1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. 3 I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. 7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. 8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. 9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
The first chapter of the Book of Joshua finds the people of Israel about to receive something astounding—a land that was chosen by God especially for them and given to them as a gift. Both Exodus and Deuteronomy emphasize the fact that God doesn’t give this gift because they’re more righteous than other people, but because he loves them as his sacred possession.
Joshua is taking over the leadership of this group after the death of Moses and he has his hands full! God has prepared His people for this journey with many experiences and demonstrations of His power. He has given them his word on tablets of stone.
These tablets are portable, precious reminders of God's rules for life, and a constant reminder of His presence. The Israelites reverently carry them as they move forward into the future that God has planned for them. The Lord reminds them many times not to forget what He has done for them.
The best way for us to remember what God has done for us and to discern what He wants us to do is by taking in His word. In verse 7 of this passage, we overhear God telling Joshua to be obedient to all the law that Moses gave the people and not to take any short cuts.
Verse 8 further expresses God's direction when he tells Joshua to keep the word always on his lips. I picture Joshua repeating the words to himself over and over. I see him talking about God's word with family and friends as he worked, ate, and planned throughout the long days of leading his people. In these verses, God also asks Joshua to meditate on His word.
Meditation is not a meaningless chanting of scripture in your head while you check emails or watch football. A great definition from Donald Whitney is "deep thinking on the truth and spiritual realities revealed in scripture for the purpose of understanding, application, and prayer." Scripture sinks deep into our hearts when we take the time to meditate. The Holy Spirit then brings it to our minds when we need it most.
Back in Joshua 1, we see God tell Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. Our all-knowing God wanted Joshua to know that understanding His word through meditation and applying it in obedience would give him the courage and strength that he needed to lead. Meditating would plant God's word in his heart so that he could hear God's voice in times of confusion, heartache, and in joy.
Meditation takes time but it's worth the effort. One practical step that I've taken in an attempt to grow in this discipline is to try to remember to pray before I open the scripture. I sometimes jump in without remembering but the times I seem to hear the Lord speak most clearly are when I take the time to pray before I begin.
I also like to read the passage and rewrite it in my own words. Because I can be easily distracted, this helps me stay focused on the passage and clarify my thoughts. One of the things that can be difficult for me is the application of the passage. It is so important to hear the word and apply it—to discern what God is saying about a specific situation and then respond to His leading.
My goal is to read God's Word with expectancy, anticipating the message that He has for me and obey it eagerly. God wanted Joshua to meditate on his word and obey it. The truth is, just like Joshua, we don't really know how to figure out our complex, fast-paced lives but we have a personal God who loves us and wants to speak to us in the midst of the chaos.
If we make the time to focus on His word, we can move forward at the sound of his voice rather than the sounds around us. We can be strong and courageous because we know He will never leave us or forsake us. Our hope is in that promise.
- Take some time to pray and then read through Joshua 1:1-9.
- After reading the passage several times, write it out in your own words. Make notes or record insights as you write, especially if you sense wisdom or direction for a specific situation.
- In what areas of your life would like to know that God is present?
- When do you need to be strong and courageous?
- Where can you find the time/place for meditating on God's Word?