And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve…
"Seem evil unto you to serve the Lord!" How can the service of the Lord seem evil to any one who is not either wholly void of understanding or altogether hardened against religious impressions? The service of God is exclusive. It does not admit of interference, or of competition, or of divided homage. It must have the whole man. He requires your whole heart — with all its principles, and dispositions, and sensibilities. And if your heart be thus surrendered to Him, the conduct, which is but a demonstration of its influence and actings, will exhibit, in all its departments and in all its bearings a single regard to His will and glory. Now, apply this test to yourselves. It is no doubt a strict and searching one. But it is scriptural and true.
I. CHOOSE you whom you will serve — the Lord, or those idols which an evil heart of unbelief has substituted in His place. You may allege that it does not seem evil to you to serve the Lord. And, speculatively, this may be true; but, practically, it is false. You think, you feel, you act, as if it did seem evil unto you to serve the Lord. There is a latent repugnance in your minds to His service. There is a real devotedness to those whom you ought not to serve which is essentially and irreconcilably inconsistent with a real devotedness to Him whom you ought to serve. And the idea that you are submitting to His sway, when you are, in fact, their slaves, merely because you reject the atrocious saying, that it is "evil to serve the Lord," and are not disinclined to do many things included in that service, is all a delusion, which, however long it may last in this land of self-deception and shadows, must inevitably be broken. Now, it is our wish that this delusion, so sad and so fatal, under which you labour, should be broken before the day of retribution comes. You have been "halting between two opinions"; embrace one of them and abide by it. You have been trying to amalgamate two systems: abandon the one, and cleave to the other.
II. "Choose you THIS DAY whom ye will serve." Having acknowledged that you have been in error — grievous, perilous error — why should you delay forsaking it? Is not this to belie your own professed convictions? "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; and instead of hesitating, as if you might still snatch another pleasure before you renounce your connection with the world, account the time past as far more than sufficient to have wrought the will of the flesh. Wonder at the forbearance of God in not making you long since a monument of His righteous anger against the unholy and impenitent. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; because the sooner that you enter on God's service, in its full import, the sooner will you consult the dignity of that rational nature which He has given you, and which you have been hitherto degrading. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; because to delay the change which a right choice implies will be the means of rendering it more difficult in the end. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; for if you do not embrace the existing opportunity of devoting your selves wholly and heartily to God, which is your reasonable and bounden service, another opportunity may never be afforded.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
WEB: If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."