As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out…
We have here the first hint of the incompleteness of Israel's conquest of the land. The effects of this failure fully to carry out the Divine command in the extermination of the heathen were very manifest afterwards in the moral and social life of the people. "Their whole subsequent history, down to the captivity, was coloured by the wars, by the customs, by the contagion of Phoenician and Canaanite rites, to which, for good or evil, they were henceforth exposed" (Stanley). "They could not take Jerusalem." The reason lay in themselves. The fault was their own They had not enough faith, and of the courage that springs from faith. If they had had more of the spirit of their great leader in them they would not thus have quailed before their foes, or left the work half finished. The historic fact finds its analogue in the moral and spiritual life of men. It suggests -
I. THE FEEBLENESS THAT IS THE RESULT OF FAITHLESSNESS. Want of power is in various ways coupled in Scripture with want of faith. There were times when Christ could not do mighty works among the people "because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5). The disciples could not cure the lunatic child "because of their unbelief" (Matthew 17:20). Peter could no longer walk on the water when he began to doubt (Matthew 14:31). As the Jews "could not enter in" to the land of promise "because of their unbelief," so may we fail to secure our inheritance in God's everlasting rest (Hebrews 3:19; Hebrews 4:1-14). These examples suggest that faithlessness is weakness, inasmuch as
(1) it severs the soul from the Divine fountain of strength;
(2) it obscures the soul's vision of those spiritual realities which are the inspiration of all high and holy endeavour;
(3) it robs the soul of all firm standing in the hope of the eternal future. That must be a source of fatal weakness to a man which thus disconnects him from the higher interests of his being and leaves him at the mercy of things "seen and temporal." "All things are possible to him that believeth." To him that believeth not, nothing, great or good, is possible in this world.
II. THE ILL EFFECTS OF SUCH MORAL FEEBLENESS. The results of Israel's failure to exterminate the Canaanites are typical of conditions only too common in the moral life of men. The delay it involved in the settlement of the State - politically, ecclesiastically; the perpetual unrest; the national disgrace; the corruption of the national life by the contagion of idolatry; the reproach cast on the name of Jehovah among the nations - all these have their resemblance in the penalties of moral failure.
1. Personal dishonour. When a man has not the courage to face and combat the evils of his own heart and life, or that confront him in the world without, he generally falls into the shame of some kind of base compromise. He deals sophistically with his own conscience, suppresses the nobler impulses of his nature, belies the essential principles of his religious faith, disowns the bond of his allegiance to Christ. No greater dishonour possible to a man than this.
2. Spiritual degeneracy. As an enfeebled body is liable to the infection of disease, so moral laxity leaves men a prey to the destroyer. Corrupting influences readily take effect upon them. The gates are open, the sentinel is asleep, no wonder the foe enters and takes possession of the citadel. "From him that hath not shall be taken away," etc. (Matthew 13:12).
3. Exaggeration of opposing difficulties. The sense of moral weakness and falseness conjures up obstacles in the path of duty or endeavour that do not really exist. High moral excellence seems impossible to him who is content to grovel. The faithless heart always "sees a lion in the way."
"The wise and active conquer difficulties
By daring to attempt them. Sloth and folly
Shiver and shrink at sight of toil and danger,
And make the impossibilities they fear."
4. Defective witness for God. Every such case of spiritual failure is a hindrance to the progress of the kingdom of heaven among men, thwarts so far the Divine purpose m the triumph of truth and righteousness. The hostile forces of the world laugh at a half-hearted service of Christ. The strongholds of iniquity can never fall before a church enfeebled by the spirit of unbelief. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.