Joshua 23:9-11: Promises Encouraging Obedience

Verse 9:[1] (Deut. 11:23) For the LORD hath driven out (or, then the LORD will drive out[2]) from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, (Josh. 1:5) no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

[And no man will be able to resist you,וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹא־עָ֤מַד אִישׁ֙ ] And you, a man hath not stood, etc. (Jonathan, Montanus). For, as for you, he hath not stood, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, English, Dutch).

No man hath been able to stand before you: To wit, whom you have invaded; otherwise some of those people did yet remain unconquered.


Verse 10:[3] (Lev. 26:8; Deut. 32:30; see Judg. 3:31; 15:15; 2 Sam. 23:8) One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, (Ex. 14:14; 23:27; Deut. 3:22) as he hath promised you.

[One…shall chase a thousand] In accordance with the promises of God, Leviticus 26:3, etc.; Deuteronomy 28:7. Compare Deuteronomy 32:30 (Masius).

He it is that fighteth for you; impute not this therefore to your own valour, as you will be apt to do, but to God’s gracious and powerful assistance.


Verse 11:[4] (Josh. 22:5) Take good heed therefore unto yourselves (Heb. unto your souls[5]), that ye love the LORD your God.

[This only attend to with all diligence, that ye love the Lord, etc. (thus Pagnine, English, similarly the Septuagint, Syriac),וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם לְאַהֲבָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה] And take good heed unto your souls (that is, yourselves [English], or, for your souls [Munster]), that ye love the Lord (Vatablus, Jonathan, English, similarly Munster, Dutch). It is common among the Hebrews to conjoin with the verb, to take heed, those words, unto your souls, in the place of a second or third person pronoun; which signifies nothing other than, take diligent heed, that ye love, etc. (Vatablus). Observe ye therefore, as your soul is dear to you, that ye love, etc. (Tigurinus). Wherefore it is necessary that ye keep yourself in the love of God (Arabic). Some join that, unto your souls, to what follows; Look diligently that from the soul ye love the Jehovah (Vatablus). Not so properly, because the Atnah accent (֑) is affixed to the word, unto your souls[6] (Malvenda).

Take good heed therefore unto yourselves: Now it requires more watchfulness and diligence than it did in the wilderness, because your temptations are now more and stronger; partly from the examples and insinuations of your bad neighbours, the remainders of this wicked people; and partly from your own peace and prosperity, and the pride, security, forgetfulness of God, and luxury which usually attend upon that condition, as God had warned them, Deuteronomy 6:10-12.

[1] Hebrew: וַיּ֤וֹרֶשׁ יְהוָה֙ מִפְּנֵיכֶ֔ם גּוֹיִ֖ם גְּדֹלִ֣ים וַעֲצוּמִ֑ים וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹא־עָ֤מַד אִישׁ֙ בִּפְנֵיכֶ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיּ֤וֹרֶשׁ יְהוָה֙ .

[3] Hebrew: אִישׁ־אֶחָ֥ד מִכֶּ֖ם יִרְדָּף־אָ֑לֶף כִּ֣י׀ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֗ם ה֚וּא הַנִּלְחָ֣ם לָכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר לָכֶֽם׃

[4] Hebrew: וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם לְאַהֲבָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

[5] Hebrew: לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם.

[6] The Atnah accent (֑) is the strongest disjunctive within a verse, which here suggests that לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם, unto your souls, is to be joined with what precedes, and disjoined from what follows.

3 thoughts on “Joshua 23:9-11: Promises Encouraging Obedience

  1. Stephen Charnock’s “Nature and Attributes of God”: ‘Nor is God defiled by being present with those creatures which seem filthy to us. Nothing is filthy in the eye of God as his creature; he could never else have pronounced all good; whatsoever is filthy to us, yet, as it is a creature, it owes itself to the power of God: his essence is no more defiled by being present with it, than his power by producing it: no creature is foul in itself, though it may seem so to us. Doth not an infant lie in a womb of filthiness and rottenness? yet is not the power of God present with it, in working it curiously in the lower parts of the earth? Are his eyes defiled by seeing the substance when it is yet imperfect? or his hand defiled by writing every member in his book (Psalm 139:15-16)? Have not the vilest and most noisome things excellent medicinal virtues? How are they endued with them? How are those qualities preserved in them? by anything without God, or no? Every artificer looks with pleasure upon the work he hath wrought with art and skill. Can his essence be defiled by being present with them, any more than it was in giving them such virtues, and preserving them in them? God measures the heavens and the earth with his hand; is his hand defiled by the evil influences of the planets, or the corporeal impurities of the earth? Nothing can be filthy in the eye of God but sin, since everything else owes its being to him. What may appear deformed and unworthy to us, is not so to the Creator; he sees beauty where we see deformity; finds goodness where we behold what is nauseous to us. All creatures being the effects of his power, may be the objects of his presence. Can any place be more foul than hell, if you take it either for the hell of the damned, or for the grave where there is rottenness? yet there he is (Psalm 139:8). When Satan appeared before God, and God spake with him (Job 1:7), could God contract any impurity by being present where that filthy spirit was, more impure than any corporeal, noisome, and defiling thing can be? No; God is purity to himself in the midst of noisomeness; a heaven to himself in the midst of hell. Whoever heard of a sunbeam stained by shining upon a quagmire, any more than sweetened by breaking into a perfumed room? Though the light shines upon pure and impure things, yet it mixes not itself with either of them; so though God be present with devils and wicked men, yet without any mixture; he is present with their essence to sustain it and support it; not in their defection, wherein lies their defilement, and which is not a physical, but a moral evil; bodily filth can never touch an incorporeal substance. Spirits are not present with us in the same manner that one body is present with another; bodies can by a touch only, defile bodies. Is the glory of an angel stained by being in a coal-mine? or could the angel that came into the lion’s den to deliver Daniel, be any more disturbed by the stench of the place, than he could be scratched by the paws, or torn by the teeth, of the beasts (Daniel 6:22)? Their spiritual nature secures them against any infection when they are ministering spirits to persecuted believers in their nasty prisons (Acts 12:7). The soul is straitly united with the body, but it is not made white or black by the whiteness or blackness of its habitation. Is it infected by the corporeal impurities of the body, while it continually dwells in a sea of filthy pollution? If the body be cast into a common shore, is the soul defiled by it? Can a diseased body derive a contagion to the spirit that animates it? Is it not often the purer by grace, the more the body is infected by nature? Hezekiah’s spirit was scarce ever more fervent with God, than when the sore, which some think to be a plague sore, was upon him (Isaiah 38:3). How can any corporeal filth impair the purity of the divine essence? It may as well be said, that God is not present in battles and fights for his people (Joshua 23:10), because he would not be disturbed by the noise of cannons, and clashing of swords, as that he is not present in the world because of the ill scents. Let us therefore conclude this with the expression of a learned man of our own: “To deny the omnipresence of God, because of ill scented places, is to measure God rather by the nicety of sense, than by the sagacity of reason.”‘

  2. Matthew Henry: ‘Here…Joshua directs them what to do, that they might persevere in religion, Joshua 23:11. Would we cleave to the Lord, and not forsake him, 1. We must always stand upon our guard, for many a precious soul is lost and ruined through carelessness: “Take heed therefore, take good heed to yourselves, to your souls (so the word is), that the inward man be kept clean from the pollutions of sin, and closely employed in the service of God.” God has given us precious souls with this charge, “Take good heed to them, keep them with all diligence, above all keepings.” 2. What we do in religion we must do from a principle of love, not by constraint or from a slavish fear of God, but of choice and with delight. “Lord the Lord your God, and you will not leave him.”‘

  3. Matthew Henry’s “Shorter Catechism”: ‘Is it our duty to love God? Yes: Take good heed to yourselves that ye love the Lord your God, Joshua 23:11. Must we love him with a sincere love? Yes: Grace be with them that love him in sincerity, Ephesians 6:24. And with a strong love? Yes: My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, Psalm 42:2. And with a superlative love? Yes: There is none upon earth that I desire besides thee, Psalm 73:25. And is all this included in the first and great commandment? Yes: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment, Matthew 22:37-38. And is this the sum of our duty to God? Yes: for if any man love God, the same is known of him, 1 Corinthians 8:3. Must those who love God be careful to please him? Yes: for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, 1 John 5:3. And must they be afraid to offend him? Yes: Ye that love the Lord, hate evil, Psalm 97:10.’

Leave a Comment