Favourite Verses Part 2: Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
I love this verse! It’s funny because over the last 8 months, I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this verse. I’ve had it hanging on my wall next to my computer these past 8 months and am glancing at it as I type these words. I have lost track of how many times and places I have seen or heard it and believe that God was trying to get my attention with it.
Why have I had a love-hate relationship with this verse? It’s because I have felt a mixture of encouragement as well as fear when reading it.
The first few times I read this verse, I was greatly encouraged by it. I thought it was beautiful words. The next few times I read it, I started to get worried. Why does God keep showing me this verse? Why would I need to be strong and courageous unless there is something daunting ahead? What’s going to happen? The verse blatantly says do not worry and I responded by worrying.
The verse kept on popping up in random places, so much so that I more or less said to God you’ve already got my attention with the verse. Thank You, but You don’t need to keep showing me anymore. I get it. But it kept on popping up and I realised that I didn’t actually believe what the verse was saying.
This verse wasn’t directly spoken to you or me. These words were spoken to Joshua, found in the book of Joshua in the Bible. Yet I believe these words spoken by God definitely apply to us also.
Joshua had many massive and overwhelming tasks ahead of him, being the new leader of Israel. The challenges he had to face would have been incredibly nerve-racking. Verse nine wasn’t the only time Joshua was told to be strong and brave. These words and similar were repeatedly told to Joshua (at least I’m not the only one who needed reminding of these words)!
But no matter how many times someone is told don’t be afraid or discouraged but be strong and courageous they will keep on being afraid and discouraged, unless they have a reason.
Joshua was given a reason:
…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I believe this is the most important part of the verse. We can't truly be encouraged or unafraid without knowing that He is with us. We need His strength. Not matter what is ahead of you or me, we have no excuse to be afraid when we know that God is with us. No matter the task ahead, He is bigger. And He is with us.
I don't know about you, but I wasn't born bold. My natural disposition is to be shy and timid. But this verse has been challenging me to step out of my comfort zone. Though I am weak, He is strong. Though I can’t see the future, He is holding me in His hand. He will never forsake me. He will never forsake you.
Here is another verse similar to Joshua 1:9:
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
As you consider the incredible, exclusive power and authority of God, there’s no room left for being afraid knowing that He is with you. We have no reason to fear.
When we do fear, it’s almost like saying to God that we don't think He's big enough to handle everything. But of course He is big enough. He is bigger than everything. I think He commands us not to fear out of His loving compassion. He doesn’t want us to spend our time being unnecessarily afraid, when with Him, we have a reason not to be afraid.
So what used to scare me about Joshua 1:9 now excites and emboldens me. It is one of my favourite verses because I now fully believe that God is with me wherever I go. What at first was just a nice sentiment to me, now reminds me of a deep and powerful truth that I will hold onto for the rest of my days.
If you would like some further reading on this topic, John Piper has a fantastic article on Desiring God called Fear Not, I Am with You, I Am Your God.
I also encourage you to have a read of Joshua’s story in the book of Joshua to help you understand the context and significance of Joshua 1:9 as well as to learn some other lessons from Joshua’s life.
Here is a list of some other verses throughout the Bible that remind us that God is with us. Look how many there are:
Joshua 1:5, 9
1 Chronicles 28:20
2 Chronicles 15:2
Psalm 27:1, 14
…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)