Be Brave

Bible Book: Deuteronomy  31 : 6
Subject: Courage

I’ve thought today about one of the old lively songs that we used to sing in the churches when I was growing up. The songwriter said…

If you’re in the battle for the Lord and right, Keep on the firin’ line,

If you win, my brother, surely you must fight, Keep on the firin’ line;

There are many dangers that we all must face,

If we die a fighting it is no disgrace,

Coward in the service he will find no place,

So keep on the firin’ line.

And the chorus said…

You must fight, be brave against all evil, Never run, nor even lag behind;

If you would win for God and the right, Just keep on the firin’ line.

Someone said that…

Being brave is all about moving out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself and doing things or saying things that you are just not used to.

Someone else said…

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.

(Eddie Rickenbacker, from Bits & Pieces, April 29, 1993, p. 12)

W.T. Sherman said…

I would define true courage to be a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.

Adrian Rogers tells about the man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone had already done that.”

Again, the songwriter said “You must fight and be brave.” Can you be brave? Can I be brave … in the face of evil? I’ve had to try to do that on occasion. But every time I’ve been called to that place that demanded bravery, I found that the bravery didn’t come from me or my strength. I had to find strength from a higher source.

I believe that Moses learned that through repeated experiences in his lifetime.

The Bible tells us that the book of Deuteronomy is the record of an old man named Moses reminding a much younger generation of what God expected of them. And probably over a period of several days, this venerable leader, God’s man, rises up among the people, and the Bible says in the first verse of our chapter…

(Deuteronomy 31:1) And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.

Have you ever heard the old-timers talk about how they have just about got “past going”? That’s basically what Moses tells them in verse. He indicates that he is getting ready to pass off the scene, and he told them that Joshua would be the leader in his place.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary mentions the “life expectancy in the ancient Near East” saying…

In Egypt the ideal length of life was 110 years; in a wisdom text from *Emar in Syria it was 120. Examination of mummies has demonstrated that the average life expectancy in Egypt in this general period was between 40 and 50, though texts speak of some reaching 70 and 80. Mesopotamian texts of several different periods mention individuals who lived into their seventies and eighties, and the mother of the *Babylonian king Nabonidus was reported to have lived 104 years.

Moses himself said in Psalm 90…

(Psalms 90:10) The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

This makes it all the more remarkable in what the Bible records of Moses in verse 2…

(Deuteronomy 31:2) And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.

Adam Clarke reminds us that…

These one hundred and twenty years were divided into three remarkable periods: forty years he lived in Egypt, in Pharaoh’s court, acquiring all the learning and wisdom of the Egyptians; forty years he sojourned in the land of Midian in a state of preparation for his great and important mission; and forty years he guided, led, and governed the Israelites under the express direction and authority of God: in all, one hundred and twenty years.

In spite of this advanced age, Deuteronomy 34:7 indicates that his strength was not diminished. But apparently, God determined that it was time for him to die.

It must have been with a tinge of sadness that Moses noted, “Also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” The reason for this was, of course, his smiting of the rock at Meribah in disobedience to God’s command to merely “speak” to the rock.

(Numbers 20:11-12) And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. {12} And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

But with the imminent expectation of his death, Moses wanted to inspire courage in the hearts of the people to follow after God. So in verse 6…

I. Moses Mentioned The Courage That We Can Have As God’s People

(Deuteronomy 31:6) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

A. He Said That The People Should Be Strongly Fortified

be strong

strong – Hebrew 2388. chazaq, khaw-zak'; a prim. root; to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong (fig. courageous, causat. strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer:--aid, amend, X calker, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, continue, be of good (take) courage (-ous, -ly), encourage (self), be established, fasten, force, fortify, make hard, harden, help, (lay) hold (fast), lean, maintain, play the man, mend, become (wax) mighty, prevail, be recovered, repair, retain, seize, be (wax) sore, strengten (self), be stout, be (make, shew, wax) strong (-er), be sure, take (hold), be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand.

Adam Clarke said…

[Be strong] ‎Chizquw‎, the same word that is used Exodus 4:21; 9:15, for hardening Pharaoh’s heart. … The Septuagint, in this and the following verse, have, ‎Andrizou ‎‎kai ‎‎ischue‎, Play the man, and be strong; and from this Paul seems to have borrowed his ideas (in) 1 Corinthians 16:13.

Cf. (1 Corinthians 16:13) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men (act manly), be strong.

B. He Said That The People Should Be Steadfastly Faithful

of a good courage

of good courage – Hebrew 553. 'amats, aw-mats'; a prim. root; to be alert, phys. (on foot) or ment. (in courage):--confirm, be courageous (of good courage, stedfastly minded, strong, stronger), establish, fortify, harden, increase, prevail, strengthen (self), make strong (obstinate, speed).

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says…

Israel was therefore to be of good courage, and not to be afraid of them (cf. Deuteronomy 1:21; 20:3).

The old Nazarene preacher from the early 1900’s, Uncle Bud Robinson prayed like this…

“Oh Lord, give me a backbone as big as a sawlog, ribs like the sleepers under the church floor, put iron shoes on me and galvanized breeches, give me a rhinoceros hide for a skin, and hang a wagonload of determination up in the gable-end of my soul, and help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I’ve got a fist and bite him as long as I have a tooth, then gum him till I die. All this I ask for Christ’s sake. Amen.”

II. Moses Mentioned The Companion That We Can Have As God’s People

(Deuteronomy 31:6) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

A. Because Of The Lord, We Can Be Confidently Bold

fear not, nor be afraid of them

What Moses says here, “be not afraid of them,” is connected to what is said in verses 3 thru 5.

(Deuteronomy 31:3-5) The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said. {4} And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed. {5} And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.

He offers the example of how they defeated Sihon and Og through the enablement of the Lord. This was no small task. As the IVP Bible Background Commentary says…

The Amorite king of Bashan, Og, is mentioned as the last of the Rephaim or giants, whose “bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide” (see Numbers 21:33-35; Deuteronomy 3:11).

They would be facing people with fortified cities, such as Jericho. But God told them through Moses not to be afraid.

B. Because Of The Lord, We Can Be Continually Blessed

the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee

LORD – Hebrew 3068. Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord.

God – Hebrew 430. 'elohiym, el-o-heem'; plur. of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:--angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

W. E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words said that the phrase “doth go” (OT:1980 – halak) “essentially … refers to movement.” But there is a strong idea of the constancy of God’s companionship with His people in the idea of ‘going.”

doth go – Hebrew 1980. halak, haw-lak'; akin to H3212; a prim. root; to walk (in a great variety of applications, lit. and fig.):--(all) along, apace, behave (self), come, (on) continually, be conversant, depart, + be eased, enter, exercise (self), + follow, forth, forward, get, go (about, abroad, along, away, forward, on, out, up and down), + greater, grow, be wont to haunt, lead, march, X more and more, move (self), needs, on, pass (away), be at the point, quite, run (along), + send, speedily, spread, still, surely, + tale-bearer, + travel (-ler), walk (abroad, on, to and fro, up and down, to places), wander, wax, [way-] faring man, X be weak, whirl.

As C. Austin Miles wrote nearly a hundred years ago…

He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

III. Moses Mentioned The Confirmation That We Can Have As God’s People

(Deuteronomy 31:6) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

A. The Truth Is Set Forth Plainly That The Lord Will Not Fail Us

He will not fail thee

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon says that this word “fail” (OT:7503 – raphah) has this idea…

‎To sink down like hay in the flame; to sink, decline like the day; sink, drop (of wings), of hands, (Nehemiah 6:9) their hands will drop from the work (in fear); elsewhere it has the figurative idea of losing heart or energy. It may mean to sink down or relax.

B. The Truth Is Set Forth Plainly That The Lord Will Not Forsake Us

nor forsake thee

forsake – Hebrew 5800. 'azab, aw-zab'; a prim. root; to loosen, i.e. relinquish, permit, etc.:--commit self, fail, forsake, fortify, help, leave (destitute, off), refuse, X surely.

The idea is that he will never relinquish His oversight of His people. He will never deliver us into the hands of another. The writer of Hebrews reiterated this truth, saying…

(Hebrews 13:5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

forsake – Greek 1459. egkataleipo, en-kat-al-i'-po; from G1722 and G2641; to leave behind in some place, i.e. (in a good sense) let remain over, or (in a bad one) to desert:--forsake, leave.

Matthew Henry said…

The Lord thy God that has led thee and kept thee hitherto will go over before thee; and those might follow boldly who were sure that they had God for their leader. He repeats it again (v. 6) with an emphasis: “The Lord thy God, the great Jehovah, who is thine in covenant, he it is, he and no less, he and no other, that goes before thee; not only who by his promise has assured thee that he will go before thee; but by his ark, the visible token of his presence, shows thee that he does actually go before thee.” And he repeats it with enlargement: “Not only he goes over before thee at first, to bring thee in, but he will continue with thee all along, with thee and thine; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee; he will not disappoint thy expectations in any strait, nor will he ever desert thy interest; be constant to him, and he will be so to thee.”


Bruce Larson shares the following story…

When I was a small boy, I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of Chicago.

One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to Al Capone.

In the prohibition years, Capone’s rule was absolute. The local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But singlehandedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christian layman and without any government support, organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens who were determined to take Mr. Capone to court and put him away.

During the months that the Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch’s life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was the instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago.

Frank Loesch had risked his life to live out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the service, my father, a Chicago businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometime I’d catch a tear in my father’s eye. For my dad and for all of us this was and is what authentic living is all about.

(Excerpted from Charles Swindoll’s book, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.124-5)

Perhaps that’s how the younger generation felt when they looked at Moses. He wasn’t telling them to do something that he had not done in his own life. He had stood for God in the face of opposition from society and government in the form of Egypt and Pharaoh. He had stood boldly in the face of criticism from God’s own people.

So when Moses said, ‘Be brave because God will be with you,’ he knew what he was talking about.

All these centuries and even millennia later, His words echo in our ears. Be brave because God will be with you!