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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 1:8

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 success.
New American Standard Version
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Nave's Topical Bible - Blessing;   Call;   Communion;   Courage;   Faith;   Joshua;   Meditation;   Minister, Christian;   Rulers;   Word of God;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible, the;   Book;   Law;   Meditation;   Mind, Carnal-Spiritual;   Obedience;   Obedience-Disobedience;   Word;   Word of God;   The Topic Concordance - Courage;   Obedience;   Prosperity;   Strength;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Law of Moses, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Canaan;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Joshua the son of nun;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Education in Bible Times;   Leadership;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bible;   Canon of Scripture;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Pentateuch;   Unclean and Clean;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Torah;   Tribes of Israel, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jericho;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Cud;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bible, the;   Joshua, Book of;   Meditation;   Succeed;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Capital Punishment;   Didascalia;   Education;   Midrash;   Phylacteries;   Sackcloth;   Shema';  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for March 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth - The law which had already been written by Moses, and from which he and the people were to take all those precepts by which their lives were to be governed. Though there was a copy of the law laid up in the sanctuary, yet this was not sufficient. Joshua must have a copy for himself, and he was to consult it incessantly, that his way might be made prosperous, and that he might have good success. If he kept God's word, God would keep him in body and soul; if he should observe to do according to that word, then God would cause all his way to be prosperous. Those who are obedient to God lack no manner of thing that is good.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it, to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

"Be strong and of good courage ..." The recurrence of these words, almost like the refrain of a song, should be noted in Joshua 1:6,7,9,18. It was indeed an incredibly daring and dangerous thing that God called upon Joshua to do.

"According to all the law ..." Yes, indeed, according to this testimony, even in the days of Joshua, there was a "Law of Moses," containing all that the Israelites were expected to do! Efforts to make the Pentateuch itself a late book by dating from the times of the judges, or the monarchy, or the post-exilic priesthood are among the most stupid and impossible tasks the so-called "higher critics" ever assigned themselves! This is as good a place as any to take a little closer look at what the Word of God says concerning this:


JOSHUA: We do not even get out of the first chapter until we find this clear and undeniable reference to the "Law which Moses my servant commanded." If that is not the Law of Moses - ALL of it - the entire Pentateuch, then it is nothing at all! We reject the arbitrary arrogance with which so-called "scholars" would try to limit this to some little fraction of the Mosaic Law. There is no objective grounds whatever for such an obviously false maneuver.

JUDGES: Like every other book in the Bible, the shadow and teaching of the Pentateuch lie over every word of it. Look at Judges 1:27-34, where it is recounted how various tribes of Israel did not "drive out the inhabitants of the land." But, indeed why were they expected to drive them out? It is in the teachings of the Pentateuch that they were commanded to drive them out.

RUTH: Where is the implication that the Pentateuch was in existence and well known in Ruth? The whole book is founded on the practical application of the law of Levirate marriage, and down to the very ceremony of "drawing off the shoe," we are looking at the Pentateuchal background in every line of it!

1,2 SAMUEL, 1,2 KINGS, 1,2 CHRONICLES: In all these books, there are recorded frequent departures from the Pentateuchal Law of God by the kings of the people. But Solomon's marriage with foreign women, contrary to the Law of Moses does not prove that the Law did not exist, but that Solomon wantonly violated it. So with all the other violations. Note the references to the tabernacle. Where could the tabernacle have come from, if not from the Pentateuch? The people complained and kicked against the sacrifices and offerings God had commanded, but why did they think they should make such offerings? It was all taught in the Pentateuch, of course. The Philistines took the ark, but why did Israel consider the ark sacred? The answer is in the Pentateuch. Saul visited the witch of Endor, but he disguised himself because it was illegal to do so. What made it illegal? The Pentateuchal teaching. The tragic death of Abner (2 Samuel 3ff) turned upon his failure to stay strictly within "the city of refuge," called Hebron. Well, how did that tradition about "fleeing for refuge" to certain cities get started? It is all outlined in the Pentateuch. David rescued the ark of the covenant, but he ordered that it be carried on a new cart, instead of by hand, with fatal results to Uzziah. Why was it wrong to haul the ark in a cart? The Pentateuch records specific directions for carrying it "by hand." Read all those glorying passages about building the Temple. Where did the design of it come from? The whole thing was a larger and more elaborate replica of the ancient tabernacle, all of the instructions for which are in the Pentateuch. Solomon offered thousands of sacrifices. Why? Such sacrifices were authorized for Israel only in the Pentateuch. Solomon's apostasy is recorded (1 Kings 11). Apostasy from what? The Law of Moses as revealed in the Pentateuch.

During the long years of the divided kingdom, some kings were reprimanded for appointing priests "from all the people." Why was it wrong? The Pentateuch has the answer. Elijah engaged in the contests with the prophets of Baal as opposed to the God Jehovah. Where was the superiority of Jehovah taught? In the Pentateuch. A king murdered Naboth for his refusal to sell his inheritance. Where did the laws originate that Naboth endeavored to keep? In the Pentateuch. Ahaz made a new Altar, and the description and use of it entailed a discussion of the peace-offerings and many other things that could never have been known in those days except for the teachings of the Pentateuch.

Josiah's reforms led to a popular observance of the sabbath, and of the Passover, (2 Kings 23:22). How did they know how to keep such laws? Where else but in the Pentateuch could the instructions be found?

THE CHRONICLES: Exhibit the same universal (in Israel) consciousness of the whole Law of Moses.

EZRA: Upon what was the cruel edict regarding foreign wives founded? The Pentateuch, of course, and upon nothing else.

NEHEMIAH: In Nehemiah 9, the people remembered the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night in their plea for forgiveness. Where did that memory come from? The Pentateuch. Furthermore, upon what law was the abolition of usury based? It was based on the teaching of the Pentateuch.

ESTHER: What emboldened the queen to plead for Israel? Her knowledge of the God revealed in the Law of Moses.

JOB: It is the God of the Pentateuch - the Creator, the Helper, the Sustainer, the Personal Intervening God, who shines in every line of Job. The source of such conceptions of God is Biblical, the Pentateuch in particular.

THE PSALMS: There are so many references to the Pentateuch in the Psalms that it would take a volume to list them all. As one of a hundred examples, read Psalms 135:8-12.

PROVERBS: Many of the Pentateuchal regulations are presented as capsuled wisdom in Proverbs.

ISAIAH: This prophet spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah; and throughout, his conceptions of God, the terminology that he used (as is also true of Jeremiah), and other powerful echoes of the Pentateuch thunder throughout the prophecy.

JEREMIAH: "The resemblances between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy are marked. There are words used in both that are found nowhere else. Passages in one are identical with or closely similar to passages in the other, and in general tone and form of thought, the two remarkably resemble each other.EZEKIEL: All of this applies to Ezekiel. Where did he learn about Satan and about Eden, the Paradise of God, if not from the Pentateuch? There are details of the burnt-offering and many other instructions lifted right squarely out of the Pentateuch.

DANIEL: It was the observance of the Pentateuchal diet of the Jews that led to Daniel's success in Babylon.

HOSEA: Hosea 8:12 has this, "Though I wrote for him my Law in ten thousand precepts! ... Many parallels of idiom and language are found between Hosea and the Pentateuch, which show that the latter was extant in the northern Israel, and these can only be accounted for by its existence in a prior written form."[13]

JOEL: This prophet mentioned Eden (Joel 2:3), and the meal-offering, and the drink offering (Joel 2:14), none of which he could have known apart from the revelation in the Pentateuch.

AMOS: Amos is absolutely loaded with all kinds of references to the Pentateuch. "The significance of them lies not in the actual number of references, but in the kind of references and the implications involved in the individual references."[14] The knowledge of the Pentateuchal prohibition against keeping the pledge of a man's garment after sundown (Amos 2:8), mention of the Exodus from Egypt and the forty years of wandering (Amos 2:10), the reference to the vows of the Nazarites (Amos 2:11), the citation of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reference to burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, meal-offerings, tithes, the horns of the altar, etc. - these are but a few of the scores of Pentateuchal echoes in Amos.

JONAH: His knowledge of the Pentateuch is seen in his promise to pay his vows and in the declaration that, "Salvation is of Jehovah."

OBADIAH: There is a reference to Numbers 20:14-21 in Obadiah 1:1:10.

MICAH: In Micah 6 of this prophecy represents the shameful apostasy of Israel as a "breach of their contract with God," and what could that contract possibly be if it is not the Pentateuchal covenant? In this chapter the whole Pentateuchal history of Israel is rehearsed! The Exodus, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, even the disaster in Numbers 26 - all these, and many other things revealed only in the Pentateuch, are mentioned.

NAHUM: Here is the application of the Pentateuchal teachings of the justice, the wrath, and the vengeance of God against all wickedness, especially in the forthcoming judgment against Nineveh, "Jehovah is a jealous God" (Nahum 1:2). That is a line right out of the Pentateuch.

HABAKKUK: In Habakkuk 1:4, we have "The Law is slacked," a plain reference to the Pentateuch. In Habakkuk 1:12, this prophet used three or four Pentateuchal names for God in a single sentence!

ZEPHANIAH: This prophet sternly prophesied the final destruction of the earth on the occasion of the Final Judgment when God will "wipe this Adam off the face of the earth!" The knowledge of Genesis, the fall of man, the repeated rebellions of Israel against God's covenant (the Pentateuch), along with mention of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example - all of these show that the Pentateuch was known throughout the whole history of Israel. Every single book of the Bible after the Five Books of Moses (The Pentateuch) reflect salient teachings of the Pentateuch in all such things, as examples chosen, the laws of God violated, the instances of God's prior deliverance, etc., etc.

HAGGAI: In this prophecy, we actually have Haggai assembling the priests and asking their opinion of certain things laid down in the Law of Moses (Haggai 2:11-13).

ZECHARIAH: This marvelous prophecy reveals the breaking of Beauty and Bands, the two staves that belonged to Zechariah, and both are squarely related to the Pentateuchal covenant status that belonged to Israel. This whole prophecy would have been impossible without a complete knowledge of the Pentateuch.

MALACHI: Here we have such things as the abrogation of the Levitical covenant, the cursing of the Jewish priesthood, the rebuke of Israel for violating the Pentateuchal laws concerning the "unblemished" sacrifices God required, and a dozen other things that are related intimately to a knowledge of the Pentateuch, a law known to all the people, but wantonly violated by many of them.

Well, there it is! All of the books of the O.T. which follow the Pentateuch display the most universal acquaintance with the writings of Moses on the part of all Israel. This proves many things:

(1) the antiquity of the Pentateuch;

(2) the integrity of the Pentateuch;

(3) its acceptance as the writing of the Great Lawgiver;

(4) its existence as the charter and constitution of the nation of Israel.

The whole world has accepted these basic truths for more than 3,000 years, and Christians may be absolutely certain that all the critics on earth shall never be able to destroy half a line of it.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

This book of the law i.e. the five books referred to as one throughout the Old Testament. See App-47.

mouth. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), for what is spoken by it (App-6), i.e. Joshua is to continually speak of it,

meditate = talk to thyself. Compare Psalms 1:2 = audible musing.

way. Some codices with one early printed edition, read "ways".

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

8.This book of the Law, etc Assiduous meditation on the Law is also commanded; because, whenever it is intermitted, even for a short time, many errors readily creep in, and the memory becomes rusted, so that many, after ceasing from the continuous study of it, engage in practical business, as if they were mere ignorant tyros. God therefore enjoins his servant to make daily progress, and never cease, during the whole course of his life, to profit in the Law. Hence it follows that those who hold this study in disdain, are blinded by intolerable arrogance.

But why does he forbid him to allow the Law to depart from his mouth rather than from his eyes? Some interpreters understand that the mouth is here used by synecdoche forface; but this is frigid. I have no doubt that the word used is peculiarly applicable to a person who was bound to prosecute the study in question, not only for himself individually, but for the whole people placed under his rule. He is enjoined, therefore, to attend to the teaching of the Law, that in accordance with the office committed to him, he may bring forward what he has learned for the common benefit of the people. At the same time he is ordered to make his own docility a pattern of obedience to others. For many, by talking and discoursing, have the Law in their mouth, but are very bad keepers of it. Both things, therefore, are commanded, that by teaching others, he may make his own conduct and whole character conformable to the same rule.

What follows in the second clause of the verse shows, that, everything which profane men endeavor to accomplish in contempt of the word of God, must ultimately fail of success, and that however prosperous the commencement may sometimes seem to be, the issue will be disastrous; because prosperous results can be hoped for only from the divine favor, which is justly withheld from counsels rashly adopted, and from all arrogance of which contempt of God himself is the usual accompaniment. Let believers, therefore, in order that their affairs may turn out as they wish, conciliate the divine blessing alike by diligence in learning and by fidelity in obeying.

In the end of the verse, because the term used is ambiguous, as I have already observed, the sentence is repeated, or a second promise is added. The latter is the view I take. For it was most suitable, that after the promised success, Joshua should be reminded that men never act skillfully and regularly except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the word of God. Accordingly, the prudence which believers learn from the word of God, is opposed to the confidence of those who deem their own sense sufficient to guide them aright. (23)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

At this time you may be seated and we"ll turn to the book of Joshua.

Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses" minister, saying ( Joshua 1:1 ),

Moses" minister; it doesn"t mean that Joshua was Moses" pastor. The word "minister" there actually is in its true meaning, which is "servant". It is interesting how that somehow we"ve really sort of twisted the concept of a minister. So many men in the ministry today really don"t look at the ministry as servanthood, but they"re almost wanting people to serve them. "You know you ought to bring it to me because after all, I"m your minister." That"s totally opposite of what the word minister really means. It means a servant.

Jesus said, "If any man would be chief among you, let him be the servant of all"( Mark 10:44 ). So a true minister is a man who is there not to be ministered to, but who is there to serve the needs of the people. So when it reads that he was Moses" servant, or his minister, it means that he was Moses" personal servant. He accompanied Moses, he helped Moses do the things, and Moses was, he was just his valet sort of, just his servant.

Now after the death of Moses, God elevated him from Moses servant, to the servant of all of the people of Israel. Faithful in the little things, now the Lord has entrusted into his hands even greater things. This is always the process of God. Jesus said, "Because thou hast always been faithful in little things, now I will make thee ruler over many" ( Matthew 25:21 ). He said, "If I"ve entrusted to you the little things, and you haven"t been able to take care of them, how can I entrust you the things of the kingdom?" As the Lord encourages us to the faithfulness to our service, no matter what avenue of service He may call us to.

Many times we look with disdain on particular ministries within the body. We look with sort of envy or desirability on other ministries within the body. Men are prone many times to put greater honor on certain ministries. Actually, the particular ministry that I have within the body is one that people often look up to in an enviable kind of a way because it is a particular ministry that draws a lot of prominence because I stand before people. But it doesn"t really follow that my ministry is more important than your ministry within the body. There are some ministries that never cause any attention or notice to be drawn to them, which God has placed as some of the most vital and important ministries within the body.

There is that ministry of intercessory prayer. Rarely do you know who it is who has that ministry. Yet what an important ministry within the body. What great honor God places upon that ministry. What great rewards will that person have who has and is faithful to that ministry. I don"t know that they"ll have rows in heaven, I hope not. Because I"m afraid that I"ll have a back row because there is so much feedback to the ministry that I have. It"s so neat to have people like you who display and show so much love, and so much warmth, and so much kindness. I fear lest I often am getting all my rewards here, and they"ll be nothing left for me when I get up there. I"ll have to stand in the back on my tiptoes trying to see down to the front. Some of you people who have never been on the platform, never been in the public eye, you"ll be right down there on the front row, because you have been faithful to God in that ministry that He has called you to fulfill. Though it wasn"t one that caused a lot of attention to be drawn to you, but you were faithful in that to which God called you.

We need to get away from this concept of full-time ministry, looking at that, those who are on the Calvary Chapel staff are those who"ve been hired by some mission board are full-time ministers. You are, all of you called by God to be a full-time minister. Now Sears and Roebuck may pay your salary, or some other corporation, but you have been called of God to full time, serving the Lord. Whatever you"re doing in word or deed, you should be doing for the glory of God, and as unto the Lord. Knowing that from the Lord you are going to receive your reward. So we need to have the proper concept of the ministry, and especially those who do serve on any church staff. We need to get away from that idea that the minister is someone who is especially holy, or is someone above the others, because as a minister, I"m actually a servant. Can you imagine seeking to serve this many people? But yet that"s what God has called me to do. So Joshua was Moses" minister, that is he was his personal valet or servant.

Now after the death of Moses, the Lord then spoke unto Joshua. His name is a very significant name. It was given to him by Moses, originally his mother called him "Hosea", which means "salvation". But Moses after he saw the quality and all in this man, called him "Joshua", or "Yashua", which is "Jehovah is", or "Jehovah"s salvation", or "Jehovah is salvation." It is the same name as Jesus. This is in Hebrew "Yashua", in Greek it is "Jesus". So we find in Joshua a very interesting type of Jesus Christ, who, Joshua, led the people into the inheriting of the land.

Now Moses could only lead the people so far. Moses led them out of Egypt and to the border of the Promised Land, but Moses could not lead them in. Moses stands for the law. The law cannot lead you into the fullness of God"s blessings for your life. The law can lead you up to the border, but the law can"t take you in. So, Moses the representative of the law, could lead them up to the border of the Promised Land; he could not lead them into the Promised Land. It is necessary now that Moses lay down his leadership. Joshua takes up the leadership to lead them into the promises of God.

Now there have been given unto us exceeding rich and precious promises. God has a life for you that is a super rich abundant life in Jesus Christ. It isn"t God"s will that you be on a spiritual roller coaster, that you be a yo-yo in your spiritual experience. It is God"s desire that you enter into the full, rich life that He has for you in Jesus Christ, that you enjoy that life of victory in Christ. But the law can"t lead you into that. Only Jesus Christ can lead you in. So where Moses had to leave off, Joshua took up, for the law led them as far as it could. Now the new relationship is gonna be one of faith. They"re gonna have to begin by stepping out in faith, coming into this land that God had promised.

Now their conquest of Canaan is typical of the Christians entering into the life of victory that God has for us, as we are conquering over the giants of the flesh that have been entrenched so long in our lives, as we enter into that glorious victory in and through Jesus Christ, that the Lord has for us. Now, it is interesting that Joshua could only lead them so far. He led them into the conquering of the land but he never brought them into a rest. That is something that was reserved for Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews the contrast is made of how that Joshua led them in but could not bring them to the place of rest; that is a work that was reserved for the finished work of Jesus Christ. And once Christ made the work of salvation complete through His death upon the cross, then He has brought us now into the rest where we rest our salvation, our eternal life in that finished work of Jesus. We have that neat rest in the Lord. So Jesus has done for us that which Joshua could not do. He brought them only into the land, not into the rest, but Jesus has brought us into a glorious rest. So you get into some of the typology and it makes a very fascinating study.

Now God spoke to Joshua and the words of the Lord were actually words of encouragement. Commanding Joshua now to take up where Moses left off, and for him to lead the people the children of Israel. The beautiful promise in verse three where God said,

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses ( Joshua 1:3 ).

Now I like that because this is stepping in and laying claim to that which is already yours. Notice it"s in the past tense, "Every place you put your sole, I have already given to you." Now God has already given to you a glorious, full, rich life of victory. All you have to do is go in and take it by faith, go in. "Wherever you put the sole of your foot", the Lord said, "I have given to you". You can go in and begin to lay claim to the blessings of God, to the promises of God. Let us beware lest God having given us the promise that we would fail to receive it, or enter into it. It is important that we begin to lay claim to those victories over the flesh life that God has promised to give to us. "Every place you put the sole of your foot, I have given to you."

From the wilderness from Lebanon even to the great river, Euphrates ( Joshua 1:4 ),

Now the tragic thing is that they didn"t put their sole all the way. So God says, "It"s all yours, every place you put your sole of your foot down, I"ve given it to you." They only went so far and then they quit. They never did go over the river Euphrates. They never did take all that God had given to them.

Now it is also tragically true that so many times we fail to take all that God has given to us. We fail to enter fully into that life of victory in Jesus Christ. We hesitate, or we become as they did, satisfied, "That"s all we need." We become more or less complacent in our spiritual growth. We just hit a plateau and we say, "Oh praise the Lord. This is wonderful." We don"t press on any further.

So when God tells them the area that is theirs, it is sad that they never did take all of the area that was theirs. They never did fully possess their possessions: that which God gave to them. That is why the scriptures are constantly exhorting us. "Let us go on, let us go on into the completeness, into the fullness." God has so much for you. God wants to do so much for you. If you"ll just press in by faith, lay claim, take it, it"s yours.

Now the Lord is encouraging him.

No man will be able to stand against you: as I was with Moses, so I"m gonna be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people you"re going to divide this inheritance, the land. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do all that is written according to the law ( Joshua 1:5-7 ),

Now the encouragement for Joshua as God promises His presence, His power. Then as God again tells him the conditions upon which he will experience that presence and power of God.

Be careful that you observe to do the whole law: don"t turn, don"t deviate from it to the right, or to the left. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success ( Joshua 1:7-8 ).

Now God is saying, "Look keep the law, don"t deviate from it, for it is by this observing it day and night, meditating in it, thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, thus you will have good success."

As we turn to the first Psalm, we read, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate both day and night, he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper"( Psalm 1:1-3 ). People looking for prosperity, people who are looking for success, God has given you the rules. Meditate in it, observe it, and thus shalt thou make thy way prosperous, for these are the rules to prosperity. These are the rules to success. So the conditions upon which he can know the power, the presence, the victory.

So Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the land, and command the people, saying, Prepare your food; for within three days you"re gonna pass over this Jordan, and go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God gives to you to possess. And to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, he said, [All right now, you promised Moses you were gonna go in and help us, and he reminded them of their promise, told them now to leave their wives and so forth, and to get their fighting men together so that they might cross with them, and take this land that God had promised unto them]; Until the Lord has given [verse fifteen] your brothers rest, as he has given you, and they have possessed the land which the Lord your God has given to them: then you will return and enjoy this land. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that you command us we will do, for whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. And as we hearkened unto Moses, so will we hearken unto you ( Joshua 1:10-17 ).


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua by Divine Commission Succeeds Moses

Joshua 1:1 to Joshua 5:12 record the preparations for the Holy War.

1. Now (better, 'and') after the death of Moses.. it came to pass] These words clearly mark the book which follows as a sequel to Deuteronomy. The book of Judges begins with a precisely similar phrase.

The Lord spake unto Joshua] This formula 'the Lord spake,' which so constantly recurs in the first books of the Bible, corresponds to the more direct formula of the prophets, 'Thus saith the Lord.' It is a characteristic feature of the OT., distinguishing the literature of the Hebrews from that of other nations of antiquity, and marking their claim to express in a very special way the will of Almighty God. It is, in fact, one of the most obvious indications of that which we call 'inspiration.' We may not of course be able, in a given instance, to define the exact mode in which the divine will was communicated. Was it by the Urim and Thummim, or in a dream? Or was it rather an inner conviction borne in upon the soul, voiceless but clear and definite, such as is no uncommon experience with those who are in the habit of communing with God? But the importance of the phrase lies less in any hint of the manner of the revelation than in its testimony to the fact of it. However it came, the thought was recognised as an utterance of God. Minister] Joshua had been Moses' attendant and right-hand man—his 'chief of staff.'

4. Boundaries S. and SE., 'the wilderness'; N., Lebanon; NE., the Euphrates; W., the Mediterranean or 'Great Sea.' These, the providential (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31), and in some sense natural, boundaries of the territory of Israel, were only attained for a brief period during the reigns of David and Solomon. All the land of the Hittites] see on Genesis 10:15.

8. This book of the law] This obviously refers to the 'law' described in Deuteronomy 31:9 as written by Moses and delivered to the Levites and elders. That it embraces a considerable nucleus of the Pentateuchal legislation (ineluding, of course, the bulk of Exodus 20-23) few critics would deny.

11. Prepare you victuals] Joshua has the general's eye for the commissariat.

12f. See Numbers 32:20-32 for Moses' injunction to the two and a half tribes, and their promise to obey.

14, 15. On this side Jordan] In both places RV rightly translates 'beyond Jordan,' i.e. on the E. side of Jordan. A little point, but important as showing that the writer (or editor) of this passage was one who resided W. of Jordan.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. God"s charge to Joshua 1:1-9

In one sense Joshua 1:1-9 are a preamble to the whole book. They contain the basic principles that were to guide Joshua and Israel so they could obtain all that God had promised their forefathers.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Moses had left Israel a written document that the Israelites regarded as authoritative law, namely, the Mosaic Law. The Lord commanded Joshua to keep this Word in mind constantly so he would remember his responsibilities under God and find encouragement to keep them (cf. Psalm 1:2; Isaiah 59:21).

"The phrase "from your mouth" refers to the custom of muttering while studying or reflecting. The Hebrew word translated "meditate" (hagah) literally means "mutter." When one continually mutters God"s Word to himself, he is constantly thinking about it." [Note: Madvig, p257.]

". . . [Meditation] does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, p30.]

We should never view Bible study and memorization as ends in themselves. They are important methods of obtaining the end of being obedient to God"s Word. We cannot obey it unless we understand it and are consciously aware of it as we make decisions day by day.

"The higher any man is raised in office, the more need has he of an acquaintance with the sacred oracles, and the better will he be qualified by the study of them for the discharge of his arduous duties." [Note: Bush, pp21-22.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) Thou shalt meditate therein day and night . . . then thou shalt make thy way prosperous.—These words are taken up again in , and a blessing is pronounced on every man who takes Joshua’s position in relation to the written law of God (see Note, Joshua 1:1). Thus the true significance of Joshua’s position appears, and also the difference between Moses and all who followed him. Moses was the prophet “whom the Lord knew face to face.” Joshua and all his successors, from the least to the greatest, find their blessing and their portion in the careful study and fulfilment of the written word of God. It is also worthy of notice that God’s Word, from its very first appearance as a collective book (viz., the law), occupies the same position. It is supreme. It is set above Joshua. It is never superseded. And its authority is independent of its quantity. “The law of Moses,” “Moses and the prophets,” “The law, the prophets, and the Psalms,” are descriptions of the Bible differing in the quantity of the matter, but not differing in the authority they exercise or in their relation to the living church. “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of the prophecy of this book, and keep those things that are written therein,” are words that apply to Holy Scripture equally, in every stage, from the completion of the law of Moses to the completion of the entire book.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Joshua Encouraged

Joshua 1:1-11

"Be strong and of a good courage" ( Joshua 1:6). When Luther was summoned before the Diet of Worms, his friends did all that they could to dissuade him from going. They were afraid that his safe-conduct would not be respected. But nothing would keep the brave Reformer back, and what was thought of his courage is shown in the words which a great captain is said to have addressed to him: "Little monk! little monk! you are venturing today on a more hazardous march than I or any other captain ever did. But if your cause is right, and you are sure of it, go on in God"s name, and be of good comfort. He will not forsake thee." And it was in the same spirit that in the presence of his enemies Luther himself uttered the famous words: "I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand; God help me! Amen."

"In a large party at the Grand Master"s Palace in Malta, I had observed," says the poet Coleridge, "a naval officer of distinguished merit listening to Sir A. Ball, whenever he joined in the conversation, with a mixed expression of awe and affection that gave a more than common interest to so manly a countenance. This officer afterwards told me that he considered himself indebted to Sir Alexander for that which was dearer to him than his life. "When he was Lieutenant Ball," said Hebrews, "he was the officer I accompanied in my first boat expedition, being then a midshipman, and only in my fourteenth year. As we were rowing up to the vessel which we were to attack, amid a discharge of musketry, I was overpowered by fear, and seemed on the point of fainting away. Lieutenant Ball, who saw the condition I was in, placed himself close beside me, and still keeping his countenance directed towards the enemy, pressed my hand in the most friendly manner, and said in a low voice, "Courage, my dear boy; you will recover in a minute or so. I was just the same when I first went out in this way." Sirach," added the officer to me, "it was just as if an angel had put a new soul into me.""

The Character of Joshua

Dr. W. G. Blaikie writes: "We must earnestly desire... to draw aside the veil that covers the eight-and-thirty years and see how he [Joshua] was prepared for his great work.... A religious warrior is a peculiar character; a Gustavus Adolphus, an Oliver Cromwell, a Henry Havelock, a General Gordon; Joshua was of the same mould, and we should have liked to know him more intimately; but this is denied to us. He stands out to us simply as one of the military heroes of the faith. In depth, in steadiness, in endurance his faith was not excelled by that of Abraham or of Moses himself. The one conviction that dominated all in him was that he was called by God to his work. If that work was often repulsive, let us not on that account withhold our admiration from the man who never conferred with flesh and blood, and who was never appalled either by danger or difficulty, for he "saw Him who is invisible"."

References.—I:1-11.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Deuteronomy,, Joshua, etc, p87. I:2.—J. F. Cowan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxii1907, p365. I:2, 3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No2086.

The Message of the Book of Joshua

Joshua 1:3

In the book of Joshua we have three sections; the first containing the story of the conquest of the land; the second containing the story of the distribution of the land; while the third gives us an account of the great leader"s farewell to his beloved people.

I. The story of the conquest is contained in the first twelve chapters.

1. In the story of the conquest there are, I think, three keynotes; the first of these is Prepare. The account of the preparation is given in the opening chapters, and given in such a way as to teach us the solemn lesson that God"s soldiers must be right with God before they can fight God"s battles.

2. The second is Pass over. This is the note specially sounded at Jordan, when the people drew their swords and flung away their scabbards, and by crossing the river committed themselves in face of gigantic odds to victory or death. It teaches us that ere God"s soldiers are fit to fight there must be in their lives a definite decisive consecration of themselves to the Lord.

3. And the third is Possess; and this note we have sounded throughout that brilliant series of campaigns which began with the fall of Jericho, and, proceeding from the South to the North, ceased not until the whole of the land was subdued.

To the story of the conquest of the land follows:—

II. The story of the distribution of the land. This is the second section of the book, and extends from chapter XIII. to chapter XXI. It has been aptly compared to the Domesday Book of the Norman conquerors of England.

At the twenty-third chapter begins:—

III. The story of the Leader"s farewell. This section contains two addresses, and is one of the most touching and impressive parts of the whole book. While the first address was delivered specially to the heads of the people—the leaders, the Judges, and the officers—the second address was delivered specially to the people themselves. From this book we learn:—

(a) God gives, but we must take possession. As it was with Israel so it is with us. As God gave Canaan to Israel, so He gave Jesus Christ to us. And as the gift of Canaan meant the gift of all that Canaan contained, so the gift of Jesus Christ means the gift of all that He Isaiah, and of all that He has. But our enjoyment of all this is conditioned by the claim of our faith. Christ is to us actually what we trust Him to be.

(b) In taking possession of what God has given us our strength is of God. This is the lesson taught by what is in some respects the most singular section of the whole book, the section containing the story of the captain of the Lord"s host. Joshua knew that victory lay before him, but he thought that it lay with him to compass this victory. But on the plains of Jericho he learned that as it was God"s grace which had given them Canaan, so it was God"s power which was to enable them to take possession. For us, in our strength, to live up to our privileges is as impossible as to win the privileges up to which we long to live.

(c) There is always power enough at our disposal for taking possession of what God has given to us. When we have honestly set out to subdue the land we shall see the vision of the Captain of the Lord"s host. Every place on which the sole of our feet treads becomes ours.

—G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p73.

References.—I:5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No1214. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, God"s Heroes, p71; see also Sunday Sermons for Daily Life, p404. I:5, 6.—Edward King, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p55. J. Matthews, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix. p300. I:6.—G. Jackson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxviii1905, p75. I:6, 7, 9, 18.—T. Parr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii1900, p74. I:7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No796. H. Montagu Butler, Harrow School Sermons, p73. I:7, 8.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Deuteronomy,, Joshua, etc, p91. I:8.—J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi1899, p43. I:9.—A. H. Shaw, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi1899, p56. A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermons, p97. I:10, 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No2039. II. J. McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. iii. p361. II:21.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Common Life Religion, p205.

Joshua 1:6; Psalm 37:14; Psalm 31:24; 2 Chronicles 32:7

Courage, my soul! now learn to wield

The weight of thine immortal shield;

Close on thy head thy helmet bright;

Balance thy sword against the fight;

See where an army, strong as fair,

With silken banners spreads the air!

Now, if thou be"st that thing Divine,

In this day"s combat let it shine,

And show that Nature wants an art

To conquer one resolved heart.—


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Joshua 1:1-9

Joshua was a prince of the tribe of Ephraim, and was born in Egypt. After the Exodus he became captain of the host, Exodus 17:9. With Caleb he brought back a good report of the land of Canaan, Numbers 14:7. Having been found faithful in the smaller sphere, he was promoted to the wider one. As we have seen, one of Moses’ closing acts was to give him a charge. He represents the Lord Jesus, in His risen glory, as the Captain and Leader of the Church.

The land of Canaan was Israel’s by deed of gift; but Israel had to go up to possess it. Similarly God’s grace is ours, but we must claim it by putting the foot of our faith on God’s promises. Though Hittites-our old evil habits-revolt, if we meet them in the power of the Holy Spirit, they must yield. God is with us. Joshua 1:5 is the perquisite of all believers. See Hebrews 13:5-6. But note that the weapon of successful conflict is God’s Word. It is our sword, Ephesians 6:17. See also Jeremiah 15:16.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Analysis and Annotations


1. The Entrance Commanded and Success Promised


1. The Lord speaks to Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9)

2. Joshua speaks to the people (Joshua 1:10-15)

3. The answer of the people (Joshua 1:16-18)

The little word “now” with which this book begins is in the Hebrew “and.” It links the book with Deuteronomy and the other books of the Pentateuch. It also shows that the previous books were in existence, for the mention of Moses, his death, and Joshua, the minister of Moses, presupposes that the reader knows all about them. But there is a stronger evidence in the eighth verse of the chapter, that the Pentateuch was then completely written. The term “This book of the law” applies to the five books written by Moses.

Joshua begins with the statement of Moses’ death and ends with the record of Joshua’s death. The book which follows, the book of judges, begins with the statement of Joshua’s death. Moses and Joshua are closely linked together. Both are beautiful types of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses, the servant, is the type of Christ, the perfect servant of God. Joshua typifies Christ in and among His people in the power of His Spirit.

He leads His people victoriously into the promised possession. Moses’ death also typifies Christ. The people could not enter the land as long as this servant of God was living. After his death the land could be possessed. So after the death of Christ the heavenly inheritance is thrown open.

The Lord mentions once more the death of His servant. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Saints” (Psalms 116:15). After that the command to enter the land is given. The land promised to the seed of Abraham is God’s gift. “The land which I do give unto them.” They beheld that land across the river with its beautiful hills and mountains and its fertile valleys. The third verse contains a condition. “Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” They had to appropriate what God had given and as they appropriated it, they would possess and enjoy the land. If they made it their own by putting their feet upon the land, whether mountain or valley, it became theirs in reality. This required energy. As stated in our introduction, Canaan typifies the heavenly places mentioned in the Epistle to the Ephesians. We are blessed “in Christ” with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). All is the gift of the grace of God. Unsearchable riches, far greater than that land, even in its widest dimensions, belong to us. The unsearchable riches of Christ are by the death of Christ put on our side. We must take possession in the energy of faith, as Israel had to plant their feet upon the territory and conquer it. If we are apprehended of Jesus Christ, we also must apprehend. “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am also apprehended of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:12). Israel failed in the wilderness and Israel failed in the possession of the land. And greater still is our failure in not claiming in faith our possessions “in Christ”.

The words the Lord addressed to Joshua are extremely precious. “I will be with thee,” stands first. He was with Joshua and gave him the promise “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life.” And this is true of us. He is with us, indwelling us; His Spirit is with us and His power on our side. God is for us; who can be against us? “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” He never fails His people. Divine strength and power are on our side. In the midst of the conflict He will never forsake His people.

After these assuring and encouraging words come the exhortations to obedience. “Be strong and very courageous.” Notice the courage is linked with the law (the Word of God) and obedience to it, as well as meditation in it day and night. Joshua was put in dependence on the written Word. So are we. Spiritual growth and enjoyment are impossible apart from meditation in the Word and obedience to it. The Word and obedience to it, separates us, and keeps us separated. And we need courage to obey. It requires courage in an ungodly age, a blinded world with its eyeblinding god (Satan) “to observe to do according to all that is written.” It becomes more difficult as the present age draws to its close, to fight the good fight of faith, to appropriate in faith the spiritual blessings, to stand and withstand the wiles of the devil. But if we are obedient His strength will sustain us and give us victory. We constantly need the courage of faith, which looks to God and which is expressed by obedience to His Word. “God’s strength is employed in helping us in the paths of God’s will, not out of it. Then no matter where we go, what the difficulties are, how long the journey seems, He makes our way prosperous.”

Joshua addressed the officers of the people and especially the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. They had made their choice and had found rest on this side of Jordan. But they were not to be exempt from the approaching warfare; they are commanded to help their brethren by passing with them over Jordan. Then after their brethren had found rest, they were to return to their rest. They could not escape the conflict, though they had no reward in the land itself.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

In the Hebrew division of the Scriptures after the Torah or Law came the Prophets, divided into the Earlier Prophets and the Later Prophets. In this section the first Book is the Book of Joshua. Its content is a continuation of the history of the chosen people. The first division (1-12) tells the story of the conquest of the land.

The link of connection between this Book and the preceding ones is arrestingly shown in the use of the word "therefore," in the charge to Joshua; "Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise." The work of the great leader was completed, but the work of God moves forward. For this Joshua was divinely commissioned. His right of entrance was that God had given the land to His people. His power of entrance was to be that of the divine presence and the consequent inability of any man to stand against him. The conditions of his success were to be that he must be strong and courageous by obedience to the law of God.

Immediately following the account of this commission of Joshua we have his call to the people. It was characterized by urgency and dispatch; "within three days" the hosts were to move forward toward all the conflict and di5culty which had long ago frightened their fathers and turned them back into the wilderness. The call was uttered first to the whole nation and then especially to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had already found their settlement on the wilderness side of the Jordan.

It is interesting to notice here the terms of the response of the people to the call of the new leader. They said "Only Jehovah thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses" (verse Joshua 1:17); "only be strong and of a good courage" (verse Joshua 1:18). The people thus made the same demand on Joshua as Jehovah Himself had already made.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth,.... He was often to read it, frequently repeat it, and speak of it, to refresh his own memory with it, and the memory of those about him. Jarchi restrains it to the book of Deuteronomy now before him:

but thou shalt meditate therein day and night; whenever he had any leisure from the important business of his office, whether by day or night, see Psalm 1:2,

that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; which frequent speaking of it, and constant meditation on it, would lead unto:

for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success; in his wars with the Canaanites.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

A Leader for Israel’s First Steps

Since Moses could not lead the people into the promised land, God had to choose a new leader to direct their steps. God selected another man of faith, Joshua. It was Joshua, along with Caleb, that had spied out the land of Canaan and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." They rejected the faithless report of the ten who saw themselves as grasshoppers in the eyes of the inhabitants of the promised land. Their confidence was based in the Lord and his ability to give them the land (; Numbers 14:1-10).

When God selected a leader to succeed Moses, it was only fitting that it should be such a great man of faith. Despite his strong desire to take Israel over Jordan, Moses was told Joshua would lead the people (). God had used a number of different circumstances to prepare Joshua to be a leader. It was he who led the people in battle against Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16). When Moses went unto God on the mount, Joshua was with him (Exodus 24:12-13). He was there when Moses came down from the mount with the tables of stone and found the people worshiping the golden calf (Exodus 32:15-20). Joshua also got to see the unselfish nature of Moses when he would not forbid Eldad and Medad to speak for God in the camp (Numbers 11:24-30).

In , Moses asked God to select a man to be the leader of Israel when he was dead. God had him lay his hands on Joshua to symbolize the transfer of authority, much like laying hands on a sacrifice symbolized placing the sins of the people upon it (see Exodus 29:10-14; Numbers 8:5-13). This was done in front of all the people so they would recognize that the honor of Moses was now on Joshua. So, when Moses died, the people followed Joshua because he was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Deuteronomy 34:9).

Joshua"s first instruction from God was to lead the people over the Jordan (). One author says there are 27 fierce rapids between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Jordan River falls some 700 feet in the space of 60 miles. McGarvey says it plunges with terrific force when it is at flood stage, which it was when Joshua took command. He also said it swells to a width of from one-half to one mile. Joshua was to lead from 2 to 3 million people and their herds across such a swollen torrent.

He did receive God"s promise that they would be given all the land they walked on within the boundaries promised to Moses. Notice, the reception of this gift of land from God was dependant upon them meeting God"s conditions. The land that was theirs for the taking was from the Arabian desert on the south to the mountains of Lebanon on the north and from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west.

Just as God had supported Moses in all of the works he did in his behalf, he promised to sustain Joshua. Joshua knew that no man, even powerful Pharaoh, had been able to successfully oppose Moses. God promised none would be able to oppose Joshua either (compare ). Of course, God"s strength would be his only as long as he obeyed his commandments. Prosperity and success actually come from keeping the law which was designed for man"s good.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

Geneva Study Bible

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and f night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

(f) Showing that it is not possible to govern well, without the continual study of God's word.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

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, Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant com” manded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whitherso- ever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:1-9

The book of Joshua is distinctly the book of the inheritance and links very intimately with the Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament. We have the manifestation of divine life in the book of Genesis; redemption in the book of Exodus; then the entrance into the holiest and the believer’s sanctification typically set forth in Leviticus; the people of God under trial and testing in Numbers; and the government of God in Deuteronomy. Then we naturally move right on to the book of Joshua, in which we have the people of the Lord entering upon their inheritance.

In 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read that these things happened unto them for our types. So we are warranted to think of the land of Canaan as a type of the present blessings that are ours in Christ and to see in the wars of Israel a picture of the Christian’s conflict. Israel’s inheritance was of an earthly character. We might say they were blessed with all temporal blessings in earthly places in the land of Canaan. We, according to the Epistle to the Ephesians, are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

As we open this book we are introduced to the divinely appointed leader who is to guide the people into their inheritance. It is very significant that the name “Joshua” is the same as the name that our blessed Lord bore here on earth. Jesus is the anglicized Greek form of Joshua. The word Joshua means “Jehovah the Saviour,” and we may see in this Joshua of the Old Testament, a type of the Jesus of the New Testament. Moses, the lawgiver, led the people to the very border of the land but was not permitted to lead them into it. Joshua took up where Moses left off. The Apostle Paul tells us that the law was Israel’s child leader till Christ, but when Christ came they were no longer under the child leader. So we have in type the dispensation of the law passing away and the new dispensation of grace beginning. Of course, the people were actually under the law during all the days of Joshua and the Old Testament, and during the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry. It was not until the Lord’s Resurrection that believers were delivered from the law. Joshua typifies the risen One leading us on into the privileges of the new creation.

We read first of the death of Moses. “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.” This was when Israel was encamped east of the Jordan in the land of Moab. The Jordan was the eastern border of that part of the land separating Palestine from Moab. At God’s command Moses went up to the top of Mount Nebo and viewed the land and there died. The Lord Himself, we are told, buried him and no one knows where his sepulcher is to this day. Moses was so anxious to go into the land. He pleaded with the Lord to permit it, but he had failed at the water of Meribah, and God told him he could not enter Canaan. Moses prayed earnestly to be allowed to go in. Finally, God said, “Speak to Me no more about this matter.” But He told him he could view the land from the top of Mount Nebo. Moses got into the land eventually when on the Mount of Transfiguration he and Elijah appeared with the Lord Jesus, and they were speaking of those things which should shortly be accomplished at Jerusalem-the work of the Cross which our Saviour was just about to consummate.

When Moses died God put Joshua in his place. He was to lead the people into their inheritance. The Lord had promised the land to them long before; He gave it to them by title. Now He says very definitely, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”

It is one thing to have title to an inheritance, but it is quite another thing to make it one’s own practically. We who are saved are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, but how much of our inheritance have we actually appropriated? How much do you really enjoy of that which is yours in Christ? Many of us live in doubt, trouble, and perplexity most of the time. We fail to enter into and enjoy that which God has given us in His Son.

I have often likened this to a library. People sometimes come into my little study and look about. I have a few books which I have accumulated in the course of fifty years, perhaps some three thousand or more, and some people who are not used to doing much reading think that I have quite a collection. There are not nearly as many as there would be if a lot of my friends would return borrowed books. Sir Walter Scott once called those people, “Good bookkeepers.”

But some folks look around and ask, “Do all these books belong to you?”

I say, “Yes; they are all mine.” And I wish some other people could say the same thing about all the books they have!

The next question they ask is, “Have you read them all?”

I reply that I have read all that are worth reading. Sometimes I just get started and find that the book is worthless, so I do not finish it.

Well, the next question will be, “Do you know all that is in them?”

And I have to say, “No; I certainly do not. This little head of mine is much too small to contain all that is in these books.”

Now our possessions in Christ are like that. The entire library is mine, but I do not really possess it. God has given us an inheritance, but we do not appropriate all that is ours.

Notice the extent of Israel’s inheritance. “From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.” That took in the land from Euphrates down to the border of the land of Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea, and then from the desert of Arabia on the south to Damascus on the north. God gave all this to Israel; and for a very brief time during Solomon’s reign they possessed most of it, but they have never actually possessed for themselves all the land to which they were entitled. Some day they will. We are told in one of the Minor Prophets (Obadiah 1:17) that the house of Israel shall possess their possessions. Oh, I wish that we as Christians might possess our possessions, and so enjoy the riches of our inheritance!

Just what do you mean by that, you ask? I mean, God has given us His Word. In this Word He has put before us our inheritance. He would have us study His Word, make it our own; enter into everything that it reveals. If we did this we would be able always to live a victorious life in Christ; we would really enjoy our inheritance in Him. Instead of dillydallying with the things of this poor world we would find something so much better in Him. A young man, after his conversion, was asked by some former friends of his to go to a movie. “No,” he replied, “thanks, but I have no time; all my time is filled with the things of Christ.” That is what it means to be delivered from the things of the world.

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” God said, “You will not have to turn back; I’ll drive out your foe before you.” Alas, alas, they did not believe God’s Word, and again and again the enemy reigned over them because of their own disobedience.

Now we wrestle not with flesh and blood; we are not engaged in a conflict with other nations. But our foes are spiritual, and the same God who fought for the people of Israel is the One who will give victory while we obey Him. We sing sometimes

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

In the next verse we have a word of encouragement. “Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” We may take these words home to our hearts today when we are fearful of our spiritual foes.

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” Victory de- pended on their adherence to the Word of God, and it is just as true today. We have so much more of God’s Word than they had. They had only the five books of Moses and possibly the book of Job, which may have been written at that time. This is all the Bible they had, and God said, “Take this Word and walk in obedience to it, and you won’t need to fear any foe; I’ll ever be with you.”

Now we have the whole Bible, and God calls upon us to search this Word; let it be the man of our counsel, the food of our souls, and the sword with which we face the enemy. God promises that if you will be strong and of a good courage and walk in obedience to His Word you will never need to dread the conflict; you will never need to fear; you will be able, at all times, to say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

If you do not have victory through Christ Jesus, I can tell you why. It is because you are neglecting reading and obeying your Bible. Read your Bible as you ought to and obey it, and you will be able to live a life of victory. John Bunyan had written in the front of his Bible, on the flyleaf, “This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book.” We have the Scriptures to read, and we are to walk in obedience to the Word as it is opened to us by the Holy Spirit.

Young people, if you want to know what will make your life prosperous, get God’s own recipe for good success. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” There you have it. Do you want your life to be prosperous? Do you want a successful career? Then take God’s Word, read it, and obey it, and God promises those two things.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” There seemed good reason why they should be afraid-unused to warfare as they were, facing seven nations with walled cities and armies, nations that had been constantly quarreling with each other down through the centuries, and the people of Israel were to go against these nations and take possession of their land. They might well tremble if they thought only of their own power and their own ability. But as they walked in obedience to the Word of the Lord He promised to deal with the enemies and to empower Israel to overcome them. Although we belong to a different dispensation we may take these words as an exhortation delivered to us personally, and as we read them and walk in obedience, we can count on God for victory.

Joshua was commanded not only to read but to meditate on the law of God. It is by meditation that we really make the Word our own. To read attentively is like eating the Word. Meditation answers to digestion of the truth. Mere intellectual acquaintance with the letter of Scripture avails little. It is as we weigh carefully what God has revealed that we obtain from it that spiritual power that enables us to rise above our difficulties and triumph by grace over all our foes. Thus we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We become weak and are easily overcome when we neglect this important spiritual exercise, for the Word fed upon alone gives strength.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

now therefore arise, go over this Jordan — Joshua‘s mission was that of a military leader. This passage records his call to begin the work, and the address contains a literal repetition of the promise made to Moses (Deuteronomy 11:24, Deuteronomy 11:25; Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Deuteronomy 31:23).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee — Canaan was theirs by a divine grant; and the renewed confirmation of that grant to Joshua when about to lead the people into it, intimated not only a certain but an easy conquest. It is remarkable, however, that his courage and hope of victory were made to depend (see on Deuteronomy 17:18) on his firm and inflexible adherence to the law of God, not only that regarding the extirpation of the Canaanites, but the whole divine code.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

The Man and His Call

THE book of Joshua has been divided into three sections—namely, the conquest of Canaan, Joshua 1-12; the division of the land, Joshua 13-22; while Joshua 23-24, are devoted to a statement concerning the closing days of the soldier Joshua. The main action of the book comprises a period of twenty-five years. The pedigree of Joshua is illustrious; it may be seen in , reaching back through generations to Joseph. His grandfather, Elishama, marched through the wilderness of Sinai at the head of his tribe, and probably he had special charge of the embalmed body of Joseph. The book is indirectly referred to in many places both in the Old Testament and the New; for example in Judges 18:31; 1 Samuel 1:24; 1 Samuel 3:21; Isaiah 28:21; Psalm 44:2-3; Psalm 68:12-14; Psalm 78:54-58; Psalm 114:1-8; Habakkuk 3:8-13; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8; Hebrews 11:31; Hebrews 13:5; James 2:25. These passages are collated to show that the references to the book of Joshua are not merely incidental or occasional, but that the book is certified by reference and endorsed by application throughout the most of the remainder of the sacred records. Joshua was a prince of the tribe of Ephraim, born in the land of Goshen, and trained as a soldier,—kept in repression during many years, because there was really nothing for a soldier-prophet to do. He was appointed to repel the attack of Amalek. He was honoured to accompany the great minister partly up his solitary way which lay towards the meeting-place on the summit of mount Sinai. He was one of the two spies who came back with a good heart and an inspiring word, saying that the work could be done and was worth doing. For a long time he was in the background: nothing was known of him during the years of weary wandering in the Arabian desert. A weird character altogether!—Speaking of his house, but with a limitation; without wife, or child, or heir; standing, as it were, midway between Moses and Samuel—a period of four hundred years. A soldier always,—prompt, obedient, decisive, sharp in expression; his attitude a challenge or a benediction. Great was his honour, too: into his much-meaning name there was inserted part of the name of the Eternal; and Joshua in its Greek form is Jesus—the captain of our salvation—the name which is above every name. So may our names grow and blossom and fructify into great meanings; they are trusts: we hold them as stewards;—shall they vanish like blanks that can never be missed, or live on day after day,—a memory, a blessing, an inspiration? Each man must answer the inquiry for himself.

Now let us turn to the book with religious attentiveness. "Now after the death of Moses—" ( Joshua 1:1). Can there be any "after" under such a circumstance? Does not all time seem to breathe for certain men? And does it not seem as if there would be no need of time if their great figures and generous influence were removed? Does not time seem to focus itself in some noble characters—as if all other life were tributary to those eminent personalities, as if all other influence circulated around them and had heaven enough in a subordinate relationship? But God can bury any one of us, and continue the history as though we had never lived. We cannot make great gaps in God"s providence. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither his ways our ways. He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke; he taketh up the isles as a very little thing, and the nations are as a drop of a bucket—a poor trembling eye of dew—before Him. We cry over this opening line as if some great chasm had been dug in our little heaven. We forget that the man spoken of is only dead to us, not dead to the universe, or dead to God, or dead in any sense equivalent to extinction or destruction. The word is a cold one, and full of hideousness in some aspects; we must use it; no other term touches the reality of things so significantly, but we must, by living in a right course so look down upon all things as to account death as only a word—a mere term of expediency, a mark of punctuation, rather than an articulate term,—a point a printer might use, but really without any terror or sting or dread. Death is dead to every man who is himself alive with the immortality of his soul. And some great names must be removed to make way for lesser names that have growing sap in them and real capability of beneficent expansion. Some great trees must be cut down to make room for lesser trees that mean to be great ones in their time. We owe much to the cutting-down power of death, the clearing power of the cruel scythe or axe. Death makes history as well as life. Of life death is the servant. The great thing to know about the dead is their character. That character in the case of Moses is indicated here explicitly—"the servant of the Lord." Is the term so definite as almost to amount to an indication or singularity—as if the Lord had but one servant? The expression is not "one of the servants," or "a" servant, but "the" servant Nor is this an ancient term only; it is part of the speech of our day. There are men who are pre-eminently primates. We do not contest their primacy. It is not official. The greater the man the readier he is to own that Moses is above him: for in no domineering or tyrannous sense is the higher above the lower, but in the sense of Wisdom of Solomon, graciousness, fraternity of feeling, willingness to serve,—for what child is there, how naked and poor soever, that the sun will disdain to light him home? The greater man is the lesser man in proper form. The least brother has a right to look at the greatest and say—that is myself enlarged and glorified; that shining face is mine; that eloquent tongue is uttering my speech; that mighty form is carrying my burdens; Song of Solomon, then, there is no contentious rivalry, or clamour for place or honour. God makes every appointment, and makes it with infinite wisdom.

Whilst all this is true in regard to Moses, surely there is some painfulness of preference with regard to the man who must follow him? Yet who can tell how good God is even here? Men are prepared almost unconsciously: it is but one step that has to be taken. The men did not know all the time that they were waiting to take that upward step. The announcement of elevation may have come suddenly, but then there is an answering voice which says—I have heard this before; this but reads the riddle of a dream; now I feel that God is calling me. Let every Prayer of Manasseh, therefore, be faithful in his own place; let every man watch, do his duty, carry his burdens, be ready for enlarging opportunities and new disclosures of gracious providence. Do not force the gate that is closed: there is plenty to do upon this side of the way; in due time the gate will fall back as if an angel invisible had touched it, and by the falling back of the gate know of a surety your opportunity has come.

What is the duty of the Church when the announcement is made, "Moses my servant is dead"? The answer is sublime! The Lord addresses himself to the soldier-spirit of Joshua:—"Now, therefore"—stopping there for one moment and wondering what the next word can be—we think it must be: Bow down your heads in sorrow; weep all your tears, for the loss is irreparable. What is the following word? Take the sentence altogether:—"Now therefore arise"! Who can extinguish the animation of the divine word, or throw a shadow upon the divine hope, or discourage the heart of Heaven? Moses is dead: therefore—stand up! gird on thy sword, put on thy strength; be thy best self and noblest, for the sphere is large, and to follow Moses is to be created a new and greater man. What is Joshua to do? An epoch opens in reply to that inquiry. We turn over a new page in the world"s history at this moment: we come upon words we have not seen before—words which abide in all their energy through the ages. Joshua is referred to written orders. Up to this time there has been no reference to writing in the sense in which that reference is made now. Behold, in all the outgoing of providence there is a book amongst us—a written thing—a silent scroll, burning with messages from heaven. Moses had no Bible; Moses lived on the spoken word: he heard the tone and translated it into the speech of the people, but there was nothing written in the sense in which the word is used in the eighth verse of this first chapter of Joshua. A new responsibility is imposed upon the Church. This is the difficulty with many men—namely, that there is a Book. The Book is so often in the way. We might build a thousand airy churches, and make their glittering pinnacles prick the clouds, but for the Book. There is a written law, a declared testimony, a quotable word,—something requiring attention, intelligence, sympathy, grammar. Thus liberty itself passes under the yoke. When there was no king in Israel, every man did that which was good in his own eyes: if there were no book, every one of us might have his dream, his prophecy, his saying, his little pastoral staff and crook. But Joshua is told to begin to read:—"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy month; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein" ( Joshua 1:8). An excellent thing this, too,—namely, to have a book! The question admits of being put from two opposite points of view. An excellent reflection that there is a writing which may be consulted, and which must be perused if life is to seize the very highest treasures of wisdom. To the law and to the testimony then,—not that they are to be interpreted hardly, in some tone of domination that oppresses the soul, but a written word that is to be a living seed, growing its fruits in every clime, answering all the influences of heaven as revealed in civilisation, education, and progress of the broadest and noblest kind. The eighth verse Isaiah, however, noticeable in view of the fact that it puts a book into the hand of men. The book has never been changed. Jesus Christ did not change it: he said not a jot or tittle of it should be changed or taken away, unless by fulfilment, completion of purpose, when the meaning intended by the Almighty had been carried out,—then there might be a passing away of literal form, but even then veneration would bow down before pillars at which the ages had halted and refreshed themselves in prayer. Where then is liberty? Again and again there comes upon the imagination the wondrous possibility of things under a liberty in which every man might write his own Bible. How we would change its spirit to suit the circumstances! How we would temper its tone to meet the occasion! A little manipulation would give its moralities release from their severest claims: a retrimming of the lamp would throw light in an unfamiliar direction; but man is only allowed to interpret the law—to meditate therein day and night, to find out its meaning—for though it be so clear, so simple, it is the simplicity that is unfathomable, the simplicity that expresses the last result of divine processes in human education. Song of Solomon, then, we are called to be law students, Bible readers, inquirers into written revelation. Here comes in a great popular liberty. The law is published in our mother tongue: every man may take his own copy into his own sick-chamber, and there peruse it in the light of other history and personal consciousness and experience, and test the book by individual necessities. This is the great answer to the tumult of the day. On the one hand we hear of men who long to resuscitate and reimpose stately theologies, formal creeds, endorsed by illustrious names,—and the age will not have them; it says that such theologies and creeds and men served their purpose in their own time, and within the limits of their operation they were good and useful, but the ages grow: the sun has not been sowing all this light upon the earth without an accompanying sowing of light having taken place in the fields of human inquiry and intelligence. On the other hand there are those who say—Our refuge must be in science, new discovery, in broad, generous progress;—and the age cannot receive that testimony either. The great human heart says—That of which you speak is good and noble and most useful, and we thank God for every discovery that makes life brighter, happier, easier to live; but you have not touched the innermost wound—the secret pulse of the soul,—that seems to lie beyond the reach of your finger. What then is our position in relation to these rival claims? Our position is: let the Bible speak for itself. We want Biblical teaching, thorough exposition, a reading of the word in the light of the present day;—not by theology of a formal kind, not by science of a domineering sort, but by the Bible itself is the kingdom of heaven to be advanced. Use Bible words. Do not be ashamed of Bible images and Bible doctrines. Do not make the Bible part of a library, but make it a library by itself. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." If you are controverting, arguing, disputing, setting one opinion against another, what can come of it but dust and noise? Our position as Christian thinkers and teachers is only strong in proportion to our intelligent and reverent study and appropriation of the law—meaning by that the whole written revelation of God. Here, again, we must beware of interpreters, and only accept them as friendly helpers. No man is authorised to say, to the exclusion of the opinion and learning of every other Prayer of Manasseh,—This is the meaning, and there is none other. The Bible will bear looking at from every point of view. It rises to every occasion. Not a word of it need be changed. The word simply asks for a right utterance, a profound and appropriate exposition. It is wonderful that men can talk about theology and about science, and never say a word about the Bible. Nor will it do to say, "Of course the existence of the Bible is assumed." The Bible asks for no such recognition: it asks to be read. Its voice would seem to be: Read me night and day; read me aloud; read me in tones appropriate to the occasion: whisper me to the sick and the dying; utter me with tunefulness and fascination of tone to little children and persons who are in the age of wonder or curiosity; read me rudely, stormily, if you will, in the hearing of tumult and the rage of the heathen and the people;—I only ask to be read—to be all read—to be read night and day, until there can be no mistake as to my purpose;—do this, and live! Surely this is the meaning of the divine promise made to Joshua: "for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." The word "prosperous" is not a literal translation. The word would read better thus: for then shalt thou deal wisely—or act wisely—in the spirit of Wisdom of Solomon, having understanding of the times, making allowances for the varieties of human mind and human character, and adapting me to the state of education which may be disclosed from time to time. He acts wisely who lives in the wise God—the only wise God, and our Saviour. We are not referred to our own wit, mental agility, intellectual brilliance or genius: the word in answer to temptation is in the law; the word explanatory of righteousness is in the law; the word which will keep us right in business is in the law; the word which will save us from sin is in the written book of God. Song of Solomon, whilst on the one hand men ask you to accept some great scroll of theology, and on the other ask you to accept some great scroll of science, whilst you are reverent and grateful to both of them according to their obvious merits, stand you upon the written law: it grows whilst we read it; it takes upon itself all the colour of the times; it has in it a central constancy and yet an eternal adaptation and variation. The Bible is never obsolete: when all other voices have ceased, its noble majestic tone creates attention for itself,—yea, men who do not bow down before it as a spiritual ministry refer us to it as to the noblest English that can be written,—the purest, simplest, grandest specimen of our mother tongue. It is so in every language. Wherever it undertakes to represent itself in any language it makes itself the chief specimen of that language. It speaks all the tongues of the world with equal familiarity, grace, and dignity. It only asks to be translated into your mother tongue to lift that tongue up into unknown and unprecedented dignity. A book that asks no other favour can do without our patronage better than we can do without its counsel. Without changing a word, only asking for a broad and just interpretation, we stand upon the Bible, and to the Bible we go when the devil tempts us, when life is a heavy burden, when death is the last foe; and so going we go to victory.

The following is another treatment of the same passage!—"Now, after the death of Moses... ." Yes, what after that? Can there be any "after" in such an event? Are there no great gaping vacancies in life which seem to foreclose history and to turn present events into an anticlimax and a humiliation? After the death of Moses—there can be no after. After the sun has gone down has God a lap of stars he can shower upon the darkness to alleviate it a little? Doth after vision seem to enlarge it and to mock our memory of a brighter present? Are there not some men who have no successors? Does not the poet say, "Only himself can be his parallel?" Why then do we come upon these mocking words in histories sacred and profane, "after the death of..." as if the road were a common plain, an ordinary level, one milestone and another milestone ahead, the monotony of commonplace, the commonplace itself occasionally vigorous enough, yet still tomorrow shall be as this day, and more abundant in the way of human life and human power and human exaltation and majesty? Does history stand still because of the death of any one man? Are we not always reminded that God can do without the strongest and wisest of us? We remain here just long enough to think that we are needful to God, and when our pride has filled its little goblet, and made itself drunk with its own poison, he removes us, and history rolls on like a wave over a forgotten tomb. We are told that all the great men have gone, the age of miracles has gone, so has the age of inspiration, so has the age of speaking many and divers tongues in the Church, all healings, and marvels of signs and wonders have vanished from the sphere ecclesiastical.

You who make the objection are in your departments of life fellow-sufferers with ourselves. Your Shakespeare is dead, as well as our Moses—your Goethe and Dante are dead as well as our Isaiah and Ezekiel. All your great things have been done, your little miraculous role has been played out and shelved as well as ours—so let there be no mocking or undue and foolish triumphing the one over the other, but let there rather be sober and earnest meditation upon this question, whether all these things that appear so great in the past have not been displaced by things greater, only less sensuous and demonstrative. Why, the poorest of all time is always the present. When am I richest? When I go back upon my yesterdays, when I retrace my journeys without all the inconvenience of detail which is found in all voyagings and travellings. Seated in my quiet chair, in my pleasant solitude, with closed eyes I look back over all the yesterdays, reclimb the mountains and sail again on the silvery lakes, and move again with might and quiet serenity to the great sea. When I blow the trumpet of resurrection in the churchyard, and call up the dear lost ones, the old and the young, the bright and the sweet, the strong and the patient, then am I very rich. When are you, dear little one, richest? When you are telling me what you are going to do, going to see, going to be. It is the doll you are going to have that is to be the queen of all other dolls. It is the sight you are going to see that is to eclipse all other gaieties. Just now—nothing—a mere cobble-stone in a brook that may topple over. But all my wealth lies in the past, or glows in anticipation, and "just now" is always the poorest time in any history that is worth living.

"Now after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord." Does God let his servants die? Was it the blame of Moses that he died, or is his death to be credited to his Lord? Is there an appointed time to men upon the earth—is there just a little length of thread that is long enough for the very strongest and wisest of us, and if an inch were added our past would be put in peril as well as our future? Are things set—are there fixed quantities in time, age, wealth, talent, power? Everything is weighed out and measured by the balances and standards of the Lord. He weighed the gold dust of the stars, and not a speck can be lost upon the wind. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father. He is a severe economist: like all great givers he is severely critical in his balances and results. Only the spendthrift keeps no note-book of his outgoings. God hath a book, yea, many a book hath God, for when he had opened book after book, the Apocalyptic writer says then he opened another book wherein was set down everything. Your time is known; you are his servant, yet he will call you into rest. He doth not let us die, he permits us to live. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. I heard this in no whisper; it was not a confidential communication made to me: I heard a great voice behind me, saying, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,... that they may rest;" I knew that word "rest," I had heard it before, it was one of Christ"s very earliest, sweetest notes, for he said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Dying ones, in his name, accept his hospitality, and go forward into his banqueting-house, quiet, at peace for evermore.

What will the Lord do, now that Moses has gone? He will be put to sore straits. What will Omnipotence do now that the staff in his hand is broken—can he make another, or find one more? Does he create a Moses? No, he elevates a Joshua. He means to elevate you next: be ready; do not be in the field when he calls for you in the house.

"The Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses" minister," Moses" servant. Moses was the servant of the Lord, Joshua was the servant of Moses, and thus we belong to one another. He has no higher title to give. Paul and Timotheus, slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul, the servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua then had served well, and he was called to promotion. "Thou hast been faithful over few things, I will make thee ruler over many things," is God"s rule. Thou hast been faithful at Jerusalem, thou shalt see Rome also. No metropolis shall shut its gates in thy face: if thou hast been faithful in the little villages and provincial towns and minor capitals, thou shalt surely see the greatest cities and the loftiest places. The first Napoleon was wont to say no man could rule well who could not serve well. If you are unable to serve, you are unable to rule. We know nothing about service in some of its severer senses in our common civil life. Some of you have been under masters and tutors and governors: you know what discipline is—you have overgotten the infantile period of controversy and questioning and reasoning: you have learned not to reason why, but to do, and, if need be, die. You are going to make an excellent person, I believe, in the course of about seven years. I tell you you will not. Shall I explain my reason for that discouraging prediction? It is that you were never an obedient child. You cannot, therefore, unless God repeat his miracle of making you over again, be a good husband, or wife, or head of a business. There is a philosophy in these things that you cannot wriggle out of. To be unused to service, unaccustomed to obedience, is to be utterly unprepared for the responsibilities of the house, or of the place of commerce, the legislature, or the church.

Not a word is said in praise of Joshua. How then do we know that he was so excellent a man? Because of his promotion to succeed Moses. God studieth, to use a human phrase for the sake of our littleness, the proportion, measurement, relation, of one thing to another. He who put the stars in their places knows whom to call to high succession. To have called Joshua to this place is to have endorsed and accredited him as no merely formal testimonial could have done. My friend, young and wondering, anxious, impetuous—wait: there cannot be two men of the name of Moses, and of the weight and influence of Moses, at the same time. Give the first man his full opportunity—thy day will come by-and-by; be ready for it, enlarged with all the nobleness of divine inspiration and qualified by all the patience that comes of obedience to the discipline of Almighty love and wisdom.

"The Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, saying, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore...." Why say, in so many words, that look cold in this dry ink, that Moses is dead? It needed to be said. Sometimes we need to have told us the very plainest things in life in simple strong prose. In the case of Moses, a declaration of this kind was particularly needful. Who knows what wonderings and speculations, what rash conjectures, foolish imaginings and vain hopings and dreamings, might have come out of the disappearance of Moses, but for this plain and undeniable declaration of his decease? No man saw him die, no man closed those weary eyes with gentle fingers, no tender hand stretched out those poor worn limbs, no gentle woman or loving child planted a flower on that high mountain grave. God who took him comes back from Nebo to say, "He is dead; it is over, he is gone. Now therefore...." At this point one"s interest becomes intense. We say, "After Niagara?" Then do we put a huge mark of interrogation, as if we had put to the world a question which has no answer. So when I began by saying, "After the death of Moses, what?" I felt as if any reply given to that inquiry would be unworthy of the occasion, would fall flatly, and would utterly disappoint and discourage us. We have now come to the place wherein the answer is found. "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore—sit down; bemoan yourselves, take it so deeply to heart as utterly to disqualify your energies for making even the feeblest effort; it is no use your endeavouring to propagate a race of men after the withdrawal by death of that majestic leader who is now but a memory"—does the history read so? God says, "Moses my servant is dead, now therefore, arise"—in every sense of the word, arise—to nobler manhood, to diviner power, to higher conception, to nobler endeavour, to more devoted and solemn and holy attempt to do God"s will.

That is what you have to do now that your dear little child is dead. I found you with handkerchief pressed to streaming eyes, sitting down as if your bones had melted like heated wax, and you could do no more, and I came to say to you, "Arise, the Master is come, and calleth for thee." That is what you have to do after your great loss in business. You thought to settle down into nobody. That is not God"s law: the disaster has come, now arise. The loss has taken place, the table is clean swept, not a shadow of the golden coin can be found on the tessellated table—now therefore, arise. It is God"s Gospel to the dejected, it is God"s medicine for those who suppose themselves to be wounded incurably. Again and again God says, "Look up, arise, go forward." And he always does this in the presence of great loss, whether of life or property. This he always says. When poor Jacob called himself a worm, and took up what he thought his appropriate place in the dust; when Zion stripped herself of her white mantle and sat down under the shady tree, and said, "God hath forgotten to be gracious"—when she held her fair head far down into the dust which she thought too good for one so dispossessed and disennobled, God found her Song of Solomon, and what said he? "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things." The straightening of the neck will do thee good—a walk out into the living air will help to heal thee. Looking down does no man good. Looking up and locking abroad, arising and going forward, elevating and arousing exertions, are God"s answers to the dejection, the self-limitation of man.

"Arise and go over this Jordan." How seldom we are allowed to finish our work. It seems as if we could die more happily upon the other side of the river than upon this side. Only let me build my church, finish my house, complete my plan, lay out my grounds, see the youngest trees flourishing into maturity—only let me see my children all attaining the age of manhood and womanhood and settled in life, and then I can, I think, die comfortably. This our weak speech, this our staggering eloquence, this our halting argument, before him who carrieth us in his arms, who sets us down and takes us up as it pleaseth him, and who is unrestrained in the high heavens and in the deep places where the lake of fire is and where all darkness dwells.

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." God quotes himself: whom else can he quote? As—so. History repeats itself, God repeats himself. I know not of any clearer and fuller vindication of himself as to his providential care and dealing than is to be found in this very expression. Observe to whom it was addressed. To a man who had actually seen God"s way with Moses. He is not invited to meet a providence undeclared and mysterious, he is asked to accept a repetition of that which has passed before his own eyes, and impinged most closely upon his own consciousness and experience. Does God say, "I was but a little with Moses, I will be much with thee—I will do much more for Joshua than ever I did for Moses"? Does he tempt him by some unmeasured and enormous bribe? The expression Isaiah, "As—so." As was the past, so will be the future. God"s repetitions are creations. Miracles of providence never lose their fascination and their value. This is God"s voice to us to-day—as he was with the fathers, so will he be with the children. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. He is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. The heavens become aged, and the stars stagger in their journeys, yea, the Lord doth fold up that great blue firmament like a garment outworn, and put it away, but he is the same, and his years fail not. A thousand years are in his sight as one day, and one day is as a thousand years. He says, "I am the Lord, I change not" So when he comes to speak to us he repeats himself. He quotes no other authority; he signs the same sign manual, stamps the book with the same great seal; his promises are yea and amen, repeating themselves like the seasons, constant, yet ever new; old as eternity, yet fresh as the morning just being born in the flush and hope of a new dawn.

"We have then God"s Book to guide us and show us precisely what he has for us, and what he can do for our life. Why dost thou dream, O poor mystic, why dost thou wonder what God will do on the morrow? Thou hast all his yesterdays in human history to go back upon, and his expression to thee Isaiah, "As—so. As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee: I will not fail thee nor forsake thee." See him giving his omnipotence in pledge to a poor startled secretarial servant of the dead Moses; see him taking up in his great arms the garment of his own almightiness and covering with it the shoulders of this newly-appointed leader. That garment is large enough for us, that almightiness is sufficient to our daily distresses and perpetual wants. What time I am afraid I will trust in God, yea, when the enemy secretly pursueth me I will run into God"s almightiness as into a great tower, and there will I sit down till the pursuer weary himself with beating the air. All God"s promises are before men: he writes in no new ink: he asks for no new hand that he may dictate a new and ampler revelation. It is "As—so." Moses—Joshua. John—Paul. A repetition without weariness, a reduplication that startles by its originality.

That is all? No. "Be strong and of a good courage.... Only be thou strong and very courageous." There is something for man to do. God"s almightiness is sent to us as a pledge, not that it may do everything for us, but that it may awaken our strength and call up every energy we possess, and consecrate it to the high and solemn service of the great Lord. Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments, O thou beloved of the Lord. Only be thou strong and very courageous: do thy little best; if thou canst not fly, flutter; if thou canst not run, crawl. He will make it all up to thee, only do thy little share. It hath pleased God to adopt the great principle of co-operation in administering the affairs of the lower courts of his universe. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night. Man is not to trust to his own genius, nor is he thrown back upon his own resources in the high vocations of life. We are not allowed to live upon the empty pittance and miserable inheritance of our own wit. There is written for us a Word, deep, large, loving, clear, accessible, and we must continually meditate therein. Beautiful words, and full of meaning. Some of the print in God"s book I can see best by day, other of the book I can read most clearly by night. Can I tell how this is? It is utterly impossible for me to explain it, but I see angels at night: they do not come out in the garish white light of the midday, but I have seen troops of them in the dusk—I have heard many a voice not otherwise articulate in the deep watches of the night. God does great wonders in the darkness: the darkness and the light are both alike unto him. You never knew the meaning of "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God" until you read those words in the night of your great loneliness. Then you saw what priest and presbyter never could explain, what had eluded the touch of the most diligent annotator: you saw God"s meaning, yea, you saw his great outstretched gentle arms taking up the very thing he was blessing.

So it is through and through life. Every heart must make its own application of this great lesson: some part of the book is best read by day, some is most clearly seen by night. God"s book is a book that cannot be exhausted either in the day or in the night. It needs the sun and the moon and every star of the firmament, candles of glory lighted by hands divine to see its deep, its infinite meaning. Poor, poor fool, thou didst say thou hadst read the Bible through and through: rather thou didst mean, if thou wilt let wisdom speak and love interpret, that thou hast begun to read, and that thou art still stumbling over the first lines; or if thou art at all restful, it is with a great amaze, a solemn and glad wonder, because the Paradise grows upon thee, and thou canst not move yet, because of the ever-deepening fascination of the immortal beauty.

Now, faint-hearted ones, let us repent and believe. If all the great men, as we think, are dead, it is that others may take their places. Whose place are you going to take? Who will be baptised for the dead? This may be an awakening time for aught I know: it is a solemn hour; there is a stillness in it which may prelude a great resurrection of intellectual and spiritual energy and a great solemn consecration of personal powers and possessions to the service of the God of Moses. The great merchant in the city is dead: arise! The great political leader is dead: arise! The great preacher is dead: arise! Whose place will you take? There are a thousand vacancies today in the great gallery historical; which of the places will you take? Are you waiting until God has spoken to you? He speaks to you now. What are you ready for? Anything? That is the right spirit. Any time? That is the right answer. In whose strength will you come—in Christ"s? It is sufficient, even to redundance and infinite overflow. Hast thou set thyself to some part of God"s work?—only be strong and very courageous: keep close to the book: by day read it, by night spell it—close, close, close to the book; and as for those who would stand before thee, they shall be melted like wax in the fire; yea, as fences of stubble before the conflagration of the presence of God in the life.

Oh for a Church alive, with its beautiful garments on its shoulders, and all its powers throbbing like an eternal pulse! Then our presence would be felt in the city, in the village, everywhere, and our presence would not be seen, because of the lustre of Him whose we are and whom we serve.


Oh, how patient is the Lord! how tender is his mercy! how loving is his kindness! We are amazed with a great amazement, and our hearts are filled with thankfulness. Our steps are guided by the Lord, and our hairs are numbered by him, and there is nothing that concerns us too little for his notice and his care. This is the faith in which we live, and it makes us strong and glad, and gives us brightness of hope and fulness of resort in all the difficulties and perils of life. This faith we have proved. We are ourselves living witnesses of this nearness of the divine hand and this interest of the divine eye. We have been low down, and we have been lifted up; we have been in great distress and have not known which way to turn, but the Lord hath held a light before, and come close to us and said, This is the way: walk ye in it. We cannot contradict ourselves: we cannot put down the testimony of a lifetime; the writing is thine, the voice is thine,—the praise be thine, thou glorious Christ! We look back and see thee now as we did not see thee once. The cloud became a night, and in the night no star trembled: the burden was very heavy, and our eyes poured out rivers of tears, and in all the agony we caught the mocker"s tone gibing us about our God and our faith; but we see all now: it was well, it was best; the grave was right, the burden was none too heavy, and the way, though often crooked and invisible, was leading on to Canaan, to rest, to motherland, where there is no night, no death. We delight to look back, for the prophets are there, and the minstrels who cheered us in the night-time. Our life, too, has its Old Testament,—its Pentateuch, its moving histories, its painful tragedies, its psalms so noble, its songs so tender, and its prophecy—the outlook and the forecast of faith;—behold, we cannot give up these: they are thine, and the book is sealed by thine hand. Song of Solomon, too, has our life its New Testament: its birth in Bethlehem, its wondrous teacher, its worker of great miracles, its marvellous speaker—we wonder at the gracious words which proceed out of his mouth—and its cross, its priest, its redemption;—wondrous is this life, and it is the writing of God. Help us to read well, to think deeply, to answer thee instantaneously with all the swiftness of eager love; then when what we call the end comes, it shall be no end but a beginning, bright as morning, warm as summer. Amen.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 1:1. The Lord spake to Joshua. Messiah, the Angel of the covenant, called him anew, and encouraged him to enter on the conquest of the promised land. All gentile mythology is built on this foundation, that “God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” Hebrews 1:1.

Joshua 1:2. Arise, and go over Jordan. Christian, be alive like Joshua, whenever the Lord shall address this word to you.

Joshua 1:4. Lebanon. לבן Liban, white. This mountain being nine thousand feet high was covered with snow nine months in the year. The southern point of the promised land was the small river Sichor, about fifty miles south-west of Gaza; the eastern boundary was the range of mount Gilead. Numbers 34:2. Deuteronomy 1:7. Joshua 3:15. The northern was the entering of Hamath in the pass of Lebanon.

Joshua 1:6. Be strong. Christian princes, on their ascension to the throne, should always be addressed in this manner by some venerable minister, with regard to their duties to God and their country. Sovereigns in their high duties need divine counsel, and the best of ministers.

Joshua 1:11. Prepare you victuals, of the spoils already gathered from the conquered countries. The manna required preparation when kept. Besides, the land of Bashan abounded with cattle and corn.


We have just seen Israel mourning for Moses, which was highly proper from natural affection, and the consideration of all the great things which God had done for the people by his ministry. The grand pillar of Israel was taken away, but the church still stood, for God was her rock and her support. Joshua succeeded in all the duties of Moses, and in the accomplishment of all the divine pleasure.

The Lord was graciously pleased to qualify him for government and command. He instructed him in his duty, and inspired him with courage by exhortations adequate to the conquest, and with wisdom requisite for the government of the people. No prince, no minister can acquit himself in the duties of his high station, without the guidance and care of providence. Man elevated to power, and embarrassed with a multitude of objects, is not always able distinctly to trace his duty. He is limited in his foresight, and all beyond is vague conjecture. He infers the future from the past, but providence, fertile in resources, takes unexpected turns, leaving speculation far behind. Hence the rulers of nations, though they watch appearances, and act according to the most recent changes of affairs, need nevertheless in all things, direction from Him to whom futurity is without a veil. A single false step may involve themselves and their country in misery or ruin. Hence the divine counsel and blessing should more especially be sought for commandants and kings, when they enter on the important duties of their station.

The diligence of Joshua in public affairs, the wisdom and accuracy of his arrangements, the precision of his orders, and the boldness with which he executed all his designs, soon convinced the Israelites that the Lord had graciously filled the place of Moses with a qualified prince. How great a blessing is the gift of such a magistrate to a nation! He applies himself to the public weal, he rules his affairs with discretion, and is the best gift of God to his country.

The people congratulated Joshua on his accession to the offices of supreme judge, and captain-general of all Israel. They revered him as God’s vicegerent; they avowed allegiance to him as formerly unto Moses, denouncing death, at the same time, against the man or the faction who should dare to oppose his power. The hands of a sovereign and his ministers, engaged in the great act of defending their country, should not be fettered with faction, but supported by the prayers and congratulations of the whole state. This is pleasing to God, who has appointed civil government for the paternal protection and defence of all the people.

Jesus Christ, who like Joshua, has undertaken to heal the breaches of a broken law, to vanquish our foes, and give the promised inheritance to a victorious people, should in like manner receive the homage and congratulations of all the earth. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish quickly when his wrath is but a little kindled.” He is wicked who delays allegiance; and he shall surely die who opposes the Lord’s anointed.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Ver. 8. This book of the law shall not depart.] Lex sola omnis sapientiae fons est. The Scripture is the only fountain of all wisdom, saith Luther: (a) who in the same place affirmeth, that he hated his own writings, and wished they were all burnt, because he feared that the reading of them kept men from reading the Bible, that book of books, in comparison whereof all other books are but as waste paper. Charles V, emperor, liked to read three books especially, - Polybius’s history, Machiavel’s Prince, and Castalian’s Courtier. He took such delight in the mathematics, that even in the midst of his whole army, in his tent, he stayed close at this study; having for that purpose, as his instructor, Turrianus of Cremona evermore with him. How well versed he was in the Scriptures, I know not, but at his baptism, among other great gifts bestowed upon him by his father’s friends - as a golden sword, a silver head piece, a charger of gold filled with pearls, &c. - the Abbot of Gaunt, where he was born, gave him a fair Bible with this inscription, scrutamini Scripturas, search the Scriptures. (b) Queen Elizabeth, soon after her coronation, being presented by the Londoners in Cheapside with a Bible, received it with both her hands; and kissing it, laid it to her breast, saying, that the same had ever been her chiefest delight, and should be the rule by which she meant to frame her government. (c) Alphonsus, king of Arragon, is said to have read over the Bible fourteen times with Lyra’s notes. And Charles the Wise of France, not only caused the Bible to be translated into French, but was himself very studious in "the holy Scriptures, which are able to make" a man "wise to salvation."

For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous.] Piety hath prosperity. {See Trapp on "Joshua 1:7"}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

The promise is followed by the condition upon which the Lord would fulfil His word. Joshua was to be firm and strong, i.e., well-assured, courageous, not alarmed (vid., Deuteronomy 31:6). In the first place (Joshua 1:6), he was to rely firmly upon the Lord and His promise, as Moses and the Lord had already told him (Deuteronomy 31:7 and Deuteronomy 31:23), and as is again repeated here, whilst at the same time the expression, “ thou shalt divide for an inheritance,” recalls to mind Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28; and in the second place (Joshua 1:7, Joshua 1:8), he was to strive to attain and preserve this firmness by a careful observance of the law. “ Observe to do,” etc., as Moses had already impressed upon the hearts of all the people (Deuteronomy 5:29, cf. Deuteronomy 28:14 and Deuteronomy 2:27). The suffix in ממּנּוּ is to be explained on the supposition that the speaker had the book of the law in his mind. The further expansion, in Joshua 1:8, is not only attached to the exhortations, with which Moses urges upon all the people in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, and Deuteronomy 11:18-19, an uninterrupted study and laying to heart of the commandments of God, but even more closely to the directions to the king, to read every day in the law (Deuteronomy 17:19). “ Not to depart out of the mouth,” is to be constantly in the mouth. The law is in our mouth, not only when we are incessantly preaching it, but when we are reading it intelligently for ourselves, or conversing about it with others. To this there was to be added meditation, or reflection upon it both day and night (vid., Psalms 1:2). הגה does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings. “ Then shalt thou make they way prosperous,” i.e., succeed in all thine undertakings (vid., Deuteronomy 28:29), “ and act wisely ” (as in Deuteronomy 29:8).

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Encouragement and Exhortation

God has promised to give His people the land. Nevertheless, every Israelite must make an effort to conquer the land. God wants His people to make an effort for it, while He gives the people the strength to fight. God takes possession of the land by letting His people conquer it.

If we want to take possession of our blessings, we will meet resistance. On the territory where our blessings are, there are also enemies who want to prevent us from taking possession of our blessings. Everywhere we want to put our foot on, an enemy will appear. Therefore the encouragement that the Lord Himself is with us sounds (Deu 31:8).

Although Joshua is a courageous man, he is still encouraged. He has to deal with a powerful enemy that should not be underestimated. Encouragement comes to us, not to the Lord Jesus or the Spirit, but to us in whom the Spirit dwells. He is with us with His Spirit on earth and He is our High Priest in heaven.

He will not "fail" us. This means that He will not fail and will never disappoint us. He will not "forsake" us. That is, He will never leave us alone. This promise is of general application to the believers in view of the daily walk and what is necessary for it: "For He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Heb 13:5b).

He still gives another means of victory over the enemy and that is the Word of God, represented in the law. We need to investigate the Word to know our blessings, but here it is about obeying the Word. If we don't do that, there is no strength to fight the enemy. There must be no opening in our armor on which the enemy can point his arrow. We must reflect on the Word, not to serve others in the first place, but to know for ourselves how the Lord wants us to live.

Joshua has a responsible task. He is the leader of a great people. He can only govern that people well if he also allows himself to be governed well by the authority that is above him again. Therefore he must listen to God's Word. Then the commands and the justice from his mouth will guide the people on the right path.

"Shall not depart from your mouth" means that we make God's Word our words and do not wish to express our own thoughts (Isa 8:20). This is only possible if we find joy in the Word and meditate on it "day and night" (Psa 1:2). Then "the Word of Christ" will "richly dwell" in us (Col 3:16a). Meditate on it is not reading a chapter or a verse in our quiet time and carrying it with us all day as a kind of mascot. It is a complete occupation of the Word in our whole lives, so that all our activities are governed by it. Then we will be prosperous and achieve our goal.

When we meditate om God's Word, we hear that God commands that we shall be strong and courageous. We have no reason to fear if the almighty God is with us. God has made His promise to give us the land. Then it is an insult to Him if we start to doubt that.

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The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Joshua Formally Commissioned

v. 1. Now, after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, after the completion of the thirty days' mourning for this great prophet whom the Lord so signally distinguished, Num_12:7-8; Deu_34:5-8, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses' minister, not his servant, but his assistant, who had been pointed out some 'time before as the successor of Moses, Num_27:15-23, had been expressly designated as such by Moses, Deu_31:7, and had appeared before the people in that capacity, saying,

v. 2. Moses, My servant, is dead; now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel, for Canaan proper was always spoken of as including the territory west of the Jordan only. These words were not spoken to Joshua through the high priest's Urim and Thummim, upon which he had been told to rely in case of difficult questions, Num_27:21, but were an immediate Revelation of the divine will, in the same way in which the Lord had communicated with Moses.

v. 3. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses, Deu_11:24.

v. 4. From the wilderness, the Desert of Arabia on the south and southeast, and this Lebanon, the mountain range in the north, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, who apparently had been overlords of this entire region at one time and were still occupying the country northwest of the Sea of Chinnereth, afterward that of Galilee, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, the Mediterranean Sea, shall be your coast. Cf Deu_11:24-25.

v. 5. There shall not any man, namely, of the kings and inhabitants of the country, be able to stand before thee, withstand him successfully, all the days of thy life, Deu_31:8. As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, let him sink down in helplessness by withdrawing his hand, nor forsake thee.

v. 6. Be strong, firm, mighty in the trust of Jehovah, and of a good courage, altogether undismayed; he must lay hold boldly and with a strong hand, and when he has done so, allow nothing to drive him from his position of firm adherence to Jehovah; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Cf Deu_31:7-23. This condition is still further expanded.

v. 7. Only be thou strong and very courageous, said with greater emphasis than in v. 6, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law which Moses, My servant, commanded thee, for the leader of the people must be an example to all his followers. Turn not from it, namely, from the roll of the written Law as it was preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, to the right hand or to the left, as the slightest deviation was a transgression, that thou mayest prosper, make use of the proper wisdom and thus be successful, whithersoever thou goest.

v. 8. This book of the Law, as it had been written by Moses and delivered into the hands of the priests, Deu_31:26, shall not depart out of thy mouth, he should teach it, study it, discuss it; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, trying to penetrate ever more deeply into its scope and meaning, and thus becoming qualified to speak more clearly, pointedly, and powerfully to the people, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein, namely, in the thoughts of the heart and in the deeds of the hands; for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, make headway on the path of duty before him, and then thou shalt have good success, because of the application of practical wisdom given by the Lord. The Lord now summarizes His charge to Joshua, introducing it by a rhetorical question for the sake of greater effect.

v. 9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord, thy God, is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Thus the assurance gains in strength when to the positive command to be courageous is added the negative to lay aside all fear, as in Deu_31:6-8. We Christians have a similar promise of victory over all our enemies and the eventual enjoyment of the heavenly happiness. But we also have the command of God to read, study, and hear the Word of God to arrange our whole life in accordance with its precepts. Then we also shall have success in the things we undertake under the guidance of God.

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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             PART FIRST

The Conquest of the Land of Canaan

Joshua 1-12



The Preparation

Joshua 1:1 to Joshua 5:15


1. The Summons to the War,

Joshua 1

a. The Command of God to Joshua

Joshua 1:1-9

1Now [And[FN1]] after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord [Jehovah], it came to pass, that the Lord [Jehovah] spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore [and now[FN2]] arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto [into] the land which I do [omit: do] give to them, even [omit: even] to the children [sons[FN3]] of Israel 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said [דִּבַּרְתִּי properly: spoke] unto Moses 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even [and] unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast [border[FN4]]. 5There shall not any man be able to [Not a man shall] stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so [omit: so] will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.[FN5] 6Be strong and of a good courage [strong and firm[FN6]]: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance [for a possession[FN7]] the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous [firm], that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or , 8] to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest 8 This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but [and] thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.[FN9] 9Have not I commanded thee? [,] Be strong and of a good courage [firm]; [?] be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord [Jehovah] thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

b. Joshua’s Command to the Leaders of the People, and to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the Half Tribe of Manasseh

  Joshua 1:10-18

10Then Joshua commanded the officers [overseers[FN10]] of the people, saying, 11Pass through the host [camp] and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord [Jehovah] your God giveth you to possess it.

12And to the Reubenites [Reubenite], and to the Gadites [Gadite], and to half the tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 13Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord [Jehovah] commanded you, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] your God hath given [giveth] you rest, and hath given you this land 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this [the other[FN11]] side [of the] Jordan; but ye shall pass [pass over] before your brethren armed [eager for war, or, in ranks[FN12]], all the mighty men of valour [strong heroes[FN13]], and help them; 15until the Lord [Jehovah] have given [shall give] your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed [shall possess] the land which the Lord [Jehovah] your God giveth them; then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy [possess] it, which Moses the Lord’s [Jehovah’s] servant gave you on this [the other] side [of the] Jordan toward the sun-rising. And they answered 16 Joshua saying, All that thou commandest us, we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things,[FN14] so will 18 we hearken unto thee: only the Lord [Jehovah] thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be [Every man] that doth rebel against thy commandment [literally, mouth], and will not hearken unto thy word, in all that thou commandest him [or, us] he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage [firm]


a. Joshua 1:1-9. The Command of God to Joshua. The history of the conquest of the land of Canaan, commencing here and constituting the first part of the Book of Joshua, connects itself closely with Deuteronomy. There, at the end, Joshua  34, the death of Moses is reported, Israel’s mourning for him described, and mention made of Joshua ( Joshua 1:9) his successor, while yet Moses himself is once more celebrated in words of highest praise as a prophet and leader of the people without parallel in all the subsequent times. Only Samuel afterward in some sense reached the same level ( Jeremiah 15:1). Here in Joshua 1:1, Moses, after notice of his death, is honorably entitled עֶבֶּד יי as in Joshua 1:7, as in Deuteronomy 34:5; Numbers 12:7-8, in a long series of places in our book ( Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:13; Joshua 1:15; Joshua 8:31; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 9:24; Joshua 11:15; Joshua 12:6; Joshua 13:8; Joshua 14:7; Joshua 18:7; Joshua 22:2; Joshua 22:4-5), 1 Kings 8:56; 2 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Chronicles 1:3; 2 Chronicles 24:6; Psalm 105:26. Sometimes also he is called עֶבֶד אֱלוֹהִים. Psalm 90:1; 1 Chronicles 6:49; 2 Chronicles 24:9; Daniel 9:11; Nehemiah 10:29. Besides Moses there are so designated or so addressed by God: the Patriarchs, Deuteronomy 9:27, especially Abraham, Genesis 26:24; Psalm 105:6; Psalm 105:42; Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Job 42:7-8; Kings, as David ( Psalm 18:1; Psalm 15 Psalm 36:1; Psalm 78:70; 1 Kings 8:66; 2 Kings 8:19; Ezra 37:24), and Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 31:16, as a theocratical leader, but Nebuchadnezzar also as one who executed God’s designs ( Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10); Prophets, as Isaiah 20:3, whom God himself so names ( Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:26; Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 26:5; Amos 3:7; Daniel 9:6, and often). Properly all the Israelites also are servants of God ( Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 25:42-55) and recognize themselves as such, the authors of the Psalm most freely expressing this consciousness in their distinct individuality ( Psalm 19:12; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 34:23; Psalm 35:27; Psalm 69:37; Psalm 90:16; Psalm 119:17; Psalm 119:65; Psalm 119:84; Psalm 119:122; Psalm 119:176; Psalm 135:14; Psalm 104:2). Hence in the second part of Isaiah, the whole people is so named ( Isaiah 4:8-9; Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 44:1-2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 48:20), and then again He who is the Israelite κατ’ ἐξοχήν, the Messiah, ( Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:5; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 52:53). On the sense of this designation, see below under Doctrinal and Ethical.—Concerning Joshua see Introduction.

Moses’ Minister. Observe that Joshua is not spoken of as Moses’ servant, but as מְשָׁרֵח, minister; “adjutant,” we should now say, in so far as Moses was not law-giver but commander-in-chief. The formal installation of Joshua in this position is reported to us in Numbers 27:15 ff.

Jordan. הַיַּרְדֵּן, almost everywhere in the O. T. with the art, from the r. יָרַך “to go down,” or, when a stream is spoken of, “to flow.” “The Jordan therefore means, the ‘flowing’ [“the Descender,” Stanley], perhaps with allusion to its extremely abrupt fall and rapid course. At the present day it is called by the Arabs esh-Scheriah, ‘the drinking-place,’ occasionally with the addition el-Kebir, ‘the great.” The name el-Jurdun (Jordan), is however not unknown to the Arabic writers. ... The length of the Jordan from where it leaves the sea of Gennesaret to the Dead Sea is about sixty miles,” measured in a straight line [but following the sinuosities of the stream two hundred miles]. Furrer, Wanderungen, p155 Robinson, Phys. Geog. p 144 ff. Von Raumer, Palästina, p 54 ff.[FN16]

Joshua 1:4. Here the boundaries of Canaan are laid down very much as they are given in Deuteronomy 11:24. In the other passage, however, the wilderness, Lebanon, and the Euphrates are taken together as opposed to the great sea, while here, (1.) the wilderness and Lebanon (south and north), and then again (2.) the Euphrates and the great sea (east and west) are brought together. Substantially they amount to the same. The land should be bounded on the south by the Arabian desert, on the north by Mount Lebanon, on the east by the Euphrates, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, as was already promised to Abraham ( Genesis 15:18-21). Still more vaguely is it expressed ( Exodus 23:31) “from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines,” and “from the desert unto the river” (Euphrates), while in Numbers 34:1-12; Joshua 8-19, the boundaries, stated only in a general way in our passage, are quite accurately fixed.

The territory to be occupied by the people of Israel is further and more exactly ascertained from the definition, “all the land of the Hittites.”

This Lebanon, as in Joshua 1:2 this Jordan, because the river was visible close at hand, and the mountain could be seen although at a great distance. הַלִּבָנוֹן (in prose always with the art.) Isaiah, from לָבַן “to be white,” the white mountain. Further particulars see in the Introduction, and in von Raumer p29 ff. Concerning the Hittites as well as the other Canaanitish peoples, comp. the Introduction, § 7.

Joshua 1:6. Be strong and firm. Luther translates finely but not accurately: “Be comforted and undismayed.” De Wette: “Be firm and strong.” Schroeder: “Be strong and firm,” Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 7:23. We prefer this rendering of חזק ואמץ, since the words, as J. H. Michaelis has noted, signify not firmness and strength in general, but the strength in the hands (חזק) and the firmness in the knees (אמץ, Isaiah 35:3, cf. Hebrews 12:12-13). Joshua must lay hold boldly and with a strong hand, and then when he has done Song of Solomon, allow nothing to drive him from his position. It will be noticed that in Joshua 1:6 we find simply repeated, in almost the same words, what has been said to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7; Deuteronomy 31:23, precisely as the promise Joshua 1:5 is a repetition of Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8.

Joshua 1:7-8, admonish Joshua to a careful observance of the law, in order that the great work laid on him by the Lord may be successfully accomplished. Not depart out of thy mouth, is the same as “to be continually in the mouth.” Joshua must, on the one hand, speak to the people in the words of the law, in order rightly to impress on them its sacred design, and on the other, must also ground himself always more deeply therein. Hence it is added:—

Thou shalt meditate therein day and night. We are not to think of this meditation as a learned study, but rather as a mature reflection upon the law by which Joshua penetrates more deeply into its meaning, and thus becomes qualified to speak more clearly, pointedly, and powerfully to the people. For to that particularly, and not to the “reading aloud,” as Bunsen explains it, is the reference in the command, that the law should not depart out of his mouth. Comp. Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Deuteronomy 17:19. Comp. further, Psalm 1:2, and on תצליח, Joshua 1:3 especially.

Joshua 1:9 : “The assurance gains in strength when to the positive חזק ואמץ there is added also the negative אל תערצ ואל־תחת, as in Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8.” Keil.

How did God speak to Joshua? By the Urim and Thummim, as Hess (Gesch. Jos. i. p29) supposes, appealing to Numbers 27:21, or, as most interpreters assume, immediately, by an inward revelation? Probably the latter, because, although we must admit that Joshua had been directed by God himself to employ the other means, and therewith the mediation of the high-priest, yet the Lord himself by whom—observe that—the initiative is here taken, was not bound to this means, as appears very clearly from the manifestation of the angel, Joshua 5:13-15. The Lord spoke to Joshua as he had spoken to Moses, and as he afterwards spoke to the prophets. Together with the divinely regulated office there went on this free communication of God’s purposes without disturbance to the functions of that office when they were in proper exercise, but sometimes also to awaken them to life when light and right was extinguished in Israel, 1 Samuel 3; Joel 1:13.

b. Joshua 1:10-18. The Command of Joshua to the Magistrates of the People as well as to the Reubenbenites, Gadites, and the Half Tribe of Manasseh.

After Joshua has received the command from God to cross the Jordan with the people, he adopts his plans and immediately enjoins upon the שִׁטרים (comp. Exodus 5:10; Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 16:18; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:1) to go through the camp, and call on the people to provide themselves with victuals (the need of which is explained by the cessation of the manna, Joshua 5:12), since within three days the march would begin. This statement of time is not exact, since rather, as Keil also assumes, seven days in all intervene, namely, one day for the journey of the spies to Jericho, three days for their stay in the mountain, three days for the march from Shittim to the Jordan, and the delay there, after all which the crossing of the river took place. Keil says concerning this: “We give up the attempt to identify the three days in Joshua 3:2 with those mentioned in Joshua 1:11, since the text in Joshua 3:2 contains not the slightest hint of such a combination. The article is not found with ימים ( Joshua 3:2) by which the שׁלשׁת ימים might be referred to Joshua 1:11; and we stand by the simple statements of the text, assuming that the spies were sent out immediately after the command in Joshua 1:11, probably on the same day, i. e. on the third of Nisan, that they returned after three full days, i. e. on the 6 th of Nisan, at evening ( Joshua 2:22), and that on the next morning, i. e. on the 7 th of Nisan, Joshua broke up from Shittim, came on to the bank of the Jordan ( Joshua 3:1), where he rested three days, and on the tenth effected the passage.” Not so Gerlach, who says rather: “As regards the chronological succession of these events, we see from Joshua 4:19 that the passage of the Jordan was effected on the tenth of the first month. That command of Joshua ( Joshua 1:11) was given therefore on the 7 th. Early the same day he sent out the spies, and they so quickly accomplished the journey of perhaps scarcely a dozen miles that they left Jericho before the approach of that night;” (but how does this agree with Joshua 2:2; Joshua 2:5 ff.?) “the three days which they spent in the mountain were not full days” (where are we told that?) “being the remainder of the 7 th” (which must thus have been an uncommonly long day), “the 8 th, and part of the 9 th. On this last they returned to Joshua, and thus he was able, in accordance with his orders received early on the 7 th, to cross over on the 10 th. Thus we have a very satisfactory correspondence between the series of events and the successive dates.” The perplexity in which these two interpreters find themselves may be very simply cleared up if, with Knobel, we assume that the three days mentioned in Joshua 3:2 are identical with the three days here in Joshua 1:11, but that Joshua 2was a separate report here worked in by the author, and in the insertion of which, attention was not paid to the exact determination of the dates.[FN17]

There follows now, Joshua 1:12-18, a special demand of Joshua upon the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. These had, according to Numbers 32on account of their wealth in flocks and herds, received their possession in the land of the conquered Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, east of the Jordan. This was on the condition, however, that they should help the other tribes to conquer West Palestine; and Joshua now calls upon them to fulfill that condition and carry out the promise they had made. This they declare themselves ready to do.

Joshua 1:13. Remember the word which Moses commanded you, etc. Numbers 32:20-24 is quoted not literally but freely according to the sense, for מניח לכם does not occur in the passage cited,—a very beautiful expression: to afford rest, to cause to rest. It is the same as giving a dwelling-place secure and undisturbed by enemies ( Deuteronomy 25:19), after the long, restless wanderings through the wilderness. The disobedient ( Numbers 14:26 ff.) come not into this rest ( Psalm 95:11); but not even this is the true rest, the full κατάπαυσις, the true σαββατισμός of the people of God, Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:8-9.

This land ( Deuteronomy 3:18) as in Joshua 1:2, this Jordan, Joshua 1:4, this Lebanon: the land in which then the whole people as yet and the speaker also were, the land east of the Jordan,—while בּעבר, translated by Luther, De Wette, and Eng. Vers. “on this side,” means on that side, or beyond, and is employed from the writer’s point of view.

Joshua 1:14. חַמֵשִׁים is variously derived; either (Gesen.[FN18] Fürst, [with whom agree Masius, De Wette, Keil]), from חֹמֶשׁ, lumbus, venter, tanquam, sedes, roboris = lumbis accincti, with which comp. Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:32חֲלוּצִים, or הֲלוּץ צָבָא); also Job 38:3; Luke 12:35; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13,—or, (Ewald) from חָמֵשׁ, five = arranged in fives, i. e, in companies. With this Knobel sides, in so far that in Exodus 13:18, he defines the word, which is met with only here and in Joshua 4:12; Exodus 13:18; Judges 7:11 (cf. also the חֻשׁים, Numbers 32:17, which should be amended to this form), as meaning, drawn together, collected, i. e, in separate divisions or fixed companies, as opposed to individual separateness and irregular dispersion. Knobel seeks the proper etymon in the Arabic with a comparison of the Heb. קָמַץ, to compress. We translate with Ewald, Knobel, and Bunsen, “arranged in companies.”[FN19]

But ye shall pass before, etc. So had they promised Numbers 32:17; Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:32.

All, not to be taken strictly, since according to Joshua 4:13, only forty thousand men went over, while the two and a half tribes had, according to Numbers 26:7; Numbers 26:18; Numbers 26:34, 110, 580 men.

Joshua 1:16-18 contain the joyful answer pervaded by the spirit of obedience and fraternal love, closing with the same call from the two and a half tribes, to be strong and firm, which God had addressed to Joshua. So David also addresses himself when he sings: Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thy heart, חֲזַק וְיַאְמֵץ לִבֶּךָ, Psalm 27:15.


1. If we would accurately determine the meaning of the distinguishing title “servant of Jehovah,” ascribed to Moses in Joshua 1:1, we cannot be content to say merely that it signifies a “worshipper of Jehovah” who may be also a messenger, an ambassador of Jehovah. We are concerned rather to know how it comes to pass at all that the pious worshippers and messengers of God are called his servants. The answer might be given in the following hints. In the first place, we must not forget that we are here on oriental ground, where kings and subjects stand related to each other as lords and slaves, where the inferior towards the superior studies the most humble submission and unconditional obedience, and expresses himself also in a proportionately humble manner ( Genesis 44:27; Genesis 44:32; Daniel 10:17). And thus God himself appears only as under the figure of the Most High, the Ruler of all worlds, the Lord of Hosts, before whom all the world keeps silence ( Habakkuk 3:20; Zechariah 2:13), before whom also on his throne, the seraphim veil their faces ( Isaiah 6). He Isaiah, therefore, the master, men the servants. Those, however, among men (more particularly in Israel, the סִגֻלַּת יי, Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18) who serve him with special obedience, and, with extraordinary talent, like the angels in heaven ( Job 4:18), perform his will, are called his servants in a preëminent sense. So Moses; before him Abraham; after him David, Hezekiah, the prophets; all Israel, moreover, in so far as they are, according to Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26; Isaiah 44:2, the Jeshurun, the beloved, pious people, who rightly (יְשֻׁרוּן from יָשָׁר) walk before Jehovah; and lastly the Messiah, since in Him all the excellences of his people are combined. In the second place, it is carefully to be considered that in the economy of redemption we are still on the ground of the old covenant, therefore on the ground of the Law, where God commands, and man has unconditionally to perform his dictates exactly to the letter, without any freedom whatever, hence as a slave, not as a child ( Romans 8:15). Not even the most pious, therefore, can claim any higher distinction than this. A relation of freedom between God and man does not yet exist. Man stands yet under the law, not yet under grace ( John 1:17); but precisely this absolute obedience leads to freedom. Moses is the instrument of effecting the deliverance of his people out of the slavery of Egypt, where they pined in the house of bondage ( Exodus 20:2), the iron furnace ( Deuteronomy 4:20); but the Messiah makes many righteous ( Isaiah 53:11) and is a Servant, the Branch ( Zechariah 3:9). In his time God gives holy increase, takes away the sins of the land in one day ( Zechariah 3:9), and makes peace, so that one invites his neighbor under the vine and fig-tree ( Zechariah 3:10). He is the true παῖς θεοῦ ( Matthew 12:18; Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30), whom, on account of his obedience, God acknowledges as his Son; on which cf. Nitzsch, Treatise on the παῖς θεοῦ in the Acts (Studien u. Kritiken, 1828, 2).

2. The declaration in Joshua 1:4, that God has assigned to the people of Israel its portion of the earth, is in accordance with Deuteronomy 32:8 and Acts 17:26, in which passages he marks off to the nations their bounds. This is involved in God’s government of the world, which embraces everything, the least as well as the greatest, so that all accident is excluded. As He determines for each particular man his place on earth, by birth, education, external circumstances, so He determines for each people its habitation in congruity with the disposition and character which He has lent to them, and the design which He entertains concerning them. That was peculiarly the case with Israel, when He actually gave to them the land promised to the fathers, where they might in beautiful seclusion serve the Lord their God. True, the previous inhabitants must give way, but jure divino, because through their enervating idolatry they had forfeited the right to a historical existence. It is not just, therefore, in the manner of the Wolfenbüttler fragmentist, to charge God and his agents with cruelty and injustice, but rather to heed the fundamental laws of divine Providence, according to which also his judgments are executed. An analogy may be seen in the destruction of the Roman empire amid the storms of the northern invasions. See Introd. § 3.

3. The silent collection of one’s thoughts, holy meditation, Isaiah, in the over-busy activities of our time, an aid to all religious and moral life, which cannot be too earnestly recommended. It is enjoined upon Joshua in Joshua 1:8, in simple but very suitable words, and is necessary, in order that the soul may constantly remember its origin, that the heart may lose itself in God and his word, that from this inward concentration of the living faculties, word and deed may come forth in noble perfection. “Oratio, meditatio tentatio,” make not only the theologian, but in general every religious, pious, and, in his piety, morally capable, man.

4. The rest which God gives ( Joshua 1:15) Isaiah, first, the secure possession of the land of Canaan which had been promised to the people of Israel. This מנוחה however is not, according to the view of the Epistle to the Hebrews ( Joshua 4:8), the true rest, rather, since God long after Joshua offered through David ( Hebrews 4:7) an entrance into rest, must go there still be another rest; “for if Joshua had brought them to the rest, He (God) would not speak of another day after this time” ( Joshua 1:8). “Therefore,” the conclusion is from these arguments, “there yet remains (ἀπολείπεται) a Sabbath rest (σαββατισμός) for the people of God. For he who has entered into his (God’s) rest, has given himself also rest from his works” (i. e. the works of the labor-week). It is still to be carefully noted that to express this rest of God, not κατάπαυσις but, in allusion to Joshua 1:4, or to Genesis 2:2, the word σαββατισμός, occurring nowhere else in the N. T, is employed. The σαββατισμός is the completed κατάπαυσις, the holy and blessed Sabbath rest in eternity for the people of God, the Ισραήλ τοῦ θεοῦ, after the pilgrimage of life is finished with the toils of the hard week of our earthly existence. Of this rest the מנוחה in the earthly Canaan is a type. So speak the Rabbins also of the שַׁבֶּת הַנָּדוֹל (Tr. Thamid. f33, 2; Jabk. Rub. f95, 4). Compare also the beautiful, profoundly tender hymn by Jno. Sigmund Kunth (†1779), “A rest there is which yet awaits us.”


God’s command to Joshua that he should cross the Jordan, indicates (1) the task proposed to him; contains (2) the promise of his assistance in its accomplishment; but requires also (3) the conscientious observance of his law, in order to success; and closes (4) with another enlivening exhortation to the new leader of Israel.—As Moses was a servant of the Lord, so should we also be his servants, that we may be found faithful like him. ( Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:2)—Moses the servant of the Lord. Joshua as a type of a good servitor (not slave).—The earthly Canaan a type of the heavenly—God is faithful ( Joshua 1:5). I will not fail thee nor forsake thee,—a promise; (1) its rich import; (2) under what conditions to be appropriated by a Christian to himself.—Be strong and firm, comforted and undismayed, a text in connection with Psalm 27, 46 of inexhaustible use for the field-worship of God.—Of fidelity to the commands of God.—How should a true general be characterized? (1) He should be strong and firm, but (2) also pious and conscientious, that all may go well with him.—Fear not, neither be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee in all which thou shalt do; to be well considered before the outbreak of a war, as well as before a battle.—Joshua and the Gileadite tribes; (1) his powerful appeal to them for fraternal assistance; (2) their cheerful answer ( Joshua 1:12-18).—The Rest of the people of God: (1) Who gives it? (2) In what does it consist? (3) How do we attain to if? ( Joshua 1:13). How beautiful when the call of a commander, or a governor of the people, meets with a joyful readiness on their part! Should we not so meet the claims which God himself by his Word makes on us, and especially those which call for brotherly help, even though sacrifices also be required?

Starke: O soul, remember here first of all the true Joshua, thy Saviour Jesus Christ, who has for thy good acquired the heavenly Canaan, to prepare for thee a place there, that thou also mayest dwell there and remain; fight, therefore, and subdue thy foes under the lead of thy Jesus, that thou mayest also one day take it. Whom God sends, him He also qualifies and procures for him authority and respect. The Bible and the sword with Christian rulers go very well together. O that these would also avail themselves rightly of both! One Christian should take upon him the necessity of another—and bear his burden. In the strife of Christianity also one should not be pusillanimous, but strong and firm ( 2 Timothy 2:3). A spirit that would all goods and blood fain for thy mere pleasure proffer, and the heart’s desires all offer, give me, Supreme Good, through thy precious blood.

Cramer: As the eyes of the servants are to the hands of their masters, and the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so should our eyes also look constantly to the Lord, Psalm 123:2. If God is for us who can be against us? ( Romans 8:31). Christian rulers also are bound to submit themselves to God’s commands; it should not be with them, quod libet licet, i. e. what I please I do, 1 Kings 21:7.

Marginal note (of Luther): He who walks according to God’s words acts wisely and happily, but he who goes according to his own head acts unwisely and to no profit.

Bibl. Wirt.: In dangerous duties and circumstances there is no better comfort than when one has a regular call to the position, and God for his patron and protector. God’s command should be promptly performed without any long discussion as to whether we will do it or not; for God requires obedience.

Bibl. Tub: Consoling promise! O soul mark it well, for what God says to Joshua He says also to thee. Therefore be of good courage in the struggle with sin and Satan; God will stand by thee.

Osiander: We should (in many cases) firs care for our neighbors, for love seeks not her own, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Gerlach: The first revelation of God after the death of Moses installs Joshua formally in his office, gives him the double commission to lead the people into the promised land and to distribute this among them, renews the assurance of divine aid, and admonishes to steadfast fidelity towards God’s law and imperturbable confidence in Him ( Joshua 1:1-9).

[Darby: “Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, that have I given you.” They must there, overcome the obstacles with the help and by the power of God, and take actual possession. .... They never took possession of all the land which God had given. Nevertheless to faith the promise was sure, Joshua 1:3. Spiritual strength and energy, the courage of faith, are necessary in order that the heart may be free from the influences, the fears, and the motives which act upon the natural Prayer of Manasseh, and that he may take heed to the Word of God.

Matthew Henry: The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be so much the more diligent in doing good. Such and such are dead, and we must die shortly, therefore let us work while it is yet day. It is a great mercy if, when useful men are taken away in the midst of their usefulness others are raised up in their stead to go on where they broke off, Joshua 1:2. It is a great comfort to the rising generation of ministers and Christians that the same grace which was sufficient for those that went before them shall not be wanting to them if they be not wanting to themselves in the improvement of it ( Joshua 1:5).—When God has given us rest we ought to consider how we may honor Him with the advantages of it, and what services we may do to our brethren who are unsettled, or not so well settled as we are (ver15).—We must not so magnify them that are gone, how eminent so ever they were, either in the magistracy or in the ministry as to be wanting in the honor and duty we owe to those that survive and succeed them.

G. R. B.: As Joshua received and doubtless profited by the admonition of his Gileadite brethren, so may the leaders in Israel at all times gain benefit from the pious and well intended, even though superfluous, counsels of God’s “plain people.”—Tr.]


FN#1 - Joshua 1:1. The obvious and exact rendering of the conjunction here by “and” seems required to in indicate the true grammatical relation of this to the preceding books. It is a circumstance of some, although perhaps not great, significance, in respect to the composition of the historical books of the O. T. that, as the first four books of the Pentateuch are closely joined together by the copulative conjunction at the beginning of each after the first, so the historical books, with out exception as far as to First Chronicles, are thus linked to each other, and all to the Pentateuch as parts of one great whole. The Chronicles appear to make a new beginning; and various reasons might be assigned why Deuteronomy should in this point differ from the three preceding books of Moses.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Joshua 1:2.—ועתָּה. In rare instances the conj. in this compound needs to be understood in an illative sense; but generally it marks the simple succession of thoughts, and what there is of inference is equivalently expressed by our “and now.” Song of Solomon, invariably, De Wette and Fay; but the English Version almost always renders as in this passage—Tr.]

FN#3 - Joshua 1:2.—כְּוֵי יִשׂ׳. Fay also translates: “children of Isaiah,” De Wette, always, “sons.” This is exact and much more faithful to the spirit of the East which now, precisely as in ancient times, names a people with reference to its males, “the Beni Hassan,” “Beni Sakkar,” etc. So the Hebrew nation were the Beni Israel, even when, in many instances, probably the women and children were distinctly thought of; but generally the men were considered in a political respect as instar omnium.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Joshua 1:4.—The word “coast” is in this book synonymous with border (boundary line), except in the three places, Joshua 9:1; Joshua 12:23; Joshua 19:29, where it was intended to denote “coast” in our present sense, but incorrectly, as would appear, in the last two passages. “Border” is what we should now say, and that, especially in the plural, signifies figuratively, like the Hebrew, “territory,” “tract,” “country.”—Tr.]

FN#5 - Joshua 1:5.—Gesen. s. v. רָפָה: I will not cast thee off and not forsake thee. So substantially Fay; De Wette, on the contrary: I will not withdraw myself from thee, etc. “Fail thee,” etc, in our familiar expression, Isaiah, perhaps, as near the Hebrew as anything proposed.—Tr.]

FN#6 - Joshua 1:6.—חֲזִק וֶאֱמַץ“ ‘Verbum חזק proprie notat vires quæ sunt in manibus ad prehendendum retinendum que viriliter; sicut contra אמץ firmitudinem, quæ in genibus Esther, ad consistendum, ne ab alio quis evertatur,’ Michaelis; (conf. תְאַמֵּץ Job 4:4, התְאַמֵּץ, 1 Kings 12:18, אָמֹץ, equus alacer, Zechariah 6:3.” Maurer.—Tr.]

FN#7 - Joshua 1:7.—Fay here renders “divide for an inheritance” with the English Version, but De Wette gives simply “to partition,” and Gesenius appears to be abundantly warranted in saying, s. v. נָחַל, that “the specific idea of inheritance in this verb is rare.”—Tr.]

FN#8 - Joshua 1:8—The expression is stronger with “and,” and “that vav is put as a disjunctive between words, i. q. or, is hardly supported by a single probable example.” Gesen. Lex. p266, Robinson’s Trans. Fay after this “and” supplies [not].—Tr.]

FN#9 - Joshua 1:9.—תַּשְׂכִּיל should in consistency with Joshua 1:7 be translated “shalt thou prosper,” and the whole clause might then perhaps be rendered “for then shalt thou have success in thy way, and then shalt thou prosper.”—Tr.]

FN#10 - Joshua 1:10.—To indicate distinctly the office of the שֹׁטִרִים, is desirable, but perhaps (with our scanty data) scarcely possible. While etymologically (r. שָׁטַר) scribe or clerk, would suit very well, yet from the passages cited in the exegetical notes on this verse, and from many others, it appears that the name designates a kind of overseer of a section of the people, in some way ordering them, and on the other hand representing his charge to the Judges, governor, or commander to whom he was subordinate. Thus in Egypt they stood between the people and the task-masters. According to Numbers 16:18, the shoterim appear then to have been chosen from the elders of the people, and to have constituted sometimes a council of advisers, with Moses, and sometimes ( Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 16:18) a sub-magistracy who, in connection with the “Judges” dispensed justice to the people. Superintendent, overseer, or director (Fay: Vorsteher, Ordner), probably gives substantially the sense, but is not so clearly specific as we could wish.—Tr.]

FN#11 - Joshua 1:14.—בְּעֵבֶר הַי׳. This phrase constantly denotes the region beyond the Jordan where the speaker then was: “Scriptor ex eo, in quo ipse constitutus erat, loco, i. e. ex Palestina rem metitur.” Maurer.—Tr.]

FN#12 - Joshua 1:14.—Fay, in Schaaren. See the authorities in exegetical note.—Tr.]

FN#13 - Joshua 1:14.—De Wette, Fay: alle streitbaren Manner. But while the English phrase “mighty men of valor,” implies something too marvelous, it may well be doubted whether גִּבּוֹרֵי הַחַיִל does not often convey the idea of special ability in the military service, from natural endowments or extraordinary experience of war, something like “heroes,” or “veterans in war.”—Tr.]

FN#14 - Joshua 1:17.—A little more exactly for the sense: In all respects as we hearkened unto Moses, etc.—Tr.]

FN#15 - It will be noticed by the reader of the English Bible that in references to the Psalm, the title sometimes counts as one verse.—Tr.]

FN#16 - The article on the Jordan in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, will be found quite full and satisfactory. See also the art. “Palestine” in the same work; Bibl. Sacra, Aug1848, p396 ff, Nov1848, p 764 ff, Apr1850, p 393 ff. Lynch’s Expedition to the Dead Sea; Cruise of the Rob Roy on the Jordan, N. Y1870.—Tr.]

FN#17 - In his later work (Bib. Com. in loc.) Keil still denying that the “three days” here, Joshua 1:11, are the same as in Joshua 3:2, seeks to reconcile the present date with the actual time of the crossing, by assuming first that it is not meant that they should pass over within three days, but only begin to move towards it; and secondly, that although Joshua did design to reach the Jordan and cross it within three days, his intention was frustrated by the delay which his spies unexpectedly experienced. He says: “The designation’ in three days’ (i. e, as appears from a comparison of Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:19 with Joshua 1:20, reckoning from the day of giving this command, on the third day following) ‘shall ye pass over the Jordan,’ is not to be taken as an announcement of the time within which the crossing should actually take place, but, with Vatabl, and J. J. Hess, as the term against which the people should be prepared for the crossing; as if he had said: Prepare you victuals in order to go over the Jordan within three days, i. e, in order then to break up from Shittim, to cross the Jordan and be able to commence the conquest of Canaan. Thus apprehended this, statement agrees with chapters2,3For according to Joshua 2. Joshua sent from Shittim spies to Jericho, who after their escape from that city had to hide themselves three days in the mountain, before they could come to the camp of Israel. They were absent therefore certainly three or four days, and returned at the earliest on the evening or in the night of the fourth day from that on which they were sent out. Not until then did the Israelites break up from Shittim in the morning, and moved to the Jordan, where they still tarried, and then after three days more, crossed over the stream. At the least, therefore, eight full days, 4+1+3, must have passed between the first mission of the spies and the passage of the Jordan by the people. Without doubt Joshua designed to march to the Jordan within three days from the sending of the spies, and to go over the river; and simultaneously with his command to the people to prepare to cross over within three days, he had sent the spies, so that he was warranted in hoping that they would have accomplished their errand and returned within two or three days. But since they, through the unforeseen discovery of their arrival in Jericho, and the chase of the pursuers, were obliged to hide themselves three days in the mountain, Joshua could not until the day after their return break up from Shittim, and proceed to the Jordan. Neither then could he immediately cross the river, but must tarry yet three days after his arrival at the brink.”

As this provides for the less of only three days of the eight, it would appear that Joshua’s “design” must have been still a miscalculation by at least two days. In other respects the explanation is not as successful as could be desired.—Tr.]

FN#18 - Gesenius derives the word not from חֹמֶשׁ but from an assumed root חָמֶשׁ, acrem, strenuum esse; and the sense in which he understands the partic. is strenuus, alacer. Thes. p494.—Tr.]

FN#19 - After all is said, the derivation remains very obscure and the considerations in favor of the two principal renderings very evenly balanced. For the meaning “armed” the lexicographers give little authority.—Tr.]

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible


(vv. 1-9)

Since Moses had passed off the scene, the Lord now speaks directly to Joshua.Joshua had been prepared for leadership by his close association with Moses for many years. Never is there any indication that he aspired to this place of honor, but in God's time he was able to fit into this place because he was God's choice for it.

The Lord gave him clear, simple instructions to cross the Jordan, and all Israel with him, into the land provided them by God (v. 2). There was to be calm decision in steadily going forward, for the Lord promised that "everyplace that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you" (v. 3). They were expected to take possession of it, just as believers today are expected to take possession of the vital truths connected with their present inheritance in "heavenly places."

The borders described in verse 4 are more extended than Israel has ever yet possessed, for it included the wilderness (in the south), Lebanon (in the north) and eastward as far as the Euphrates River. Or, if looking westward, all the land of the Hittites (toward the east), and to the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) was included. In Genesis 15:18-21 God's promise to Abram gave the borders from a viewpoint further south --" from the river of Egypt (the Nile) to the great river, the River Euphrates." Israel will eventually, in the millennium, possess all this property, but only when they have received their Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Then He will clear the way for them to claim their full inheritance.

How wonderful the encouragement given to Joshua then, that no one would be able to stand against him all the days of his life, for God would be with him as He was with Moses.This encouragement is intended too for all now who are "in Christ Jesus." As we depend on Him, no enemy can prevail against us, for we read concerning the Church built by Christ, "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Let the words of the Lord burn deeply into every believer's heart, "I will not leave you nor forsake you" (v. 5). Such a promise is a wonderful basis for faith to "be strong and of good courage" (v. 6). Yet it is not a selfish courage, for Joshua was to divide the land as an inheritance for all the children of Israel.He was to be a leader whose concern was first for the glory of God, and which therefore also involved concern for the children of Israel.

Verse 6 emphasizes Joshua's strength and courage in relationship to the people; now in verse 7 he is urged to be strong and very courageous in observing to act upon the law Moses had given.This involved his relationship to God, which was of vital importance if his relationship to the people was to be maintained in faithful integrity. He was to be consistently well balanced, not to waver in one direction or the other, in which way he would prosper. We today are not under law, but God's governing hand is still over us, and we are called to so value the grace of God that we should be willingly obedient to the truth revealed in the New Testament.

The Book of the Law was to be the meditation of Joshua day and night, in order that he might do all that was written therein (v. 8). We today need, not only the Old Testament, but the whole truth of the New Testament if we are to have spiritual prosperity and success.

It is the living God who commanded Joshua. Therefore again he is told to be strong and of good courage (v. 9). He had no reason to give way to fear or discouragement, for the Lord God was with him wherever he went. Even when we have learned the Word of God there may be still a danger of giving way to fear, so that we need constant encouragement from the Lord.


(vv. 10-18)

There was to be no rushing to cross the Jordan and yet no delay either, but calm deliberation and action. Joshua commanded the officers of the people to tell the people to prepare provisions for themselves, for in three days they would pass over Jordan (vv. 10-11).

Then Joshua addressed the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh, who had obtained possessions for themselves on the east of Jordan. They were not on this account to be exempt from warfare. Moses had made it clear to them that, though they were allowed to settle east of Jordan, and their wives, children and livestock could remain there, yet all able bodied men were to accompany the rest of Israel into Canaan to help them in conquest of the enemy (vv. 12-14). Not till all Israel were settled in peace in the land were these warriors to return to their possessions east of Jordan (v. 15). This was to be an effective testimony to the unity of Israel. We too should have such concern for the blessing of all the children of God.

Theresponse of these men is commendable, being fully agreeable to do just as Joshua commanded. They desired to be as subject to Joshua as they had been to Moses, and expressed the desire that the Lord God would be with Joshua as He was with Moses (vv. 16-17). There was general unity in this, yet they added that if any individual among them rebelled against Joshua's command, he would be put to death. Then they repeated to Joshua what God had told him, "Only be strong and of good courage." How deeply does every believer need this positive message!

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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Joshua and the Canaan Rest

Joshua 1:1-9


Joshua comes in as the complement to the work of Moses. Joshua stands as the type of the Lord Jesus; for "Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ."

1. Typology is one of the great studies of the Bible. The Children of Israel in their exit from Egypt, by the way of the shed blood; in their baptism unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; in their eating of the manna, and in their drinking of the water from the flinty rock; in their wilderness journeys, and in their entering into Canaan were types given for our admonition upon whom the end of the ages is come.

2. The typology of Israel elucidated. We will not go into the type of Israel coming out of the land of Egypt. We want to note particularly the things which concern Israel and their Canaan rest.

(1) Their failure to enter in when first they came to Kadesh-barnea. Two years they had spent in covering the distance across the wilderness, until they came to the borders of Canaan. God gave command for them to enter in, but they rebelled and would not go up. With Canaan blessings just ahead of them they became afraid, and therefore back into the wilderness they went.

When Christ came the first time, He was heralded as King of the Jews. However, Israel rejected Him and delivered Him over to Pilate for crucifixion. Thus Israel once more lost the open door to rest and deliverance. Christ was crucified King of the Jews a rejected King.

(2) The bodies of the elders of Israel strewing the wilderness. Of all who came out of Egypt, by Moses, only two of the elders of the men of Israel entered in those two were Caleb and Joshua. What about the rest? Their bodies fell in the wilderness they missed their "rest." The third and fourth chapters give the warning, lest we also fall after the same example of unbelief. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-33 .

3. The typology of Israel elucidated. What is the meaning of these things? They missed their Canaan, we are warned lest we miss our rest, Canaan was Israel's rest what is our rest, the rest that remaineth for the people of God, the rest that we are in danger of missing?

Canaan cannot be shown as a type of Heaven, for several reasons:

(1) Canaan was infested with "giants," and by seven nations antagonistic to Israel. There are no enemies, and no giants in Heaven to resist the saints from entering in.

(2) Canaan was entered by the fall of Jericho, its walled cities had to be thrown down. There are no walls around Heaven, which we must march about seven days, and which must fall before we can have access.

(3) In entering Canaan, the Israelites met defeat at Ai there will be no turning of our backs on the enemy as we enter Heaven.

Canaan can, however, be shown as a type of the Millennial rest that awaits the children of God.

The giants will infest the land the antichrist, and the false prophet, and the world ripened in sin under their reign will be overthrown and subdued at the coming of the Lord. The cities of the nations will fall. The saints will not have reached a state of never-failing sinlessness in the earth Kingdom of Christ As there were olives and pomegranates, the grapes of Eschol, milk and honey so will there be an earth of marvelous fruitfulness during the Millennium.


1. Joshua's exaltation came after the death of Moses. The death of Moses took from among men one of earth's greatest noblemen, and one of Gods greatest generals. Some may have thought that the loss caused by Moses' death was irreparable. Not so. God always finds other men to fill in the great gaps. Luthers, and Savanarolas, and Calvins, and Wesleys, and Spurgeons, and Moodys may come, and they may go, but God always has in preparation others to take their places.

2. Joshua's exaltation came from servant to master. Is it not always true, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much"?

Joshua, as Moses' minister, had proved faithful. He had, as a servant, learned much by way of leadership. In each menial task he had proved himself faithful and true,

3. Joshua's exaltation had come as a befitting reward. The Lord is not forgetful of our labors of love and patience. God knew how Joshua had, forty years before, brought back a good report of the land; God knew that Joshua had not been cowed by the Anakim who infested the land of promise.

Let us stop and think. Shall we not go with Christ outside the camp? Shall we not share with Him in His reproach, and bear with Him the bane of a mocking world? Shall we not serve Him with faithful heart? If we do, He will surely exalt us in due season. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."


1. A promise given. To Joshua God said, "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life." The Lord was transferring to Joshua His power. Does not our Lord do the same toward us? Has He not said, "All power (authority) is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go, * * and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"?

2. A good courage urged. This may seem strange. Was not Joshua always of good courage? Was it not because of his courage and valor that he was now being commissioned as Israel's leader? When all the spies but two had returned a bad report to the people, Joshua, in the fire of his faith, had said, "We are abundantly able to go up and possess the land."

Joshua was about to step into a place of responsibility and under burdens such as he had never known.

God knew that Joshua might well have trembled before this new and added responsibility. Joshua had more than once seen Moses almost in despair. Joshua had heard Moses' plaintive cry to God, "I cannot bear this people alone." He had known of many a time when Moses, mighty man that he was, had well nigh slipped under the tremendous weight of a disobedient and rebellious people. Yes, Joshua the brave, and Joshua the valiant, needed just the encouragement that God was giving him.


1. The strong and stalwart need the blessings of the Book. We might have thought that Joshua could paddle his own canoe, and hoe his own row. Not so. Joshua could not afford to fail in building upon the inerrant Law of God, The "Word" was to be constantly in Joshua's mouth; it was to be ever the burden of his meditations. By day and by night he was to be saturated with the "Law."

2. The leader of the people needed himself to be guided by the Word. Joshua was to study the Word in order that he might observe to do according to all that was written therein.

God seemed to be telling Joshua that in doing the Word he would never be in danger of acting contrary to God's Word. God never says one thing in His Word, and another thing by His voice, or vision. Remember, if any speak contrary to the Word, there is no truth in them. Our constant cry should be Back to the Law and the Testimony.

3. Joshua was promised prosperity and success through obedience to the Law. God said, "Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." True success and prosperity as God reckons it, is that which is achieved alone by knowing and doing the Law. We need to learn this secret.

IV. CROSSING THE JORDAN (Joshua 3:15-17 )

1. The precedent to victory.

(1) An invincible faith. We read in the last verses of chapter two "They said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all of the land." Here was a faith that claimed the blessing before the blessing came. They took God's promise as a fact before the fact had been realized. This is the call of the New Testament, "What things soever ye desire, * * believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

(2) Lodging by the Jordan. They came to the Jordan, Joshua and all the people, and they lodged there. We need to pitch hard up against any proposition that we may have to face. Victory does not come by standing aloof and dreading our task. We must begin at once to undertake. We must move in the direction of our commanded task, as rapidly as we can.

(3) After three days. It was not immediately that they went over Jordan it was after three days. Of course our mind goes at once to Christ, three days and three nights in the tomb, and how, afterward, He came forth with the keys of death and of hell in His hands.

Three days stands, therefore, for death, burial and resurrection not that of Christ alone, but it stands for our union with Christ in it all.

2. The crossing of the Jordan.

(1) The Ark of the covenant leading the way. When we journey in victory, we must not start forward until the Lord, our God, steps into the way before us. If the Lord is not in the house they labor in vain that build it. If the Lord does not lead us, we go out to sure defeat.

(2) The priest went with the Ark. God still has chosen men, ordained of God, to direct and lead His flock. The saints should follow their leaders providing their leaders are following the Ark.

(3) They stood first with their feet in the Jordan. As they began their journey the priests, bearing the Ark, came to the brink of the Jordan, and stood there while Joshua spoke unto the people and magnified God. As the soles of their feet rested in the water, the Jordan stood up in a heap, and the people passed over against Jericho.

3. The memorial stones. In the midst of the Jordan, twelve stones were placed, and on the other side of the Jordan there were likewise twelve stones. These were placed there as a memorial unto the Children of Israel forever, for Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan in the place where the feet of the priests stood, and the people came up out of the Jordan and encamped in Gilgal; and, the twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

Once more we see in marvelous picture the story of the Cross and of the resurrection, for the Lord said unto Joshua, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Even so was the. reproach of our sins rolled away at the Cross our Gilgal.

V. THE FALL OF JERICHO (Joshua 6:20 )

1. Jericho straitly shut up. Here is the picture of a city closed against the Children of God. It is illustrative of many a heart which has shut God out.

The story of Jericho is interesting in the extreme. When Joshua first came to the Jordan, he sent spies over to investigate. These spies entered into Jericho itself. They came into the house of Rahab and lodged there. The king of Jericho sent men to search out the spies, but Rahab first hid them upon the roof, mid the stalks of flax, and then let them down off the wall. This woman, who was a sinner, told the spies, "I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us." She said, "We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt." A miracle of forty years' standing, had not yet lost its message.

2. The march about the walls. For seven days the Children of Israel marched around the walls of the city of Jericho. The angel of God's wrath moves slowly. God seemed to be saying to the men of Jericho, "Throw open your gates, and let Jehovah enter in."

The seventh day Israel marched around seven times. It must have been a wonderful sight. The seven priests, bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Ark; and the seventh day, the seven journeys around the city wall. The perfection of warning had been given. The day of grace was passed. Then it happened, that when a long blast was made with the trumpets, all the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall of the city fell down flat. Thus every man moved straight before him, and they took the city and utterly destroyed all that was in it.

This earth is hastening on in its sin to a state of wickedness rivaling that of Jericho; soon it must fall.

3. The salvation of Rahab. Rahab the harlot was saved alive because she received the spies, and because she threw out the scarlet cord. When the wrath of God finally falls, he who is under the Blood will find that he is not appointed unto wrath.

Rahab was as safe on the wall of the doomed city as though she had been safely housed in the camps of Israel. Her part of the wall did not fall, and it could not fall, because God's judgments cannot touch the one who shelters in the Rock of Ages.



Joshua proved God's clock, and in the moment that the clock struck he led Israel out "' There is a clock with which Providence keepeth time and pace, and God Himself getteth it.' So that everything happens with Divine punctuality. Israel came out of Egypt on the self-same night in which the redemption was appointed, and afterwards wandered in the wilderness till the hour had come when the iniquity of the Amorites was full. Our time is always come, for we are in selfish haste; but our Lord when on earth had His set times and knew how to wait for them. The great God is never before His time, and never too late. We may well admire the punctuality of Heaven. Our trials come in due season, and go at the apointed moment Our fretfulness will neither hasten nor delay the purpose of our God. We are in hot haste to set the world right, and to order all affairs: the Lord hath the leisure of conscious power and unerring wisdom, and it will be well for us to learn to wait. The clock will not strike till the hour; but when the instant cometh we shall hear the bell. My soul, trust thou in God, and wait patiently when He says, 'My time is not yet come.' "

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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Living Water".

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture




Joshua 1:7 - Joshua 1:8.

This is the central portion of the charge given to the successor of Moses. Joshua was a very small man in comparison with his predecessor. He was no prophet nor constructive genius; he was not capable of the heights of communion and revelation which the lofty spirit of Moses was able to mount. He was only a plain, fiery soldier, with energy, swift decision, promptitude, self-command, and all the military virtues in the highest degree. The one thing that he needed was to be ‘strong and courageous’; and over and over again in this chapter you will find that injunction pealed into his ears. He is the type of the militant servant of the Lord, and the charge to him embodies the duties of all such.

I. We have here the duty of courageous strength.

Christianity has altered the perspective of human virtues, has thrown the gentler ones into prominence altogether unknown before, and has dimmed the brilliancy of the old heroic type of character; but it has not struck those virtues out of its list. Whilst the perspective is altered, there is as much need in the lowliest Christian life for the loftiest heroism as ever there was. For in no mere metaphor, but in grim earnest, all Christian progress is conflict, and we have to fight, not only with the evils that are within, but, if we would be true to the obligations of our profession and loyal to the commands of our Master, we have to take our part in the great campaign which He has inaugurated and is ever carrying on against every abuse and oppression, iniquity and sin, that grinds down the world and makes our brethren miserable and servile. So, then, in these words we have directions in regard to a side of the Christian character, indispensable to-day as ever, and the lack of which cannot be made up for by any amount of sweet and contemplative graces.

Jesus Christ is the type of both. The Conqueror of Canaan and the Redeemer of the world bear the same name. The Jesus whom we trust was a Joshua. And let us learn the lesson that neither the conqueror of the typical and material land of promise nor the Redeemer who has won the everlasting heaven for our portion could do their work without the heroic side of human excellence being manifestly developed. Do you remember ‘He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem’? Do you remember that the Apostle whom a hasty misconception has thought of as the gentlest of the Twelve, because he had most to say about love, is the Apostle that more emphatically than any other rings into our ears over and over again the thought of the Christ, militant and victorious, the Hero as well as the patient Sufferer, the ‘Captain of our salvation’? And so let us recognise how both the gentler and the stronger graces, the pacific and the warlike side of human excellence, have their highest development in Jesus Christ, and learn that the firmest strength must be accompanied with the tenderest love and swathed in meekest gentleness. As another Apostle has it in his pregnant, brief injunctions, ringing and laconic like a general’s word of command, ‘Quit you like men I be strong! let all your deeds be done in love!’ Braid the two things together, for the mightiest strength is the love that conquers hate, and the only love that is worthy of a man is the love that is strong to contend and to overcome.

‘Be strong.’ Then strength is a duty; then weakness is a sin. Then the amount of strength that we possess and wield is regulated by ourselves. We have our hands on the sluice. We may open it to let the whole full tide run in, or we may close it till a mere dribble reaches us. For the strength which is strength, and not merely weakness in a fever, is a strength derived, and ours because derived. The Apostle gives the complete version of the exhortation when he says: ‘Finally, my brethren,’ that Omega of command which is the Alpha of performance, ‘be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’ Let Christ’s strength in. Open the heart wide that it may come. Keep yourself in continual touch with God, the fountain of all power. Trust is strength, because trust touches the Rock of Ages.

For this reason the commandment to be strong and of good courage is in the text based upon this: ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’ Our strength depends on ourselves, because our strength is the fruit of our faith. And if we live with Him, grasping His hand and, in the realising consciousness of our own weakness, looking beyond ourselves, then power will come to us above our desire and equal to our need. The old victories of faith will be reproduced in us when we say with the ancient king, ‘Lord! We know not what to do, but our eyes are up unto Thee.’ Then He will come to us, to make us ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’ ‘Wait on the Lord and He will strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.’

But courage is duty, too, as well as strength. Power and the consciousness of power do not always go together. In regard to the strength of nature, courage and might are quite separable. There may be a strong coward and a weak hero. But in the spiritual region, strength and courage do go together. The consciousness of the divine power with us, and that alone, will make us bold with a boldness that has no taint of levity and presumption mingled with it, and never will overestimate its own strength. The charge to Joshua, then, not only insists upon the duty of strength, but on the duty of conscious strength, and on the duty of measuring the strength that is at my back with the weakness that is against me, and of being bold because I know that more and ‘greater is He that is with me than are they that be with them.’

II. So much, then, for the first of the exhortations here. Now look next at the duty of implicit obedience to the word of command.

That is another soldierly virtue, the exercise of which sheds a nobility over the repulsive horrors of the battlefield. Joshua had to be fitted to command by learning to obey, and, like that other soldier whose rough trade had led him to some inkling of Christ’s authority by its familiarising him with the idea of the strange power of the word of command, had to realise that he himself was ‘under authority’ before he could issue his orders.

Courage and strength come first, and on them follows the command to do all according to the law, to keep it without deflection to right or left, and to meditate on it day and night. These two virtues make the perfect soldier-courage and obedience. Daring and discipline must go together, and to know how to follow orders is as essential as to know how to despise dangers.

But the connection between these two, as set forth in this charge, is not merely that they must co-exist, but that courage and strength are needed for, and are to find their noblest field of exercise in, absolute acceptance of, and unhesitating, swift, complete, unmurmuring obedience to, everything that is discerned to be God’s will and our duty.

For the Christian soldier, then, God’s law is his marching orders. The written word, and especially the Incarnate Word, are our law of conduct. The whole science of our warfare and plan of campaign are there. We have not to take our orders from men’s lips, but we must often disregard them, that we may listen to the ‘Captain of our salvation.’ The soldier stands where his officer has posted him, and does what he was bid, no matter what may happen. Only one voice can relieve him. Though a thousand should bid him flee, and his heart should echo their advices, he is recreant if he deserts his post at the command of any but him who set him there. Obedience to others is mutiny. Nor does the Christian need another law to supplement that which Christ has given him in His pattern and teaching. Men have appended huge comments to it, and have softened some of its plain precepts which bear hard on popular sins. But the Lawgiver’s law is one thing, and the lawyers’ explanations which explain it away or darken what was clear enough, however unwelcome, are quite another. Christ has given us Himself, and therein has given a sufficient directory for conduct and conflict which fits close to all our needs, and will prove definite and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it.

The application of Christ’s law to daily life takes some courage, and is the proper field for the exercise of Christian strength. ‘Be very courageous that thou mayest observe.’ If you are not a bold Christian you will very soon get frightened out of obedience to your Master’s commandments. Courage, springing from the realisation of God’s helping strength, is indispensable to make any man, in any age, live out thoroughly and consistently the principles of the law of Jesus Christ. No man in this generation will work out a punctual obedience to what he knows to be the will of God, without finding out that all the ‘Canaanites’ are not dead yet; but that there are enough of them left to make a very thorny life for the persistent follower of Jesus Christ.

And not only is there courage needed for the application of the principles of conduct which God has given us, but you will never have them handy for swift application unless, in many a quiet hour of silent, solitary, patient meditation you have become familiar with them. The recruit that has to learn on the battle-field how to use his rifle has a good chance of being dead before he has mastered the mysteries of firing. And Christian people that have their Christian principles to dig out of the Bible when the necessity comes, will likely find that the necessity is past before they have completed the excavation. The actual battle-field is no place to learn drill. If a soldier does not know how his sword hangs, and cannot get at it in a moment, he will probably draw it too late.

I am afraid that the practice of such meditation as is meant here has come to be, like the art of making ecclesiastical stained glass, almost extinct in modern times. You have all so many newspapers and magazines to read that the Bible has a chance of being shoved out of sight, except on Sundays and in chapels. The ‘meditating’ that is enjoined in my text is no mere intellectual study of Scripture, either from an antiquarian or a literary or a theological point of view, but it is the mastering of the principles of conduct as laid down there, and the appropriating of all the power for guidance and for sustaining which that word of the Lord gives. Meditation, the familiarising ourselves with the ethics of Scripture, and with the hopes and powers that are treasured in Jesus Christ, so that our minds are made up upon a great many thorny questions as to what we ought to do, and that when crises or dangers come, as they have a knack of coming, very suddenly, and are sprung upon us unexpectedly, we shall be able, without much difficulty, or much time spent in perplexed searching, to fall back upon the principles that decide our conduct-that is essential to all successful and victorious Christian life.

And it is the secret of all blessed Christian life. For there is a lovely echo of these vigorous words of command to Joshua in a very much more peaceful form in the 1st Psalm: ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, . . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night’-the very words that are employed in the text to describe the duty of the soldier-therefore ‘all that he doeth shall prosper.’

III. That leads to the last thought here-the sure victory of such bold obedience.

‘Thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest’; ‘Thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success,’ or, as the last word might be rendered, ‘then shalt thou act wisely’ You may not get victory from an earthly point of view, for many a man that lives strong and courageous and joyfully obeying God’s law, as far as he knows it and because he loves the Lawgiver, goes through life, and finds that, as far as the world’s estimate is concerned, there is nothing but failure as his portion. Ah I but the world’s way is not the true way of estimating victory. ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,’ said Jesus Christ when within arm’s-length of the Cross. And His way is the way in which we must conquer the world, if we conquer it at all. The success which my text means is the carrying out of conscientious convictions of God’s will into practice. That is the only success that is worth talking about or looking for. The man that succeeds in obeying and translating God’s will into conduct is the victor, whatever be the outward fruits of his life. He may go out of the field beaten, according to the estimate of men that can see no higher than their own height, and little further than their own finger tips can reach; he may himself feel that the world has gone past him, and that he has not made much of it; he may have to lie down at last unknown, poor, with all his bright hopes that danced before him in childhood gone, and sore beaten by the enemies; but if he is able to say in the strength that Christ gives, ‘I have finished my course; I have kept the faith,’ his ‘way has prospered,’ and he has had’ good success.’ ‘We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.’

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Joshua Directed and Encouraged. B. C. 1451.

1Now 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, 2Moses my servant is dead now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Honour is here put upon Joshua, and great power lodged in his hand, by him that is the fountain of honour and power, and by whom kings reign. Instructions are given him by Infinite Wisdom, and encouragements by the God of all consolation. God had before spoken to Moses concerning him (Numbers 27:18), but now he speaks to him (Joshua 1:1), probably as he spoke to Moses (Leviticus 1:1) out of the tabernacle of the congregation, where Joshua had with Moses presented himself (Deuteronomy 31:14), to learn the way of attending there. Though Eleazar had the breast-plate of judgment, which Joshua was directed to consult as there was occasion (Numbers 27:21), yet, for his greater encouragement, God here speaks to him immediately, some think in a dream or vision (as Job 33:15) for though God has tied us to instituted ordinances, in them to attend him, yet he has not tied himself to them, but that he may without them make himself known to his people, and speak to their hearts otherwise than by their ears. Concerning Joshua's call to the government observe here,

I. The time when it was given him: After the death of Moses. As soon as ever Moses was dead, Joshua took upon him the administration, by virtue of his solemn ordination in Moses's life-time. An interregnum, though but for a few days, might have been of bad consequence but it is probable that God did not speak to him to go forward towards Canaan till after the thirty days of mourning for Moses were ended not, as the Jews say, because the sadness of his spirit during those days unfitted him for communion with God (he sorrowed not as one that had no hope), but by this solemn pause, and a month's adjournment of the public councils, even now when time was so very precious to them, God would put an honour upon the memory of Moses, and give time to the people not only to lament their loss of him, but to repent of their miscarriages towards him during the forty years of his government.

II. The place Joshua had been in before he was thus preferred. He was Moses's minister, that is, an immediate attendant upon his person and assistant in business. The LXX. translates it hypourgos, a workman under Moses, under his direction and command. Observe, 1. He that was here called to honour had been long bred to business. Our Lord Jesus himself took upon him the form of a servant, and then God highly exalted him. 2. He was trained up in subjection and under command. Those are fittest to rule that have learnt to obey. 3. He that was to succeed Moses was intimately acquainted with him, that he might fully know his doctrine and manner of life, his purpose and long-suffering (2 Timothy 3:10), might take the same measures, walk in the same spirit, in the same steps, having to carry on the same work. 4. He was herein a type of Christ, who might therefore be called Moses's minister, because he was made under the law and fulfilled all the righteousness of it.

III. The call itself that God gave him, which is very full.

1. The consideration upon which he was called to the government: Moses my servant is dead, Joshua 1:2. All good men are God's servants and it is no disparagement, but an honour, to the greatest of men to be so: angels themselves are his ministers. Moses was called to extraordinary work, was a steward in God's house, and in the discharge of the trusts reposed in him he served not himself but God who employed him he was faithful as a servant, and with an eye to the Son, as is intimated, Hebrews 3:5, where what he did is said to be for a testimony of the things that should be spoken after. God will own his servants, will confess them in the great day. But Moses, though God's servant, and one that could ill be spared, is dead for God will change hands, to show that whatever instruments he uses he is not tied to any. Moses, when he has done his work as a servant, dies and goes to rest from his labours, and enters into the joy of his Lord. Observe, God takes notice of the death of his servants. It is precious in his sight, Psalm 116:15.

2. The call itself. Now therefore arise. (1.) "Though Moses is dead, the work must go on therefore arise, and go about it." Let not weeping hinder sowing, nor the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours for, when God has work to do, he will either find or make instruments fit to carry it on. Moses the servant is dead, but God the Master is not: he lives for ever. (2.) "Because Moses is dead, therefore the work devolves upon thee as his successor, for hereunto thou wast appointed. Therefore there is need of thee to fill up his place up, and be doing." Note, [1.] The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be so much the more diligent in doing good. Such and such are dead, and we must die shortly, therefore let us work while it is day. [2.] It is a great mercy to a people, if, when useful men are taken away in the midst of their usefulness, others are raised up in their stead to go on where they broke off. Joshua must arise to finish what Moses began. Thus the latter generations enter into the labours of the former. And thus Christ, our Joshua, does that for us which could never be done by the law of Moses,--justifies (Acts 13:39), and sanctifies, Romans 8:3. The life of Moses made way for Joshua, and prepared the people for what was to be done by him. Thus the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ: and then the death of Moses made room for Joshua thus we are dead to the law, our first husband, that we may be married to Christ, Romans 7:4.

3. The particular service he was now called out to: "Arise, go over this Jordan, this river which you have in view, and on the banks of which you lie encamped." This was a trial to the faith of Joshua, whether he would give orders to make preparation for passing the river when there was no visible way of getting over it, at least not at this place and at this time, when all the banks were overflown, Joshua 3:15. He had no pontoons or bridge of boats by which to convey them over, and yet he must believe that God, who had ordered them over, would open a way for them. Going over Jordan was going into Canaan thither Moses might not, could not, bring them, Deuteronomy 31:2. Thus the honour of bringing the many sons to glory is reserved for Christ the captain of our salvation, Hebrews 2:10.

4. The grant of the land of Canaan to the children of Israel is here repeated (Joshua 1:2-4): I do give it them. To the patriarchs it was promised, I will give it but, now that the fourth generation had expired, the iniquity of the Amorites was full, and the time had come for the performance of the promise, it is actually conveyed, and they are put in possession of that which they had long been in expectation of: "I do give it, enter upon it, it is all your own nay (Joshua 1:3), I have given it though it be yet unconquered, it is as sure to you as if it were in your hands." Observe, (1.) The persons to whom the conveyance is made: To them, even to the children of Israel (Joshua 1:2), because they are the seed of Jacob, who was called Israel at the time when this promise was made to him, Genesis 35:10,12. The children of Israel, though they had been very provoking in the wilderness, yet, for their fathers' sakes, should have the entail preserved. And it was the children of the murmurers that God said should enter Canaan, Numbers 14:31. (2.) The land itself that is conveyed: From the river Euphrates eastward, to the Mediterranean Sea westward, Joshua 1:4. Though their sin cut them short of this large possession, and they never replenished all the country within the bounds here mentioned, yet, had they been obedient, God would have given them this and much more. Out of all these countries, and many others, there were in process of time proselytes to the Jewish religion, as appears, Acts 2:5, &c. If their church was enlarged, though their nation was not multiplied, it cannot be said that the promise was of no effect. And, if this promise had not its full accomplishment in the letter, believers might thence infer that it had a further meaning, and was to be fulfilled in the kingdom of the Messiah, both that of grace and that of glory. (3.) The condition is here implied upon which this grant is made, in those words, as I said unto Moses, that is, "upon the terms that Moses told you of many a time, if you will keep my statutes, you shall go in and possess that good land. Take it under those provisos and limitations, and not otherwise." The precept and promise must not be separated. (4.) It is intimated with what ease they should gain the possession of this land, if it were not their own fault, in these words, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon (within the following bounds) shall be your own. Do but set your foot upon it and you have it."

5. The promises God here makes to Joshua for his encouragement. (1.) That he should be sure of the presence of God with him in this great work to which he was called (Joshua 1:5): "As I was with Moses, to direct and strengthen him, to own and prosper him, and give him success in bringing Israel out of Egypt and leading them through the wilderness, so I will be with thee to enable thee to settle them in Canaan." Joshua was sensible how far he came short of Moses in wisdom and grace But what Moses did was done by virtue of the presence of God with him, and, though Joshua had not always the same presence of mind that Moses had, yet, if he had always the same presence of God, he would do well enough. Note, it is a great comfort to the rising generation of ministers and Christians that the same grace which was sufficient for those that went before them shall not be wanting to them if they be not wanting to themselves in the improvement of it. It is repeated here again (Joshua 1:9). "The Lord thy God is with thee as a God of power, and that power engaged for thee whithersoever thou goest." Note, Those that go where God sends them shall have him with them wherever they go and they need desire no more to make them easy and prosperous. (2.) That the presence of God should never be withdrawn from him: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, Joshua 1:5. Moses had assured him of this (Deuteronomy 31:8), that, though he must now leave him, God never would: and here God himself confirms that word of his servant Moses (Isaiah 44:26), and engages never to leave Joshua. We need the presence of God, not only when we are beginning our work to set us in, but in the progress of it to further us with a continual help. If that at any time fail us, we are gone this we may be sure, that the Lord is with us while we are with him. This promise here made to Joshua is applied to all believers, and improved as an argument against covetousness, Hebrews 13:5, Be content with such things as you have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee. (3.) That he should have victory over all the enemies of Israel (Joshua 1:5): There shall not any man that comes against thee be able to stand before thee. Note, There is no standing before those that have God on their side. If he be for us, who can be against us? God promises him clear success--the enemy should not make any head against him and constant success--all the days of his life. However it might be with Israel when he was gone, all his reign should be graced with triumphs. What Joshua had himself encouraged the people with long ago (Numbers 14:9) God here encourages him with. (4.) That he should himself have the dividing of this land among the people of Israel, Joshua 1:6. It was a great encouragement to him in beginning this work that he was sure to see it finished and his labour should not be in vain. Some make it a reason why he should arm himself with resolution, and be of good courage, because of the bad character of the people whom he must cause to inherit that land. He knew well what a froward discontented people they were, and how unmanageable they had been in his predecessor's time let him therefore expect vexation from them and be of good courage.

6. The charge or command he gives to Joshua, which is,

(1.) That he conform himself in every thing to the law of God, and make this his rule Joshua 1:7,8. God does, as it were, put the book of the law into Joshua's hand as, when Joash was crowned, they gave him the testimony, 2 Kings 11:12. And concerning this book he is charged, [1.] To meditate therein day and night, that he might understand it and have it ready in him upon all occasions. If ever any man's business might have excused him from meditation, and other acts of devotion, one would think Joshua's might at this time. It was a great trust that was lodged in his hands the care of it was enough to fill him, if he had had ten souls, and yet he must find time and thoughts for meditation. Whatever affairs of this world we have to mind, we must not neglect the one thing needful. [2.] Not to let it depart out of his mouth that is, all his orders to the people, and his judgments upon appeals made to him, must be consonant to the law of God upon all occasions he must speak according to this rule, Isaiah 8:20. Joshua was to maintain and carry on the work that Moses had begun, and therefore he must not only complete the salvation Moses had wrought for them, but must uphold the holy religion he had established among them. There was no occasion to make new laws but that good thing which was committed to him he must carefully and faithfully keep, 2 Timothy 1:14. [3.] He must observe to do according to all this law. To this end he must meditate therein, not for contemplation sake only, or to fill his head with notions, or that he might find something to puzzle the priests with, but that he might, both as a man and as a magistrate, observe to do according to what was written therein and several things were written there which had particular reference to the business he had now before him, as the laws concerning their wars, the destroying of the Canaanites and the dividing of Canaan &c. these he must religiously observe. Joshua was a man of great power and authority, yet he must himself be under command and do as he is bidden. No man's dignity or dominion, how great soever, sets him above the law of God. Joshua must not only govern by law, and take care that the people observed the law, but he must observe it himself, and so by his own example maintain the honour and power of it. First, He must do what was written. It is not enough to hear and read the word, to commend and admire it, to know and remember it, to talk and discourse of it, but we must do it. Secondly, He must do according to what was written, exactly observing the law as his copy, and doing, not only that which was there required, but in all circumstances according to the appointment. Thirdly, He must do according to all that was written, without exception or reserve, having a respect to all God's commandments, even those which are most displeasing to flesh and blood. Fourthly, He must observe to do so, observe the checks of conscience, the hints of providence and all the advantages of opportunity. Careful observance is necessary to universal obedience. Fifthly, He must not turn from it, either in his own practice or in any act of government, to the right hand or to the left, for there are errors on both hands, and virtue is in the mean. Sixthly, He must be strong and courageous, that he might do according to the law. So many discouragements there are in the way of duty that those who will proceed and persevere in it must put on resolution. And, lastly, to encourage him in his obedience, he assures him that then he shall do wisely (as it is in the margin) and make his way prosperous, Joshua 1:7,8. Those that make the word of God their rule, and conscientiously walk by that rule, shall both do well and speed well it will furnish them with the best maxims by which to order their conversation (Psalm 111:10) and it will entitle them to the best blessings: God shall give them the desire of their heart.

(2.) That he encourage himself herein with the promise and presence of God, and make these his stay (Joshua 1:6): Be strong and of a good courage. And again (Joshua 1:7), as if this was the one thing needful: Only be strong and very courageous. And he concludes with this (Joshua 1:9): Be strong and of a good courage be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed. Joshua had long since signalized his valour, in the war with Amalek, and in his dissent from the report of the evil spies and yet God sees fit thus to inculcate this precept upon him. Those that have grace have need to be called upon again and again to exercise grace and to improve in it. Joshua was humble and low in his own eyes, not distrustful of God, and his power, and promise, but diffident of himself, and of his own wisdom, and strength, and sufficiency for the work, especially coming after so great a man as Moses and therefore God repeats this so often, "Be strong and of a good courage let not the sense of thy own infirmities dishearten thee God is all-sufficient. Have not I commanded thee?" [1.] "I have commanded the work to be done, and therefore it shall be done, how invincible soever the difficulties may seem that lie in the way." Nay, [2.] "I have commanded, called, and commissioned, thee to do it, and therefore will be sure to own thee, and strengthen thee, and bear thee out in it." Note, When we are in the way of our duty we have reason to be strong and very courageous and it will help very much to animate and embolden us if we keep our eye upon the divine warrant, hear God saying, "Have not I commanded thee? I will therefore help thee, succeed thee, accept thee, reward thee." Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God and the commandment he had received from his Father, John 10:18.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Joshua is to make the law of God his rule. He is charged to meditate therein day and night, that he might understand it. Whatever affairs of this world we have to mind, we must not neglect the one thing needful. All his orders to the people, and his judgments, must be according to the law of God. Joshua must himself be under command; no man's dignity or dominion sets him above the law of God. He is to encourage himself with the promise and presence of God. Let not the sense of thine own infirmities dishearten thee; God is all-sufficient. I have commanded, called, and commissioned thee to do it, and will be sure to bear thee out in it. When we are in the way of duty, we have reason to be strong and very bold. Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God, and the commandment from his Father.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Shall not depart out of thy mouth, i.e. thou shalt constantly read it, and upon occasion discourse of it, and the sentence which shall come out of thy mouth shall in all things be given according to this rule.

Meditate therein, i.e. diligently study, and frequently and upon all occasions consider what is God’s will and thy duty. The greatness of thy place and employments shall not hinder thee from this work, because this is the only rule of all thy private actions and public administrations.

According to all that is written therein; whereby he teacheth him that it is his duty to see with his own eyes, and to understand the mind and law of God himself, and not blindly to follow what any other should advise him to.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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.”

The idea here is of learning by heart and then constant spoken repetition (they could not carry written books around in their pockets for the ‘books’ were bulky and not portable). Day and night he was constantly to take the opportunity of repeating to himself the memorised word of God, and that with the aim of observing all that was in it. It is fine to rejoice in the promises of God, but we must also take careful note of the instructions of God.

The result will be success in what we do. Joshua’s success would depend on his knowledge of and submission to the word of God.

“This book of the law.” See Deuteronomy 28:58; Deuteronomy 28:61; Deuteronomy 29:21; Deuteronomy 30:10. Reference is to ‘the book of the law’ written down either by Moses or under his supervision. It may well be that Joshua had obtained the book from those responsible for watching over it for the very purpose of meditating on it. It was probably written on papyrus brought from Egypt, or possibly on leather. (He may have written it himself on Moses’ instructions).

“Meditate in it day and night.” A thought taken up by the Psalmist in Psalms 1:2. If we would succeed with God we must meditate regularly on His word and ensure that we live out every word of it.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

I. Joshua's Commission; Preparation for the Passage of the Jordan.—This chapter does not call for much comment. It is, for the most part, an introduction to the whole book from a Deuteronomic writer. There may have been a Deuteronomic account of the conquest of the land which the compiler of our book used, but more probably the old narrative of JE was taken over by the Deuteronomist, who managed to superimpose his own views by means of an introduction and various additions. These additions are very considerable; hardly any chapters have escaped.

Joshua 1:4. The boundaries of the land are strangely indicated, and the passage should no doubt read, From the wilderness in the south to Lebanon; and from the river Euphrates to the western sea (i.e. the Mediterranean) shall be your border"—or rather, territory. In reality, the kingdom never extended as far as this from E. to W., though the N. and S. boundaries would hold good for David's time.

. See Numbers 32.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Jos . Every place that the sole] Every place against which your faith and courage lead you to go up, shall be yours. Your inheritance in the land shall have no limits but those set by your own unbelief and fears. As far as you will tread, you shall possess.

Jos . Be strong and firm—(Schroeder)] "The words signify not firmness and strength in general, but the strength in the hands and the firmness in the knees, Isa 35:3, cf. Heb 12:12-13" (J. H. Michaelis).



In the service of God—

I. There is no honour without work. Joshua is placed at the head of the host, not merely to be a chief, but a leader. "Every place" must be won. Israel must go up against each. The sole of the foot must tread, and that often in the tramp of battle, wherever the people would inherit. And the man who is at their head must lead them to the war. He, too, must divide the inheritance for them. Not least, he must "meditate day and night" in the law; for how shall he secure obedience if he be ignorant of that which is to be obeyed? Leading in such a case means arduous toil, perpetual care, ceaseless interest, and unrest. There can be no honour in the mere position. Idleness there would be simply exalted shame and prominent disgrace. It is always thus. The height of our position is the measure either of our honour or dishonour, according to the work done. High position is vantage ground for work, not rest. It is so socially, ecclesiastically, mentally, and even morally. He who climbs high in order to lie down, only exposes his slothfulness. He may lie more quietly in altitudes which the din of honest labour does not reach; for all that, he is simply a conspicuous sluggard.

II. There is no work without encouragement. The whole passage is emphatic with promise. Wherever God gives arduous duties. He supplies bright hopes. Probably there is no position in which humanity ever stood, saving that of impenitence and persistent sin, which has not its own specific illumination in the Scripture promises. The day has its sun, the night its moon and stars, and even the arctic zone its aurora borealis. God's love has beams of light strong enough to reach every spot in that part of the sphere of moral being where His name is had in reverence. Scripture has light for the darkness of penitence, of labour, of suffering in all its forms, of bereavement, and of death.

1. Our gloom and darkness are not essentials of life. He who supposes they are must begin by assuming the light of Divine encouragement to be insufficient.

2. Our gloom and darkness are not desirable. They cannot be; God has sought to remove them in every form.

3. Our gloom and darkness are of our own choosing. Our Heavenly Father has provided light for all who seek light, and invites all to walk therein.

4. Our gloom and darkness are harmful and sinful. They prevent our work, discourage others, shew our neglect of the Bible, or they shew that reading and meditating we do not believe.

III. There is no encouragement apart from obedience. (Jos ; Jos 1:9.) In the sphere of moral life wicked men always walk opposite to the Sun of righteousness, and thus are ever in the night. In order to be strong for conflict, Joshua is to be strong in the comfort of hope; in order to be strong in hope, he is to be strong in obedience.

1. He who disobeys the precepts has no right to the promises. It is as though a child should steadfastly ignore his father's wishes, and then presume upon his unrestrained gifts and his undiminished love.

2. He who disobeys the precepts lacks the spirit which alone can use the promises. Lax obedience shews lax faith, and promise yields its value only to trust. Lax obedience shews lax interest, and no man can really delight where he is careless.

IV. There can be no sufficient obedience without meditation. (Jos .) We are responsible, not only to do what we know, but to know what there is to be known. The ambassador who refused to open the despatches of his government would plead ignorance in vain. When Nelson shut his eye against his admiral's signal, he was none the less guilty of disobedience. Men may neglect to read the Scriptures, and then say, "I knew not that I transgressed," but the very ignorance which they plead is an aggravated form of guilt. God complains of Ephraim, "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing."

V. There can be no satisfactory meditation which does not centre in God Himself. (Jos .) "Have not I commanded thee?" We must look through the written word up to God, whom it is meant to reveal. We must look through all revelation on to Him. The Bible is light on God. The miracles of Christ are not recorded to excite wonder, they are to reveal God. It is possible to make Gethsemane, the Lord's Supper, and even the Cross so many superstitions. The brazen serpent became a relic at which men stopped, rather than a memory through which they went on to God. Hezekiah did holy work, then, to break it in pieces, and to call it "Nehushtan." If Christ be not risen again, even Calvary is worthless; "Your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." Gethsemane, the Supper, the Cross, are only good as they reveal the finished atonement and love of the living Saviour, and through Him the pardon and love of God. Riddling all superstitions of mere Bible-reading and formal religion through and through, the living Son of God looks down from heaven, and says to Saul of Tarsus, "That they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified BY FAITH THAT IS IN ME." (Act 26:18.) Faith is to be in the living Christ, not in cold duties and dead things. Trench has somewhere said, "Our blessedness is that Christ does not declare to us a system, and say, ‘This is the truth;' so doing He might have established a school: but He points to a person, even to Himself, and says, ‘I am the Truth;' and thus He founded, not a school, but a Church, a fellowship which stands in its faith upon a person, not in its tenure of a doctrine, or at least upon this only in a sense which is mediate and secondary."



I. They reveal their value only as far as we use them. Where men tread, there shall they inherit. This can only be known by going on in the strength of them. Each says, like its Divine Author, "Prove me now herewith."

II. They have respect to all preceding promises. "As I said unto Moses." "Vested interests." No one promise ignores the property which men may have in another. Christ destroyed nothing of the O.T. Scriptures; He fulfilled them. Nowhere so much as on and around the cross do we read the words, "That the Scripture might be fulfilled."

III. They have regard to all that which might weaken and limit them from without. (Jos .) The boundary had military fitness. Strasbourg and Metz. God loves to give so that we can hold. A Christian with only penitence, only humility, only zeal, must ever be weak,—too weak to stand. He who sets foot on the whole circle of the graces, and inherits them all, has not only a broader and richer possession, but a more secure.

IV. They are not merely general, but personal. "Before thee." They are each for all the people, all for each of the people, and most for him who most needs them.

V. They are as continuous as human want. "All the days of thy life." As good on weekdays as on Sundays; and on sad days as on days of song. Good for all kinds of days, to the end of our days.

VI. They are made clear by illustration, and thrice blessed by precedent. "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." So of all in the Scriptures. Somebody has tried and proved each of them. The increasing value of the Scriptures. The interest of man's experience is ever accumulating on the capital of the written word. The Bible is richer today than it ever was before.

VII. They have their foundation and worth in the Divine character. "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

Jos .

I. God's presence gives perpetual and unvarying victory. Any man may conquer, who fights with the Lord on his side. Victory is then as sure in one place as in another. Pharaoh, Red Sea, Wilderness, or Canaanites,—it matters not which, nor when.

II. God's presence is given irrespective of everything but sin.

1. Irrespective of ability, disposition, or temperament. Men choose their companions in view of traits of character. God walks with all who fear Him. Variety in O.T. prophets. So the apostles.

2. Irrespective of social condition and particular circumstances. The various instances under which this same promise was given: To Jacob, the outcast (Gen ); to "the church in the wilderness" (Deu 31:6); to Joshua as well as Moses; to Solomon, the king, in his work of building the temple (1Ch 28:20); to "the poor and needy" (Isa 41:17); to the persecuted Hebrew Christians (Heb 13:5).

III. God's presence once given is intended to be given for ever. The doctrine is full of consolation—should be as fully received as it is absolutely stated—must be carefully guarded from presumption. He who reverently listens to the cry of Saul, "The Lord is departed from me," or marks with Christian spirit the pitiable weakness of Samson, who "wist not" that he was in like manner left to himself in his deliberate sinfulness, will not rashly blindfold himself with a creed.

"To be forsaken of God implies utter loneliness, utter helplessness, utter friendlessness, utter hopelessness, and unutterable agony."—Met, Tab. Pulpit, Jos ., pp. 603-605.

"Joshua was sensible how far he came short of Moses in wisdom and grace; but what Moses did was done by virtue of the presence of God with him. Joshua, though he had not always the same presence of mind that Moses had, yet if he had always the same presence of God, would do well enough." "What Joshua had himself encouraged the people with long ago (Num ), God here encourageth him with."

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary



These words are principally about courage. Joshua would both need it, and need to shew it, in leading the Israelites into the land of their inheritance. God graciously braces men where they are most liable to fail. It was in this matter of courage that the people had given way already. (Num ; Num 14:1-10.) So Jehovah mercifully strengthens them in their weak place. It is thus that our Father deals with us all through the Bible. He does not fortify us where we are strong, but on the side where our strength is small. Thus Christ dealt with Peter. An earthly parent warns his child of what he knows to be dangers. So God speaks to us. Wherever we come, then, to a warning in the Scriptures, let us remember that it indicates a weakness. It is no mere spiritual talk. Danger lies there. The warning comes from Him whose eye sees farther down the line of our life than we can; and to go heedlessly on means collision, disaster, wounding, and possibly death. God has regard to the bearing of men personally. Napoleon's oversight of men in battle is said to have been remarkable. It is with the infinite discernment of omniscience that the King of kings watches His people, and says to them individually, "I will be with thee." God specially marks the leaders of His people. No officer must fail. Faint-heartedness in them would be doubly a sin.

I. God would have courage to occupy a large place in our characters and lives. It is to cover all the ground, whithersoever we go.

1. Courage is to lead us up to all conflicts that are duties. Joshua is to go against Jericho, whose people have shut themselves within their walls, in fear; against the five confederate kings, to rescue the Gibeonites; against each of the remaining kings. But courage is not to run to foolhardiness; it is to march only in the path of duty. It had nothing to do with revenging itself on old foes in Egypt, or in anticipating future enemies on the other side of the Euphrates.

"A valiant man

Ought not to undergo or tempt a danger,

But worthily, and by selected ways."—B. Jonson.

It is folly that braves the field to which duty makes no call. True courage—courage that said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished," said also, "When ye pray, say.… Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Yet courage never falters before work which ought to be done. Hougomont or Alma, Abyssinia or Ashantee, it matters not which. 2. Courage is to help us to endure when reverses and suffering come. When, through Achan's sin, the Israelites were driven back at Ai, "the hearts of the people melted, and became as water." There are many places in life where soldiers of the cross must be tried by defeat as well as by difficulties. The struggle for maintenance. Family and social reverses. The moral conflict, in which we are to be found "striving against sin." The spiritual warfare, in which, in holy communion, we are to seek to win our way into the presence and mind of Christ.

II. God would see us courageous, because no courage is the same thing as no faith, and "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Almost all who profess religion have the faith of a creed. They believe in certain doctrines. They have, more or less fully outlined, a theological idea of the way to heaven. It is well; but all this is a very small part of what God requires when He asks for our faith. The faith which He seeks is faith in Himself, as always being with His servants to help them; it is faith in His watchfulness, His presence, His love, His purpose, His power; it is faith in victory everywhere through Himself. That is the faith which Jehovah asks, as He sends the Israelites forward to inherit. Probably many will be surprised by-and-by to discern how little God cares for the faith which strives after some particular definition of a creed, rather than after what an apostle calls "the faith of Him." It is against poor trust, not against bad definitions, that the Bible is full of such urgent remonstrance. Does not the Lord allow as much room for definitions as for dispositions? Caleb and Joshua might differ in their understanding of the Passover, or the exact meaning of the service on the Great Day of Atonement; I do not think God would much mind, providing the creed of neither shewed distrust of Him. The Holy Spirit inspires Paul, and also James. No man would care much if, when his child grew up, she differed from him in his views of gardening or poetry; but it would be real pain to him should she doubt his word. There are some creeds which must dishonour God. The denial of the Saviour's divinity shews distrust of God simply on a point of difficulty in comprehension. Praying to images, or to dead Christians through them, is as though a child were to fear failure if it should ask a favour of its parent in person, and were to get a servant to make the entreaty instead. It is the distrust which wounds. There are places where creeds may become fatal, yet not fatal as a matter of discernment and definition, but fatal in their utter want of trust in the Lord. They present the most astounding of all paradoxes—doubt of God formulated into a religion, and then offered as worship. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." When we are tempted to do wrong by the promise of great gain, can we remember God and dare to be true? When temptation promises present pleasure, can we remember our Father's warnings and better promises, and be firm to deny ourselves? When called to lose our best-loved friends or children, can we look into the awful darkness, and rest in His words about their happiness and our own profit? When bidden to teach, or preach, or live the Gospel in the face of bitter enemies who far outnumber us, can we hear Him say, "Lo, I am with you alway," and dare to go on as in the company of that overwhelming majority into which His presence ever multiplies even our solitude? That is the kind of creed about which God so incessantly enquires in the Scriptures. He says almost nothing—perhaps nothing at all—about definitions which touch the judgment without necessarily involving the heart. Instead of always translating "trust" into "faith," as we go forward to inherit, it may be well if we sometimes render it in this old thought of "courage." "Have courage in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "Repent ye, and have courage in the gospel." "Lord, increase our courage." "Have courage in God."

III. Though God desires courage in us all, fear has its proper sphere, and often does holy work.

"The brave man is not he who feels no fear,

For that were stupid and irrational;

But he whose noble soul its fear subdues,

And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from,

As for your youth whom blood and blows delight,

Away with them! there is not in their crew

One valiant spirit."—Joanna Baillie.

God never intended that we should feel no fear. We are to fear and distrust ourselves. We are to fear danger as something beyond our own strength. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And we are to "work out our own salvation in fear and trembling." But all fear, as we look within, is to be stayed in courage as we look up to God. The sin is in giving way when we have omnipotence and infinite love for a defence. No man, then, should say, "I fear," and let that drive him to fear which is yet deeper.

IV. Courage, to bring honour to God, must always be courage for the right and the true.

1. Men admire courage in the abstract. Prize-fighting has drawn multitudes. The mere soldier is sometimes not distinguished from the lofty patriot. Thus, perhaps, the mistake concerning Milton's Satan, in "Paradise Lost." Some critics have complained that Satan is the hero of the work. That is to forget that courage, in itself, is not truly worthy of admiration. Fowls, sheep, bulls, wild beasts, also have courage, and fight unto death.

2. God loves courage only when it is prompted by truth and righteousness. Such courage He always has honoured, and will honour: Daniel; the apostles before the Sanhedrim; Paul. It is said that the King of France summoned the Prince de Conde before him, giving him his choice of three things: "Go to mass, die, or be imprisoned for life." Said the Prince, "With regard to the first, I am fully determined never to go to mass; as to the other two, I am so perfectly indifferent that I leave the choice to your Majesty." We are not called to martyrdom, nor even to imprisonment for the truth's sake; possibly if our apprehension of sin were always what it should be, we should find that whatever courage death might need, life requires even more.

Instead of discoursing on the topic of the passage, the verses may be taken as shewing—


I. The honour which is put upon courage by God.

1. He makes the servant who has courage in Himself His own constant companion. "The Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."

2. He makes the servant who has courage the subject of His peculiar teaching. The entire passage is a special instruction to the man who has already so valiantly, before his fellows, shewn himself afraid to distrust God. Thus "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him."

3. He makes the servant who has courage the instrument of fulfilling His covenant. "The land which I sware unto their fathers, thou shalt divide."

4. He makes the servant who has courage a blessing and a joy to his fellows. Joshua should lead them into the land: instrumentally, their homes and future possessions should come to them from his bravery and his fidelity to God.

II. The influence which is conceded to courage by men. All men own its power.

1. Courage loses no favourable opportunity to begin warfare; fear would miss many an opening.

2. Courage appals its foes before it smites them: it thus needs only half the strength of timidity. The arm which resists it is already feeble by reason of fear.

3. Courage seizes all advantages which are offered in the conflict. Fear is blind, and, till too late, overlooks them.

4. Courage gives no opportunity to the defeated foe to rally. Fear happens to win the day, and sits down surprised and contented, talking of valour. The conflict has to be fought over afresh, and it may be that the battle is then lost.

5. Courage is imperial in itself, and must reign However it may be with the Graces of the ancient classics, the Scripture graces were all "born in purple." Love conquers everywhere. Patience presently wins the day. Humility may seem of lowlier mien, but "The meek shall inherit the earth," and "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Hope, always aspiring, enters already "within the veil." As to courage, "To him that believeth, all things are possible."

III. The strength which courage draws from the Scriptures.

1. To neglect the Bible is to prepare the way for fear and trembling. (a) There can be no sufficient courage without light, and the Bible is "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path." The awe which comes from darkness. (b) There can be no sufficient courage without confidence of being right, and the Bible assures the just man. The hesitation which comes from uncertainty. (c) There can be no sufficient courage without love, and our love is born of knowing the love of God. (d) There can be no sufficient courage without hope, and he who neglects the Bible can have no satisfactory ground of hope.

2. It is not enough to have the Bible, it must be used. (a) The courage that comes from speaking the truth to others: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth." (b) The courage that comes from meditation in the truth: "Thou shalt meditate therein day and night." (c.) The courage that comes from doing the truth: "That thou mayest observe to do all that is written therein."


I. The law of the Scriptures is one with physical law, and he who obeys the Scriptures has physical law for an ally. All life is against that man who is against the Bible; all life is for the man who is obedient to the Bible. Suppose the laws which touch our health worked just the other way; what a curse law would be! Think of drunkenness, lust, crime, and all manner of debauchery as contributing to physical health and gladness; what a world this would become! But law is on the side of godliness, and he who walks with the Bible may sing with Paul, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."

II. The law of the Scriptures is in harmony with the law of conscience, and he who obeys the Scriptures, in that proportion maintains his self-respect, and ultimately wins the regard of men.

1. The relation of conscious integrity to individual bearing. (a) No man can respect himself, who is continually giving the lie to his own sense of right. (b) No man can lose his conscious integrity without proportionately suffering in moral dignity. By so much as he is dishonest to the distinctive feature of his manhood, by so much does he become a mere animal. He cannot stand in the same moral dignity before his fellows. He feels his humiliation.

2. The relation of an honest life to individual influence. Not only does the man who is dishonest to himself feel less before his fellows, but they see him for what he is. The weakness may be too successfully concealed by artifice or habit to awaken reflection, but the measure of every man's moral worth is more or less accurately comprehended by his companions. They may not reason on it; they must apprehend it. Moral life is so much moral light, and the heart of our neighbour feels whether or not it is illuminated in our presence. The earth never mistakes the moon for the sun by shewing daylight at night-time. If the light in us be darkness or merely artifice, our fellow-men cannot be much or long deceived by the imposition. Thus, human sin notwithstanding, the world has ever owned her worthiest sons most proudly. The Pope may do as he will; the world, in her general conscience, and in her history, seldom canonises any but her saints. It is the good man who has "good success." He may not be placed in the Calendar till after his death, but society seldom fails ultimately to correct her temporary errors. Socrates may live thinking that he has only earned hemlock, he may write never a chapter to perpetuate his name, men will be true to his manhood for all that.

Conscience, however, needs the light and encouragement of God's law to keep it in activity. Scripture is the only fireproof in which conscience can enwrap itself to prevent being seared into unfeeling callousness by the burnings of surrounding and inward sin. Thus law and conscience, together, make way for good success in the inheritance which is moral and social.

III. The law of the Scriptures is the mind of God, and he who keeps ever with the law is always where God stoops to whisper, "I am with thee." When God established His commandments in the earth, He bade law, both in the physical and moral worlds, be on the side of goodness. From that day to this, law has never sided with the sinner. But though much of God's help of His children is through law, this is by no means His only method. He adds His direct blessings, and gives His direct help to the obedient. Nothing is written more emphatically in Scripture than this. The deliverance from Egypt, the miracles of the wilderness, the walls of Jericho falling without any cause in ordinary law; the histories given by Samuel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, and other prophets, are full of incidents of Jehovah's direct interposition. The Psalms tell us of the angels that encamp about them that fear the Lord, and both the Old and New Testaments often shew them coming to the guidance, or comfort, or help of the godly. The cross, most emphatically of all, tells of help other than by the automatic method of law, to which modern scientists would tie us. True discipleship not only finds Christ, and cries with Nathanael, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God;" it hears Christ reply of the earthly future, "Hereafter thou shalt see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." The eyes of the obedient see an open heaven even while yet on earth, and life everywhere becomes all but sentient with God. "If God" so "be for us, who can be against us?" Thus does our Father guarantee "good success."


Jos . God never tells us to be strong without helping us to be strong. To encourage His servant to begin this vast work and dreadful war, God shews him how all should end. "Thou shalt divide the land."

Jos . No man's dignity, however great, frees him in any measure from absolute obedience to the Scriptures. Joshua must obey in all things, turning neither "to the right hand nor to the left." Error and sin do not lie merely on one side of the way of truth, but on both: the path of holy obedience is the via media.

"As the soldier of an earthly leader is to act in all things according to certain rules laid down in a code drawn up for the purpose, so the Christian soldier has his code drawn up for him by God Himself, and revealed to him in the oracles of truth. This code he is to study with diligence, that he may conform himself to it in every particular. This will require all the courage that any man can possess."

Jos . "Thou shalt have thy heart so constantly imbued with the letter and spirit of the law, that thy mouth shall, as it were, overflow with its rich contents, as ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' The same phrase occurs but once elsewhere in the Scriptures."

"The Heb. term for ‘meditate' implies that mental kind of rumination which is apt to vent itself in an audible sound of voice." [Bush.]

Jos . The interrogative form of the first clause, so far from suggesting doubt, is expressive of the strongest possible emphasis.

Our Lord continually assured Himself that He had kept the word and followed the will of the Father (cf. Joh ; Joh 6:38). He may even be said to encourage Himself in the thought of His obedience to the will of God. The prayer in John 17 seems full of the comfort of conscious obedience. If the Saviour found this thought grateful and refreshing to Him, how needful is it that we in our weakness shall never stand where we cannot strengthen ourselves by saying, "Has not God commanded me in this thing? Is not the Father with me in His will, as well as by His presence?"

"The Lord never demands anything of men without giving them a promise in return." [Keil.]

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is sweet to the believer to remark, in the instance of one so highly taught, and so greatly favoured in times that were past, how needful notwithstanding past grace, future assistance was. Though Joshua had been so faithful and courageous in the case of the spies, when his faithfulness made him and Caleb stand alone amidst the general murmur, yet grace is wanted afresh for every new occasion. Dearest Jesus! do thou supply my soul anew from thy fullness every day, for every day, and all the day, I need thy support. Say to me as to thy servant: 2 Corinthians 12:9.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 1:8-9. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth — That is, thou shalt constantly read it, and upon occasion discourse of it, and the sentence which shall come out of thy month, shall in all things be given according to this rule. Day and night — That is, diligently study, and upon all occasions consider what is God’s will and thy duty. The greatness of thy place and employments shall not hinder thee from this work, because this is the only rule of thy private actions and public administrations. I command thee — I whom thou art obliged to obey: I who can carry thee through every thing I put thee upon: I of whose faithfulness and almighty power thou hast had great experience!

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Joshua 1:7-9. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

IN an address to Joshua, when about to invade a country “wherein were seven nations greater and mightier than he,” we might well expect a charge to him to “be strong and very courageous:” but we should naturally suppose, that the exhortation to fortitude would have respect chiefly, if not exclusively, to the enemies whom he was about to encounter: whereas his enemies are left, as it were, altogether out of sight; and no notice is taken but of the Law of God, as that towards which his courage should be exercised. But, as all his success depended entirely upon God, it was indispensably necessary that he should secure the divine favour; which could not be done but by an obedience to God’s commands: and an unreserved obedience to them would, in fact, require in him a stronger principle of courage, than the most formidable enemies would give occasion for. In confirmation of this, I will shew,

I. Wherein the fortitude of a Christian soldier should chiefly display itself—

He is to contend with all the enemies of his salvation, in obedience to the laws of God—

[The world, the flesh, and the devil, are the enemies with whom he is to fight — — — Now, a soldier in the army of an earthly prince is to act in all things according to certain rules, which are laid down for him in a code of laws drawn up for that specific purpose: these are called the Articles of War; and with them he is to be conversant, in order that he may conform himself to them in all things. The Christian soldier, also, has his code drawn up for him by God himself, and revealed to him in the Oracles of Truth. This code he is to study with all diligence, and “to meditate on it day and night,” that there may be in him an accordance with it in every particular. “Never is he to turn aside from it, to the right hand or to the left.” However difficult or self-denying its injunctions, he must obey it: and by it, as a test, must he try all the instruction or advice given to him in relation to his conduct. It must be so sacred in his eyes, that he will die rather than depart from it in any thing. If blamed in any thing, as too scrupulous and too strict, he must refer to that as his standard: “it must be ever in his mouth,” as well as in his heart; and he must inculcate on others the same observance as he pays to it himself.]

And this will require all the courage that any man can possess—

[It will require no little courage so to subdue and mortify all his corrupt inclinations, as to have them brought into subjection to the laws of God. And to maintain such an habit in the midst of an ungodly world, will expose him to the heaviest trials. A man who enlists in an army has but to contend with enemies: but the Christian soldier will have to maintain sore conflicts even with his friends: yea, “his greatest foes will be those of his own household.” Nor is it only for a season, during a few campaigns, that he must fight; but every day, every hour, throughout his whole life. He is never off the field of battle: he is never at liberty to relax his vigilance for a single hour. His armour must be girt upon him day and night. The weapons, too, with which he is assaulted, are formidable in the extreme. Shall it be thought that death alone has its terrors? I scruple not to say, that there are thousands who would find it easier to face a battery of cannon, than to withstand the sneers, and pity, and contempt, and ridicule, of their nearest and dearest friends. Not but that the Christian soldier must be prepared to “resist even unto blood.” If he will not lay down his life for Christ, he cannot be his disciple. And does not this require courage? Worldly soldiers have many things to animate and imbolden them, which the Christian soldier wants. They are surrounded by multitudes, who are engaged in the same contest, and who invigorate one another by their voices and example; but he engages alone, or nearly so, at the point of attack, and at the time that he is most pressed. They are applauded in proportion to their exertions, and commend themselves to the esteem of all who behold them: but the more strenuously the Christian soldier exerts himself, the more is he hated and despised by all who ought to encourage and commend him: and, instead of looking for any reward in this life, he knows that to his dying hour he has no other treatment to expect. Verily, it is not for nought that the Christian soldier is bidden to be strong and very courageous: for there is more need of a principle of fortitude in him, than in any other person under heaven.]

Let us however notice, on the other hand,

II. The encouragement which God himself affords to all who desire to serve him in truth—

As he reminded Joshua of the grounds he had for encouragement, so he would have us to consider,

1. In whose service we are engaged—

[“Have not I commanded thee?” Yes, it is the God of heaven whose battles we fight, and in whose service we are engaged. Were it only an earthly monarch to whom we had devoted ourselves, we ought to serve him with all fidelity: what, then, should we not do for the King of kings, who has not only chosen us to be his soldiers, but has himself taken the field for our sakes, to subdue our enemies, and to deliver us from their assaults? I Contemplate Jehovah as our Covenant-God—contemplate him as assuming our very nature on purpose to fight our battles—rounder him as submitting to death itself, that on the very cross he might “spoil the principalities and powers of hell,” and “lead captivity itself captive.”–This is “the Captain of our salvation” under whom we fight; and shall not that encourage us? Suppose the whole universe combined against us, and issuing their orders that we shall not obey so strictly the laws of God; what reply should we make, but that of the Apostles, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but fulfil his will and execute His commands.”]

2. The pledge he gives us of his presence and support—

[“Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest,” said the Lord to Joshua: and says he not the same to us, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world [Note: Matthew 28:20.]?” Now, imagine a soldier with his commander and his prince always at his side: would he not be stirred up by that to acts of valour, which, in the absence of such a stimulus, he would be unable to put forth? Know, then, that your God is ever with you; and with you, not only as a Witness of your actions, but as a Helper, to strengthen you, to uphold you, to combat with you. What encouragement can you desire beyond this? Hear his own words, addressed to every soldier in his army: “Fear not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isaiah 41:10.].” What matters it, then, how many there may be against you? If they were as numerous as the sands upon the sea-shore, you may boldly say, “There are more with you than with them.” In fact, “If God be for you, who can be against you?” They may assault you, and boast of their triumphs; but they can do nothing, but in accordance with his will, and in subserviency to his designs.]

3. The assurance he gives us of ultimate success—

[“Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success.” You are persecuted: you are imprisoned; you are put to death: but are you vanquished? Was the Saviour overcome when he was put to death? Did he not “by death overcome him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage?” “He was the stone which the builders rejected: but, is he not the Headstone in the corner?” Know, then, that you are not to estimate victory by the present and temporary effects, but by the ultimate and everlasting results. Be it so: you are sorely oppressed, and your enemies are exulting over you: but God’s word is not broken: for tribulation is the way to glory; and the cross precedes the crown. Only be content to suffer with Christ; and be assured you shall speedily be “glorified together [Note: Romans 8:17.].”]


1. Let none expect victory without conflicts—

[What shall we say of the religion of your enemies? Has it any resemblance to the religion of the Bible? Are they hated for righteousness’ sake? No: the world cannot hate them, because they are of the world. You, on the contrary, are hated purely because you will conform yourselves to the laws of God. Be thankful, then, that ye have this evidence that ye are the Lord’s.]

2. Let none doubt of victory, who fight in dependence on the Lord’s strength, and in conformity to his commands—

[Be strong, and very courageous to do his will — — —But take special care what kind of fortitude it is that you maintain. There is an unhallowed boldness, which savours of pride and vain-glory. You cannot be too much on your guard against this. Yours must be a passive fortitude, such as Christ manifested when “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth.” You are to “love your enemies, to bless them that curse you, and to pray for them that despitefully use you.” “You are not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.” In you are to be seen “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Only fight with these weapons, and, “even though ye be slain like sheep, ye shall be more than conquerors [Note: Romans 8:36-37.].”]

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 1:1-9

NOW after the death of Moses . . . the Lord spake unto Joshua.

The death of the old lawgiver

I. The death of Moses was ushered in by no decay.

In this respect it was a striking exception to the rule. His mental vigour wan unimpaired when he passed away. We have evidence of this in that wonderful book of Deuteronomy, which Jesus loved to ponder and to quote. Witness also the grand swan-song into which he bursts before its close, pouring forth the sum and substance of all his warnings and exhortations in a flood of molten emotion. Witness the beatitudes that follow, wherein the seer pierces with prophetic eye the dark future and perceives the final consummation, when Jehovah shall remove all iniquity from Israel and write His law upon their hearts. Surely such exercises as these betoken a mind in a state of the highest vigour and activity. And as it was with the mind so was it with the body. Moses had no look of a dying man as he left the camp and climbed to Nebo’s brow; no painful and protracted illness, no decrepit old age. What a blessed exodus was this; more a translation than a death. An active, useful, holy life; a speedy death--could there be a greater blessing if we have to die?

II. The death of Moses was embittered by no regret. Moses was not dragged up that hill unwillingly, like a malefactor to his doom. There was no indulgence in rebellious sentiment and anxiety; no nervous and fearful activity in winding up the affairs of life; but contrariwise, there was profound, calm, and courageous submission to the Divine will. In good time let us honestly face all the possible sorrow and disappointment, and learn, like him, to overcome through faith, obedience, and humility.

III. His death was darkened by no dismay. Of all the multitude in Israel that loved him, not one was with him. Alone, alone, alone, he has passed into the presence of his Maker. Yes, and we too, whatever the circumstances of our end, however tender and unsleeping the ministry of loving hearts and gentle hands that soothes our dying moments, alone must enter death’s dark door and be ushered into the presence of our God. Alone, yet not unfriended, if we know Jesus who is there; alone, yet undismayed, if like Moses we trust in Him, for He has said, “I will be with thee.”

IV. The death of Moses was brightened by great consolation. (A. B. Mackay.)

Death enters into God’s plans

Joshua must succeed Moses and be God’s servant as he was. He must aim at this as the one distinction of his life; he must seek in every action to know what God would have him to do. Happy man if he can carry out this ideal of life! No conflicting interests or passions will distract his soul. The power that nerves his arm will not be more remarkable than the peace that dwells in his soul. He will show to all future generations the power of a “lost will,” not the suppression of all desire, according to the Buddhist’s idea of bliss, but all lawful natural desires in happy and harmonious action, because subject to the wise, holy, and loving guidance of the will of God. Thus we see among the other paradoxes of His government how God uses death to promote life. The death of the eminent, the aged, the men of brilliant gifts makes way for others, and stimulates their activity and growth. When the champion of the forest falls the younger trees around it are brought more into contact with the sunshine and fresh air, and push up into taller and more fully developed forms. In many ways death enters into God’s plans. Not only does it make way for the younger men, but it has a solemnizing and quickening effect on all who are not hardened and dulled by the wear and tear of life. What a memorable event in the spiritual history of families is the first sudden affliction, the first breach in the circle of loving hearts! First, the new experience of intense tender longing, baffled by the inexorable conditions of death; then the vivid vision of eternity, the reality of the unseen flashing on them with living and awful power, and giving an immeasurable importance to the question of salvation; then the drawing closer to one another, the forswearing of all animosities and jealousies, the cordial desire for unbroken peace and constant co-operation; and if it be the father or the mother that has been taken, the ambition to be useful--to be a help, not a burden, to the surviving parent, and to do what little they can of what used to be their father’s or their mother’s work. Death becomes actually a quickener of the vital energies; instead of a withering influence, it drops like the gentle dew, and becomes the minister of life. (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Death makes room for others

And some great names must be removed to make way for lesser names that have growing sap in them and real capability of beneficent expansion. Some great trees must be cut down to make room for lesser trees that mean to be great ones in their time. We owe much to the cutting-down power of death, the clearing power of the cruel scythe or axe. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Onward, through, and over

Moses was dead. His work was done. It was rounded off so far as he was concerned, and so he went to his reward. There is a lesson of no small importance to you and me. Our business is to do the duty that lies next us. That duty may only seem to be a fragment of what we desire to accomplish, but it is all we are answerable for, and to do our portion well is to stand clear with conscience and with God. In the construction of a door, one man makes the panels, another makes the frame, another fits it together, and a fourth hangs it by its hinges. The panel maker has a very imperfect portion of the work to show as the result of his toil, but he has done his part and fulfilled his mission whether the door ever swings in its place or no. Your business and mine is to fulfil the injunction, whether in our daily toil, in the training of our children, in the work of the Church or whatever other duty may fall to us--“Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Our hearts may find to do a good deal more; if our hand cannot find the opportunity to work out the heart’s desire, we are accepted for what we have done and what we would do and cannot; and whatever and how-much soever remains undone, we shall ascend, like Moses, to our own Mount Nebo and die in a flood of rosy light with Canaan before our eyes and God’s “Well done” sounding in our ears. The man who carries the hod of mortar up the ladder does not lay a single brick, but in his measure his service is essential and as worthy as the architect that planned the building, or the mason that rears its walls. From this point of view, servant is a grander name than seraph or archangel, for what would these be if they did not serve or stand and wait? Their wings would droop and their celestial glory would be quenched in night. “Moses’ minister.” That is what Joshua is called. It is another word for servant. He ministered to, that is, he served Moses; and herein lies another lesson, for he was thereby a servant also of the Lord. He who well serves the Lord’s servant serves that servant’s Master, and He says, “Ye did it unto Me.” Oh for a full and perfect measure of this rich interchange, this interlinking of lives and sympathies, servants of each other, vying in a holy rivalry as to who shall be the lowliest, readiest, willingest servant of the servants of the Lord! “Spake to Joshua.” Joshua was born when Moses was an exile and a stranger hidden for his life among the wilds of Midian. There’s another lesson of great value in this. It did not seem likely then, did it? that Moses should ever be a leader of men, the emancipator of a nation. Providence sees and plans for a long time ahead of our to-day, and holds in reserve agents and forces that we cannot see; and because we cannot see them we doubt and question and in the face of the unlikely we say, “It cannot be.” That solitary pale-faced and half starved monk in a German cell; how is he to shake all Europe and make the Pope tremble on his throne? There is nothing more unlikely: and yet Frederic, Prince of Saxony, is being placed by God upon his throne to be a ready and brave helper when the time came; and before Luther left his cell, Providence had sprung upon the world the printing press, which was to be Luther’s deadliest artillery. God’s plans are laid; His movements are in process, and for the fulfilment of every purpose that He cherisheth there shall come the hour and the man. Now mark, that this is true in our own individual history and experience. Every humble and trustful disciple of the Lord Jesus is the ward of Divine Providence. Listen: “The God of my mercy shall prevent me”; that is, shall go before me, You look forward with an anxious eye and heart to some possible contingency, and say, “It is sure to happen.” Time passes, and perhaps it does happen; but you find that meanwhile God hath stationed at that point something or somebody that acts as a buffer to the blow, and although your Moses may fail you at your need, some Joshua comes in to fill the gap and meet the need of the moment to the full. “Therefore arise.” There is an old saying that there is much virtue in an “if”; it appears to me that there is much virtue in this word “therefore.” Moses is dead, therefore arise. Remembering who Moses was and how entirely Moses was depended on, it would seem more natural to say, “Therefore lie still; this is a blow from which you cannot recover.” When he was alive you often asked him to take you back to Egypt for safety’s sake. Now that he is dead, you had better take yourselves back, for if you are not drowned in an attempt to pass the river, the Canaanites will dig your graves on the other side. Now is not that the kind of “therefore” with which the Church of God is sadly familiar, and with which those who have relationship with faint-hearted people have a saddening acquaintance? A stay and pillar of the Church dies or removes, “therefore nothing can be done; what can we do without him?” Here is a man who starts in business. Things do not advance as he wishes. He therefore must shut up his shop, be content to collapse. Surely that logic will be laughed at. Well, do not let us hear it in the Church; do not let us say it in presence of our obstacles. If the axe is blunt, grip it with both hands and put more strength into the blow. No fretting, no retreating, no conferring with doubts and fears. Is Moses dead? Therefore arise! Cross hands over the dead hero’s coffin, and vow to Heaven to take his name as a new watchword, and to cross the Jordan while the earth is still fresh upon his grave. “Go over this Jordan.” In measuring the chances of doing a thing you must take into account who orders it. It was Napoleon who said to the French army, “Go over the Alps.” It would not have been done under anybody else’s guidance. It was God that said to Joshua, “Go over this Jordan.” Then though it be as deep as the sea, though it swirl like a whirlpool, though it rush like Niagara, he will go to yonder side. There is just one other lesson that I would fain gather from these suggestive words--“The land which I do give them.” First, God had said to them while in Egypt, “The land which I will give them.” Oh! what weary years of waiting followed! At last they had given it up. They said, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Then the lash of the taskmaster fell and silenced them. Now they are in sight of it, and He says, “The land which I do give them.” The promise is in the very act of being fulfilled. By and by the waters parted and let them through, and, as they stand on the plains of Sharon, or lie at rest under the shadow of the hills of Lebanon, God says, “The land which I have given them!’ Mark the tenses, how they change: “I will give, I do give, I have given.” Men and brethren, that is God’s order. He is faithful that promised. (J. J. Wray.)

Dignity of God’s service

The first graveyard which meets the eye in the Moravian cemetery of Herrnhut bears the inscription, “Christian David, the servant of the Lord.” This was in life the high distinction of the humble and apostolic colleague of Count Zinzendorf, and was even recognised by the Imperial Council of Russia when the Moravian carpenter had occasion to appear before it.

Moses and Joshua

Moses’ work ended at Jordan--Joshua’s began at Jordan. History is vested in the life of its representative men, and has in it no gaps. The mantle of Elijah falls on Elisha, and the next generation was provided for before Moses went up into Nebo. Moses wanted to go over Jordan. It seemed to him, most likely, that he died before his time. And yet his work, as we can see it now, was a completed and a nicely-rounded one. His commission was to bring the Hebrews to the Jordan; Joshua’s commission was to bring them over the Jordan and establish them in Canaan. We are to learn from such representative instances that when a man is interested in nothing but to do the work that God sets him, he will never die till the work is done thoroughly and successfully. Among the little servants of God there are no fallen buds, and among the adult servants of God no broken columns. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The new leader

It has been said, “Great men have no successors.” But if we mean by successor one who takes up the work where his predecessor has left it, and develops it according to the Divine ideal, then all men, great and small alike, have successors. As Pascal puts it, “You cannot produce the great man before his time, and you cannot make him die before his time; you cannot displace nor advance him, nor put him back; you cannot continue his existence, and replace him, for he existed only because he had his work to do; he exists no longer, because there is no longer anything for him to do; and to continue him is to continue a useless part.” A worthy successor to the great leader had been found. The Divine choice, a choice which had been revealed to Moses before his death, and which greatly gladdened his heart, had fallen upon Joshua. There were reasons for this choice of Joshua which we do well to consider; for if his preparation for this high place was not so romantic or so miraculous as that of Moses, it was none the less effective and Divine. His training was, like ours, of a more homely pattern.

I. It can scarcely be doubted that Joshua’s lineage had something to do with God’s choice. His parents were slaves, and though the bloody edict enacted in Moses’ infant days had long since been repealed, these serfs had felt to the full the bitterness of bondage. But notwithstanding all, they had not lost faith and hope in God; and we get a glimpse into their souls’ state through the significant name they gave their firstborn. They called him “Hoshea,” that is “Salvation.” Surely their infant’s name is the very echo of their father Jacob’s dying words to Dan, “I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord.” We can well believe that Joshua was brought up in an atmosphere of hope. It is more than likely, from what we know of the habits of the ancient Egyptians, that in a corner of his father’s lowly dwelling stood an object which often excited his childish wonder and curiosity. It was a mummy case, painted all over with strange devices and curious figures, which with its somewhat faded richness presented a strange contrast to the mean furniture of the dwelling. “Within it,” we can easily imagine his mother telling him, “are preserved the bones of Joseph.” “But why do you keep Joseph’s bones?” “Because when he lay dying he gave commandment concerning them,” &c. The child would listen and ponder, and look with new solemnity on that sacred trust; then he might ask, “Mother, was that true which Joseph said when he was dying?” “Yes, my boy.” “Then why do we not go at once--

“‘Mother, oh where is that blissful shore,

Shall we not seek it and weep no more’?”

“We must wait God’s time. We are His people, and He knows what is best.” “Will it be long till that day comes?” “I cannot tell, but I do not think it will be very long, for God said to our great father Abraham that we would go back to it in the fourth generation, and the time must be near.” Thus the influences that surrounded Joshua in his youth must have moulded his character and prepared him for the place he took, first as Moses’ lieutenant, then as leader of Israel; and the assurance of the truth of Joseph’s dying words must have mollified the bitterness of that cruel bondage. Every visitation of judgment would be a confirmation of his faith, and every trial a purifying furnace to remove his dross. He would hear from his father and grandfather, who were elders of the important tribe of Ephraim, the precise particulars of the Divine commission, and while they, with the other elders, were under Moses and Aaron attending to the more difficult and important matters in connection with the proposed Exodus, it is very likely that, following his natural bent of mind, he would be actively employed in attempting to organise the people and prepare them for a simultaneous movement. Thus while this champion first steps into the arena when Israel confronts Amalek, we may well suppose that he had done yeoman’s service before, and his fitness and aptness for his life’s work must have depended in great measure on home surroundings.

II. Joshua’s character had also to do with this choice. Its constituent elements were noble and simple, easily understood and readily appreciated. He was every inch a soldier, brave and manly, simple in habit, straightforward in speech, cool-headed, warm-hearted, energetic, swift in thought and action. He was firm as a rock, true as steel. Nothing could exceed his fidelity. How true was he, above all, to his God! So was he with his master. He never failed Moses. At all times he was jealous for his honour, and would tolerate nothing derogatory to his dignity and authority. He was even true to his enemies. He kept his word and carried out his engagements, in the spirit as well as the letter, though trapped by guile into the making of them. His courage also was of the loftiest kind. It could face not only enemies, but, harder far, misguided friends. Like all noble natures, Joshua was also unselfish, humble, and modest. He had learned to obey, and was therefore fit to command. His patience and hopefulness were also very marked, and much needed in the leader of such a people as Israel. He was able to endure the fatigues of the march as well as the rush of battle, not fainting under the hardships of the weary campaign, but ever on the alert to push every advantage to its utmost limit, and always, by his cheerful bearing and cheery words, keeping up the hearts of the people. He was a leader alert, circumspect, prudent, leaving nothing to chance or the chapter of happy accidents, but doing everything that foresight could suggest for the attainment of the end in view.

III. Joshua’s training had also to do with this choice. When he was put at the head of the people he was no novice. Joshua was the oldest man in the camp with the single exception of Caleb; therefore he was a man of experience and ripened wisdom. We have already spoken about that home school, in which his parents were the teachers. This was the granitic foundation of all his subsequent greatness. He was also taught in the grand and stirring school of the Exodus. Here God Himself was Joshua’s teacher. Great national events have a high educational value. The stimulus of stirring times is deep, formative, and all pervasive. Still another school furnished Joshua with valuable instruction, and that was the camp of Israel. If by the wonders of the Exodus he was taught to know God, by the conduct of Israel he would learn to know man. Day by day he would be learning how to command and lead. Find without doubt the crowning lessons in this long preparatory course would be imparted in the tent of Moses. Moses’ tent was Joshua’s college. And the very fact that he had been associated so long with Moses as his lieutenant would not only prepare himself but also the minds of the people for this change.

IV. This choice of Joshua had also reference to the character of the work that had to be done. The great work now before Israel is to conquer and divide the land. This was a kind of work most congenial to Joshua, and for which he had received special preparation. He is the right man for the present work, as Moses was the right man for the past.

V. Also, this significant choice had reference to the great plan of god in the economy of redemption. “Moses My servant is dead.” Thus said Jehovah. Therefore Moses brought no one into the inheritance. Israel lost sight of him for ever, before they put down a foot in Canaan. If they are to pass over that Jordan, and possess the land, it cannot be under Moses. This act of leadership is deliberately taken out of his hands by God Himself. Surely the lesson is plain to all who know the essence of the gospel. “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight.” The law brings no one into God’s heritage. But what Moses could not do Joshua was raised up to accomplish. If we would enter into God’s inheritance we must turn from Moses and look to Joshua. Who was he? A man in all points made like his brethren; not nurtured in Pharaoh’s palace like Moses, but born with them in Goshen, sharing their burdens, labouring side by side with them, afflicted in all their afflictions, bearing their griefs and carrying their sorrows. Who cannot see here a picture of God’s own Son, “made of a woman, made under the law”? Turn from the law to the gospel. What is your hope of glory, Moses or Jesus? Yet we must never dream that Moses and Joshua are antagonistic. There is no quarrel in God’s economies. Just as Moses and Joshua wrought together for the same great end, so is it with the law and the gospel. (A. B. Mackay.)

Whom do I succeed?

Every age succeeds an age marked by greatness peculiarly its own. We are born now into a grand civilisation; it admits of no indolence, or reluctance as to work, and it cannot be satisfied by what is petty, perfunctory, and inexpensive as to the strength which is laid out upon it. History brings its responsibilities. To be born immediately after such and such leaders have played their part in the world’s theatre is itself to have a cross of no mean weight laid upon the shoulder. We may close our eyes and think nothing about these things, but we do not thereby make them the less realities, nor do we thereby destroy the standard of judgment which they force upon us and by which our life will be tested. Every man should say, “Whom do I succeed? Whose are these footprints near the place whereon I stand? Has a giant been here--a great leader, a noble sufferer, a patient student, a father great in love, a mother greater still?--then my responsibility begins with their greatness and goodness; what I have to do,” the soliloquist should say, “is to go on: where they have been great, I must try to be greater still--or if not along their line, along some line of my own--so that the ages may not stagger backwards, but with steadiness and majesty of strength advance from one degree to another as the light increases to the perfect day.” (J. Parker, D. D.)


When a merchant has a vacancy in his establishment, he promotes to it that one of his servants who in the post which he has been occupying has displayed the greatest measure of fidelity and perseverance; and, when a youth applies for a situation, the success of his application will depend on the report which his former employer gives regarding him or on the record which he has written for himself in school. But it is not otherwise in the providence of God. Those who fill best the spheres in which they have been placed are, in general, those who are in the long run advanced to higher positions; while they who despise the small things of their present duties are left to sink into still deeper obscurity. (Christian World Pulpit.)

Death and its lessons

The man to whom the charge is addressed is the inferior, in every way, of his master. A good man, a brave soldier, a disinterested head of the State--this he is. But the zest and the sparkle has gone out of the history with Moses; the passage of the river is a feeble repetition of the passage of the sea; and the scene to which it admits Israel is one, for the most part, of comparatively “common day”--alternations of fighting and resting, victories imperfectly followed up, acquiescences, languid and faithless, in a virtual partition of Canaan between Israel and Israel’s foe. It is the more lifelike as a picture of the fortunes of our race. It is thus that earth’s history is written, it is thus that the stream of time flows on. The Moses is followed by the Joshua, the morning of promise by the noonday of disappointment, both alike pointing onward, onward still, to a sunset long delayed, and an evening time which shall at last be light. The hero of strategy or prowess--the genius of discovery or imagination--the prophet of earth or heaven--lives not to reap, leaves the harvest to another, looks abroad from his Pisgah upon worlds unconquered, feels at last that he rather stops the onward march of a generation whose turn is come. It is well. Man must be little if he would be great--must see himself but an atom in the universe of life if he would do anything that is real in the work which is all God’s. And he has his reward. The man that “knows the blessedness of being little” is disembarrassed of the self-consciousness which is battling to be great. That energy is all free for action which loses no time in contemplating itself. That “ability” grows apace in vigour which remembers that it is of “God’s giving.” It was so with Moses. His one prayer was, “Let the God of the spirits of all flesh set a man over His congregation.” Upon him, when he was found, he laid his hand, presented him instantly to the congregation as the man of the future, and “put some of his own honour at once upon him, that the congregation might understand and be obedient.” He has his reward. This it is which eases life of its carefulness. This it is which makes greatness endurable as well as possible--the thought that God has no need of it, can raise up even from the stones a workman and a patriot, metes not with man’s measure and reckons not by man’s years. “I am the Lord, I change not”; therefore ye sons of men can both quietly serve and peacefully fall on sleep. “Moses My servant is dead.” Yes, “My servant,” though he once “spake unadvisedly”; yes, “My servant,” though he was refused his heart’s prayer; yes, “My servant,” though he might not go over Jordan. “Moses My servant is dead”: even when we are judged, we are but chastened; yea, if we not only suffer for our sins, but even sleep! “Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan.” The work of God is not ended. Rather are we always on the brink of a river that must be crossed, and in sight of a land that has to be conquered. Who can look around him on the face of this earth, and so much as dream that Jordan is crossed, that Canaan is occupied? Who could live this life if he did not feel and know that effort, that progress, is its law? What we look forth upon, from the spot which is “this present,” is a work, and it is a warfare. With our guides or without them, it is quite evident that there rolls a deep and a rapid river between us and rest, between us and a land of promise, which is that new heaven and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. We cannot pretend to say that intelligence such as we possess, that civilisation such as we have attained, that religion such as a Christendom realises, is satisfactory, is successful, is victorious, whether in the aspect of happiness or in the aspect of good. Everything is in conflict, everything is in struggle, everything is (at best) in a condition of movement and in a condition of hope. The plain of Moab is our world--a cold, broad stream divides us from any thing that we can call rest, from anything that we can call possession. “My servant is dead, now therefore arise, and go over.” There is a vacancy, which you must fill. That is one lesson of death. It is a summons to the living. God has lost a workman--will you take his place? Terrible would it be for this nation if either growing luxury or spreading vice should diminish the supply of strong men for the carrying on of the work of God in England. It is not the decay of genius which is formidable--it is the decay of strength. Joshua was (in many senses) the inferior of Moses, but that inferiority was no loss, on the whole, to his country; he had his work, as Moses had his--and, like Moses, he did it. “My servant is dead; therefore arise and go over,” If there is a call in death, there is also an encouragement. See, it says to us, what life is. See the blessedness of God’s service. Hear Him say of the departed, “My servant” still. The man who has served God in his generation shall never die. He is in the hands of God, though it be out of the sight of the living. “My servant is dead; arise therefore, and go over,” whither he, we trust, is gone. In the words of the historic parable of Ascension Day, “Take ye up the mantle that fell from him, and with it smite the waters--that, like him, and after him, you in your turn may pass over dryshod.” (Dean Vaughan.)

Arise, go over this Jordan.

The campaign commenced

I. What the Lord spake unto joshua; or, the issue of the order. Never was a mightier task assigned to any man than to Joshua; and yet never did any man start forth better equipped than he, for observe, the Lord gives him--

II. What Joshua commanded the people; or, his proclamation of the lord’s order.

1. His obedience is prompt and unquestioning. No “wherewith” is interposed; no sign asked. He does not pause or procrastinate, but “then” (verse 10) and there, like a man of activity, he issues the order to the tribes through their officers, bidding the people at once prepare them victuals for the journey; yea, strong in faith, and full of the Holy Ghost, he announces that “within three days” they are to cross the Jordan.

2. As Joshua’s obedience was prompt, so was it thorough. He will not do God’s work by halves, nor go to war without all the army.

III. What the people answered Joshua; or, their acceptance of the lord’s order. “Only be strong, and of good courage”! They indicate that Joshua had rehearsed in their ears the charge that God had given him. The key to their import is found in the clause, “thou and all this people” (verse 2). They recognise their union with their captain. Thus their exhortation may be regarded as an echo, and an acceptance of the call to effort and endurance.


1. There is great encouragement here for all who, like Joshua, are called to occupy posts of authority, responsibility, or difficulty.

2. The same consolation belongs to every Christian. We all have a warfare to accomplish, a Jordan to pass over, an inheritance to seek. The call of God, the promises of God, and the presence of God are our warrant.

3. A deeper lesson remains, respecting the office of Jesus. He is the Captain of the Lord’s host. (G. W. Butler, M. A.)

Joshua successor, to Moses

1. Every man who is doing anything worth working at is some one’s successor, and in time must be succeeded by some one. Alas for the man who succeeds only to a place to occupy, and not to a work to do! Joshua was successor to a grand man in wonderful work.

2. Every man’s work is a continuation. “The workmen die, but the work goes on.”

3. Every man’s work is his own. It differs from that of him who went before, and of him who will come after. Moses had been trained in Pharaoh’s court and among Jethro’s flock; Joshua in the brickyards of Egypt and in the army of Israel. Each had been fitted for the work he was to do. And every man’s work is shaped by that of his predecessor.

I. God gives men definite work to do. It is important that you know your vocation. God has called you to His likeness and His service; to be as Christ was in the world, with His mind in you and His work upon your hands; to manifest the Father to men, and to lead men to the Father. It is your definite work, your one great aim as Christians, as God’s children, whether you accept it or not--your only worthy aim.

II. A definite work demands an equally definite law. If the work be given, the law for its prosecution must be given also from the same source. God has been good to His people in perpetuating for them the written Word, enlarged and modified for their changing conditions. The object-lessons, which were needed in the childhood of the race, gave way to the precepts which might better guide its youth; and these in turn yielded to the statement of the great principles of all right feeling and conduct, with the declaration of which the canon is closed, and which need no addition, because they are adaptable to every variety of condition and culture.

III. A divine helper. When the Lord gives a man a work to do which is beyond his power, He always promises the needed aid. “Go over this Jordan, and divide this land among My people,” says the Lord; but God says also, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” But, beside the promise of a Divine Helper, Joshua had both the vision of His person and the experience of His aid. We, too, may listen, and hear the promise coupled with the command. We also may look up and see, not in vision, but in the mirror of His Word, the Captain of our salvation, the Lord of war and righteousness, armed for our defence, at hand for our deliverance. No life is worth the living unless it sets before itself a work worthy to be done. No life tan do a worthy work save as it recognises the Divine law, and avails itself of the Divine Helper. With these three outward conditions of his success, there needed one quality on Joshua’s part to make it sure, and that was--

IV. A brave heart. But the courage came from his confidence in the Divine mission, the Divine law, and the Divine Helper. So, too, may it be for us all. If we know that the Lord our God is with us, we shall not be afraid nor dismayed; but we too shall be prospered, and shall have good success. (Sermons by the Monday Club.)

The commission of Joshua

I. The divine commission is given to men who are peculiarly fitted for the work. In one respect all men are weak; but in their weakness they must not be weaklings. God can use all men; but He never calls one to a burden that is beyond his ability to carry. Man must become worthy or willing before God will commission him to any work. God cannot make much of any man who does not make much of himself. We too often speak as if God gives man his character; it is all wrong. By Divine help every man makes himself and develops his own powers, for the exercise or misuse of which he alone is responsible. It is every man’s privilege to be worthy of receiving the Divine call.

II. The source of all strength is God.

1. God wants strong men. There is no strength without symmetry. Samson’s strength was counterbalanced by his moral weakness. Benedict Arnold ranked among the nation’s heroes at Ticonderoga, but the lurking perfidy of his heart betrayed the traitor at last. The intellectual brilliancy of an Aaron Burr could not raise him to any greatness so long as his moral nature was corrupt. Washington was as great a power in national affairs on account of his moral nature as from his civic deeds; so of Lincoln and Grant.

2. All strength springs from within. You cannot make any man stronger than he is. Place him in favouring circumstances, but these cannot control him, except as they mark his weakness. You may bolster men, but this gives no manhood; may extol them above their deserts, but all the puffs of adulation make them no stronger. The whole world cannot make any man to be worth more than he is in himself. This strength is possible to all. Take away bodily fear, or timidity as to others’ opinions, and every man can be strong. There is no sight more sublime than man enduring the flames that scorch him in the path of duty; mightier than the mighty rebukes of millions as he walks alone; undismayed, as Christlike he stands with some repentant child of sin, for Christ’s sake. The “image of God” can surpass in sublimity and divinity all else the world has ever seen, because the measure of the obstacles he overcomes marks the heroism of his own soul.

3. God promises help in thus gaining strength. What power in the words: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee,” &c. Stronger yet the promise: “The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” There is no strength without God. Power comes only when the watchward is “Immanuel.” “I can do all things,” &c. There is no truly great man who is ungodly. It takes a great hope to give great courage.

III. They whose strength is in God are invincible. There is no such bulwark as the truth; no such power as comes from the consciousness of doing right. There is no such strength as the man possesses whose conscience is clear. One such man can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. It is not necessary for men with truth on their side to take up the world’s methods in their plans and plottings. Men in whom God dwells are as truly unharmed by evil as they are by the storms that can do no more than wet their cheeks. The world cannot crush God’s children; it can crown with thorns, but it cannot, with all its might, cast off from memory the crown of the just. It can build bonfires, make dungeons, and sharpen sabres, but it cannot weaken the joys that count all these only as symbols of their swift entrance upon a better life.

IV. The bounds of all successful service are in the written word. So far as history has a voice, God has never left Himself without a witness of His truth. Sinai’s law was but the expression of principles long before partially known. Twice in the record of this commission of Joshua the condition of prosperity is given as obedience “to all the law” made known through Moses: “Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left,” &c. It was this same law that should never depart out of his mouth; day and night he should meditate upon its precepts, and watch closely “to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous,” &c. The truth of this grand principle has been stamped upon the world wherever civilisation has gained a hold. (David O. Mears.)

Taking possession of our inheritance

I. Take a survey of the inheritance.

1. I would say of this inheritance which God has prepared for His saints, and has given to them by a covenant of salt, that it is exceeding broad. All that we can think or desire is ours in the covenant of grace. There are immeasurable breadths and lengths, but we confine ourselves to close quarters. Truly “there is very much land yet to be possessed”! Some graces you must have, or you are not saved; some sins must at once be driven out of your life at the sword’s point, or you are not the Lord’s. As for the choicer graces, you are foolish indeed if you think of doing without them; and as for the less violent sins, you err greatly if you spare one of them.

2. This heritage is exceedingly desirable. When sin is driven out, and we come to live in God’s own land, then we find precious treasure; we dig, and we are enriched. We have all things in Christ; yea, in Him we have all that our utmost want can require.

3. This heritage, upon which we are now looking down from the summit of our faith, is full of variety. Here are Hermons of experience, Tabors of communion, Jabboks of prevailing prayer, and Cheriths of Divine providence. The revelation of God is a blessed country, full of all manner of delights. They that live in Christ dwell in spiritual realms, which for light and joy are as heaven below. Above all things, it is “Thy land, O Immanuel”!

II. Glance at the title deeds of our inheritance. I would not mind exhibiting our title before the whole bench of judges, for it has no flaw in it, and will stand in the highest court.

1. First, notice its covenant character: “I have given it to you.” You will find the full conveyance in Genesis 15:18-21. Each believer may say, “He hath in Christ Jesus made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; and therefore do I possess all spiritual blessings, and shall possess them world without end.”

2. Observe, next, that this deed of gift is notable for its graciousness. How does it run? Which I do “sell” to them? Ah, no! It is no sale, but a free gift.

3. Note well the righteousness of our title: “Which I do give to them.” The Lord God has a right to give what He pleases, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein.” Of His own has He given unto us. In the great sacrifice of His dear Son He has satisfied all claims of justice, and He acts justly when He blesses largely those for whom Jesus died.

4. Do not fail to see its sureness: “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” “I do give,” saith He, and thus He stands to His act and deed. Oh, children of God, what do you think of your title-deeds? You stand possessed of your kingdom by the gift of Him who has a right to give what He pleases. The kingdom is given you because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give it to you. Not only was it His good pleasure, but it remains so. What great simpletons we are if we do not take possession of the brave country which is ceded to us!

III. Let us make a move towards our possessions. There is your land, but Jordan rolls between.

1. The first thing to do in this matter is to go over this Jordan. Come out from the world, and be separate. The land of gracious experience is meant for you to dwell in, so that you may be recognised as the Lord’s peculiar people, separated unto the Most High. Oh, for that decisive step by which, like Abraham, you conic out from your father’s house that you may be a sojourner with God in the land which His grace will show you!

2. Having decided for the Lord, you are next to take possession by an act of simple faith. Every place in the grace country upon which the sole of your foot shall tread is yours. You will remember that the Red Indians agreed to sell to William Penn as much land as a man could walk round in a day; and I do not wonder that at the end of the day they complained that the white brother had made a big walk. I think I should have put my best leg foremost if whatever I could put my foot upon would be mine; would not you? Why, then, do you not hurry up in spiritual matters? Do you value earthly things more than spiritual? Mark, then, that if you put your foot down upon a blessing, and say, “This is mine,” it is yours. What a very simple operation is the claim of faith! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.--

The commission for the conquest

I. It was divine. It is important to bear this in mind, otherwise we shall misunderstand not only the whole teaching of this book, but the whole history of Israel as a nation. “Deus vult” is written on every page, however stained with blood. Joshua was no bandit or freebooter, eager for plunder; no Alexander or Napoleon, consumed by the lust of power and the greed of empire. He was simply a servant, carrying out the commands of a superior. And in truth there was a Divine necessity for this commission. If the Divine purposes are to be carried out, if He is to keep His place as the Judge of all the earth, some such commission was a necessity. Is there anything analogous to this in the spiritual sphere? There is. God does not in these days call the Christian to any war such as that to which He called Joshua; yet there is a holy war, a glorious crusade, in which He would have us all warriors. Before every one of us He places a double battlefield. There is an outer fight, and the field of battle is the whole world, according to the gospel commission, “Go ye into all the world,” &c. There is also an inner fight, and the field of battle is the heart, according to that holy exhortation which urges us to bring every thought into subjection to the Lord Jesus.

III. It was clear in its terms. No doubt could arise in the mind of Joshua as to what God desired him to do. “Arise”! The wilderness journey is at an end; the time to take possession has come. Arise from these weary disciplinary wanderings to high and heroic achievements. Even so our commission as Christians for our twofold fight is clear as day, and as emphatic as the Divine lips could make it. Therefore the removal of every valiant soldier of the Cross should be a mighty stimulus to those left behind. We best revere the memory of the good and great who have passed away by giving all diligence to the work which was so dear to them.

III. It was difficult to carry out. “Go over this Jordan.” Joshua is here put in as great extremity as was Moses at the Red Sea. Aye, and the crossing of the Jordan is only the first great difficulty among many. Often, in like manner, obedience to the gospel commission implies the facing of difficulties which to the eye of sense are insuperable. The fight of faith is never easy.

IV. It was terrible in its consequences. When we think of its bearing on these Canaanites, we can conceive nothing more appalling. These nations were like the grass of the field, and Israel was God’s scythe to cut them down. What a contrast to all this have we in the commission of the gospel and the present work of the Lord Jesus. When on earth He said, “I came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them,” and the work He has given His followers now to do is a work of salvation. Surely, then, we should be all the more eager to carry it out.

V. It was also righteous. In this case nothing was done in undue haste. The Divine patience that had borne with these evil tenants for four hundred years was marvellous; and they grew worse and worse all the time. The gracious pause of forty years, after He had made bare His mighty arm before all flesh, by the wonders done in Loan’s field, and proclaimed that the time had come when He was to give this land to Israel, should have won submission. If now they resist His action, it is at their peril. If the war in which Joshua was engaged was righteous, how holy is that war by which righteousness and peace, joy and goodwill, are multiplied on the earth. The man who consecrates all his faculties to the downfall of evil, first within and then without, whose life is one long struggle against spiritual wickedness, acts according to the principles of eternal rectitude.

VI. It was beneficial in its results. He who reads history cannot fail to see that impure and enfeebled races and nations have been the prey of those who have been comparatively pure and strong; and thus, by conquest, take it all in all, civilisation has been advanced, and the state of the race as a whole ameliorated. Better a bad limb be cut off than the whole body mortify. Such national surgery may be terrible, but it is beneficial. In like manner, by unflinching valour in the fight of faith, the children of God become the world’s best benefactors. In conquering evil within and without, we not only do good to ourselves but to the whole human race. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Without this preserving salt of Christlike souls how soon would the carcase become corrupt and the eagles of judgment alight.

VII. It had also a wide reference and a narrow application. It spoke of the country which stretched “from the wilderness and this Lebanon.” Thus the inheritance of Israel embraced a territory of great richness, beauty, variety, and compactness. Yet while Joshua’s commission embraced the whole land, the land become the possession of Israel only as it was subdued acre by acre. These ancient warriors had not only to take the title-deeds, but also to enter into possession. To do the first was easy; to do the second was hard. Even so is it with the Christian. He has indeed a goodly heritage--a whole heaven of spiritual blessedness. “All things are yours.” “Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” But we cannot enjoy one of these blessings apart from the conflict of faith. (A. B. Mackay.)

Ownership and possession

Here is a great promise with a sharp limitation: “Every place is yours--but every place only as you tread upon it, occupy, subdue, possess it.” A most instructive parallel might be drawn between the subjugation of Palestine by Israel and the settlement of America by the English. In both cases tyranny at home had much to do with the movement, for the Stuarts of England and the Pharaohs of Egypt held essentially the same views of royal prerogative, In both cases the country was already occupied by aborigines, and the free, wild life of the Jebusites and the Amorites was not unlike that of the Iroquois and Sioux Indians. In both cases the land was parcelled out before it was actually possessed. In both cases possession was achieved only through long and obstinate struggle with an enemy continually defeated, but stubbornly refusing to submit. According to the royal grants, Massachusetts and Virginia reached through to the Pacific Ocean. It required five minutes to draw the long parallels on the royal map; it needed two centuries actually to push civilisation across the continent, and the work is not yet finished. Ownership comes before possession, and is useless without it. The Divine giving is always done along this line. In dealing with the fields and the forests, God pours out sunshine and rain unasked, and the earth can only lie helpless, now flooded and now parched with heat. But in dealing with men made in His image, God’s giving is a far finer and more subtle process. There is in it a wondrous delicacy that seems to fear refusal, that is busied chiefly with finding a place in which the gift is wanted. He gives us the title-deed, the motive-power, the strength, the gladness, and then says, “Enter and possess.” We are all familiar with this in the intellectual realm. You put into your son’s hand a Virgil or a Shakespeare. “Now,” you say, “he has the works of Shakespeare, or Virgil.” Has them?--he has the possibility, the opportunity! It is a great thing to have that; thousands have remained ignorant for want of that. But when you possess an author, the book in the hand will be only a subordinate affair. You will know the man himself; lines will flash out upon you at your toil, great sweet thoughts will recur in dreams, passages will intertwine with all your daily task, and when you possess Shakespeare, he will possess you. You give your son teachers and schools--there your power stops. You seat your daughter at the piano, but for musical power, culture, achievement--she must enter into and possess these, or she will for ever stand outside. You buy a home. The papers are signed, the deed is recorded; instantaneously the house is yours. But then comes the process of moving into it. Every season you move a little further in; through days of birth and bridal when the joy bells ring, through days of grief when all the bells are muffled, you are growing into that house, and when men ask, “Why don’t you move up town?” you say, “My heart is here; this place I love.” So Jesus Christ comes to a man at the entrance of Christian life, and puts him into ownership. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” He bestows upon us the title-deeds unencumbered. He spreads before us a great territory, and says, “That is yours.” Forgiveness for sins that are past, an inner quietness which naught can ruffle, a balm for life’s hurts and bruises, a daily strength for daily needs, a courage that rises with obstacles and never knows defeat, all this is ours--if we will make it ours. Ours to possess, to enjoy, to experience. There is an old-fashioned phrase that had a deal of truth in it “experiencing religion.” A man has just as much religion as he has experienced; only when talking of our experience let us not go back twenty years--let us review the last twenty-four hours. How was it with me last evening? Was God last night in my soul, was I filled with serenity and courage and devotion to other souls, not twenty years ago, but last night? Our Bible is no larger than our reading of the Bible. Some men have a Bible consisting of a few Psalms and half a dozen chapters in the Gospels. Others have a Bible that is a patchwork of half-remembered texts, put together in childhood and now badly faded. A man with a rich, deep Christian experience cannot be content with a few threadbare chapters, he is ever reaching into new territory. So it is with the various great truths of the Christian religion--all are ours, but ours only as we possess them. The true use of a creed is not to set forth what men must believe, but to record what men do believe. And the man who is growing will find his creed growing too, growing indeed more simple, but growing stronger, and deeper, and broader. A grown man with a child’s religion is like a man trying to content himself with nursery toys--he is soon disgusted with his attempt. But when a man is constantly moving onward, then one truth after another will reveal its inner meaning to his soul. We cannot expect that all truths will be equally precious in any one day. There is a rotation of crops in the spiritual life, and everything is “beautiful in his time.” There is always one truth that shines brightest, as there is always one star on the meridian. Other stars will follow and culminate in their season. I think often with a strange awe of the first settlers of the Atlantic States, as they came across the sea, bearing the maps which gave them rights extending to the Pacific. This is just the conditions of some of us to-day. The boundless possibilities of Christianity lie before us Jesus Christ comes to us saying, “It is all yours--a Christian life, a Christian death, a Christian heaven, it is yours if you will take it.” And if we do not by voluntary act enter into what He offers, then the offer is to us absolutely worthless. The truth heard Sunday after Sunday is then only a genuine damage, making the heart each week less sensitive, less responsive--“it hardens all within and petrifies the feeling.” But let us return to the text again. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon”--surely there is a hint here of the slow and toilsome process of spiritual acquisition. I do not hold out before any man a Christian life that is free from effort. Christianity at sight is always a delusion. At sight of Jesus we are indeed ushered into new relation and position. But then comes the path, sometimes winding through the shadow, sometimes leading straight uphill, always leading heavenward and always bright with an unseen Friend. So it is with the entire advance of the Church of Jesus Christ. Sometimes when we are impatient and fretful let us remember that here, too, walking is the normal movement. Why God doesn’t convert India to-day is to us a mystery. That great movements should pace so slowly, and the advance be so measured and unequal, seems to us incomprehensible. One other suggestion is here--a hint that the farther a man travels the richer he becomes. Mountain range or lowly valley, forest or verdant meadow, whatsoever experience of God’s love and grace we pass through, that is ours for ever. We learn more of man’s weakness but more of God’s power, and the more we truly know the gladder shall we really be. New experiences are to be ours, and the best is yet to come. (W. H. P. Faunce.)


There are many curious legends regarding the way in which land grants were given in former times. We read of one man who got from his king as much land as he could ride round while the king slept; of another who was granted as much land as could be covered by a bull’s hide, which he cut into a continuous narrow strip, capable of enclosing a large area; of a third who was promised as much land as a bushel of barley would sow, which he was careful to sow as sparsely as possible, so that it might extend the borders of his farm to the utmost limits. At an annual fair, held in August, at the village of Carnwath, in Scotland, a foot-race is run as the tenure by which the property in the neighbourhood is held by the Lockhart family. The prize is a pair of red hose or stockings, and the proprietor used to have a messenger ready whenever the race was run to tell the result to the Lord Advocate of Scotland. In conformity with these ancient methods of land-measuring, God promised to Moses first, and renewed His promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, that He would give the Israelites every place that the sole of their foot should tread upon. It was a primitive custom to measure out the land that was to be cultivated or built upon by the foot; and a foot is still one of the terms of measurement among us derived from the human member. By primitive people the footprint was regarded as the symbol of possession, denoting that the land had been marked out by the foot of the individual, and so acquired as his own property. Some scholars derive the origin of the word “possession” itself from pedis positio, the position of the foot; and it was a maxim of the ancient jurists that whatever a person’s foot touched was his. On the tombs of the ancient Romans, Christians and pagans alike, is often sculptured the symbol of a foot, to indicate that these tombs were the property of the persons who reposed in them. This primitive ceremony will also explain the allusion in Psalms 108:1-13., where God speaks of dividing Shechem and meting out the valley of Succoth, casting His shoe over Edom, and triumphing over Philistia, and in this way taking possession for His people of the whole land of Canaan, while the Book of Ruth informs us that taking off the shoe from the foot signified the transfer or renunciation of property or of rights. (H. Macmillan, D. D.)

Something to be done to gain possession

In all primitive methods of allotting land--strange as some of them may appear to the modern legal mind--there was something to be done by the possessor himself in order to get possession. His tenure was made valid only by some personal act in connection with the property. He could not own a tract of land which he had not seen, as you might do in Australia, or New Zealand, or in the backwoods of America, although you were never there. It was necessary, in order that the land should become his, that he should do something in connection with it which implied a personal appropriation on the spot. This is the true significance of the curious antique rites by which persons got possession of land. They measured it with their feet, not only in marking it off, but also by passing frequently to and fro over its surface in ploughing and sowing, and all the other labours required for its cultivation, and thus literally obtained a foothold in it. And the same principle holds good still, although these quaint archaic customs have long been discontinued. As regards the new lands in the colonies bestowed upon emigrants by Government, it is absolutely necessary that the persons to whom they are allotted should cultivate the ground and erect buildings on it in order to secure their right of possession. They cannot hold their lands merely upon paper, without ever coming near them, or doing anything to reclaim them from the wilderness. It is thus a universally recognised principle that the right of ownership of the earth is acquired by human labour, man bringing himself in some form or other into direct personal contact with the soil. This is the ultimate ground of ownership to which all can appeal. God gave Abraham the promise of possessing the Holy Land, but Abraham did not get the fulfilment of that promise by remaining in Ur of the Chaldees. He had to leave his home, journey over the wide intervening desert, and traverse on foot the land of promise from end to end. God intended the Israelites to measure out with their feet, and so take possession, according to immemorial custom, of the whole region from Lebanon to the desert, and from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. But they stayed their feet, and actually measured only a little strip of land, which was parcelled out among the twelve tribes; while the Canaanites, the Philistines, and the Syrians, and all the desert tribes, were allowed, by the easy terms which the Israelites made with them, to possess in peace by far the largest part of the heritage of the chosen people. Even in the palmiest days of David and Solomon, when the possessions of the Israelites were most extensive, they never reached the limits which God had intended for them. The great lesson, then, which the text conveys to us is that the Israelites owned only as much of the land of promise as they actually trod with the sole of their foot. They had a large promise, but it was to be made good by their own exertions. It is God’s law, true of your spiritual inheritance as of the ancient literal inheritance of Israel, that only as much as you measure out with the sole of your foot is truly your own. You have the Bible, and you think you know it well; and yet of this vast religious literature you only really know a mere fragment. You confine your reading to your favourite passages, while you leave the rest unstudied; and yet it is in these neglected parts that new truth is most often to be found. Then you have the privileges and blessings of grace! They are great and extensive, but they are conditioned by the same law that only what you live up to, appropriate, and realise of them is your own. God’s superabounding grace is limited by the bounds you yourselves put upon it. If you are made straitly, God’s blessing must needs straiten to you. Your salvation is just as much as, and no more than, you yourselves experience of it. Christ says to you m every case, “According to your faith be it unto you.” Then there is your own individual Christian life. What a vast, unclaimed, untrodden land of promise it is l You have each a boundless capacity; “you are made to seek, to long for the infinite truth, the infinite good, the infinite love.” How little have the greatest saints been able to fill up the grand outline which God sketched out at first when He made man in His own image! How far short have you all come of God’s design for you, and even of your own ideal! You have contracted the bounds of your being and the bounds of your world to the smallest dimensions by your devotion to the petty and passing things of earth. And then there is the heavenly Canaan, the true land of promise, towards which you profess to be walking day by day as pilgrims and strangers on earth. God has given it to all His true Israel; but they shall only possess as much of it as they shall tread with the sole of their foot. You will only get as much of heaven as you are fit for; and in the case of many I fear that will be but a very small bit. (H Macmillan, D. D.)

All the land of the Hittites.--

The land of the Hittites

One geographical expression, in the delimitation of the country, demands a brief explanation. While the country is defined as embracing the whole territory from Lebanon to the Euphrates, it is also defined as consisting in that direction of “all the land of the Hittites.” But were not the Hittites one of the seven nations whose land was promised to Abraham and the fathers, and not even the first in the enumeration of these? Why should this great north-eastern section of the promised domain be designated “the land of the Hittites”? The time was when it was a charge against the accuracy of the Scripture record that it ascribed to the Hittites this extensive dominion. That time has passed away, inasmuch as, within quite recent years, the discovery has been made that in those distant times a great Hittite empire did exist in the very region specified, between Lebanon and the Euphrates. The discovery is based on twofold data: references in the Egyptian and other monuments to a powerful people, called the Khita (Hittites), with whom even the great kings of Egypt had long and bloody wars; and inscriptions in the Hittite language found in Hamah, Aleppo, and other places in Syria. There is still much obscurity resting on the history of this people. That the Hittites proper prevailed so extensively has been doubted by some; a Hittite confederacy has been supposed, and sometimes a Hittite aristocracy exercising control over a great empire. The only point which it is necessary to dwell on here is, that in representing the tract between Lebanon and Euphrates as equivalent to “all the land of the Hittites,” the author of the Book of Joshua made a statement which has been abundantly verified by recent research. (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee.--

Joshua on the march

“There shall not any man be able,” &c. “Well,” you say, “it does not require any great courage to go out with a backing like that.” I reply, God promised Joshua no more than He promises you and me in our conflicts. The framer of the universe, the chieftain of all eternity, has pledged all His resources to see us through, and He promised no more than that to Joshua. His first undertaking was to cross the river Jordan in a spring freshet. You might as well talk of wading across the Hudson river at Yonken as to think of wading the river Jordan at the season of which I am speaking. The Canaanites on the other side felt perfectly secure. But one day Joshua orders out his troops, and tells them to fall into line. “Forward: march!” They pass on towards the river, and it seems as if the light armed troops, and the spearmen, and the archers, and all their leaders, must be swept down in the fearful flood. Let them prepare, you say, for a watery grave. March on. Come to the other bank. They reach the bank, and they pull themselves up its steep, thirty or forty feet in height--they pull themselves up the bank by the oleanders, and the tamarisks, and the willows, until they reach the top. No sooner have they climbed up this high bank than with dash, and roar, and terrific rush, the waters of the Jordan break loose from their strange anchorage. God never makes any provision for the Christian’s retreat. He clears the path to Canaan if we go ahead; if we go back we die. Victory ahead! Darkness, flood, ruin, and death behind! You say: “Why didn’t those Canaanites destroy Joshua and his troops while they had a chance? Here they were, on a bank thirty or forty feel high. There were the Israelites under Joshua down in the bed of the stream. Why didn’t the Canaanites fight back these invaders?” The promise had been given, and the Lord God keeps His promise. “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life.” But we cannot stop here. It is no place for Joshua’s troops to stay. What is that in the distance? At the end of a grove of palms eight miles long is the chief city Jericho, the great metropolis. Take it Joshua must. “Take it Joshua can’t,” say the unbelievers. Joshua rises up to his full stature, and he gives the command. He feels the right moment has come, and he says: “Shout! for the Lord hath given you the city,” and the command is heard, and the people all together cry: “Down, Jericho! down, Jericho!” and that long line of solid masonry begins to quiver, and then crash go the walls, the temples, the palaces, until the earth quakes, and the heavens are blackened with the dust, and the shriek of the crushed city and the huzza of the victorious Israelites commingle. This is no place to stop. “Forward: march!” There is city of Ai to be taken. “Oh!” says a scouting party just come back from that city, “you can take that very easily. Joshua, you need not go; you stay, and few of us will go and take that city.” They started out in pompous order to take the city of Ai. The men of Ai came out and gave one yell, and away ran the Israelites like reindeer. Our northern troops, at Bull Run, made slow time compared with those Israelites with the men of Ai after them. We have no right to go into the Lord’s conflict having only half our force. Body, mind, soul, reputation, property--everything--must be marshalled, equipped, launched for God, and against our enemies. And soon the retreating army come up. They say: “Oh! general, we are all cut to pieces. Those men of Ai are awful people. We are all cut to pieces.” Joshua falls down on his face in chagrin. But how did God arouse Joshua? Did He address him in some complimentary apostrophe? No. He says: “Get thee up. Why liest thou thus on thy face?” Joshua arose, I suppose, looking mortified; but his old courage came back again. He marshals all the Israelites, and he says: “We will go up en masse, and we will take the city of Ai.” And as I see the smoke of the burning city curling in the sky, and as I hear the groans of the defeated men of Ai, and the victorious shout of the Israelites, Joshua hears something better than that: “There shall not any man be able,” &c. Joshua’s troops cannot stop yet. “Forward: march!” says Joshua; for there is the city of Gibeon; it has put itself under the wing of Joshua’s protection, and Joshua must defend it. Joshua makes a three days’ march in one night. Prepare now to see the Gettysburgh, the Waterloo, the Sedan of the ancients. It is not yet quite sundown in Joshua’s day, and we will have time for five royal funerals. Who will preach their funeral sermon? Massillon preached the funeral sermon of Louis XIX. Dr. Robert South preached a sermon commemorative of Charles

I. Who will preach the funeral sermon of these five bad kings? Joshua. And what shall be his text? “There shall not any man be able,” &c. “Oh,” you say, “it is a pity to bury these five kings so ignominiously.” No, sir; before that rock is sealed up I want to put in five more beings, first having them beheaded--King Alcohol, King Fraud, King Lust, King Superstition, King Bigotry. Have them all in. Cover them over with a mound of broken decanters and the debris of their miserable doings. Roll a rock against that cave so they never can get out. Then chisel for these last five kings the same epitaph you had for the other five kings; and let all the Christian reformers and philanthropists, before the sun of their protracted day of usefulness is ended, come up and read it. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Victory assured

There is no foe to your growth in grace, no enemy in your Christian work, no dreaded form of evil dominating and cursing the souls of men, which was not included in your Saviour’s conquests. You need not be afraid of them. When you touch them, they will flee before you. God has promised to deliver them up before you. There shall no man of them be able to stand before you. Neither Anakim nor fenced cities need daunt you. You are one of the conquering legion. Claim your share in the Saviour’s victory. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.--

A great promise

I. The import of the promise.

1. It includes in it more than that natural and essential presence of God which surrounds all beings and all things; for the essence of God is diffused through the trackless path of immensity.

2. It refers to God’s special and gracious presence.

3. A more than ordinary communication of God’s presence is vouchsafed to those who are called out to services of peculiar difficulty, to offices of high responsibility.

II. The certainty of the fulfilment of this promise. I feel assured of its fulfilment when I reflect--

1. On the Author of this promise. “I will be with thee. I will not leave thee,” &c. “God is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man that He should repent.”

2. The terms in which the promise is couched. Repetition, but no tautology.

3. Experience. Was not God with Moses?

III. The advantages which the fulfilment of this promise will throw over your whole life. Oh, let but this be fulfilled, and you are safe for both worlds, for time and for eternity! Mark its influence--

1. On the hours of solitude. Every real Christian will wish to be alone: he will say, “I am never less alone than when alone.”

2. On your intercourse with society. Others will take knowledge of you, that you have been with Jesus.

3. On your conduct. Prudence; benevolence; sanctity.

4. On afflictions and distresses. If God be with us, no weapon shall prosper against us, no trap shall catch us, no pit shall ensnare us.

5. On the days of life’s decline, and in the immediate prospect of its conclusion. All earthly attachments are doomed to be dissolved; but God is ever with His servants, especially when most needed.


1. Admire the astonishing condescension and grace of God, that He should thus address Himself to worms of the earth, to sinful worms, to such as you and I are!

2. Let me ask you if you have an interest in this promise.

3. Be very thankful for any measure of the fulfilment of this promise which you may have enjoyed. (G. Clayton, M. A.)

God with us through life

I. The interest which God takes in men’s lives.

1. Every event is closely observed by Him.

2. He often comes unsolicited and unthought of. Like the mother who, while attending to the duties of her household, still keeps her eye on the little one at play, that she may interpose in time of danger.

II. God appeals to his past conduct to encourage his servant to trust in him.

1. We are influenced more by the past conduct of a friend than by his promises.

2. There are degrees of manifested interest, care, and love. God was with Moses--

III. The bestowal of the blessings included in this declaration was made dependent upon Joshua’s obedience. He who will not keep God’s law cannot have the presence of God with him. (A London Clergyman.)

A great promise

I. It is a great promise. For it includes everything. God’s presence can supply wisdom, can give strength, and will insure success.

II. It was to a great man.

1. He was humble.

2. He was trained had followed the Jews from Egypt.

3. He was good. Not one notorious sin or evil habit is recorded of him as there is of nearly every other noted character in Scripture. He was the only one who withstood the test of the wilderness journey.

III. It was in reference to a great work.

1. The conquering the promised land.

2. The organising the people.

3. The vindicating the power and glory of God. (Homilist.)

Strengthening medicine for God’s servants

I. The suitability of the consolation which these words gave to Joshua. “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

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!

II. At what times may we consider this promise to be spoken to ourselves?

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.

III. What this promise does not preclude.

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.

IV. What, then, does the text mean, if we may have all this trial happening to us?

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.”

V. Why may we be quite sure that this promise will re fulfilled to us?

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.)

Be strong and of a good courage.--

A great -promise and a stirring exhortation

What the heathen gods are fabled to have done with some of their favourite warriors, God here and now does to this His first soldier-saint, sending him forth to the fray invulnerable, invincible. By faith in this great promise, Joshua is more than conqueror. Poor and tame in comparison is the “Veni, vidi, vici!” of Rome’s great hero. God’s presence is pledged to Joshua unconditionally and unalterably. Oh, highly favoured Joshua! Yes, and also highly favoured saints, for even with a like great and precious promise do we go a warfare against evil. In regard to both the outer and the inner conflict in which we are engaged we should always remember that we are on the winning side. The battle is the Lord’s. “Forward” is the Divine command. We are not to make up our minds for defeat, but to march in the assurance of victory. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” This promise gives us power as we face error of every kind. The enemies of the gospel in these days are proud and boastful. If we were to judge by their shouts, we should think that the whole fabric of Christianity was falling to pieces. Have we anything to pit against these enemies? Most assuredly. The Divine presence, as in the case of Joshua, is pledged to be with us. This great promise given to Joshua was followed up by a stirring exhortation. Courage! this peal of bells rings out in all its changes. Why? Because Joshua was a coward? Nay, he had the heart of a lion, but because courage is the fundamental virtue in every saint of God, in every soldier of righteousness, in every witness for the truth. One of the great wants of the day is courage, courage to confess Christ in every company and on all occasions; courage to hold fast to His every word; courage to do all His will; courage to follow wherever He leads. It is called a good courage, and no virtue better deserves the epithet, for it is good whether we consider its qualities or its achievements, the throne on which it sits or the crown with which it is adorned. It is good courage because it is obedient, not self-willed, obstinate, headstrong. Again and again the greatest exploits of courage have been summed up in the words, “I must obey God.” Such courage is of the highest quality. It can never quail, because conscious of eternal rectitude. It is a good courage also because it is studious and humble. Its aim being to obey all God’s will, in the spirit as well as in the letter, it gives all diligence to know God’s will. Accordingly, the hero of Jehovah meditates in God’s law day and night; takes counsel not with flesh and blood, but with the living oracles, and finds therein all his comfort, strength, and light. This good courage, being obedient and studious, is also intelligent. It observes with watchful care the hints of Providence and the checks of conscience. It learns better every day what God’s will is in all things. Remember that such courage is the great secret of success. This above all things frightens our great adversary the devil. Satan has no dread of learning, or wisdom, or riches, but he does fear tile courage of a soul resting in communion with God. And well he may, for this courage arms the soul with Divine might. (A. B. Mackay.)

The sources of Joshua’s strength

I. A faithful past The aloe blooms but once in a hundred years, but every hour of all that century is needed to produce the delicate texture and resplendent beauty of the flower. The deed of a Grace Darling is not the sudden outburst of the moment that gives it birth, but the result of long years of self-discipline, courage, and ministry to others. And this summons of Joshua to the leader’s place in Israel was the guerdon of more than eighty years of faithful service. None of us can tell for what God is educating us. We fret and murmur at the narrow round and daily task of ordinary life, not realising that it is only thus that we can be prepared for the high and holy office which awaits us. We must descend before we can ascend. God’s will comes to thee and me in daily circumstances, in little things equally as in great; meet them bravely; be at your best always, though the occasion be one of the very least; dignify the smallest summons by the greatness of your response; so the call will come to you as to Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ minister.

II. A distinct call The supreme inquiry for each of us, when summoned to a new work, is not whether we possess sufficient strength or qualification for it, but if we have been called to it of God; and when that is so there is no further cause for anxiety. If it is in His plan that we should march through a river, or attack a walled town, or turn to flight an army, we have simply to go forward. Rivers will dry up, walls will fall down, armies shall be scattered as snow in summer. There is no such thing as impossibility when God says, “Forward, soul, arise, go over this Jordan!”

III. The sense of the presence of God. There have been generals whose presence on the field of battle has been the presage and guarantee of victory. Not only have they inspired the soldiers with a sense of confidence in their leadership, but they have encouraged them by their personal prowess and bravery. There is a marvellous sense of security and courage when a Christiana, a Mr. Fearing, or a Miss Much-Afraid is assured of the presence of a Greatheart, who has never turned his back on a foe. And a lonely, trembling soul dares to step bravely across the margin of life into the unknown beyond: to go down unabashed into the chill waters of death, because it can sing, “Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”

IV. The indwelling of the word of God. Coal contains within its texture the strength absorbed from the sun in bygone ages; so words will pass on to men the heroic thoughts which thrilled the souls of those who spake them first. There are words, as there are strains of music, which cannot be uttered without nerving men to dare and do, to attempt and achieve. A woman will be strong to wait and suffer for long years in the strength of a sentence spoken by her lover as he parted from her: An army has before now forgot sleepless nights and hungry marches in the stirring harangue of its general. And is not this what the prophet meant, when he said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them, and Thy words were unto me a joy, and the rejoicing of my heart”? and what Jesus meant when He said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life “? We can do all things when Christ is in us in unthwarted power. The only limit lies in our faith and capacity, or, in other words, in our absolute submission to His indwelling. Little children can overcome when there is within them a Stronger than their foes. Weaklings may do exploits when the Mighty Conqueror who travels in the greatness of His strength makes them the vehicle of His progress. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The strength and courage needed for common life

“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.)

The charge to the soldier of the Lord

I. The duty of courageous strength. Christianity has altered the perspective of human virtues, has thrown the gentler ones into prominence altogether unknown before, and has dimmed the brilliancy of the old heroic type of character; but it has not struck those virtues out of its list. Still, there is as much need in the lowliest Christian life for the loftiest heroism as ever there was. All Christian progress is conflict, and we have to fight, not only with the evils that are within, but if we would be true to the obligations of our profession and loyal to the commands of our Master, we have to take our part in the great campaign which He has inaugurated and is ever carrying on against every abuse and oppression, iniquity and sin, that grinds down the world and makes our brethren miserable and servile. Be strong! Then strength is a duty; then weakness is a sin. Then the amount of strength that we possess and wield is regulated by ourselves. We have our hands on the sluice. We may open it to let the whole full tide run in, or we may close it till a mere dribble reaches us. For the strength which is strength, and not merely weakness in a fever, is a strength derived. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Let Christ’s strength in. Open the heart wide that it may come. Keep yourself in continual touch with God, the fountain of all power. Trust is strength, because trust touches the Rock of Ages. But courage is duty, too, as well as strength. Power and the consciousness of power do not always go together. In regard of the strength of nature, courage and might are quite separable. There may be a strong coward and a weak hero. But in the spiritual region, strength and courage do go together. The consciousness of the Divine power with us, and that alone, will make us bold with a boldness that has no taint of levity and presumption mingled with it, and never will overestimate its own strength.

II. The duty of implicit obedience to the word of command. Courage and strength come first, and on them follows the command to do all according to the law, to keep it without deflection to right or left, and to meditate on it day and night. These two virtues make the perfect soldier--courage and obedience. But the connection between these two is not merely that they must co-exist, but that courage and strength are needed for, and are to find their noblest field of exercise in, absolute acceptance of, and unhesitating, swift, complete, unmurmuring obedience to, everything that is discerned to be God’s will and our duty. For the Christian soldier, then, God’s law is his marching orders. The written Word, and especially the Incarnate Word, are our law of conduct. Christ has given us Him self, and therein has given a sufficient directory for conduct and conflict which fits close to all our needs, and will prove definite and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it. The application of Christ’s law to daily life takes some courage, and is the proper field for the exercise of Christian strength. If you are not a bold Christian you will very soon get frightened out of obedience to your Master’s commandments. Courage, springing from the realisation of God’s helping strength, is indispensable to make any man, in any age, live out, thoroughly and consistently, the principles of the the law of Jesus Christ. No man in this generation will work out a punctual obedience to what he knows to be the will of God, without finding out that all the Canaanites are not dead yet, but that there are enough of them left to make a very thorny life for the consistent follower of Jesus Christ. And not only is there courage needed for the application of the principles of conduct which God has given us, but you will never have them handy for swift application unless, in many a quiet hour of silent, solitary, patient meditation, you have become familiar with them.

III. The sure victory of such bold obedience: “thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest”; “thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success,” or, as the last word might be rendered, “then shalt thou ‘act wisely.’” You may not get victory from an earthly point of view, for many a man that lives strong and courageous and joyfully obeying God’s law as far as he knows it, and because he loves the Lawgiver, goes through life, and finds that, as far as the world’s estimate is concerned, there is nothing but failure as his portion. The success which my text means is the carrying out of conscientious convictions of God’s will into practice. That is the only success that is worth talking about or looking for. The man that succeeds in obeying and translating God’s will into conduct is the victor, whatever be the outward fruits of his life. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Strength and courage

Joshua must be strong and very courageous. But are strength and courage really within our own power? Is strength not absolutely a Divine gift, and as dependent on God in its ordinary degrees as it was in the case of Samson in its highest degree? No doubt in a sense it is so; and yet the amount even of our bodily strength is not wholly beyond our own control. As bodily strength is undoubtedly weakened by careless living, by excess of eating and drinking, by all irregular habits, by the breathing of foul air, by indolence and self-indulgence of every kind, so undoubtedly it is increased and promoted by attention to the simple laws of health, by activity and exercise, by sleep and sabbatic rest, by the moderate use of wholesome food, as well as by abstinence from hurtful drinks and drugs. And surely the duty of being strong, in so far as such things can give strength, is of far more importance than many think; for if we can thus maintain and increase our strength we shall be able to serve both God and man much better and longer than we could otherwise have done. But in Joshua’s ease it was no doubt strength and courage of soul that was mainly meant. Even that is not wholly independent of the ordinary conditions of the body. On the other hand, there are no doubt memorable cases where the elasticity and power of the spirit have been in the very inverse ratio to the strength of the body. By cheerful views of life and duty, natural depression has been counteracted, and the soul filled with hope and joy. “The joy of the Lord,” said Nehemiah, “is the strength of His people.” Fellowship with God, as our reconciled God and Father in Christ, is a source of perpetual strength. Who does not know the strengthening and animating influence of the presence even of a friend, when we find his fresh and joyous temperament playing on us in some season of depression? The radiance of his face, the cheeriness of his voice, the elasticity of his movements seem to infuse new hope and courage into the jaded soul. When he is gone we try to shake off the despondent feeling that has seized us, and gird ourselves anew for the battle of life. And if such an effect can be produced by fellowship with a fellow-creature, how much more by fellowship with the infinite God!--especially when it is His work we are trying to do, and when we have all His promises of help to rest on. “God is near thee, therefore cheer thee,” is a perpetual solace and stimulus to the Christian soul. (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Christian fortitude

1. Fortitude in bearing.

2. Fortitude in attempting or assailing. (D. Featley, D. D.)

God’s strength made perfect in human weakness

What f must all they whom God uses be strong? Is it essential that there should be strength of limb and muscle in the physical and moral constitution of those who are called to do the Divine biddings in the world? Because, if that be so, we who are like Ehud, left-handed, like Gideon, least in our father’s house, or like Saul of Tarsus, painfully conscious of weakness, can never get beyond the rank and file in the army of the Lord. And yet, may not this reiterated appeal indicate that the heart of Joshua misgave him, and that he was conscious of his utter inadequacy to fulfil the great commission that was thrust upon him? Probably he had never dreamt of so high an honour, so vast a responsibility. When, therefore, the call came to him to assume the office which Moses was vacating, his heart failed him, and he needed every kind of encouragement and stimulus, both from God and man. “Be strong” means that he felt weak; “Be of good courage” means that he was affrighted; “Be not thou dismayed” means that he seriously considered whether he would not have to give up the task. He was a worm and no man; how should he deliver Israel? It is when men are in this condition that God approaches them with the summons to undertake vast and overwhelming responsibilities. Most of us are too strong for Him to use us, too full of our own schemes and plans and ways of doing things. He must empty us, and humble us, and bring us down to the dust of death, so low that we need every straw of encouragement, every leaf of help; and then He will raise us up, and make us as the rod of His strength. The world talks of the survival of the fittest. But God gives power to the faint, and increases might to them that have no strength; He perfects His strength in weakness, and uses things that are not to bring to nought things that are. (F. B. Meyer, B. A. )

Courage necessary

It is said of Cromwell that when he had gathered some raw troops, being much in doubt about their courage, he determined to put it to the test before employing them in active service. He therefore placed a number of soldiers in ambush, in a wood through which he had occasion to lead his new regiment, and when these rushed out suddenly upon the new levies all the timid among them turned and fled. These Cromwell sent to their homes as unfit for his service, and so commenced the training of the men who became known to history as his “ Ironsides.”

A dauntless spirit

Pleopidas hearing that his enemy was coming to give him battle with double the number that he possessed himself, replied to his informant, “So much the better for us: we shall beat so many the more.” So should the Christian view the trials and sorrows of this life, be they never so many. Through Christ they may all be overcome. (Handbook of Illustration.)

Unto this people shalt thou divide . . . the land.--

The right people for the land

First of all, the land had to be conquered; and there is no difficulty in seeing how necessary it was for one who had this task on hand to be strong and of a good courage, and to meditate on God’s law. Then the land had to be divided, and the people settled in their new life, and Joshua had to initiate them, as it were, in that life; he had to bind on their consciences the conditions on which the land was to be enjoyed, and start them in the performance of the duties, moral, social, and religious, which the Divine constitution required. Here lay the most difficult part of his task. They had not only to be planted physically in groups over the country, but they had to be married to it morally, otherwise they had no security of tenure, but were liable to summary eviction. It was no land of rest for idolaters; all depended on the character they attained: loyally to God was the one condition of a happy settlement. Thus we see the connection between Joshua’s devotion to the book of the law and success in the great work of his life--“then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” No doubt he would have the appearance of success if he simply cleared out the inhabitants who were so degraded by sin that God was compelled to sweep them off, and settled His people in their room. But that, after all, was but a small matter unless accompanied by something more. It would not secure the people from at last sharing the fate of the old inhabitants; so far at least that though they should not he exterminated, yet they would be scattered over the face of the globe. And so at all times, in dealing with human beings, we can obtain no adequate and satisfying success unless their hearts are turned to God. Your children may be great scholars, or successful merchants, or distinguished authors, or brilliant artists, or even statesmen; what does it come to if they are dead to God, and have no living fellowship with Jesus Christ? (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Turn not . . . to the right hand or to the left.--

Joshua’s obedience

I. Obedience is the highest practical courage. The world counts obedience to be a mean-spirited thing, and speaks of rebellion as freedom. We have heard men say, “I will be my own master; I shall follow my own will.” To be a free thinker and a free liver seems to be the worldling’s glory. Take the world’s own martial rule. Who is accounted to be the boldest and the best soldier but the man who is most thoroughly obedient to the captain’s command? There is a story told of the old French wars which has been repeated hundreds of times. A sentinel is set to keep a certain position, and at nightfall, as he is pacing to and fro, the emperor himself comes by. He does not know the password. Straightway the soldier stops him. “You cannot pass,” says he. “But I must pass,” says the emperor. “No,” replies the man, “if you were the little corporal in grey himself you should not go by,” by which, of course, he meant the emperor. Thus the autocrat himself was held in check by order. The vigilant soldier was afterwards handsomely rewarded, and all the world said that he was a brave fellow. Then surely it is not a mean and sneaking thing for a man to be obedient to Him who is the Commander-in-chief of the universe, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

II. The exactness of obedience is the essence of obedience. The world saith, “We must not be too precise.” As one said to an old Puritan once, “Many people have rent their consciences in halves; could not you just make a little nick in yours?” “No,” he said, “I cannot, for my conscience belongs to God.” “We must live, you know,” said a money-loving shopkeeper, as his excuse for doing what he could not otherwise defend. “Yes, but we must die,” was the reply, “and therefore we must do no such thing.” We are probably better dead if we cannot live without doing wrong. The very essence of obedience lies in exactness. Probably your child, if sometimes disobedient, would still, as a general rule, do what you told him. It would be in the little things that thoroughgoing and commendable obedience would appear. Let the world judge of this for itself. Here is an honest man. Do people say of him, “He is such an honest man that he would not steal a horse”? No, that would not prove him to be very honest; but they say, “He would not even take a pin that did not belong to him.” That is the world’s own description of honesty, and surely when it comes to obedience to God it ought to be the same. If I profess to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, the crucial test will not be in great actions, but in little ones.

III. The path of obedience is generally a middle path. There is sure to be a right bond, there is sure to be a left hand, and both are probably wrong. There wilt be extremes on either side. I believe that this is true in ten thousand things in ordinary life, and also true in spiritual things in very many respects. With regard, for instance, to our words; the course of speech generally is, on the one hand to say too much, or on the other hand to say too little; to be silent when the wicked are before us, or else to be rash with our lips and betray a good cause through our rashness in defending it. There is a time to speak, and there is a time to be silent, and he that judgeth well will mark his opportunities and take the middle course. He will neither be garrulous with advice that is not required, nor will he be cowardly and dumb when he ought to bear testimony, for his Master. The same holds good with regard to zeal. We have some abroad nowadays whoso heads are very hot. They talk as if they would turn the world upside down, whilst it is their own brains that need first to be turned into a right condition. Theirs is a fire which burns down the house instead of burning in the grate and warming the household. But shall we therefore not be zealous? God forbid! There is a middle course of true, sensible, prudent zeal--adhering to the truth, and never believing that people can be converted by lies, however earnestly bawled into their ears; walking within the bounds of God’s truth, and being persuaded that the best seed to sow is that which God puts into the basket of His Word, and that sinners are not to be saved by rash statements nor by extravagant declamation, but that they are brought to Christ, as they were of old, by the simple telling out of the story of the Cross affectionately, and by the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Here, again, “turn neither to the right hand nor to the left.”

IV. The path of right is the path of true prosperity. God does not invariably make the doing of the right to be the means of pecuniary gain to us. On the contrary, it frequently happens that for a time men are great losers by their obedience to Christ. But the Scripture always speaks as to the long run; it sums up the whole of life--there it promises true riches. If thou wouldst prosper, keep close to the Word of God, and to thy conscience, and thou shalt have the best prosperity. The thief, though he takes a short way to get rich, yet takes such a dangerous way that it does not pay; but he who walks straight along the narrow road shall find it to be the shortest way to the best kind of prosperity, both in this world and in that which is to come. If not, if we get no outward prosperity here, I trust you and I, if we love Christ, and are filled with His Spirit, can do without it. Well, if we must be poor, it will soon be over, and in heaven there shall be no poverty. Let us, then, run all risks for Christ. He is no soldier who cannot die for his country; he is no Christian who cannot lose life itself for Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Obedience the condition of victory

Yes, the Lord will be with us in our holy war, but He demands of us that we strictly follow His rules.

1. Our victories will very much depend upon our obeying Him with all our heart, throwing strength and courage into the actions of our faith. If we are half-hearted, we cannot expect more than half a blessing.

2. We must obey the Lord with care and thoughtfulness.

3. We must obey with universal readiness. We may not pick and choose, but must take all the Lord’s commands as they come.

4. In all this we must go on with exactness and constancy. Ours is to be a straightforward courage, which bends neither to the right nor to the left. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein.--

A good working Bible

Rare botanical specimens are found by diligent searching. It is by earnest and prayerful study of the Bible theft we discover truths that we may call our own. We have a brother who has been working in the gold mines of California for many years. He has a watch-chain that he greatly values because the gold in it is what he searched and dug out of the mountain himself by hard labour and much sacrifice. Truths discovered as the result of hard study are very precious to us. The Bible should be an every-day book to us. A very handsome and expensive Bible on the parlour stand, covered with a bric-a-brac, is of little value as compared with a good working Bible. A well-known Sunday-school worker tells of going into a house in North Wales. As he sat by a table talking with a little girl, he picked up a Bible, when she instantly said, “That’s my mother’s every-day Bible, sir; I’ll give you the Sunday Bible if you want to read.” We all need an every-day Bible, one that can be handled easily and conveniently--a Bible with every precious promise and every verse that has been especially helpful to us marked. The Jews were commanded to read the Scripture all the time, to write it upon the door-posts; to have it as frontiers between their eyes; to talk of it by the way, and teach it to their children and children’s children. (Home Messenger.)

God’s revealed wilt the only safe rule for all individual guidance, and the only legitimate foundation for all national law

I. It is of the utmost importance that every man should have a sure guide for the direction of his steps.

1. If you consider the character and condition of man, the truth before us must claim universal acknowledgment. Man is the creature of God. His being, powers, and blessings are all derived from his Maker. He is therefore bound to please Him in all his ways and works. But how is this to be done? By what measure, so to speak, or after what manner, is this love to be expressed, and this obedience to be rendered?

2. If you consider man not only as the mere creature of God, but as a creature endued with an immortal soul, the truth before us will be still more apparent.

3. If you consider man as a sinner before God, exposed to all the dreadful consequences of his rebellion, and utterly without ability to help himself, the truth of this position must still more strikingly appear.

4. If you consider man as exposed to all the vicissitudes of this life--as subject to sorrow, suffering, and pain, as liable to sickness, affliction, and all the other evils incident to our present existence--the truth of this position must claim the approbation of all.

5. If you consider man in reference to death, judgment, and eternity, no voice can ever be lifted up in opposition to this truth.

II. Where is this sure guide to be met with?

1. Is man capable of furnishing himself with such a rule? Evidently not; and that not merely as the negative applies to him as he now is, but even supposing him to be what he once was.

2. Consider the greatness and importance of the matters at stake, and it must be confessed that it would not be safe to trust in any provision coming from such a human source, even supposing it possible that it could be provided.

3. A provision of this kind, coming from any human source, would fall below the circumstances and condition in which we are placed, and therefore could never meet the exigencies of our case, nor, consequently, answer the end proposed.

4. The law, or revealed will of God, is the only safe rule for all individual guidance, as well as the only legitimate foundation for all national law. No man’s ways or works can be acceptable in the sight of God who throws aside that rule and walks by the light of his own fire.

III. The benefit and advantages of following that rule and abiding thereby.

1. We shall have a sure guide for the direction of our steps.

2. We shall find everything plain before us.

3. We shall avoid the grievous mistakes and blunders into which others have fallen.

4. We shall find abundant provision for every emergency.

5. We shall be safe and prosperous here, and happy and blessed hereafter.


1. What an invaluable deposit are the sacred Scriptures as committed to any nation or people!

2. How widely have we departed from these sacred rules!

3. How needful it is that we should make these Holy Scriptures our constant study and daily counsellors! (R. Shittler.)

The Christian’s law

“This book of the law,” saith God to Joshua. And both in our text and in the verse preceding it is set forth as a rule claiming his observance and obedience, from which he may not swerve. In a peculiar sense we apply this term to the five books of Moses, and in a yet more limited one to the Decalogue. And since the New Testament contains so fully and so peculiarly the revelation of the gospel of the grace of God, and thus abounds with the language of invitation, promise, and privilege, it may seem as though to us the oracles of God had no other voice, and that the Bible is not to us the “book of the law” of God. But while we are jealous of God’s grace, let us beware of a dangerous error. The Bible does propound to us a law--the very law of the two tables is unrepealed. Not the Jewish law as our code of worship or practice, not any law as the means of our justification, but the laws of Christian holiness and virtue. Our Bibles must be our lamps, our light, of our counsellors- our oracles of duty no less than of comfort. And while the Cross furnishes the motive, while the Spirit is the Teacher, the Author and Giver alike of will and power, the precepts and prohibitions of the Bible must be our guide, as the by-paths of sin and ruin present themselves on the right hand and on the left. We are not to go to this book of God for our creed or system of theology alone, but for our code of morals and practice. For the Bible is neither all doctrine, nor all promise; it has its rules, its precepts, its prohibitions. Its precepts based upon its doctrine, yoked graciously with its promises, but precepts still. You are placed from day to day amid duties and temptations. Your God, your fellow-men have many claims upon you; you stand in many and varied relationships. You are a pilgrim in a road bestrewed with pitfalls and beset with by-paths of sin and error; a soldier amid many and subtle and mighty foes, with a hard field to fight; a voyager over a stormy sea, amid shoals and rocks and quicksands. Your Bible is your guide, O pilgrim--your sword, O soldier--your chart, O seaman l What else shall preserve you even in sound doctrine in these dangerous days but that ye be “mighty in the Scriptures,” and so reject another gospel, though its preachers wore the garb and semblance of angels, yea, though (were it possible) they were angels of light? Or what, in reference to your practice, shall secure you against the workings of sin’s deceitfulness--against the deep devices of your arch-enemy, the tempter--against the false and unscriptural principles of the world around, the spurious morality which passes current among men--what but “this book of the law”?--this book which in its revelations is pure, unerring, truth--which in its precepts is all pure in holiness, all perfect in virtue. But draw near to it ever as remembering that you are listening to the voice of God. Bow down to its revelations therefore as unerring, to its requirements as authoritative and supreme. (J. C. Miller, D. D.)

Meditation and obedience

Many devout Christians tell us that they find it profitable to take even a single verse and make it peculiarly the subject of their thoughts throughout each day--to make it the little vein in the mine which they more particularly work out. There can be no doubt that many of the vain and sinful thoughts which pass through our minds and grieve the devout Christian might thus be shut out were the thoughts and memory preoccupied with Divine truth. And if any particularly mourn that their thoughts, when left to themselves, are so discursive and unprofitable, that they know so little of religious meditation, it may be well for them thus to choose one verse of their daily portion and make it, so to say, the text of their day’s thoughts. Let them endeavour to fix its meaning, let them follow out the train of thought to which it leads, let them pray over it in a special manner. And all this with a view more particularly to self-application. But our duty ends not here. The seaman studies his chart and has his compasses on board, not for mere scientific experiments, but that he may voyage in safety to the haven whither he would go, amid the rocks and shoals and quicksands which beset his track. We may not then imagine that all is done when our verses or chapters, our portion, however long, is again punctually gone through. There is a danger of this, as there is a danger of a mere formal lip-service in our prayers. For, as to say prayers is not necessarily to pray, so there is a reading of the Word of God with the mind and the lip only. Our hearts must be the readers, as our hearts must be the petitioners. And then throughout the day the duties here enjoined must be practised, the sins denounced forsaken and shunned, the tempers here set forth as unchristian struggled with, the promises here given lived on, the heaven here proffered sought, the Saviour and the God of whom we read glorified. (J. C. Miller, D. D.)


When the impious King Antiochus entered the temple of Jerusalem to lay it waste, his first act was to remove the golden altar and the candlestick, which was also of gold. The devil acts in the same manner when he intends to deprive of spiritual good that soul which is the temple of the living God: he takes from it the altar that is, fervour of mind; he removes from it the candlestick that is, the light which makes known the eternal maxims.

Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous.--

The prosperous way

God’s blessing is ever upon His people, and lie will ever cause that the way of His commandments shall be found the way of happiness and good. Therefore it is true that His people’s way is a prosperous way, that they “have good success.” The Old Testament promise is--“whatsoever thou doest it shall prosper” the New, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Is not such a man prospering? All may be disappointment and failure to flesh and blood, and in the estimate of sense. He may not know or see or feel his prosperity at this moment, and while “all things” are working together. But when they have worked and their end is seen, that end shall be found an end of blessing and prosperity. For in the emphatic language of the Psalm, “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.” His path with them may be dark, and hard, and thorny, but it is right; for their path towards Him is obedience and holiness. In what but blessedness can that path issue “which the Lord approveth”? Would ye know, then, whether God’s blessing is at this moment upon your path? Is it a path in which you are guided by His Word, in which you are taking it as a lamp to your feet, as your counsellor and your delight? If so--let it be hard--it is blessed l Let it be tedious--your Father’s face of love is shining full upon it. Or if at this moment some cloud is casting over it its gloomy shadow, that cloud will soon be gone, having burst in mercy upon your head. (J. C. Miller, D. D.)

The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.--

God with the good

The Lord, whose command is universal; God, whose power is invincible; the Lord thy God, whose mercies are incomprehensible, is with thee whithersoever thou goest. If the Lord thy God be with thee, His wisdom is with thee to direct thee, His power to protect thee, His strength to support thee, His goodness to maintain thee, His bounty to reward thee, His word to encourage thee, and if thou die under His banner, His angels presently to carry thee into heaven. Where the Israelites lamentably deplore their ill success in war, they attribute it to God’s absence. “Thou goest not forth,” say they, “with our armies.” The Lacedaemonians, being overtaken by the Persian horse and overwhelmed with great flights of arrows, did notwithstanding quietly sit still, without making any resistance at all, or defence, till the sacrifices for victory were happily ended; yea, though many were sore hurt, and some slain outright before any good sign appeared in the entrails; but as soon as their general, Pausanias, had found good tokens of victory, and persuaded his soldiers of the Divine approbation of their war, they arose, and with excellent courage first received the charge of the barbarians, and after charged them afresh, and slew Mardonius, the Persian general, and many thousands of the rest, and got the day. If the conjectural hope of the aid and assistance of a sainted deity put such courage and resolution into the Lacedaemonians, shall not faith in the true God and confidence in His help breed better blood, and infuse nobler spirits into the hearts of God’s warriors and Christian soldiers? God can save His, and overcome the enemy as well with small forces as with great, but all the forces in the world without Him have no force at all. (D. Featley, D. D.)

An inspiring presence

When Napoleon first started to fight our country and Austria, do you know what our soldiers called him? It was “Wee One-hundred-thousand-men.” That was a fine name. It was a grand testimony to the power of the little Napoleon in the midst of his army. They asked one another, “Is ‘Wee One-hundred-thousand-men’ in the army to-day?” He was worth that number of men. Please tell me at what figure you rate the Son of God. Is He in the battle to-day? (J. Robertson.)

The presence of the Master

Bacon has well said, that a dog is brave and generous when he believes himself backed by his master, but timid and crouching, especially in a strange place, when he is alone and his master away; and a human master, says the philosopher, is as a god to the dog.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 1:8". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 1:8". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, &c.— "This law, whose original is laid up in the sanctuary, shall never cease to be the subject of thy meditations and discourses, that so all thy conduct may be perfectly conformable thereto." By which it is evident, that Joshua had a copy of the law for his private use; and that it was the intention of God, that he should set an example to all kings and governors who should come after him, of a devout application to the study of its principles for their government. However weighty and numerous the occupations of Joshua might be, God means not that they should dispense him from reading, meditating, and digesting of his law: on the contrary, he requires him constantly to derive from thence his rule of conduct, as well in his private transactions, as in his public administration. Happy the people who have Joshuas at their head! If ever they can rely on the prudence of their governors, and promise themselves advantage from their ministry, it must be under such a supposition.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary



Joshua 1:6-9.

GOD has promised to be with Joshua, but Joshua must strive to act like one in partnership with God. And that He may do so, God has just two things to press on him: in the first place, to be strong and of a good courage; and in the second place, to make the book of the law his continual study and guide! In this way he shall be able to achieve the specific purpose to which he is called, to divide the land for an inheritance to the people, as God hath sworn to their fathers; and likewise, more generally, to fulfil the conditions of a successful life - "then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."

First, Joshua must be strong and very courageous. But are strength and courage really within our own power? Is strength not absolutely a Divine gift, and as dependent on God in its ordinary degrees as it was in the case of Samson in its highest degree? No doubt in a sense it is so; and yet the amount even of our bodily strength is not wholly beyond our own control. As bodily strength is undoubtedly weakened by careless living, by excess of eating and drinking, by all irregular habits, by the breathing of foul air, by indolence and self-indulgence of every kind, so undoubtedly it is increased and promoted by attention to the simple laws of health, by activity and exercise, by sleep and sabbatic rest, by the moderate use of wholesome food, as well as by abstinence from hurtful drinks and drugs. And surely the duty of being strong, in so far as such things can give strength, is of far more importance than many think; for if we can thus maintain and increase our strength we shall be able to serve both God and man much better and longer than we could otherwise have done. On the other hand, the feebleness and fitfulness and querulousness often due to preventible illness must increase the trouble which we give to others, and lessen the beneficent activity and the brightening influence of our own lives.

But in Joshua's case it was no doubt strength and courage of soul that was mainly meant. Even that is not wholly independent of the ordinary conditions of the body. On the other hand, there are no doubt memorable cases where the elasticity and power of the spirit have been in the very inverse ratio to the strength of the body. By cheerful views of life and duty, natural depression has been counteracted, and the soul filled with hope and joy. ''The joy of the Lord," said Nehemiah, “is the strength of His people." Fellowship with God, as our reconciled God and Father in Christ, is a source of perpetual strength. Who does not know the strengthening and animating influence of the presence even of a friend, when we find his fresh and joyous temperament playing on us in some season of depression? The radiance of his face, the cheeriness of his voice, the elasticity of his movements seem to infuse new hope and courage into the jaded soul.

When he is gone, we try to shake off the despondent feeling that has seized us, and gird ourselves anew for the battle of life. And if such an effect can be produced by fellowship with a fellow-creature, how much more by fellowship with the infinite God! - especially when it is His work we are trying to do, and when we have all His promises of help to rest on. ''God is near thee, therefore cheer thee" is a perpetual solace and stimulus to the Christian soul.

But even men who are full of Christian courage need props and bulwarks in the hour of trial. Ezra and Nehemiah were bold, but they had ways of stimulating their courage, which they sometimes needed to fall back on, and they could find allies in unlikely quarters. Ezra could draw courage even from his shame, and Nehemiah from his very pride. “I was ashamed," said Ezra, ''to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way;" therefore he determined to face the danger with no help but the unseen help of God. And when Neherniah's life was in danger from the cunning devices of the enemy, and his friends advised him to hide himself, he repelled the advice with high-minded scorn - ''Should such a man as I flee?"

But there is no source of courage like that which flows from the consciousness of serving God, and the consequent assurance that He will sustain and help His servants. Brief ejaculatory prayers, constantly dropping from their lips, often bring the courage which is needed. ''Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands," was Nehemiah's habitual exclamation when faintness of heart came over him. No doubt it was Joshua's too, as it has always been of the best of God's servants. Again and again, amid the murderous threats of cannibals in the New Hebrides, the missionary Paton must have sunk into despair but for his firm belief in the protection of God. {eS module note: the exciting biography of missionary John Paton is available at <> as an eSword module.}

The other counsel to Joshua was to follow in all things the instructions of Moses, and for this end, not to let "the book of the law depart out of his mouth, but to meditate on it day and night, that he might observe to do all that was written therein." For Joshua was called to be the executor of Moses, as it were, not to start on an independent career of his own; and that particular call he most humbly and cheerfully accepted. Instead of breaking with the past, he was delighted to build on it as his foundation, and carry it out to its predestined issues. It was no part of his work to improve on what Moses had done; he was simply to accept it and carry it out. He had his brief, he had his instructions, and these it was his one business to fulfil. No puritan ever accepted God's revelation with more profound and unquestioning reverence than Joshua accepted the law of Moses. No Oliver Cromwell or General Gordon ever recognised more absolutely his duty to carry out the plan of another, and, undisturbed himself, leave the issue in His hands. He was to be a very incarnation of Moses, and was so to meditate on his law day and night that his mind should be saturated with its contents.

This, indeed, was a necessity for Joshua, because he required to have a clear perception of the great purpose of God regarding Israel. Why had God taken the unusual course of entering into covenant with a single family out of the mass of mankind? A purpose deliberately formed and clung to for more than four hundred years must be a grand object in the Divine mind. It was Joshua's part to keep the people in mind of the solemnity and grandeur of their mission and to call them to a corresponding mode of life. What can more effectually give dignity and self-respect to men than to find that they have a part in the grand purposes of God? To find that God is not asleep; that He has neither given up the world to chance nor bound it with a chain of irreversible law, but that He calls us to be fellow-workers with Him in a great plan which shall in the end tend gloriously to advance the highest welfare of man?

This habit of meditation on the law which Joshua was instructed to practise was of great value to one who was to lead a busy life. No mere cursory perusal of a book of law can secure the ends for which it is given. The memory is treacherous, the heart is careless, and the power of worldly objects to withdraw attention is proverbial. We must be continually in contact with the Book of God. The practice enjoined on Joshua has kept its ground among a limited class during all the intervening generations. In every age of the Church it has been impressed on all devout and earnest hearts that there can be no spiritual prosperity and progress without daily meditation on the Word of God. It would be hard to believe in the genuine Christianity of any one who did not make a practice morning and evening of bringing his soul into contact with some portion of that Word. And wherever an eminent degree of piety has been reached, we shall find that an eminently close study of the Word has been practised. Where the habit is perfunctory, the tendency is to omit the meditation and to be content with the reading. Even in pious families there is a risk that the reading of the Scriptures morning and evening may push the duty of meditation aside, though even then we are not to despise the benefit that arises from the familiarity gained with their contents.

But, on the other hand, the instances are numberless of men attaining to great intimacy with the Divine will and to a large conformity to it, through meditation on the Scriptures. To many the daily portion comes fresh as the manna gathered each morning at the door of Israel's camp. Think of men like George Mueller of Bristol reading the Bible from beginning to end as many as a hundred times, and finding it more fresh and interesting at each successive perusal. Think of Livingstone reading it right on four times when detained at Manyuema {eS module note: Livingstone's original autobiography is available as an eSword module at}, and Stanley three times during his Emin expedition. What resources must be in it, what hidden freshness, what power to feed and revive the soul! The sad thing is that the practice is so rare. Listen to the prophet-like rebuke of Edward Irving to the generation of his time: "Who feels the sublime dignity there is in a fresh saying descended from the porch of heaven? Who feels the awful weight there is in the least iota that hath dropped from the lips of God? Who feels the thrilling fear or trembling hope there is in words whereon the eternal destinies of himself do hang? Who feels the swelling tide of gratitude within his breast for redemption and salvation, instead of flat despair and everlasting retribution? . . . This book, the offspring of the Divine mind and the perfection of heavenly wisdom is permitted to lie from day to day, perhaps from week to week, unheeded and unperused; never welcome to our happy, healthy, and energetic moods; admitted, if admitted at all, in seasons of weakness, feeblemindedness, and disabling sorrow. . . . Oh, if books had but tongues to speak their words, then might this book exclaim, Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! I came from the love and embrace of God, and mute nature, to whom I brought no boon, did me rightful homage. ... I set open to you the gates of salvation and the way of eternal life, heretofore unknown. . . . But ye requited me with no welcome, ye held no festivity on my arrival; ye sequester me from happiness and heroism, closeting me with sickness and infirmity; ye make not of me, nor use me as your guide to wisdom and prudence, but press me into your list of duties, and withdraw me to a mere corner of your time, and most of you set me at nought and utterly disregard me. . . . If you had entertained me, I should have possessed you of the peace which I had with God when I was with Him and was daily His delight rejoicing always before Him. . . . Because I have called and ye refused ... I also will laugh at your calamity and mock when your fear cometh."

" For the Oracles of God: four Orations." Pp. 3-6.

It is no excuse for neglecting this habitual reading of the Book of God that He places us now more under the action of principles than the discipline of details. For the glory of principles is that they have a bearing on every detail of our life. "Whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him." What could be more comprehensive than this principle of action - a principle that extends to ''whatsoever we do "? There is not a moment of our waking life, not an action great or small we ever perform where the influence of this wide precept ought not to be felt. And how can it become thus pervasive unless we make it a subject of continual meditation?

In the case of Joshua, all the strenuous exhortations to him to be strong and of a good courage, and to meditate on the Divine law as given by Moses by day and by night, were designed to qualify him for his great work - "to divide the land for an inheritance to the people as God had sworn to their fathers." First of all, the land had to be conquered; and there is no difficulty in seeing how necessary it was for one who had this task on hand to be strong and of a good courage, and to meditate on God's law. Then the land had to be divided, and the people settled in their new life, and Joshua had to initiate them, as it were, in that life; he had to bind on their consciences the conditions on which the land was to be enjoyed, and start them in the performance of the duties, moral, social and religious, which the Divine constitution required. Here lay the most difficult part of his task. To conquer the country required but the talent of a military commander; to divide the country was pretty much an affair of trigonometry; but to settle them in a higher sense, to create a moral affinity between them and their God, to turn their hearts to the covenant of their fathers, to wean them from their old idolatries and establish them in such habits of obedience and trust that the doing of God's will would become to them a second nature, - here was the difficulty for Joshua. They had not only to be planted physically in groups over the country, but they had to be married to it morally, otherwise they had no security of tenure, but were liable to summary eviction. It was no land of rest for idolaters; all depended on the character they attained; loyalty to God was the one condition of a happy settlement; let them begin to trifle with the claims of Jehovah, punishment and suffering, to be followed finally by dispersion and captivity, was the inevitable result.

It was thus that Joshua had to justify his name, - to show that he was worthy to be called by the name of Jesus. The work of Jesus may be said to have been symbolized both by that of Moses and that of Joshua. Moses symbolized the Redeemer in rescuing the people from Egypt and their miserable bondage there; as "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law." Joshua symbolized Him as He renews our hearts and makes us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." For there are conditions moral and spiritual essential to our dwelling in the heavenly Canaan. ''Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? and who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." The atmosphere of heaven is too pure to be breathed by the unregenerate and unsanctified. There must be an adaptation between the character of the inhabitant and the place of his habitation. "Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Thus we see the connection between Joshua's devotion to the book of the law, and success in the great work of his life - "then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." No doubt he would have the appearance of success if he simply cleared out the inhabitants who were so degraded by sin that God was compelled to sweep them off, and settled His people in their room. But that, after all, was but a small matter unless accompanied by something more. It would not secure the people from at last sharing the fate of the old inhabitants; so far at least that though they should not be exterminated, yet they would be scattered over the face of the globe. How could Joshua get rid of these ominous words in the song of Moses to which they had so lately listened? - "They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they Him to anger. They sacrificed to devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. . . . And He said, I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith." But even if in the end of the day it should come to this, nevertheless Joshua might so move and impress the people for the time being, that in the immediate future all would be well, and the dreaded consummation would be put off to a distant day.

And so at all times, in dealing with human beings, we can obtain no adequate and satisfying success unless their hearts are turned to God. Your children may be great scholars, or successful merchants, or distinguished authors, or brilliant artists, or even statesmen; what does it come to if they are dead to God, and have no living fellowship with Jesus Christ? Your congregation may be large and influential, and wealthy, and liberal; what if they are worldly, proud, and contentious? We must aim at far deeper effects, effects not to be found without the Spirit of God. The more we labour in this spirit, the more shall our way be made prosperous, the better shall be our success. "For them that honour Me I will honour; but they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed."

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries



Joshua 1:5

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee. Literally, no one shall set himself up against thee, i.e; successfully resist thee ( ἀντιστήσεται, LXX). As I was with Moses. Literally, as I have been with Moses: that is to say, was with him and remained with him unto the end. The continuity of the work of God under the old dispensation is thus as clearly marked as that of the new in Matthew 28:20, and John 20:21-23. The promises made to Abraham, the law given to Moses, the gift of a new life in Christ, are so many parts of one great work, and that work the regeneration of mankind. I will not fail thee. Literally, I will not be weak towards thee, relax towards thee. God is ever the same, If His attitude to us be altered, it is not He who has changed, but ourselves.

Joshua 1:6

Be strong and of a good courage. Literally, be strong and vigorous. The word does not refer so much to the character of Joshua as to his actions. He was to be a man of action, alert, prompt, ready to act when occasion demanded (see Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:7, Deuteronomy 31:8, Deuteronomy 31:23). Which I sware unto their fathers (see note on verse 3).

Joshua 1:7

Be very courageous. The word is the same as is translated "be of good courage" above. Knobel remarks that the phraseology here is similar to that of Deuteronomy, but "strange to the other Books" of the Pentateuch. This may be from the fact that Deuteronomy is throughout hortatory, while the other Books are historical. But the recurrence of the hortatory phrases of Deuteronomy here is at least remarkable (see verse 3). Prosper. Rather, perhaps be wise (cf. Deuteronomy 29:9, though, according to Calvin, the word means, "not only to act prudently but successfully"). The only true Wisdom is that obtained from God, whether in answer to prayer, or in meditation on His law (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-31; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16; 1 Corinthians 3:19).

Joshua 1:8

This book of the law. The law was, therefore, embodied in a written document when the Book of Joshua was written; and as the antiquity of this Book may be regarded as proved, we may quote thus an early authority for the genuineness of at least some portions of the Pentateuch. There was a "book of the law" in Joshua's time, according to this early testimony, and we may conclude from verses 3-7 that Deuteronomy formed a part of it (see also Deuteronomy 17:19 for a similar precept. And for the fact see Deuteronomy 31:24-26). Meditate therein (cf. Psalms 1:2, Psalms 63:7, Psalms 143:5, in the original. Also Deuteronomy 31:26). Observe to do. Literally, keep to do, thus impressing on us the care necessary in deciding on our actions. All that is written therein (cf. for the expression Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 28:61; Deuteronomy 29:19, Deuteronomy 29:20, Deuteronomy 29:26; Deuteronomy 30:10). Shall have good success. The word is the same as is translated "prosper" above, and not the same as that rendered "prosperous" in this verse. "Men," says Calvin, "never act skilfully, except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the Word of God." Have I not commanded thee? "An emphatic inquiry is a stronger form of affirmation, and is generally employed by those who wish to infuse into another courage and alacrity" (Michaelis). Moreover repetition is a remarkable feature of Hebrew composition, as we may observe from the second chapter of Genesis onward, and is designed to give emphasis to what is commanded or related. Calvin would lay stress on I: "Have not I commanded thee?" But this is not borne out by the Hebrew.


Joshua 1:5-9

The source of Joshua's confidence.

I. HE HAD BEEN CHOSEN BY GOD. Moses was dead, and Joshua's heart might well have failed him. For the great lawgiver had found the task of leading the Israelites from Egypt to the borders of the promised land too much for his strength and spirit (Exodus 18:13-17; Numbers 11:11-17; Deuteronomy 1:9-15). Constant rebellions and murmurings had weakened his hands. "They provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips (Psalms 106:33), and in consequence he was not permitted to lead them into Canaan. To Joshua a harder task was assigned. He was not only to lead the Israelites, but to lead them in battle, and against foes more numerous and better prepared for war than themselves. Yet the sense that he had been marked out for the task, as well as his determination to obey the orders he had received, sustained him. He was never known to waver but once (Joshua 7:1-26), nor did the confidence of his followers in him ever falter. So may all those who have received a charge from God rest assured that they will be able to execute it.

II. HE REPOSED UPON GOD'S PROMISE. He "believed God," and it was not only "counted unto him for righteousness," but his faith led him to victory. Nothing could have nerved him for such a task but the consciousness that God was with him. For he had no personal ambition (Joshua 19:49), such as often stimulates men to great tasks. Thus the Christian warrior of today, who contends not for himself but for his Master, may emulate Joshua's courage and confidence, for the same promises are his as were Joshua's (Hebrews 13:5, Hebrews 13:6; Ephesians 6:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

III. HE WAS DILIGENT IN THE STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND HE GUIDED HIMSELF BY THEIR INJUNCTIONS. He had only the law of Moses, but he kept it (Joshua 5:1-15; Joshua 6:1-27; Joshua 7:1-26). He had been warned to extirpate the Canaanites, and he obeyed the command to the letter (Joshua 10:1-43; Joshua 11:15). The Christian who would conquer in his conflict with the powers of evil must be diligent in his study of God's Word, and careful to frame his life by its precepts. He must "meditate therein day and night (cf. Psalms 1:2; Psalms 119:1; 97-99; also Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 11:18-20; Deuteronomy 17:18, Deuteronomy 17:19), and must take heed to carry out the lessons he has learned."


Joshua 1:6-9

A renewed covenant.

The covenant made with the patriarchs, and afterwards with their descendants when they came out of Egypt, is here renewed in almost the same words. The promises are identical (Joshua 1:4, Joshua 1:5), and also the conditions of their fulfilment, which are summed up in fidelity and obedience: "Observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee" (Joshua 1:7, Joshua 1:8). This renewal to each generation of the covenant between God and His people is a law of religious history. It results both from the nature of that covenant and from the character of those who enter into it.

I. This alliance is, in its essence, THE RESTORATION OF THE BOND OF LOVE BETWEEN MAN AND GOD, by the obedience of faith. Now love is a feeling which needs to be constantly renewed. The love of one generation will not avail for the next. It must be rekindled and find fresh expression.

II. The covenant must be made between the true God and man made in His image; IT MUST BE SPIRITUAL AND SPONTANEOUS IN ITS CHARACTER. It cannot be signed upon parchment or graven in the insensate stone; it must be written upon living hearts. Hence it ought to be perpetually renewed, though it gladly avails itself of the strengthening influence of its glorious antecedents. It recognises as its essential principle the free and sovereign initiative of Divine love. "We love him because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Nor is it enough that this Divine covenant be renewed with each successive generation; it must be entered into by every individual sad. This was true, indeed, in relation to the higher religious life, even under the old covenant. How much more under the new—the covenant of the Spirit—which is ratified not by circumcision but by conversion. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).—E. DE P.


Joshua 1:5, Joshua 1:6

The leader's promise.

Such is God's word to Joshua when commencing his great task. He needed the urgent precept and the supporting promise. He was no youthful dreamer, but one long past middle life, who had no exaggerated estimate of Israel's faithfulness, and no illusions about its task. He needed, and here he gets, the quickening influence of a sacred charge. As God spake to him, so he would speak to all who are constrained by a sense of duty to God or man to undertake some task that seems beyond their powers. Let us take its general lessons to all.

I. HEROES PASS AWAY, BUT THE POWER THAT MADE THEM STILL REMAINS. When Moses left his task it seemed as if the work must come to a stand. Where should they find such grace again? or how could they do without it? Such a combination of courage and meekness, faith to follow anywhere, patience with those who had hardly faith to follow at all; such wisdom, such love—could it be repeated? could it be dispensed with? Especially now, when the finish of their great enterprise was so full of difficulty. They know little of the human heart who imagine that Joshua could gaily assume the responsibilities of his command. They who enter into great wars "with light heart" do not take long to gather heaviness. And Joshua, advanced in life, acquainted with the difficulties of his task, doubtless was tempted to feel that with Moses the heroic age had ended, and prosaic common life alone remained. Probably the people shared this feeling; and with the departure of this great hero there was the feeling that all greatness and glory was gone. The first thing that will quicken men with hope is this—heroes leave us, but God remains. Before the special promise will operate its special comfort there must be this general thought of comfort cherished and realised. And we all shall be prepared to realise the promises which suit ourselves, if we realise that amidst all changes God remains unchanged, and whatever leaves us He abides. We are all apt to say that former times were better than the present; to imagine that former greatness cannot be grown now; that grandeur of thought, saintliness, courage, will come no more "to dignify our times;" that there was special grace vouchsafed to past ages which made them rich, and which has evaporated long ago. Churchmen look back to the Fathers; Dissenters to the Reformers of the Church. Now the martyrs of the ancient days, now the stalwart heroes of Puritan times, are gilded with our reverent memory; and then rises the pensive thought that "the tender grace of the day that is dead" will never return. "As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee." Revere the saintly past, but recognise the Divine present. The great ones have gone; that which made them great remains. The fixed constancy of their maturer service makes us forget with what gradualness their characters grew. How by lowly ventures, by difficult waiting, by support only sufficient to prevent despair, they rose step by step; God's grace entering them ever the more largely and obeyed ever the more fully. So, blade to ear, ear to full corn in the ear, their character grew; and so may ours. Today the Spirit of all grace broods on humanity, kindling all wakeful spirits, entering and employing them. Still Christ's love helps and harbours all. The peculiarities of the nineteenth century do not enfeeble God. And He is here, fresh and strong today. He will hallow, not equalise, varieties of constitution; will not make a Joshua into a Moses, nor an Elisha into an Elijah; but with special grace for their special task will equally endue each. Despair not of God's Church; tremble not for the ark of God; despair not of our country, or of mankind. Whoever, whatever has gone, God remains. "As He was with our fathers, so He will be with us."

II. WITH EVERY DUTY COMES THE POWER TO DO IT. "I will not fall thee, nor forsake thee." If the first clause of the text promised the presence, the second pledges the power and help, of God. He will be with Joshua—not merely in sense of ubiquity, but in sense of interest; not to watch faults and failures, but to prevent them. There was the fear that in this enterprise many things might "fail" them. The people's courage might fail; they might withdraw from allegiance to him; his wisdom might be at fault, his endurance might fail. But God comes in and says, "I will not fail thee." Will disappoint no expectation, withhold no needed help; will not fail you when you are weak, nor forsake you when you are faulty. With the duty there will be the power, for God will not fail us. There is no part of the gospel more necessary or more sweet than this—that with duty power always comes; they walk hand in hand. The moment the Saviour's precept makes it the man's duty to stretch forth his hand, that moment he has power to do it. When the disciples are bidden to feed the multitude they have power to do so. The acceptance of a charge opens the heart to God, and He floods it with His grace. If the disciples are sent out to cast out devils they have the power to do so, for God does not fail them. They never get power apart from Him, of which they can be conscious and proud. But He is there—by them, in them; and when they are feeling all weakness, and unfitness, He, not failing, charges them with all the grace they need. You are called to confess Christ; to forsake some pleasant or profitable course of evil; to stand alone; to take up some forlorn hope of philanthropy … and you feel no strength, energy, vigour for your task. Take this comfort: with duty there invariably comes the power to discharge it. "I will never fail thee, nor forsake thee." Observe lastly—

III. COURAGE IS THE SUPREME REQUIREMENT OF GOD'S SAINTS, AND STRENGTH GOES WITH IT. "Be strong and of a good courage." It is striking how large a place exhortations to courage hold in all the Bible. "Add to your faith, courage" (not virtue), says Peter; and so saying sums up many testimonies. You cannot easily count the "fear nots" of the Bible. And these are not merely soothing words, calming solicitude, but quickening words, calling to conflict and to victory. Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and you will find that in almost every instance in which the writer attributes men's greatness to their faith he might have done so with equal truth to their courage. Fear is the parent of every kind of vice; fear of conflict, fear of shame, fear of failure, fear that God will leave fidelity unrewarded and prayer unanswered. "They were afraid to confess him," says the Evangelist of those who sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. "I was afraid and went and hid my talent." Fear exaggerates difficulties, murmurs at duties, shrinks from reproach, postpones duty, then neglects it, and then hates God with the bitterness of despair. Be of good courage. If seeking God, seek hopefully, expecting to find Him. If distressed with doubts, face them bravely, and calmly wait the rising of the broader light which will include all that is best of old and new. Are you afflicted, bereaved, and broken? Be brave and of good courage. Look the grave in the face, and summon your energy to meet the falsehoods of despair. Are you failing—"feet almost gone," "perplexed," and all but in despair? Be of good courage, for hardihood of spirit, while it is needed, is sufficient for what you have to do. Strength goes with it. The momentum of a projectile is the product of its mass and velocity; and a lighter ball, if driven with greater force, will do all the work of a heavier one that moves more slowly. And this law of mechanics is true of souls. There is many a soul light, fragile, weak, but which hurls itself with energy against resisting forces, which has a power of overcoming far in excess of that possessed by many stronger and lordlier natures. Be strong and of good courage. If God appoints the task and leads the way, you are in a course in which fear of failure is superfluous. Let the eye be brighter; go not to your task burdened with melancholy of dark foreboding. Courage gladdening, strengthening you is duty and strength in one. Joshua obeyed the precept, and exceedingly abundantly above all he thought realised the promise. Let us act like him, and then from a pinnacle of high performance and blest success we shall look back and praise our God for the "faithful word on which he caused us to hope."—G.


Joshua 1:8

The study of the Bible.

Who without secret misgiving could succeed to the position of Moses, that large-hearted, clear-sighted, faithful servant of God? How overwhelming the anxiety of him who would aspire to be leader of the Israelites; a fickle people who, "like bees about to swarm, were ready to alight on any bough." He who summoned Joshua to occupy the vacant post promised to stand by and strengthen him. He gave him the direction contained in the text, to study well the book of the law. He seemed to say, "Take it; it shall be thy food, live upon it: carry it as a torch, and it will illumine thy pathway in the thickest darkness: in the vigour of thy manhood it shall be thy wand of truth to scatter doubt and error from before thee, and it shall be a staff to sustain thee in the decrepitude of age." Surely the advice given to Joshua is applicable to all who are in positions of responsibility or perplexity. How fitted for the young! What better can any of us do than seek wisdom at the oracles of God? Let us group our thoughts under three headings.


1. Its subject-matter. "This book of the law." This recommendation stamps the Pentateuch with authority. Joshua was favoured with direct communications from the Almighty, sometimes by an inward revelation, sometimes by the appearance of an angel in visible form. He could also consult the wishes of God by means of the high priest's Urim and Thummim. Yet was he to study the written word. Meteoric flashes were not to make him careless of the steady light that burned in the lamp of God's truth. Provision was made for a public rehearsal of the law every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10), and it was the duty of a king on ascending the throne to write out a copy of the law (Deuteronomy 18:18). How intense should be the eagerness with which we meditate on the whole Bible. The rapturous strains of the Messianic prophets, the simple and sublime gospel narratives, the epistles—those commentaries on the preparatory dispensation and on Christian doctrine—do not all these "testify" of the Saviour? Well may we "search the Scriptures." Consider the fitness of the Bible to be a general textbook. It contains lessons suited to all capacities; the flowing river for the man, the purling brook for the little child, doctrines for the learned, pictured stories for the common people. It contains all truth needful to make us "wise unto salvation," and contains it in a compact form, so portable that each may have a Mentor always at his side. It tells us things of the utmost importance which we could not know without it; and it comes in to verify the conclusions of our reasoning. It lends to the utterances of conscience the might of Divine testimony.

2. The character of the meditation enjoined. Constant—"day and night." So close a companion that it was not to "depart out of his mouth." It should become his mother tongue; his speech should be redolent of the law. Constant reading alone can make us familiar with the contents of Scripture, so as to be well equipped at all points for the Christian warfare. Many knotty questions would Joshua have to decide; and many are the occasions on which men err grievously through "not knowing the Scriptures." The command of the text implies that it was to be no formal perusal, but an endeavour to grasp the real meaning of the law. Glancing at the pages of the word can do little good; we want to enter into and imbibe the spirit of that we read. A good plan to read the Scriptures regularly through. There will be many an oasis in what we called a desert, and many a pretty flower on what we deemed only a sterile rock. It is profitable to read "at morning and at night." He is well armed for his struggle with temptations and annoyances who goes to his work fortified by previous study of the Scriptures; and after the battle of the day is over, when the shadows of evening surround him or the gloomier shadows of trouble threaten to enclose him, there is naught so effectual to dissipate the darkness as the kindled rays of the heavenly lamp. Then "at evening time it shall be light."

II. ACTION. Meditation is to be followed by appropriate conduct. "That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." The inference is plain—that the law contains, as we should expect in a law, precepts to be observed. And the whole Bible may be considered as a law. There are general regulations and positive institutions. "This do and thou shall live" is common both to the Old and New Testament, the difference being in the things to be done, and the spirit that is to characterise the doing thereof. We may test the value of our meditation by the obedience which results. Obedience is a proof of holding the things read in due estimation. "Why call ye me, Lord, and do not … say?" Obedience springs from faith, a hearty acceptance of the will and ways of God. Obedience brings its own confirmation of the truth. "If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him." "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." "Hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments." Obedience is to extend to the smallest matters. "Observe to do according to all." The only question with Joshua to be, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" We do not plead for the "letter" as against the "spirit," nor forget that many Scripture precepts are expressed in a general form, and one must be compared with another to ascertain the intention of our Lawgiver. But many persons are for drawing distinctions, for keeping greater and violating lesser commandments. Some will compound with God. These ordinances they will observe, those they will neglect. Such resemble the strangers imported into Samaria, who "feared the Lord and served their own gods" (2 Kings 17:33). A little Christian service and a little idolatry, a little self denial, and a little worldliness to make the former palatable. We see the necessity of the frequent injunction, "Be strong, very courageous." Joshua would have often to act in opposition to the prejudices and desires and clamours of the multitude. He who will follow Christ must "be courageous," must be prepared to act in the teeth of worldly wisdom, to forego "good openings," to refuse to give dishonest measure, though his gains be thereby slow in accumulating. We want a knowledge of the Bible, not merely as words and sentences but as influential principles. Not the Hebrew and not the Greek do we want so much as a translation of them into thought and feeling and conduct. He has not read his Bible to good purpose who has not repented of sin and thankfully accepted God's well-beloved Son as his Saviour, his Redeemer "from all iniquity."

III. PROSPERITY. The reward of obedience.

1. Regard prosperity, first, as the natural consequence of noting on good advice. The rules framed for the guidance of the Israelites evince consummate wisdom. Experience proved how disastrous was any attempt to depart from the lines of procedure there laid down. And many familiar instances show that, in modern days, he who steers by God s compass and chart is preserved from many rocks and shallows, and is most likely to reach the haven of his legitimate desire. A pure, temperate Christian life is likeliest to win real success in any department of activity.

2. Regard prosperity as a promised result. He who consults Omniscience is helped by Omnipotence. A finger post may indicate the way, it can do no more. God is a living Guide; he has written directions and he aids in the performance of them. "No good thing shall fail of all that he has promised concerning us." "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you." Blessed is the man whose "delight is in the law of the Lord," so that "in it he doth meditate day and night, he shall be like a tree shall prosper" (Psalms 1:2, Psalms 1:3).—A.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9; 11:18,19; 17:18,19; 30:14; 31:11; Psalms 37:30,31; 40:10; Psalms 119:42,43; Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 12:35; Ephesians 4:29
thou shalt
Psalms 1:2,3; 19:14; 119:11,15,97,99; Proverbs 2:1-5; 3:1; Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:14-16
Deuteronomy 5:29,32,33; 6:1-3; Matthew 7:21,24; 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 13:17; 14:21; James 1:22-25; Revelation 22:14
have good success
or, do wisely.
7; *marg:
Reciprocal: Genesis 24:56 - prospered;  Genesis 24:63 - to meditate;  Genesis 39:3 - prosper;  Exodus 13:9 - may be;  Joshua 2:24 - Truly the Lord;  Joshua 8:31 - as it is;  Joshua 23:9 - no man;  1 Kings 2:3 - prosper;  1 Chronicles 22:13 - Then shalt;  2 Chronicles 17:9 - the book;  2 Chronicles 31:21 - prospered;  2 Chronicles 32:30 - And Hezekiah;  2 Chronicles 34:14 - the law;  2 Chronicles 34:18 - And Shaphan read;  Psalm 19:7 - law;  Psalm 111:10 - a good understanding;  Psalm 119:24 - my counsellors;  Proverbs 3:4 - good understanding;  Proverbs 3:21 - let;  Isaiah 34:16 - Seek;  Isaiah 48:15 - GeneralIsaiah 52:13 - deal prudently;  Zechariah 8:9 - Let;  John 5:38 - ye have;  John 5:39 - Search;  Acts 8:28 - and sitting;  1 Timothy 4:13 - to reading;  1 Timothy 4:15 - Meditate

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Out of thy mouth — That is, thou shalt constantly read it, and upon occasion discourse of it, and the sentence which shall come out of thy mouth, shall in all things be given according to this rule.

Day and night — That is, diligently study, and upon all occasions consider what is God's will and thy duty. The greatness of thy place and employments shall not hinder thee from this work, because this is the only rule of all thy private actions, and publick administrations.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.This book of the law — Already had revelation solidified itself into a book form. The wisdom of God in selecting this form will be evident when we consider, (1) That the human race instinctively put into monumental form all the great truths, laws, discoveries, and historic events which they wish to perpetuate; (2) The untrustworthy character of oral traditions; (3) The difficulty of corrupting documents intrusted to the guardianship of a class solemnly set apart for that purpose, and imbued with a religious awe for the very letter of the sacred manuscript, or as published to the world by the multiplication of copies scattered abroad through all lands.

Shall not depart — The written divine law shall be a theme of constant study, thought, and conversation, the rule of both his private and official life.

Shall meditate — The Hebrew word הגה, sometimes means to mutter, speak aloud, but “we are not to think of this meditation as a learned study, nor as a ‘reading aloud,’ as Bunsen explains it, but rather as a mature reflection upon the law, by which Joshua should penetrate more deeply into its meaning.” — Fay. Happy is the nation of Bible readers ruled by one who receives the law at the mouth of God!

Have good success — Rather, act wisely. Compare Joshua 1:7.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.