Live Courageously under the Precepts of God

Bible Book: Joshua  1 : 9
Subject: Courage; Precepts Leading to Boldness
Series: Live Courageously

In days of deep discouragement we need eternal encouragement. Courage is a precious commodity! With it, we can do amazing things, without it we can hardly do anything. Dr. Alexander Maclaren warns, “Courage that does not rest on Christ’s presence is audacity rather than courage, and sure to collapse.”[1]

Rev. Alvin C. Sullivan (1928-2011) baptized me on August 2, 1970, at Bethany Baptist Church in Whistler, Alabama. His wife, Dolores, (1928-2012) taught me in the sixth grade at Greystone Christian School in Mobile, Alabama. Bro. Sullivan loaned me some books written by Dr. R. G. Lee (1886-1978) before I was inducted into the R. G. Lee Society of Fellows at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Part of the requirement was to write a sermon for publication using illustrative material written by Dr. Lee. When I made my way to return the books, Mrs. Sullivan greeted me at the door with the words of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Those words provided some much needed encouragement that afternoon in 2002. Dr. Kenneth O. Gangel (1935-2009) describes Joshua 1:9 as follows: “Surely one of the greatest verses in the Bible, these words echo through the heart of anyone who has ever tried to serve the Lord.”[2]

On January 9, 2015, Sharon and I met a young lady who was a sales associate in Belk department store in Spanish Fort named “Ephesian”. I asked if her name was related to a book in the Bible. She lit up and said, “Yes.” I asked if she realized the Book of Ephesians is the New Testament counterpart to the Book of Joshua. In the Book of Joshua the Israelites were to conquer the physical land of Canaan and in the Book of Ephesians the Church is to conquer the spiritual Canaan.

Now to our text, Joshua 1:9a that reads, “Have I not commanded you?” Joshua 1:1-4 reads, “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.”

Dr. Donald H. Madvig writes, “Perhaps Joshua was intimidated by the greatness of his predecessor Moses and the awesomeness of his own responsibility. For this reason courage is emphasized in the Lord’s charge to him.”[3] Dr. Henry Blackaby writes, “Stepping into the shoes of a popular and successful leader can be a disconcerting experience. Most people would feel somewhat inadequate when asked to assume a position vacated by a celebrated and revered leader. Joshua had plenty of reasons to feel insecure when God called him to lead the Israelites into Canaan. He faced powerful, hostile armies. His enemies were well equipped with iron chariots and fortified cities. And his predecessor had been Moses, the most famous and respected figure in Israelite history. No wonder God gave Joshua the following assurances: ‘No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’ (Josh. 1:5-9).”[4]

The changing of the guard is a most vulnerable time. Note the smooth transition of leadership. Numbers 27:12-23 reads, “Now the Lord said to Moses: ‘Go up into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel. And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered. For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to hallow Me at the waters before their eyes.’ (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.) Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.’ And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.’ So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” Later, we read in Joshua 4:14, “On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.”

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) shares the following in Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History: “As the Israelites stood ready to enter the land, God’s main emphasis was upon the book.”[5] As we read earlier from Numbers 27:21, “He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.”

Dr. Schaeffer explains, “But though Joshua was going to have this special leading from the Lord, this was not to detract from the central reference point and chief control: the written book. The Word of God written in the book set the limitations. Thus, Joshua was already functioning in the way Bible believing Christians function. Sometimes God does lead in other ways, but such leading must always be within the circle of his external, propositional commands in Scripture. Even if a person had an Urim and a Thummim as well as a priest to guide him, this would not change his basic authority. The primary leading would come from the written, propositional revelation of God, from the Bible.

So we see that the written book was the first of the three changeless factors that stood with Joshua as he assumed leadership.”[6]

Dr. Schaeffer writes, “Joshua had been walking beside Moses (the young man beside the older) for forty years, yet God’s command to Joshua was not just general. It was not, ‘Try to remember what Moses told you and follow it.’ Rather, Joshua was to search out and constantly study the sharp and definite commands in the written book.”[7]

Joshua 1:8a reads, “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. . .” This is a three-fold command:


“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth. . .” Declare it!

“. . . but you shall meditate on it day and night. . .” Digest it!

“. . . so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. . .” Do it!

Note three elements we encounter as believers as did Joshua.

I. There are fightings without

Joshua is commanded to lead the children of Israel to conquer Canaan. The Book of Joshua records the campaigns for the conquest. For example, we read in Joshua 10:25, “Then Joshua said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.’” Fighting was involved. In our day the fightings are primarily with the world system and the devil. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Isaac Watts (1674-1748) declares in his great hymn, “I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord. . .”[8] Paul writes, “I fought a good fight. . .” (2 Timothy 4:7) We must fight the good fight with faith. 2 Corinthians 7:5 reads, “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” (Emphasis mine)

Charlotte Elliot’s (1789-1871) hymn titled, “Just As I Am” refers to “fightings within and fears without”.[9] Charles Wesley’s (1707-1788) hymn refers to “fightings without and fears within” in the following hymn:


And are we yet alive,
And see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
For great redeeming grace!

Preserved by power divine
To full salvation here,
Again in Jesus’ praise we join
In Jesus' sight appear.

What troubles have we seen,
What mighty conflicts past,
Fightings without, and fears within,
Since we assembled last![10] (Emphasis mine)

II. There are fears within

American General, George S. Patton (1885-1945) said, “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”[11] Dr. Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) writes, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”[12]

2 Corinthians 7:5 reads, “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” (Emphasis mine) The fears associated with spiritual warfare are based in the flesh, but faith overcomes fear. Dr. Harry Lathrop Reed (1867-1964) former president of Auburn Theological Seminary, Auburn, New York, writes the following on the phrase “afflicted on every side” (2 Corinthians 7:5): “What he says of affliction and comfort here helps to interpret what he meant when he used these words repeatedly in the first chapter (1:3-11). What the troubles were which surrounded him in Macedonia he does not say. But he implies that they were of two kinds.

Without were fightings, within were fears. The fears from within are easily understood. Paul feared lest the delay of Titus meant the failure of his mission to Corinth. He feared that this letter, written with many tears, had not had the desired effect. What the fightings from without were no one can determine. Possibly he was beset by opponents.”[13]

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) explains, “If you would maintain the life of victory . . . you must be careful to practice reverence, careful reverence. Look in [Joshua 24] verse 14. ‘Now therefore fear the Lord....’ Fear the Lord. That’s the first thing he says. Fear the Lord. Do you know how you can lose your walk with God? Get casual, get careless, lose the awe, lose the respect, lose the fear of the Lord. Over and over and over again in the Bible we are admonished to fear God.”[14]

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546), father of the Reformation, wrote:

Feelings come and feelings go,

And feelings are deceiving;

My warrant is the Word of God,

Naught else is worth believing!

Though all my heart should feel condemned

For lack of some sweet token,

There is One greater than my heart

Whose Word cannot be broken!


I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word

Till soul and body sever;

For, though all things shall pass away,

His Word shall stand forever![15]

Dwight L. Moody (1834-1899) writes, “I don't think a man gains much by loading himself down with weapons to defend himself. There has been life enough sacrificed in this country to teach men a lesson in this regard. The Word of God is a much better protection than the revolver. We had better take the Word of God to protect us, by accepting its teaching, and living out its precepts.”[16] Luke 22:35-38 reads, “And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.’ So they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’” (Emphasis mine) Psalm 20:7 reads, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 56:3-4 reads, “Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in you. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?” Jesus said, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

III. There are facts withal

The hard cold facts of life. The Word of God deals with reality and the facts of life, which are encountered every day. In other words, it is relevant. God is not limited by “the facts of life”, just ask Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:17; 18:13; 21:1-8) not to mention the virgin conception of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary! Face the facts of life with faith. The fact of the devil must not be underestimated. Dr. Adrian Rogers once stated, “I want to tell you that the devil is real. He’s not something to be laughed off and not something to be caricatured, and not something to be joked about. The devil is a decided fact. The devil is a destructive force. But thank God, the devil is a defeated foe.”[17] One of the devil’s wiles involves an attempt to get believers to doubt or disbelieve the Word of God.

Dr. Ed Hindson writes, “Perhaps you are hesitating to take a step of faith in your life. Could I remind you that the same God who stood by Joshua will stand by you? He will go with you all the way. He never asks you to do anything that He will not make possible for you to do. Take that step of obedience and surrender to Him right now.”[18]

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer explains even though Joshua knew Moses was not a perfect man; he accepted the divine authority of the five books penned by Moses as Holy Scripture.[19] Dr. Schaeffer was impressed by this transitional element and called Joshua a bridge book.[20]
Joshua 5:13-15 reads, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Emphasis mine)

W. Phillip Keller (1920-2001) writes, “He [Joshua] has seldom been given the full credit he deserves as perhaps the greatest man of faith ever to set foot on the stage of human history. In fact, his entire brilliant career was a straightforward story of simply setting down one foot after another in quiet compliance with the commands of God.”[21]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “Encouragement from God's written Word (vv. 7-8). It’s one thing to say to a leader, ‘Be strong! Be very courageous!’ and quite something else to enable him to do it. Joshua’s strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts. This was the counsel Moses had given to all the people (Deut. 11:1-9), and now God was applying it specifically to Joshua.’”[22] Joshua 21:45 reads, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) writes, “The law itself also containing the precepts and prohibitions was read (v. 35), it should seem by Joshua himself, who did not think it below him to be a reader in the congregation of the Lord. In conformity to this example, the solemn reading of the law, which was appointed once in seven years (Deu. 31:10, 11), was performed by their king or chief magistrate. . . . It was not many weeks since Moses had preached the whole book of Deuteronomy to them, yet Joshua must now read it all over again; it is good to hear twice what God has spoken once (Psa. 62:11) and to review what had been delivered to us, or to have it repeated, that we may not let it slip.”[23]
Deuteronomy 29:29 reads, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Dr. Frederick Field (1801-1885) comments, “Because we do, in fact, possess it. Was it not ‘written for our learning’? delivered to us at the first, and handed down by a providential arrangement, for our benefit? Let this suffice. Where there is no other claimant, possession alone is a valid title. This is an acknowledged maxim in regard to other kinds of property; and so it would be in regard to this, were it not for one consideration, namely, that we do not see men using and enjoying this part of their possessions as they do the rest. . . . ‘Those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ That is the use of this property—to ‘do all the words,’ etc. It is the absence of that, and nothing else, that casts a suspicion upon our real title to the property. If men were always seen doing those things which are contained in the Bible—obeying its precepts, copying its examples, believing its truths, appropriating its promises; in short, living and feeding upon the oracles of God, instead of remaining all their lives ‘hearers only, deceiving their own selves,’—there would, there could be, no question as to their right of possession.”[24] Rev. Matthew Henry writes, “Joshua must himself be under command; no man’s dignity or dominion sets him above the law of God.”[25] Dr. Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) writes, “The commands and precepts of God often appear strange unto carnal wisdom.”[26] Rev. John G. Butler writes, “True faith may be perplexed by the precepts but that will not stop it from fulfilling the precepts. True faith does not think itself smarter than God.”[27] In the face of opposition and persecution, we must remember the words of Peter and the other apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Drs. Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby explain, “When you hear from the Father, you have an immediate agenda for your life: obedience.”[28]


In “A Word to The Reader,” Rev. Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) writes, “Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul.* It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian, &c.”[29] From a book titled Revelation: Tribulation and Triumph we read the following: “A lesson can be learned from John’s experience in the preceding passage to the impact that the Word of God has on believers’ lives. God has gifted us with the Bible as an instruction book concerning His principles and precepts by which we should conduct our lives. The Word is always sweet to us as we read it because it registers a true witness within our spirits. However, when we ‘digest’ the Holy Word, when we seek to apply it to our lives, it becomes bitter as it clashes with our human nature. . . . The Word corrects us as it cuts away the chaff of selfishness and self-centeredness. It implores us to trust and obey that which is godly rather than that which is human.”[30] Charles Wesley shares the following:


Come, divine Interpreter,

Bring me eyes Thy book to read,

Ears the mystic words to hear,

Words which did from Thee proceed,

Words that endless bliss impart,

Kept in an obedient heart.

All who read, or hear, are blessed,

If Thy plain commands we do;

Of Thy kingdom here possessed,

Thee we shall in glory view

When Thou comest on earth to abide,

Reign triumphant at Thy side.[31]


Psalm 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Dr. O. S. Hawkins explains in The Joshua Code, “The challenge is to meditate on the Word of God both ‘day and night,’ and meeting that challenge involves constant practice. This verse [Joshua 1:8] is a high-water mark in discipleship. No one before had been instructed to receive orders from God through the words of a book.”[32] Dr. Hawkins further explains, “Here is true success in life: to stay in the Word of God until we find the will of God so that we can walk in the ways of God.”[33] Psalm 119:93 reads, “I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.” Live courageously under the precepts of God!



[1]Alexander Maclaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture: Genesis, 89. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[2]Holman Old Testament, gen. ed. Max Anders, Joshua, Kenneth O. Gangel, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 10. Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp.

[3]The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, gen. ed., Frank E. Gaebelein, Joshua, Donald H. Madvig (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 3: 256.

[4]Henry Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda, (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2001), 94.

[5]Francis Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), 32.

[6]Schaeffer, Joshua, 32.

[7]Schaeffer, Joshua, 33.

[8]Isaac Watts, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

[9]Charlotte Elliott, “Just As I Am” (1835). Accessed: 05/30/15 .

[10]Charles Wesley, “And Are We Yet Alive” (1749).

[11]George S. Patton, BrainyQuote, Accessed: 05/30/15, .

[12]C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (London: Geoffrey Bles: The Centenary Press, 1942), Chapter 29, Paragraph 6. Accessed: 07/24/15 .

[13]Epistles to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians by Professor Harry Lathrop Reed (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1922), 249.

[14]Adrian Rogers, The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection – Sermons: Old Testament, “How to Maintain the Life of Victory” Sermon Notes (Joshua 24:11-16). Database © 2011 WORDsearch Corp.

[15]Martin Luther, Quotable Quotes, Goodreads, Accessed: 05/29/15, .

[16]Dwight L. Moody, Secret Power: Or, The Secret of Success in Christian Life and Work (Chicago, IL: F. H. Revell, 1881), 66.

[17]Adrian Rogers, “The Devices of the Devil” Sermon Notes, (Nehemiah 1-6).

[18]Ed Hindson, Courageous Faith: Life Lessons from Old Testament Heroes (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publications, 2003), 80.

[19]Schaeffer, Joshua, 34.

[20]Schaeffer, Joshua, 9.

[21]W. Phillip Keller, Joshua: Man of Fearless Faith (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), 178.

[22]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Old Testament (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 383.

[23]Matthew Henry, Exposition of the Old and New Testament: In Three Volumes (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1828), 1:546.

[24]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Deuteronomy. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp. .

[25]The Miniature Commentary: Being Short Comments on Every Chapter of the Holy Bible: Genesis to Esther, Matthew Henry (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1840), 248-249.

[26]John G. Butler, Bible Biography Series – Heroes: The Biography of Faith (Hebrews 11), 200. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.


[28]Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God, Day by Day (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2006), 8.

[29]The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (London: James Nisbet and Co. 1866), 1:8. .

[30]Practical Christian Foundation, Revelation: Tribulation and Triumph (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2010), 140.

[31]Charles Wesley, Short Hymns on Select Passages of Holy Scripture, “Come, Divine Interpreter” (Bristol: E. Farley, 1762), 2:142.

[32]O.S. Hawkins, The Joshua Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 168.

[33]Hawkins, Joshua, 170.


Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & / / (251) 626-6210

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