The Jews divided old age into three stages. Age sixty to seventy was the "commencement" of old age. Age seventy to eighty was "hoary-headed" age. At eighty, one was said to be "well stricken in years." Caleb was eighty-five when he demanded his inheritance and asked to be given a haunted mountain where the sons of the Anakim ruled. It is never too late to dare something for God. Abraham was seventy-five when he left Ur. Moses was eighty when God met him at the burning bush. John was an old man when he wrote his books.
"I wholly followed the lord," was Caleb's word to Joshua (Josh.14:8). He had followed the Lord fully. He had been born in a ghetto in Goshen about the time Moses had fled from Egypt. Oh, how he longed for a Savior! When Moses came back as Israel's kinsman-redeemer, Caleb had become one of his devoted followers. He had been sheltered behind the blood of the Passover lamb. He had been baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. He had been gathered with God's people around the table in the wilderness. He had feasted on bread from heaven, drunk water from the riven rock, and smitten Amalek (a type of the flesh) with the edge of the sword. He had even been over Jordan. So where others saw a diabolical foe, Caleb saw a defeated foe.
Caleb's name means "dog"; and like a faithful dog, he wholly followed the Master. He could say, "I have wholly followed the Lord."
Then, too, he followed the Lord fearlessly. Note his calm assessment of the outlook. The way ahead promised to be arduous. It was a mountain he claimed. Caleb knew it would be an uphill fight all the way. It promised to be dangerous, for the sons of the Anakim were there, a hybrid race of giants. It promised to be tedious, for the cities were great and fenced. They would have to be taken by long and stubborn siege. Such was clear assessment of the outlook. But note, also, his calm assurance of the outlook: "If so be the Lord will be with me [He was counting on the Lord's presence], then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said [He was counting on the Lord's promise.]" (v. 12).
Finally, Caleb had followed the Lord faithfully. There were no stops and starts in his commitment, nothing but a steady walk with God.
Years ago, Alan Redpath, a well-known preacher and former pastor of Moody Church was crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth. He made friends with one of the ship's engineers. The man took him down to see the mighty engines roaring and pounding in the depths of the ship. Then he took him back to the stern of the boat, where the driveshafts throbbed and screamed as they turned the giant propellers that drove the mighty floating hotel through the water—all 83,000 tons of it.
Back in the chief engineer's cabin, Alan ventured a comment. "I suppose," he said, "those driveshafts and propellers must be going around at a enormous speed!"
"It's plain that you are no engineer!" replied the officer. "I could get those propellers going so fast, Alan, that they would just dig a big hole in the water, and the ship would come to a stop. I have forty-eight engineers under me on this ship," he added, "and they are constantly calculating the ratio between revolutions per minute in the engine room and steadiness at the point of drive."
Steadiness! That was the word! That is the word that sums up Caleb. He was steady. He wholly followed the Lord, come what may. May we do the same.