And they came to the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes…
I. CONSIDER THE NARRATIVE ITSELF.
1. The evil report. Not one word of encouragement do they offer — no reference do they make to that Divine protection which they had experienced during their perilous search — no exhortation do they utter, urging the people to obey the Divine command. Their report was essentially an "evil" one, calculated to dishearten the people — to raise prejudices in their minds. Now the conduct of these spies has always, and I think rightly, been regarded as illustrative of the conduct of those who are dismayed by the difficulties which attend a religious life. For it cannot be denied that these are numerous and formidable. This does not admit of a doubt and it ought not to be concealed.
2. Very different was the testimony which Caleb and Joshua bore. These faithful men thought and acted for themselves. Singularity for its own sake is always to be avoided, since it may arise from a desire to attract notice and thus be the mere offspring of vanity. But when truth is concerned, then, though we should stand alone, it becomes us to avow it. There never was a more false or dangerous maxim than that the voice of the people is the voice of God: it is much more frequently the voice of the devil — the voice of impulses which he has excited and of passions which he has stirred.
II. CONSIDER THE SPIRITUAL LESSONS which this narrative suggests. Glimpses of the promised land! No Christian is without them, for there are foretastes of heaven even on earth.
1. There are glimpses of the promised land which we obtain by faith. God has discovered to us in His Word a better country, and though a wise reserve is maintained, yet much information is afforded us with regard to it.
2. There are glimpses of the promised land which we obtain when we possess the first-fruits of the Spirit. In the grace that you now receive you have a type of the glory which is yet to be revealed. In the peace which you now enjoy, you have a type of the perfect happiness you will soon experience. In the purity which you now possess you have a type of the spotless holiness in which you will be hereafter arrayed. In the communion which you now hold with God you have a type of that more intimate fellowship which is the privilege of heaven.
3. Glimpses of the promised land are often vouchsafed to the Christian at an early stage of his experience. But there was much for us to learn, and God sent us into the wilderness to learn it. After all, our experience was superficial — our feelings were stronger than our principles — our faith needed trial, and so, like the Israelites we have been "led about and instructed." Do not complain, therefore, because your experience is not what it once was. God gave you, at the outset of your Christian career, a glimpse of the promised land, and the memory of this may cheer you now when you mourn because of the travel and toil of the wilderness.
4. Glimpses of the promised land are often enjoyed by the believer at the close of life. This is not invariably the case, but it frequently is so, as a reward for eminent piety.
(H. J. Gamble.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.