And in the wilderness, where you have seen how that the LORD your God bore you, as a man does bear his son…
Joshua was a young man in comparison with Moses. He was about to undertake the onerous task of commanding a great people. He had, moreover, the difficult enterprise of leading them into the promised laud, and chasing out the nations which possessed it. The Lord commanded Moses therefore to encourage him, that in the prospect of great labour he might not be dismayed.
I. GOD, EVEN OUR GOD, IS GRACIOUSLY CONSIDERATE OF HIS SERVANTS, and would have them well fitted for high enterprise with good courage. He does not send them as a tyrant would send a soldier upon an errand for which he is not capable, nor does He afterwards withhold His succour, forgetful of the straits to which they may be reduced; but tie is very careful of His servants, and will not let one of them perish. The Lord our God hath strong reasons for being thus considerate of His servants.
1. Are they not His children? Is He not their Father? Does tie not love them? Now, none of us would send a child of ours upon a difficult enterprise without being anxious for his welfare. We would not put him upon a trial beyond his strength, without at the same time guaranteeing to stand at his side and make his strength equal to his day.
2. Moreover, the Father Himself is concerned as to His honour in all that they do. If any servant of God shall fall, then God's name is despised. The daughters of Philistia rejoice, and the inhabitants of Ekron triumph. His honour is too much concerned ever to permit this. Ye feeble ones, to whom God hath given to do or to suffer for His name's sake, rest assured that He hath His eye upon you now. He cannot leave you, unless He can cease to be "God over all, blessed for ever."
3. Observe well how far the tender consideration of God for His servants extends! He not only considers their outward state, and the absolute interests of their condition, but He remembers their spirits, and loves to see them of good courage.
II. GOD USES HIS OWN PEOPLE TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER. He did not say to the angel, "Gabriel, there is My servant Joshua, about to take the people into Canaan — fly down and encourage him." God never works needless miracles. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses. A brother's sympathy is more precious than an angel's embassy. To whom, then, should this work of encouraging the people be committed?
1. Surely the elders should do it; those of riper years than their fellows. I know of nothing more inspiriting than to hear the experience of a grey-headed saint. I have found much spiritual comfort in sitting at the feet of my venerable grandfather, more than eighty years of age.
2. Not the aged only, but the wise in the family should be comforters. All believers are not equal in knowledge. Oh, ye that have searched the Scriptures through and know its promises, be sure to quote the promises of God to trembling hearts, and especially to those engaged in arduous labour for the Master. Comfort them. Repeat the doctrine of God's faithfulness; say to them, "He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." Oh, that the wise-hearted in the Lord's family would be thus employed at all times.
3. Nor can I doubt that the happier sort of Christians ought always to be engaged in comforting the mournful and sorrowing. You know whom I mean; their eyes always sparkle; wherever they go they carry lamps bright with animation, sunshine gleams in their faces, they live in the light of God's countenance.
4. Let the brother of low degree be likewise encouraged by those who are rich among you. You may frequently breathe comfort into a desponding spirit by seasonable help.
III. I advance to THE OBJECT that is uppermost in my mind. I believe there is a special occasion for the exercise of this duty of encouraging one another in the case of the minister and Church in this place. It is a fresh enterprise surrounded with peculiar difficulties, and demanding special labour. It is a work so solemn that if you do not encourage your minister your minister will probably sink down in despair. Remember that the man himself needs encouragement because he is weak. Who is sufficient for these things? To serve in any part of the spiritual army is dangerous, but to be a captain is to be doubly exposed. The most of the shots are aimed at the officers. There are all sorts of discouragements to be met with. Professing Christians will backslide. Those who do remain will often be inconsistent, and he will be sighing in his closet, while you, perhaps, are thanking God that your souls have been fed under him. Encourage your minister, I pray yon, wherever you attend — encourage him for your own sake. A discouraged minister is a serious burden upon the congregation. When the fountain gets out of order you cannot expect water at any of the taps; and if the minister be not right it is something like a steam engine in a great manufactory — everybody's loom is idle when the motive power is out of order. See that he is resting upon God and receiving His Divine power, and you will all know, each Sabbath day, the benefit of it. This is the least thing you can do. There are many other things which may cause you expense, effort, time, but to encourage the minister is so easy, so simple a matter, that I may well press upon you to do it. Perhaps you will say, "Well, if it is so simple and easy, tell us, who are expecting to settle down in this place, how we can encourage the minister here." Well, you can do it in several ways.
1. You can encourage him by very constant attendance. Those who are going from place to place are of no use to anybody; but those are the truly useful men who, when the servants of God are in their places, keep to theirs, and let everybody see that whoever discourages the minister, they will not, for they appreciate his ministry.
2. Again, let me say, by often being present at the prayer meeting you can encourage the minister.
3. Again, you can all encourage the minister by the consistency of your lives. I do not know when I ever felt more gratified than on one occasion when, sitting at a church meeting, having to report the death of a young brother who was in the service of an eminent employer, a little note came from him to say, "My servant, Edward —, is dead. I send you word at once that you may send me another young man; for if your members are such as he was, I never wish to have better servants around me." I read the letter at the church meeting, and another was soon found. It is a cheering thing for the Christian minister to know that his converts are held in repute.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.