“Cling to the Lord”
Joshua 23:1-16
This is part 1/5 which introduces the main concept of 'clinging' in Joshua 23. There are a Bible study questions at the end.

Intro      In Joshua 22, we observed the symptom of poor relationships.  People talk about love more than actually love.  One of the tests of genuine love is the discipline of how we use our time and money.  Discipline or the submission to that discipline shows us that we love someone.  The lack of it unfortunately reveals the lack of love and respect for that relationship.  I wonder if some of you came  away with the conviction and need of furthering some existing relationships and maybe begin loving someone you should have loved all along.  Today’s message will help you know how to build up and strengthen these important relationships.  The Lord has chosen to use a word ‘cling’ (in my translation), to help us concentrate on these all-important relationships.
Clinging is not a popular word.  I wonder when it went out of popularity?  Maybe the word ‘clinging’ never hit the top 20.  But my guess it had been more popular sometime in the past.  The NIV uses ‘hold fast’ (8) and ‘ally’ (12).  Unfortunately, this drops the dependency, the feeling, the desperateness of the word ‘clinging’.  But as I said, the word ‘clinging’ has gone out of style to describe relationships.  After all, who wants to use a word, which portrays us, so finicky like the attraction of a skirt or some other material.  Mankind is much more strong, certain and sure.  He decides what he wants and does it.  

Cling has three definitions: To hold fast or adhere, remain close (resist separation) or remain emotionally attached.   Vines and their tendrils physically cling to an object. A child clings to his parents. This is emotional but also can be physical.  

I have always like this word. Like an open window, we are able to get a better look at ourselves and our relationship with the Lord.  Let’s first notice that the word in verses 8 and 12 is the same Hebrew word  (qbD).  The word can mean cleave, cling, stick to, stick with, follow closely, catch, keep close to, join to, and overtake (TDOT, p. 177.)  The word is used a lot and in different ways such as physical things sticking to each other such as the parts of body, but it also carries the sense of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty.  Genesis 2:24 says, “The husband shall ‘cleave’  [NIV ‘united’] to his wife”; or Ruth clave to Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and men of Judah clave to David their king (II Sa 20:2).

 Most importantly, the Israelites are to cleave to the Lord in affection and loyalty (Dt 10:20, 11:22, 13:4, 30:20).    Parallel words or synonyms are fear, love, serve, obey, swear by his name, walk in his ways, and keep his commandments.  There is one last usage of this important word and that is the one in today’s passage.  Actually, I don’t think it is very different from the prior one, but it is listed differently.  It means to keep close to someone such as when the Lord exhorts his people to cleave to Him.  This closeness is a main aspect of loyalty.

We must notice, however, that God is never the subject of the verb.  God does not cling, or as it is well said in the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is not a tame lion.  Frankly, I think it is because of this last reason that today we have drifted from the usage of this word.  We want to be free to do what we want.  A husband does not want to ‘cleave’ or stick to his wife.  He wants to scout about.  Men do not want to be loyal to a country because it might cause him to give up something he likes.  

And even in our relationship with the Lord, we like to think we are equal partners.  God does not cling, and so we think we do not need to cling.  We like to think of ourselves as independent and strong people stuffed full of self-esteem and who need no one.  You are happy to hear we should not be dependent on our marriage partner too much in case they leave or die.  So we don’t cling.  

Think about some of the world’s temptations in the back of our mind and make a few conditions on your discipleship with the Lord.  The words ‘loyalty’ and ‘faithful’ have gone the same place as the word ‘cling’.  And when the word stops going out our mouth, then we can be sure it has gone from our concepts and relationships.  Notice the marriage vows of today and in the past.
And this is the same reason even though there are more people on this earth than ever before, that we have more loneliness than ever.  I am not saying everyone does not want to cling.  Some know they want to cling and try to cling , but their partner wants the distance.  He or she wants the so-called freedom. But most people can tolerate and expect non-clinging relationships like never before.  I wonder why we still use the word ‘relationship’.

This is easily seen in the break-up among families. We are taught not to cling and its bad consequences, we believe the ‘educators’, and then we don’t cling and don’t expect others to cling.   As a result we are lonely people because we have departed from the way God has intended for us, which we will see in a moment from the text.  I think this is also why our generation can accept the single life as normal, rather than exceptional.  They even defend it.  We have isolated ourselves and don’t like it, but because we believe in our so-called independence as being ideal, we go on with this way of life rather than remaking our whole lives.       I have some questions for you.

    1.     Is it wrong to cling?  
    2.     Doesn’t clinging show weakness and dependency?
    3.     Why do I like not to cling?  
    4.     Why don’t I want to cling?
    5.     How come I want to cling but don’t want to?
    6.     How can I begin to cling?
I want to share that this is not a superficial problem but one of the deep underlying problems in our society.  I personally think this is somewhat a calculated means by which some so-called intellectuals are trying to enforce their political/sociological teachings down our throat without us throwing it all up.  They want to breakup the family and church so people are individuals and don’t have relationships.  They are aware of the opposition they could not overcome from groups of loyalists for there their beliefs are entrenched and supported.  Remove these relationships, and they can modify your beliefs.

They have substituted the ‘success’ image for the caring roles.  They have shown how you need to break up these other relationships so that you may progress in your career.  They could care less about your real needs; they want you to worry about the false you - your image.  This is why today we have gone so quickly from okay to bad.  This is the modern generation which knows knowledge is the key to power, and if they can get you thinking something, they do not need to use force or money to change you.  You volunteer to do what others want. I need to address this because many of you wonder why you have such a difficult time with being a Christian.  

You have an educated belief about the world which says clinging is not good, and any loyalty interferes with your own freedoms.  As long as you hold to this understanding, and depending on how deeply you live by it, I am not sure you can actually even be a Christian.  In the end this is opposite to what Christ requires and does in our new lives. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate; Paul says we are to live by the Spirit rather than by the flesh.  In other words, you can never really get down to clinging to the Lord.  You know it is right, kind of, but you don’t do it.  Your question to its best intentions make you doubt about the Lord’s promises.  The educational perspective straight from hell convinces you that your freedom is the most important.  You are more important than God and others.  They even want Sesame Street to teach children not to cling to their parents.  They say this is necessary in case divorce comes.


As long as I live, I will cling to my God.  I will cling to my wife.  I will stick to my children.  I will acknowledge my need for companionship and friendship.  I will acknowledge my responsibilities to my government, employer, family, church and of course God.  I refute those ideas, which are so prevalent and bouncing back and forth in my head regarding freedom. They state in order to be ‘me,’ I must be irresponsible (i.e. unfaithful, disloyal) to those who might interfere with my freedoms.

Actually, when we look at verses 8 and 12 they outline before us two things we can cling to: the Lord or to the world.  There is not third option.  In fact, as much as we might want to think of ourselves as strong and free from people, you instead have to cling to the world and all it offers.

Next: Cling to the Lord (Joshua 23:1-11)

Reaching Beyond Mediocrity (Joshua 10:1-43)
– The Day the Sun Stood in the Sky –
Skepticism and Higher Bible Criticism
Joshua 10:12-14 Interpretations of the 'Sun stood in the sky.'
Joshua 10:12-14 Purpose of Recording the Miracle
Joshua 10:1-11: A. Joshua's Sincere Obedience
Joshua 10:12-43: B. Joshua's Quest for God's Best
Joshua 10:1-43: Bible Study Questions
Mobilizing God's People (Joshua 1:10-18)
Joshua 1:10-18: Introduction to Moblizing God's People
Joshua 1:10-11: A. Communicates God’s Will
Joshua 1:12-15: B. Demands Total Participation
Joshua 1:16-18: C. Responds With A Clear Commitment
Joshua 1:10-18: Bible Study Questions
Finishing the Task (Joshua 13:1-33)
Joshua 13: Introduction: 3 Unexplainables
Joshua 13:1 Passes on the Vision
Joshua 13:2-5 Knows the Need
Joshua 13:6 Lives by Faith
Joshua 13:7-33 Distributes the Responsibility
Joshua 13:1-33 Bible Study Questions
Victory over Strongholds (Joshua 6:1-27)
Joshua 6:1-27 The Lesson from Jericho
Joshua 6:1 Our Need for God's Power
Joshua 6:2-5 Our Discovery of God's Solutions
Joshua 6:6-27 Our Participation in God's Victory
Joshua 6:1-27 Summary: You can win too!
Joshua 6:1-27_Bible_Study_Questions
Effectively Dealing with Defeat & Despair (Joshua 7:1-15)
Joshua 7:1-15: Learning about Defeat and Failures
Joshua 7:1-5: Falling into Failure
Joshua 7:6-10: Staying in Disgrace
Joshua 7:11-15: Road to Recovery
Joshua 7:1-15: Bible Study Questions

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Rev. Paul J. Bucknell