Joshua 15 is a historical list of the borders of Judah’s inheritance in the promised land. If you’re like me, you find yourself skim reading the names of towns not easily pronounced. Surprisingly, in the middle of the chapter, the narrative breaks to include a story about God’s faithful servant, Caleb, and his daughter, Achsah. I’ve learned that nothing in scripture is random, and when God inserts unexpected details, we ought to stop and take a second look.
After waiting 45 years for God to fulfill His promise to Caleb, he finds himself the new owner of the area called Hebron. He has taken possession, having driven out the previous occupants at God’s command, but there’s one city remaining, Kiriath-sepher. Perhaps tired of fighting, he declares a challenge: the one who captures this final city will win the hand of his daughter, Achsah, in marriage. Apparently, she was worth the risk…Othniel, Caleb’s nephew, immediately steps up to the plate, takes the city, and wins his prize!
Achsah is a woman ahead of her time. She persuades her new husband to ask her father for her own inheritance. He obliges by giving her the land of the Negev. However, this is not enough for Achsah. She goes personally to visit her father and makes another bold request. She doesn’t just want the land; she wants the springs of water that will make it profitable, fertile, and fruitful. She doesn’t settle for less than what will make her inheritance truly abundant and meaningful. Caleb obviously loves his daughter; he gives her both the upper and lower springs that surround her inherited land, assuring her success.
I love Achsah’s boldness. I appreciate the relationship she had with her father which enabled her to ask for what she needed. And I love Caleb’s fatherly indulgence to not only provide for her immediate need (the land) but to give her something that would bring continued blessing and fruitfulness both in her life, and in the lives of her children and grandchildren to whom she would pass it down.
This is a story with obvious physical and literal meaning. Land needs water to produce, and Achsah was a smart woman who anticipated that need. But I believe there is a greater spiritual lesson for us, especially since it’s an unexpected detail God chose to give us. How often do we settle for the physical blessings our Heavenly Father gives us without giving further thought to the far more valuable spiritual blessings? This story brings us to Jesus’ words in John 7:37-39, as he challenges the unbelieving Jews during the celebration of the Feast of Booths.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
As parents, just like Caleb, we want to provide for the physical needs of our children. We want to tuck them safely in bed at night and have ample food in our pantry when they wake up hungry. We want to clothe them warmly, give them good opportunities for education, and watch them grow physically strong as they play.
But Achsah’s bold faith teaches us to pursue the greater blessing. We want our children to not only believe in God but experience the abundance of His presence. We want spiritual life for both ourselves, and our children. We want God’s indwelling Spirit – the true “upper and lower springs” of our promised inheritance in Christ. Through faith in Christ, our loving Heavenly Father not only provides our physical needs but promises to give us Himself – the Spirit of God – who will bring the abundant fruitfulness our souls crave.
Achsah teaches us to have faith that pursues the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). It is good to trust God by asking Him to provide for your physical needs, but don’t stop there. Pursue your spiritual inheritance. Those who place their faith in Christ are promised the extraordinary, soul-satisfying experience of walking according to the Spirit who indwells all who believe. It is this life alone that is worth passing down to our children. Don’t settle for the things of this world only. Have faith like Acshah and ask God for the springs of living water.
Luke 11:13 – So if you, despite being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”