Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary is SO helpful and it’s FREE. I highly recommend checking it out. Although the language is a bit archaic (He lived from 1662-1714) it’s not unreadable, and you will be absolutely blessed by the insight he offers.
Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?
Matthew Henry compares them to the Babel builders, in that they did not want to be “scattered abroad” but quite liked the safe community they had been living in.
To obey God’s calling required their precious time, comfort, and effort. They found plenty of reasons to delay: first there was the distance from here to there, then the whole logistics of moving thousands of people with all their livestock, children, families, homes. Next, they always had to be on guard in case any enemies happened to attack them. And then even if they arrived all safe and sound, the cities often had to be rebuilt and repaired due to the destruction from driving out the previous inhabitants. They’d have to start all over again – new city, new region, new everything. It really makes me rethink my complaint about having to put on pants to go outside.
God by his grace has given us a title to a good land, the heavenly Canaan, but we are slack to take possession; we enter not into that rest, as we might by faith, and hope, and holy joy; we live not in heaven, as we might by setting our affections on things above and having our conversation there. How long shall it be thus with us? How long shall we thus stand in our own light, and forsake our own mercies for lying vanities?
-Matthew Henry Commentary on Joshua 18 vv 2-10
The Israelites were lazy and reluctant to respond to God’s grace. (Grace means undeserved favor.) In the meantime, the remaining Canaanites were hiding, recovering, regaining strength and planning to attack again. Israel’s slowness and disobedience was only hurting themselves, thus causing them to miss out on God’s best plan for them. What good thing in your life are you reluctant to take hold of due to the trouble (perceived or actual) involved? How will you respond to that grace?
Lord, thank you for laying the path to salvation at our feet. Help us to recognize your gifts so that we do not miss out on any of the blessings you have planned.