Joshua 5 & Psalms 132-134

Joshua 5

    As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel.

    At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised. For they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

    When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

    While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

    When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

(Joshua 5 ESV)

Psalm 132

A Song of Ascents.

    Remember, O LORD, in David's favor,
        all the hardships he endured,
    how he swore to the LORD
        and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
    “I will not enter my house
        or get into my bed,
    I will not give sleep to my eyes
        or slumber to my eyelids,
    until I find a place for the LORD,
        a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
    Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
        we found it in the fields of Jaar.
    “Let us go to his dwelling place;
        let us worship at his footstool!”
    Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
        you and the ark of your might.
    Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
        and let your saints shout for joy.
    For the sake of your servant David,
        do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
    The LORD swore to David a sure oath
        from which he will not turn back:
    “One of the sons of your body
        I will set on your throne.
    If your sons keep my covenant
        and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
    their sons also forever
        shall sit on your throne.”
    For the LORD has chosen Zion;
        he has desired it for his dwelling place:
    “This is my resting place forever;
        here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
    I will abundantly bless her provisions;
        I will satisfy her poor with bread.
    Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
        and her saints will shout for joy.
    There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
        I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
    His enemies I will clothe with shame,
        but on him his crown will shine.”

(Psalm 132 ESV)

Psalm 133

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

    Behold, how good and pleasant it is
        when brothers dwell in unity!
    It is like the precious oil on the head,
        running down on the beard,
    on the beard of Aaron,
        running down on the collar of his robes!
    It is like the dew of Hermon,
        which falls on the mountains of Zion!
    For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
        life forevermore.

(Psalm 133 ESV)

Psalm 134

A Song of Ascents.

    Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
        who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
    Lift up your hands to the holy place
        and bless the LORD!
    May the LORD bless you from Zion,
        he who made heaven and earth!

(Psalm 134 ESV)

Something to Consider

Joshua 5: Upon crossing the Jordan and taking their first steps into the Promised Land, the Israelites reinstate the covenant sign of circumcision and celebrate the covenant meal of Passover. This was a fresh reminder for the Israelites of their covenant relationship with God and their redemption by God as well. Taking the time to carry out a camp-wide circumcision and a celebration of the Passover would have certainly left the Israelite army in a vulnerable and weakened state during their initial time in the Promised Land. Therefore, Israel’s first actions toward taking their inheritance were actions of great faith and dependence rather than great fighting and determination. 

How often do we find ourselves assuming God’s salvation is gained through great strength and striving? In a culture that celebrates the determination of the will, we ought to be reminded that it is dependency on the Lord that gains life’s ultimate victory.

Joshua received this humble reminder before he became a hero of war. The commander of the armies of Israel came face-to-face with the Commander of the army of the Lord. The Son of God with a sword drawn stood before the servant of God with sandals disposed. Joshua would fall on his face in worship before he was prepared to fight without fear in war. The Lord had now properly prepared His people for what lies ahead. The strength of securing our salvation is found in remembering our relationship with God, our redemption by God and our reliance upon Him as our Lord.