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Matthew Henry’s Commentary in contemporary English

October 2012

Matthew Henry’s Commentary in contemporary English

Martin Manser

Martin H. Manser is a professional editor who has worked Matthew Henry’s Commentary into contemporary English, for publication by Zondervan as an e-book. Readers can here compare the two versions.

‘But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15)

Original commentary: ‘…Here [Joshua] resolves, First, For himself: As for me, I will serve the Lord.
‘Note, The service of God is nothing below the greatest of men; it is so far from being a diminution and disparagement to princes and those of the first rank to be religious that it is their greatest honour, and adds the brightest crown of glory to them.
‘Observe how positive he is: “I will serve God”. It is no abridgment of our liberty to bind ourselves with a bond to God. Secondly, For his house, that is, his family, his children and servants, such as were immediately under his eye and care, his inspection and influence.
‘Joshua was a ruler, a judge in Israel, yet he did not make his necessary application to public affairs an excuse for the neglect of family religion. Those that have the charge of many families, as magistrates and ministers, must take special care of their own (1 Timothy 3:4, 5): I and my house will serve God.
‘“Not my house, without me”. He would not engage them to that work which he would not set his own hand to. As some who would have their children and servants good, but will not be so themselves; that is, they would have them go to heaven, but intend to go to hell themselves.
‘“Not I, without my house”. He supposes he might be forsaken by his people, but in his house, where his authority was greater and more immediate, there he would over-rule. Note, When we cannot bring as many as we would to the service of God we must bring as many as we can, and extend our endeavours to the utmost sphere of our activity; if we cannot reform the land, let us put away iniquity far from our own tabernacle.
‘“First I, and then my house”. Note, Those that lead and rule in other things should be first in the service of God, and go before in the best things. Thirdly, He resolves to do this whatever others did. Though all the families of Israel should revolt from God, and serve idols, yet Joshua and his family will steadfastly adhere to the God of Israel…’

Revised commentary: ‘…[Joshua] decides: • For himself: As for me, I will serve the Lord (v. 15). This shows us that serving God is not beneath even the greatest people. Far from reducing the honour of leaders, having a religious faith is their greatest honour and adds a glorious crown to them. Notice how positive he is: “I will serve God”. Committing ourselves to God does not restrict our liberty.
‘• For his house, that is, his family, children, and servants, those who were in his immediate care and influence. Joshua was a ruler and a judge in Israel, but he did not make the work he had to do in his public position an excuse for neglecting the religious faith of his family. Those such as judges and ministers who have responsibility for many families must take special care of their own family (1 Timothy 3:4-5): I and my house will serve God.
‘Note that he says, “Not my house, without me”. He would not commit the people to a work that he himself would not set his own hand to. There are some who want their children and servants to be good, but who do not want to be good themselves; they want them go to heaven, but intend to go to hell themselves.
‘Note, too, that he says, “Not I, without my house”. He thinks he might be abandoned by his people, but in his house, where his authority was greater and more immediate, there he would take command and give a strong lead. This shows us that when we cannot bring as many as we want to the service of God we must bring as many as we can. We can do all we can in our own sphere of activity. If we cannot reform the whole country, then let us see that we put sin far away from our own tabernacle, our own family.
‘Note, also, that he says, “First I, and then my house”. This shows us that those who lead and rule in other things should be the first to serve God, and give a lead in the best things.
‘• To do this, whatever other people decide. Even if all the families of Israel rebel against God to serve idols, Joshua and his family will remain unflinchingly faithful to the God of Israel…’

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