Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying…
I. THE INSTABILITY AND UNCERTAINTY OF WORLDLY GREATNESS. Look at this man — and behold in what slippery places God sets the mighty and noble. From the eagerness with which mankind pursue the distinctions of life, we should conclude, not only that they were very valuable in themselves, but that no kind of precariousness attached to them. But let not the strong be secure; let not the honourable be vain; let not the rich be high-minded. What is all history but a narrative of the reverses to which all earthly things are liable, however firmly established they once appeared to be; of the revolutions of empires; the destruction of cities; of the mighty put down from their seats; of counsellors led away spoiled, or politicians disgraced, generals banished, and monarchs put to death!
II. JUDGMENT OVERTAKING THE SINNER IN THIS LIFE. Nor does Adoni-bezek stand alone as an instance of the present punishment of sin. Adam and Eve driven out of paradise; flood; cities of the plain; Lot's wife; Gehazi; Ananias and Sapphira, etc. This, however, is not always the case. The misery of the sinner is principally reserved for a future world, and we are now in a state of probation. But God would confirm our faith in His adorable providence. If all sin was punished here, we should look no further; if no sin, we should not easily believe in the power, the holiness, the truth of God. We may add that the punishment of sin in this world is sometimes unavoidable. If nations are punished at all, they must be punished in time — for in eternity men exist only as individuals. Nearly the same may be said of a family. Yea, the present punishment of sin is in some measure natural. For how frequently do men's sufferings arise from the very sins they commit! Extravagance breeds ruin — indolence, poverty — intemperance, disease.
III. PUNISHMENT INFLICTED AFTER LONG DELAY. Behold the career of this sinner! What a lengthened course of iniquity was here! "So long and so often had I done this, that I thought God had not seen, or did not remember. But He has found me out; and I live long enough to be a miserable instance of this awful truth — that however long punishment may be delayed, it will at last be inflicted — as I have done, so God hath requited me."
IV. A CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SIN AND SUFFERING: "What I have inflicted upon others, is now inflicted upon me; and in my very punishment I read my crime — as I have done, so God hath requited me."
1. Between sin and punishment there is sometimes a comparative conformity. This is the case when we suffer things which have some resemblance to our crimes.
2. Sometimes there is also between them a direct conformity. This is the case when we suffer in the same way and in the same things in which we sin.
3. But there is a future conformity still mere dreadful (Galatians 6:7).
V. THE HAND OF GOD ACKNOWLEDGED, WHILE MEN ARE ONLY EMPLOYED — "God hath requited me." But who saw anything of Him? A good man perceives the hand of God in all events, and he wishes to see it. But it is otherwise with the sinner. His apprehension of God is forced upon him; he would gladly get rid of the conviction: it is all terror and dismay to him — for he knows that God is his adversary, and He may now be coming to lay hold of him; he knows that he has a long account to give, and this may be the time of reckoning. Hence the bitterness of affliction: it is regarded not only as a trial, but as a punishment.Lessons:
1. Abhor cruelty. It is equally disgraceful to religion and humanity. It renders you unpitied of God and man.
2. Improve the case of examples. If they were not particularly adapted to do us good, the Word of God would not be so full of them. Lodge them in your memory. Often reflect upon them. And make use of the dreadful as well as the pleasing. It is necessary that we should be awakened to flee from the wrath to come.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?