Strengthening Medicine for God's Servants
Joshua 1:1-9
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…


1. This must have been very cheering to him in reference to himself. Joshua may possibly have been somewhat despondent under a very pressing sense of his own deficiencies; and this cheering assurance would meet his case. If God be with our weakness it waxes strong; if He be with our folly it rises into wisdom; if He be with our timidity it gathers courage.

2. The consolation given to Joshua would be exceedingly suitable in the presence of his enemies. Surely, in the presence of God, Anakim become dwarfs, strongholds become as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and chariots of iron are as thistledown upon the hillside driven before the blast. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" They that be with us are more than they that be against us, when once the Lord of hosts is seen in our ranks.

3. This consolation, too, was sufficient for all supplies. Perhaps Joshua knew that the manna was no longer to fall. "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" was a supply which would meet all the demands of the commissariat. When the Lord opens all His granaries none shall lack for bread, and when He unlocks His wardrobes none shall go bare.

4. Surely this word must often have brought consolation to the heart of Joshua when he saw the people failing him. Oh, what a blessed thing it is in a false and fickle world, where he that eats bread with us lifts up his heel against us, where the favourite counsellor becomes an Ahithophel, and turns his wisdom into crafty hate, to know that "there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother," one who is faithful and gives us sure tokens of a love which many waters cannot quench!


1. Surely it is when we are called to do God's work. Joshua's work was the Lord's work. Do you know that God has put you where you are, and called you to do the work to which your life is dedicated? Then go on in God's name, for, as surely as He called you to His work, you may be sure that to you also He says, as indeed to all His servants, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

2. But I hear some of you say, "We are not engaged in work of such a kind that we could precisely call it ' work for God.'" Well, but are you engaged in a work which you endeavour to perform to God's glory? Is your ordinary trade one which is lawful — one concerning which you have no doubt as to its honest propriety; and in carrying it on do you follow right principles only?

3. We must, if we are to have this promise, take God into our calculations. A great many persons go about their supposed lifework without thinking about God. You must walk by faith if you are to enjoy the privileges of the faithful.

4. We must also be careful that we walk in God's ways. Observe that the next verse to the text runs thus, "Be strong and of a good courage," and then the seventh verse is a singular one, "Only be thou strong," &c. What for? To obey! Does it want courage and strength to obey? Why, nowadays, that man is thought to be courageous who will have no laws of God to bind him; and he is thought to be strong-minded who ridicules revelation. But let us rest assured that he is truly strong of mind and heart who is content to be thought a fool, and sticks to the good old truth, and keeps the good old way.


1. This promise does not exclude effort. If you want to succeed, use every faculty you have, and put forth all your strength; and if it is a right cause you may then fall back on this promise.

2. Neither does this promise preclude occasional disaster. Yes, and without the violation of any law, the best man in the world must expect in the most successful enterprise that there will be some discouragements. Look at the sea: it is rolling in, it will rise to full tide before long, but every wave that comes up dies upon the shore; and after two or three great waves which seem to capture the shingle there comes a feebler one which sucks back. Very well, but the sea will win, and reach its fulness. So in every good work for God there is a back-drawing wave every now and then. God will certainly test you, but He will not fail you, nor forsake you.

3. Nor, again, does this promise preclude frequent tribulations and testings of faith. In the autobiography of the famous Francke of Halle, who built, and, in the hand of God, provided for, the orphan-house of Halle, he says, "I thought when I committed myself and my work to God by faith, that I had only to pray when I had need, and that the supplies would come; but I found that I had sometimes to wait and pray for a long time." The supplies did come, but not at once. The pinch never went so far as absolute want; but there were intervals of severe pressure. There was nothing to spare. Every spoonful of meal had to be scraped from the bottom of the barrel, and every drop of oil that oozed out seemed as if it must be the last; but still it never did come to the last drop, and there was always just a little meal left. God has not promised to take any of you to heaven without trying your faith.

4. This promise does not preclude our suffering very greatly, and our dying, and perhaps dying a very sad and terrible death, as men judge. God never left Paul, but I have seen the spot where Paul's head was smitten off by the headsman. The Lord never left Peter, but Peter, like his Master, had to die by crucifixion. The Lord never left the martyrs, but they had to ride to heaven in chariots of fire.


1. Your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. Press on. We have heard of a minister who added only one to his Church through a long year of very earnest ministry — only one, a sad thing for him; but that one happened to be Robert Moffatt, and he was worth a thousand of most of us. Go on. If you bring but one to Christ, who shall estimate the value of the one?

2. And then there shall be no desertion as to yourself, for your heavenly Friend has said, "I will not forsake thee." You will not be left alone or without a helper. You are thinking of what you will do in old age. Do not think of that: think of what God will do for you in old age. Oh, but your great need and long illness will wear out your friends, you say. Perhaps you may wear out your friends, but you will not wear out your God, and He can raise up new helpers if the old ones fail. Oh, but your infirmities are many, and will soon crush you down: you cannot live long in such circumstances. Very well, then you will be in heaven; and that is far better. But you dread pining sickness. It may never come; and suppose it should come, remember what will come with it — "I will make all thy bed in thy sickness." "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" — so runs the promise. "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God."


1. I answer, first, we may be quite sure because it is God's promise. Did ever any promise of God fall to the ground yet?

2. Rent ye well assured that if a man be called to do God's work God will not fail him, because it is not after the manner of the Lord to desert His servants. He will not push His servants into severe conflicts and then fail them.

3. Besides, remember that should God's servants fail, if they are really God's servants, the enemy would exult and boast against the Lord Himself. This was a great point with Joshua in after-days (Joshua 7:9). If the Lord raises up Luther, and does not help Luther, then it is not Luther that fails; it is God that fails, in the estimation of the world.

4. Besides, if God has raised you up to accomplish a purpose by you, do you think He will be defeated? Were ever any of His designs frustrated?

5. Besides, if we trust God, and live for God, He loves us much too well to leave us. It is not to be imagined that He will ever put a load upon His own children's shoulders without giving them strength to bear the burden, or send them to labours for which He will not give them adequate resources. Oh, rest in the Lord, ye faithful.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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,

WEB: Now it happened after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying,

Strength and Courage
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