Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,…
Joshua 22:1-9. We have seen the Reubenites and Gadites generously taking their part in the war for the conquest of Canaan, though they had already come into possession themselves of their assigned share on the other side of Jordan. In this way the solidarity of the nation was vindicated. Joshua now sends back these soldiers of their country to their own inheritance, and we see in the verses before us the reward of their fidelity to duty.
I. THEIR FIRST RECOMPENSE IS A MATERIAL ONE. They carry away a goodly share of the booty which accrued to Israel from its successful warfare. The man of God cannot always count upon this temporal reward. It may never be his. And yet it is certain that, as a general rule even in this life, the fulfilment of duty is a condition of prosperity. Evil gives only deceptive and evanescent joys; it is opposed to the Divine law, which must in the end prevail. It entails also terrible consequences. Is not all sensual indulgence a deadly and ruinous thing? Does not hatred kindle with its accursed torch fire and war, only to be quenched with blood? Does not the wicked dig the pit into which he himself falls (Psalm 7:15). Punishment may tarry. Penalty is slow footed, as Homer says, but it is guided by the unerring hand of Divine justice. The people who fear God and work righteousness are in the end always the blessed people, and the Psalmist rightly pronounces them happy.
II. The highest recompense is not however this material prosperity, BUT THE APPROVAL OF GOD. "Ye have kept," says Joshua to the Reubenites and Gadites, "all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you" (ver. 2). There can be no purer joy than to hear words like these from the Master's lips: "Well done, good and faithful servant, etc." (Matthew 25:21). They waken in the depths of our hearts the glad echo of an approving conscience. This is not the proud satisfaction of self righteousness; it is the joy of having rejoiced the heart of God; of having done something for the Saviour; of having in some measure responded to the love freely received.
III. OBEDIENCE LEADS TO OBEDIENCE; GOOD BEGETS GOOD. "The path of the just is as the shining light, shining more and more." So Joshua, in sending back these valiant soldiers of their country, gives them in parting some holy admonitions. We see that he judges them worthy to apprehend the law of God in its "true breadth and length," in the spirit and not in the letter. It is to be noted that he sums up the whole in that commandment which is ever new, and never to be abrogated, that which St. John calls the old and the new commandment (1 John 2:7): "Love the Lord your God, and walk in all his ways; keep his commandments, and cleave unto him and serve him with all your heart, and with all your soul" (ver. 5). Thus does each step or word in the Divine life prepare the way for a yet further advance, and so we go from strength to strength, from grace to grace. - E. DE P.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,