And Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God…
Discouragements, rightly put, encourage. The best way to deepen and confirm good resolutions which have been too swiftly and inconsiderately formed is to state very plainly all the difficulty of keeping them. The hand that seems to repel often most powerfully attracts. There is no better way of turning a somewhat careless "we will" into a persistent "nay, but we will," than to interpose a "ye cannot." Many a boy has been made a sailor by the stories of hardships which his parents have meant as dissuasives. Joshua here is doing exactly what Jesus Christ did often. He refused glib vows because He desired whole hearts. "Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest!" was answered by no recognition of the speaker's enthusiasm, and by no word of pleasure or invitation, but by the apparently cold repulse: "Foxes have holes, birds of the air roosting-places; but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head. That is what you are offering to share. Do you stand to your words?" He will have no soldiers enlisted under false pretences. They shall know the full difficulties and trials which they must meet; and if, knowing these, they still are willing to take His yoke upon them, then how exuberant and warm the welcome which He gives 1 There is a real danger that this side of the evangelist's work should be overlooked in the earnestness with which the other side is done.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.