According to the popular YouVersion Bible App, “the bible verse that was shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often by the global Bible App community in 2017” was Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In the context of this verse, Joshua has been appointed to succeed Moses as the leader of Israel, and the Lord is giving him commands to start him off.
God commands Joshua to “Be strong and courageous” three times in this first chapter. Why did God repeat this command?
While the Bible doesn’t explicitly reveal trepidation in Joshua, the job before this new Israelite leader was a daunting one. He knew the capriciousness of the Israelites, having assisted Moses for decades. He knew—having spied out the land forty years earlier—the size of the armies of Canaan, the fortifications around their cities, and the tendency for the Israelites to become paralyzed with fear. If I had to lead such a fickle group of people into battle against seasoned warriors, I’d be a bit nervous. It is likely that Joshua had some fears in his heart, but fear did not make him a coward.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of it.
Joshua knew his predicament, but he knew and trusted the faithfulness of God far more. He had seen how God took care of Moses and honored him before all the people. Joshua had faith that God would keep all His promises, especially when He said, “I will not leave you or forsake you.”