Joshua 1 & Psalms 120-122

Joshua 1

    After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

    And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’”

    And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

    And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

(Joshua 1 ESV)

Psalm 120

A Song of Ascents.

    In my distress I called to the LORD,
        and he answered me.
    Deliver me, O LORD,
        from lying lips,
        from a deceitful tongue.
    What shall be given to you,
        and what more shall be done to you,
        you deceitful tongue?
    A warrior's sharp arrows,
        with glowing coals of the broom tree!
    Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
        that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
    Too long have I had my dwelling
        among those who hate peace.
    I am for peace,
        but when I speak, they are for war!

(Psalm 120 ESV)

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.

    I lift up my eyes to the hills.
        From where does my help come?
    My help comes from the LORD,
        who made heaven and earth.
    He will not let your foot be moved;
        he who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
        will neither slumber nor sleep.
    The LORD is your keeper;
        the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
    The sun shall not strike you by day,
        nor the moon by night.
    The LORD will keep you from all evil;
        he will keep your life.
    The LORD will keep
        your going out and your coming in
        from this time forth and forevermore.

(Psalm 121 ESV)

Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

    I was glad when they said to me,
        “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
    Our feet have been standing
        within your gates, O Jerusalem!
    Jerusalem—built as a city
        that is bound firmly together,
    to which the tribes go up,
        the tribes of the LORD,
    as was decreed for Israel,
        to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
    There thrones for judgment were set,
        the thrones of the house of David.
    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
        “May they be secure who love you!
    Peace be within your walls
        and security within your towers!”
    For my brothers and companions' sake
        I will say, “Peace be within you!”
    For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
        I will seek your good.

(Psalm 122 ESV)

Something to Consider

Joshua 1: Moses has magnificently led the Israelite people out of the land of Egypt and through the wilderness all the way up to the banks of the Jordan River where the Promised Land awaits on the other side. Moses fulfilled his commission as “the servant of the Lord”, and now following his death, Joshua is the one commissioned by God to lead His people into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3).

Can you imagine the pressure Joshua might be feeling at this moment? The great Moses is dead! And the greatest task thus far is still at hand! What sort of insecurities and feelings of inadequacy might we feel if we were the ones commissioned to be the successor of Moses and the commander who would lead Israel into the holy war to take the Promised Land?          

Perhaps, this is the reason we read God confronting Joshua three times with the words “be strong and courageous”. These are the same words spoken to him in his earlier commissioning by Moses (Deuteronomy 31). The commissioning of Joshua is without question a call to courage.  

Many times courage alludes us and fear overwhelms us because we lose sight of the God who commissions us. Our focus slides onto the things we have lost or the things that lie ahead rather than standing firm on the God who promises His presence. Sure, Moses had died; but nothing of God had died. God’s plan was now placed into the hands of Joshua, and now it was his job to carry out the assignment. God simply reiterates to Joshua what He had told Moses to do. God doesn’t need worthy men; God makes men in need worthy. Therefore, we shouldn't fear what we lack or fear what lies ahead because God stands firm in fulfilling His plans.

So what is our call to courage?

God’s commissioning of Joshua provides encouragement in our Lord’s commissioning of us (Matthew 28). Just as God had given Joshua the clear mission to take the land; our Lord has given us the clear mission to make disciples. Just as God had instructed Joshua to study, apply and proclaim the Word of God; our Lord has instructed us to teach others all that He has commanded through the study, application and proclamation of His Word as well. And just as God had promised His power and presence everywhere Joshua went in fulfilling his mission; our Lord has promised His power and presence everywhere we go in fulfilling our mission as well.