Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister…
"Be thou strong and very courageous." What to do? To lead the army? To batter down strong walls and enter into the imminent, deadly breach? Nay, all this is left out of sight; the exhortation to be "strong and very courageous" is given solely with a moral application. A man shows himself more brave in an inflexible adherence to the law of God as the the rule of his life in all things than in any feats of arms or deeds of daring.
I. A SUFFICIENT RULE OF GUIDANCE FOR LIFE. Joshua had; we have. Our law is the whole gospel, as requiring from us a practical and loving and continuous obedience. To be "strong" is to make endeavour to go forward and grasp something in the Divine life; it is to take up a certain position in practical obedience, and say (not ostentatiously yet clearly), "I am here, I stand by this." To be "of good courage" is to maintain that position against the force of temptation and opposition of every kind; is to say firmly, "Here I shall abide, I cannot go back from this." Well, but a life that consists of gaining new positions, and grasping new things, and defending all that is thus attained, is of necessity a life of enterprise and progress. And such a life, in this world, will certainly meet with a great deal of opposition, silent and declared, and will require a great deal of strength and courage in those who seek to lead it.
1. Indeed, we might truly say that strength and courage are needed at home, and with ourselves, before we meet the world at all. The critical point of the struggle is within. Let me be strong, then, against my inferior self! Let me grip him hard, and wrestle with him, until he is overthrown! Let me be very courageous against his withering and insidious suggestions.
2. Then also, strength and courage are needed constantly and much in the Church, i.e., among Christian people. One Christian needs to be strong against other Christians — in this way as well as in others — that every Christian has his own inner thought of what he ought to be and do; his own ideal, as we call it.
3. Then still more is courage needed, and strength, when you go more fully out into the world. Here are certain principles in the law of Christ, as the regulative system of a Christian's life, principles of honour and-honesty, of purity, sobriety, love, and self-denial, of humility and gentleness, which are clearly different from the principles that obtain in the world generally. Not that contrary principles are professed openly in the world except by a few; but that contrary, or at any rate far inferior, principles are acted upon, through the world, in its different spheres, commercial, political, literary, social, is just as certain as it is that there is a world at all. One great point of duty with Christians just now, I think, ought to be the endeavour to live simple lives, so as, if possible, to pull back this drifting society of ours towards the simplicity it has lost.
4. Again, it is sometimes necessary to speak frankly and boldly in condemnation of the action or in opposition to the speaking of others.
II. HOW WE MAY ATTAIN THIS TEMPER AND HABIT OF CHRISTIAN COURAGE. It is fed by truth, by the law, or the revealed truth of God. What men call "spirit," the mere clash and effervescence of nature, will soon evaporate; but when the soul has found the flowing fountains of strength, and drinks of the same day by day, her courage will be day by day renewed. Again, not only must we take the Word of God into our daily thought and meditation, but believing the wonderful assurance it gives us of the actual presence of the speaker, the Lord, with those who serve Him, we must make room for Him in our daily life, and lean upon the almighty arm, and even in the darkest and most unsuccessful moments sit silent to hear the great reviving words, "The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
(A. Raleigh,D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,