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Verses of Exodus 23

29

Exodus 23:29 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 95
THE VICTORIES OF ISRAEL GRADUAL AND PROGRESSIVE

Exo 23:29-30. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little will I drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land.

THE more we investigate the dispensations of Providence, the more we shall see, that “God’s ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts.” If we had been left to form conjectures respecting man in his first creation, who would have conceived that God should suffer the work of his hands to be so marred as Adam was by the fall, and so large a portion of his creatures to perish in everlasting misery? Nor, if we were told that God would take to himself, from amongst the fallen sons of Adam, a peculiar people, and rescue them by so many signs and wonders from their bondage in Egypt, should we have imagined that he would, after all, keep them in the wilderness for the space of forty years, till the whole generation were swept away; and suffer two individuals only, of the whole nation, to enter the promised land. But “his ways are in the great deep; and his footsteps are not known.” When, at last, he had brought his people into Canaan, we should then at least suppose that he would give them a speedy and quiet possession of the land. Yet, behold, he tells them, beforehand, that he will “not drive out the inhabitants at once, but only by little and little.”
We propose to inquire into,

I.

The design of God in the dispensation here referred to—

It was intended,

1.

As an act of mercy, to preserve his people—

[The people altogether amounted to about two millions; and the country which they were to occupy extended from the Red Sea to the Euphrates [Note: 1 with Gen 15:18.]. But, if so small a population were spread over so wide a space, the wild beasts would quickly multiply, and speedily desolate the whole land. True, indeed, God could, if it should so please him, interpose by miracle to change the ferocity of the most savage animals: but that was no part of his plan. He permitted, therefore, vast multitudes of the devoted nations yet to live, that so they might, for their own sake, prevent the increase and incursions of the wild beasts, till Israel should have multiplied so as to be able, in every part, to protect themselves.]

2.

As an act of righteousness, to try them—

[All the trials with which God’s people were visited in the wilderness were sent “to prove them,” whether they would serve the Lord or not. Not that God needed any such information, as the result of experiment; because “he knew what was in man,” whose heart and reins were open to him from the foundation of the world: but it was desirable, for their own sakes, that they should have an insight into their own hearts, and be able to appreciate the whole of God’s dealings with them. By the continuance of the devoted nations amongst them, they would see how prone they were to seek their own carnal ease and interests, by mingling themselves among them, when they should have been labouring with all their might to effect their utter extirpation. By observing also the success or failure of their efforts against these enemies, they would be able to judge, with accuracy, how far they were in favour with God, or under his displeasure; and would consequently be led to approach him with suitable emotions of gratitude or contrition. This is the view which the Scripture itself gives us of this very dispensation: “These were the nations which the Lord left to prove Israel by them — the Philistines, Canaanites, Sidenians, and the Hivites; it was to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken to the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses [Note: Jdg 3:1-4.].”]

3.

As an act of judgment, to punish them—

[Though there were good ends to be answered, by a gradual execution of the judgments denounced against the seven nations of Canaan, it was the fault of the Israelites themselves that the extirpation of them was not more rapid and complete. They gave way to sloth, when they should have been in full activity; and yielded to fear, when they should have gone forth in assured dependence on their Lord. By this, they greatly increased their own trials, and multiplied their own afflictions. God had told them by Moses, saying, “If ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come to pass, that those whom ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover, it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them [Note: Num 33:55.].” Joshua also, at the close of his life, reminded them, that “no man had been able to stand before them:” and then assured them, that “one man of them should be able to chase a thousand, if only they would take heed to themselves to love the Lord their God: but that, if they did in any wise go back, and cleave unto the nations which remained among them, and make marriages with them; then know for a certainty,” says he, “that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you [Note: Jos 23:9-13.].” Accordingly, this prediction was soon verified; and God punished them, as he had said: for, on their “making leagues with the inhabitants of the land,” they were induced at last to “forsake the Lord, and worship Baal and Ashteroth:” and “the Lord’s anger was kindled against them; and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies: and they were greatly distressed. Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua [Note: Jdg 2:2; Jdg 2:12-15; Jdg 2:23.].”

Thus in this dispensation there was a mixture of mercy and of judgment: of mercy primarily; of judgment through their own fault.]
This view of God’s dealings with his people of old affords us a fit occasion to inquire into,

II.

His design in a corresponding dispensation towards his people at this day—

The redemption which he has vouchsafed to us through the blood of his only dear Son might justly lead us to expect, that when once we are truly brought out from the dominion of sin and Satan, our triumphs over them would be complete. But it is not so: for though the yoke with which we were oppressed is loosened, a measure of our bondage still remains: there is yet “the flesh lusting against the spirit, so that we cannot do the things that we would [Note: Gal 5:17.] ;” yea more, “there is yet a law in our members warring against the law in our minds, and too often bringing us into captivity to the law of sin which is in our members [Note: Rom 7:23.].” Now whence is it, that God suffers his people to be yet harassed with the remains of sin? He suffers it,

1.

For our deeper humiliation—

[The sins of our unconverted state may well humble us in the dust, and cause us to “go softly,” in the remembrance of them, to our dying hour. But the views of our depravity, which we derive from them, are as nothing in comparison of those which we gain from the workings of corruption in our converted state. These are the views which cause us to cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me [Note: Rom 7:24.] ?” These were the views which constrained Job to exclaim, “Behold, I am vile:” “I repent, and abhor myself in dust and ashes [Note: Job 40:4; Job 42:6.].” And, in proportion as they are discovered to us, they will constrain every living man to “lothe himself for hi, iniquities and abominations [Note: Eze 36:31.].” Now this is a feeling that well becomes our sinful race: and though the acquisition of it is obtained through much painful experience, yet does it, in the issue, well repay all that we have suffered in the attainment of it.]

2.

For our ultimate advancement—

[A child has all the members of a perfect man; yet are they in a very feeble and imperfect state: and it is by the exercise of his powers that he has those powers strengthened and enlarged. And thus it is with every child of God. He is born a babe: and, though every gracious principle exists within him, he is so feeble as scarcely to be able to withstand temptation, or to exercise his powers to any great extent. But, through the remains of sin within him he is led to frequent conflicts with it: by exercise, his powers are increased; and by progressive increase, they are perfected. Thus, from “a babe,” he grows up to maturer age and stature, and becomes “a young man;” and from “a young man,” “a father.” Nor is it in this world only that the believer is benefited by his conflicts; for in proportion as he grows in the knowledge of the Saviour and in a conformity to his image, will be the weight of glory bestowed on him in the realms of bliss. The improvement of the talents committed to him will bring a corresponding recompence, at the time that he shall give up his account to God. If no corruption had remained in his heart “to prove him,” he would have had scarcely any opportunity of shewing his fidelity, his zeal, his love, his gratitude: but being called “to fight a good fight,” and having approved himself “a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” he shall receive, together with the approbation of his Lord, a brighter crown, and a more glorious inheritance, than could have been awarded to him at the period of his first conversion.]

3.

For his own eternal glory—

[Doubtless the first exercise of mercy towards a repenting sinner brings much glory to God: and if at the first moment of his conversion every saint were translated to glory, he would have abundant reason to adore and magnify the grace to which he was so greatly indebted. But of the patience, the forbearance, the long-suffering, the compassion, and the faithfulness of God, he would have a very indistinct and inadequate conception. It is by his inward trials and conflicts that he acquires the fuller discovery of these perfections, and is prepared to give God the glory of them in a better world. The shouts of one who is but a babe in Christ will, on his introduction to the divine presence, no doubt be ardent: but what will be the acclamations of a soul that has passed through all the eventful scenes of arduous and long-protracted warfare! Of what wonders will he have to speak! or rather, how may we conceive of him as prostrating himself in silent adoration through his overwhelming sense of the divine goodness, whilst the less-instructed and less-indebted novice rends the air with acclamations and hosannahs! Yes verily: if the angels stand round about the saints, as not having so near an access to God as they, so we may conceive of the less-privileged saints as standing round about the elders, in whom “God will be more admired,” and by whom he will be more “glorified [Note: 2Th 1:10 with Rev 7:9-12.].”]

We must not however dismiss this subject without adding a few words,
1.

Of caution:—

[It is, as we have said, the fate of man in this world still to carry about with him a corrupt nature, which proves a source of much trouble and distress: nor can any man hope to get rid of it, till he shall be liberated by death itself. Nevertheless, it is our own fault that the corruptions which remain within us are not more weakened and subdued. Let any one read the account given of the different tribes, in the first chapter of the book of Judges, and say whether he does not impute blame to the Israelites themselves, for suffering the nations, whom they were ordered to extirpate, to retain so formidable a power in the midst of them [Note: Jdg 1:21; Jdg 1:27; Jdg 1:29-35.] ? Had they persevered with the same zeal and diligence as they exercised on their first entrance into Canaan, and pursued with unrelenting energy those whom they had been commanded to destroy, their occupation of the land had been far more peaceful and entire. And so, if we, from our first conversion to God, had maintained with unremitting zeal our warfare with sin and Satan, as it became us to do, we should have had all the corruptions of our nature in more complete subjection, and should have enjoyed a far greater measure of tranquillity in our own souls. Let not any one, then, delude himself with the thought that the strength of his corruptions is a subject rather of pity than of blame: but let all know, that they are called to maintain a warfare; that armour, even “the whole armour of God,” is provided for them, in order that they may prosecute it with success; and that, if only they will “quit themselves like men,” the Captain of their salvation has assured to them a complete victory. Gird on your armour then, my Brethren; and, if your enemy has gained any advantage over you, return to the charge; and never cease to fight, till Satan, and all his hosts, are “bruised under your feet.”]

2.

Of encouragement—

[The doom of your enemies is sealed [Note: Deu 7:22-23.] ; and, if you “go forth in the strength of your Lord,” “you shall be more than conquerors through him that loveth you [Note: Rom 8:37.].” Let it not be grievous to you that such a necessity is imposed upon you. Did your Saviour himself enter the lists, and fight against all the powers of darkness till he had triumphed over them and despoiled them all; and will not you, at his command, go forth, to follow up, and complete, his victory [Note: Col 2:15 with Joh 16:11.] ? Fear not on account of the strength or number of your enemies: for “they shall be bread for you;” and your every victory over them shall nourish and strengthen your own souls. And let all animate one another to the contest. See the happy effect of this amongst God’s people of old. We are told, “Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. And Judah went up: and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand [Note: Jdg 1:3-4].”ls True it is, indeed, that we cannot aid each other precisely in the same way that they did: but we may encourage one another, and strengthen one another, and by our example animate one another to the combat; and may thus contribute, each of us, to the success of those around us. And it is but a little time that we have to fight: for soon we shall come to that better land, where “there shall no more be the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts.” Even in this world we are taught that such a period shall arrive [Note: Zec 14:21.]: but, if not permitted to behold it here, we shall assuredly behold it in the world above, where “former things shall have passed away, and sin and sorrow shall be found no more [Note: Rev 21:4.].” “Wherefore comfort ye one another with these words.”]


Verses of Exodus 23

29

Consult other comments:

Exodus 23:29 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Exodus 23:29 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Exodus 23:29 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Exodus 23:29 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Exodus 23:29 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 23:29 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 23:29 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Exodus 23:29 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 23:29 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 23:29 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Exodus 23:29 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Exodus 23:29 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Exodus 23:29 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 23:29 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Exodus 23:29 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)