Numbers 13

* Twelve men sent to search the land of Canaan, Their

instructions. (1-20) Their proceedings. (21-25) Their account of

the land. (26-33)

1-20 A memorable and melancholy history is related in this and

the following chapter, of the turning back of Israel from the

borders of Canaan, and the sentencing them to wander and perish

in the wilderness, for their unbelief and murmuring. It appears,

#De 1:22|, that the motion to search out the land came from the

people. They had a better opinion of their own policy than of

God's wisdom. Thus we ruin ourselves by believing the reports

and representations of sense rather than Divine revelation. We

walk by sight not by faith. Moses gave the spies this charge, Be

of good courage. It was not only a great undertaking they were

put upon, which required good management and resolution; but a

great trust was reposed in them, which required that they should

be faithful. Courage in such circumstances can only spring from

strong faith, which Caleb and Joshua alone possessed.
21-25 The searchers of the land brought a bunch of grapes with

them, and other fruits, as proofs of the goodness of the

country; which was to Israel both the earnest and the specimen

of all the fruits of Canaan. Such are the present comforts we

have in communion with God, foretastes of the fulness of joy we

expect in the heavenly Canaan. We may see by them what heaven

26-33 We may wonder that the people of Israel staid forty days

for the return of their spies, when they were ready to enter

Canaan, under all the assurances of success they could have from

the Divine power, and the miracles that had hitherto attended

them. But they distrusted God's power and promise. How much we

stand in our own light by our unbelief! At length the messengers

returned; but the greater part discouraged the people from going

forward to Canaan. Justly are the Israelites left to this

temptation, for putting confidence in the judgment of men, when

they had the word of God to trust in. Though they had found the

land as good as God had said, yet they would not believe it to

be as sure as he had said, but despaired of having it, though

Eternal Truth had engaged it to them. This was the

representation of the evil spies. Caleb, however, encouraged

them to go forward, though seconded by Joshua only. He does not

say, Let us go up and conquer it; but, Let us go and possess it.

Difficulties that are in the way of salvation, dwindle and

vanish before a lively, active faith in the power and promise of

God. All things are possible, if they are promised, to him that

believes; but carnal sense and carnal professors are not to be

trusted. Unbelief overlooks the promises and power of God,

magnifies every danger and difficulty, and fills the heart with

discouragement. May the Lord help us to believe! we shall then

find all things possible.
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