upon Israel, if their enemies should fall before them at once? So the heart abruptly cleared from the assaults of other sins — of ambition, and vanity, and selfishness, and lust — might fall an easy prey to the ravenings of spiritual pride; and the last end of that man would be worse than the first.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.