And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it…
I. THE LORD'S POWER WAS TRUSTED AND MAGNIFIED: "The Lord was with Judah."
1. Great victories.
2. Numerous victories.
3. Brotherly action (ver. 3).
4. God gave great proofs of His presence and power by raising up, here and there, a man in their midst who performed heroic deeds. Caleb shall be gathered to his fathers, but Othniel shall follow him, who shall be as brave as he.
5. The reason why the men of Judah were successful was because they had full confidence in God. The Lord will not fall short of the measure: let us not make the measure short.
II. THE LORD'S POWER RESTRAINED BECAUSE DISTRUSTED. The men of Judah could drive out the inhabitants of the mountain, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. As far as their faith went, so far God kept touch with them, and they could do anything and everything; but when they despondingly thought that they could not drive out the inhabitants of the wide valleys, then they failed utterly.
1. They retained too much confidence in themselves. If their confidence had been in God alone, these chariots of iron would have been ciphers in the calculation, The bare arm of God is the source of all power.
2. They believed one promise of God and did not believe another. Beware of being pickers and choosers of God's promises.
3. There was a further reason for failure arising out of this imperfection of their faith: they could not conquer the chariots of iron, because, first, they did not try. The Hebrew does not say that they could not drive them out. What the Hebrew says is that they did not drive them out. Some things we cannot do because we never make the attempt. I wish we had among Christian workers the spirit of the Suffolk lad who was brought up in court to be examined by an overbearing lawyer. The lawyer roughly said to him, "Hodge, can you read Greek? .... I don't know, sir," said he. "Well, fetch a Greek book," said the lawyer, and showing the lad a passage he said to him, "Can you read that?" "No." "Then why did you not say that you could not?" "Because I never say I cannot do a thing till I have tried it." If that spirit were in Christian people we should achieve great things; but we set down such and such a thing as manifestly beyond our power, and, silently, we whisper to ourselves, "therefore beyond God's power," and so we let it alone. No chariots of iron will be driven out if we dare not make the attempt.
4. Next, I suspect that they did not drive them out because they were idle. If cavalry were to be dealt with, Judah must bestir himself. If chariots of iron were to be defeated they must enter upon an arduous campaign; and so, taking counsel of their fears and their idleness, they said, "Let us not venture on the conflict." There are many things that Christ's Church is unable to do because it is too lazy.
5. Then, again, they were not at all anxious to meet the men who manned those chariots, for they were afraid. These men of Judah were cowards in the presence of chariots of iron, and what can a coward do? He is great at running away. They say that he "may live to fight another day." Not he: he will live, but he will not live to fight, depend upon it, any more another day than he does to-day.
6. There was no excuse for this on the part of Judah, as there is really no excuse for us when we think any part of God's work to be too difficult for us — for, recollect, there was a special promise made about this very case holy (Deuteronomy 20:1).
III. THE LORD'S POWER VINDICATED. I could tell you of women, sick and infirm, scarcely able to leave their beds, who are doing work which, to some strong Christians, seems too hard to attempt. Have I not seen old men doing for the Lord in their feebleness that which young men have declined? Could I not tell you of some with one talent who are bringing in a splendid revenue of glory to their Lord and Master, while you fine young fellows with ten talents have wrapped them all in a napkin and hid them in the earth? I wish that I could shame myself, and shame every worker here, into enterprises that would astonish unbelievers. God help us to do that which seems impossible.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.