And Joshua said to them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage…
I. THE DUTY TO BE BRAVE AND STRONG. This is often insisted on in the Book of Joshua (e.g., 1:6). Christianity gives prominence to gentler graces of humility, mildness, and the forgiving spirit. But it does not therefore exonerate us from the more masculine duties (1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10).
(1) It is our duty to be brave. Cowardice is a sin in a Christian even more than in a pagan, because the Christian has higher motives for courage. The exhortation, "Fear not," is not only an encouragement to comfort; it is an incitement to duty, because cowardice leads us to shrink from
(c) pain and loss,
(d) ridicule; and yet all of these may come in the way of our life's work.
(2) It is our duty to be strong. We should not simply bewail weakness as a calamity; we should repent of it as a failing. Moral weakness comes from moral corruption. It makes us fail in our work of resisting sin and doing good. It is therefore needful that we should overcome it if we are to fulfil our mission.
II. THE CALL FOR THE EXERCISE OF THIS DUTY.
(1) We are surrounded by alarming dangers;
(a) in our own sinful hearts;
(b) in the evil of the world, and the troubles and temptations which arise from this;
(c) in the mystery of life.
He who is not brave with God's courage will sink before these terrors when once he realises their full proportions.
(2) We are called to difficult tasks;
(a) like the Israelites, we are invited to take possession of an inheritance. The kingdom of heaven is not won without fighting (1 Corinthians 9:26);
(b) like the Israelites, we have foes to resist in sin within and temptation without (1 Peter 5:8, 9);
(c) like the Israelites, we have territory to conquer for God. We have not to fight for our own inheritance and safety only or chiefly, but that we may win the world for Christ (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3).
III. THE SECRET OF COURAGE AND STRENGTH.
(1) They are derived from God. We are not to fear, because God is with us (Isaiah 43:1, 2). We are to be strong in His strength (Psalm 29:11; Philippians 4:13). Therefore those naturally most timid and weak can be strong and brave in God (Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 12:10).
(2) They are encouraged by experience. To us it appears a brutal source of courage - those Hebrew captains planting their feet on the necks of the conquered kings in triumph. But rejoicing in the victory, it was well that they should see God's hand in it, and gain strength from it. We may seek strength and courage in the contemplation of the way in which God has helped us in the past (Psalm 34:6).
(3) They are increased by practice. The text is an exhortation. Though strength and courage come from God, they come through our own efforts to be brave and energetic. We must exercise Divine grace in order to realise its efficiency (Philippians 2:12).
(4) They are mutually helpful. Courage and strength are associated. Courage without strength is rash. Strength without courage is futile. We must be strong to justify our courage and brave to use our strength. Thus the various Christian graces are linked together in arming a soul with the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.