Verse 24. "Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land" - How different was this report from that brought by the spies on a former occasion! They found that all the inhabitants of the land were panic-struck. The people had heard of the great exploits of the Israelites on the other side of Jordan; and as they had destroyed the potent kings of the Amorites, they took it for granted that nothing could stand before them.
This information was necessary to Joshua to guide him in forming the plan of his campaign. 1. IT may be asked, Did not Rahab lie in the account she gave to the officers of the king of Jericho, (Joshua ii. 4, 5,) There came men unto me, &c.? I answer, She certainly did; and the inspired writer sets down the fact merely as it stood, without making the Spirit of God responsible for the dissimulation of the woman. But was she not rewarded, &c.? Yes; for her hospitality and faith, not for her lie. But could she have saved the spies without telling a lie? Yes, she certainly might; but what notion could a woman of her occupation, though nothing worse than an inn-keeper, have of the nicer distinctions between truth and falsehood, living among a most profligate and depraved people, where truth could scarcely be known? 2. There is a lax morality in the world that recommends a lie rather than the truth, when the purposes of religion and humanity can be served by it. But when can this be? The religion of Christ is one eternal system of truth, and can neither be served by a lie nor admit one. On this vile subject fine words have been spoken. Tasso, in his elegant episode of Sophronia and Olindo, in the Gerusalemme Liberata, b. ii., v. 22, represents the former as telling a lie to Saladdin, relative to the stealing of an image, for which, as he could not discover the culprit, he doomed all the Christians in his power to death. Sophronia, a pious Christian virgin, getting into the presence of the tyrant, in order to save her people, accuses herself, though perfectly innocent, of the theft. Her conduct on this occasion the poet embellishes in the following manner, for which the religion of that time, which dealt in holy frauds, would no doubt applaud him.
'Ed ella: il reo si trova al tuo cospetto; Opra e il furto, Signor, di questa mano Io l' immagine tolsi; Io son colei Che tu ricerchi, e me punir tu dei.
Cosi al pubblico fato il capo altero Offerse, e 'l volle in se sol racorre.
MAGNANIMA MENZOGNA! or quando e il VERO SI BELLO, che si possa a te preporre?" Then she: "Before thy sight the guilty stands; The theft, O King, committed by these hands.
In me the thief who stole the image view! To me the punishment decreed is due." Thus, filled with public zeal, the generous dame A victim for her people's ransom came.
O great deceit! O lie divinely fair! What truth with such a falsehood can compare! HOOLE.
Thus a lie is ornamented with splendid decorations both by the Italian and English poet, and the whole formed into an anti-apostolic maxim, Let us do EVIL, that GOOD may come of it. A purer morality was taught by one of the most ancient heathen writers than is here preached by these demi- christians:- ecqrov gar moi keinov, omwv aidao pulhsin, Ăov cĂ eteron men keuqei eni fresin, allo de bazei. Iliad. l. ix., v. 312.
My soul detests him as the gates of hell, Who knows the truth and dares a falsehood tell, The following is the advice of a genuine Christian poet, and one of the holiest men of his time: - LIE not; but let thy heart be true to God; Thy tongue to it, thy actions to them both Cowards tell lies, and those who fear the rod; The stormy working soul spits lies and froth.
DARE TO BE TRUE! nothing can NEED a lie.
The fault that needs it most grows TWO thereby. HERBERT.
For other observations on this subject see the notes on Genesis xii. 20, at the end, and Gen. xx. 12. 3. Though the hand of God was evidently in every thing that concerned the Israelites, and they were taught to consider that by his might alone they were to be put in possession of the promised land; yet they were as fully convinced that if they did not use the counsel, prudence, and strength which they had received from him, they should not succeed. Hence, while they depended on the Divine direction and power, they exercised their own prudence, and put forth their own strength; and thus they were workers together with him, and did not receive the grace of God in vain. The application of this maxim is easy; and we cannot expect any success, either in things spiritual or temporal, unless we walk by the same rule and mind the same thing.