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 1:9
Meaning of Joshua 1:9
The meaning of the verse, “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” is that God is offering comfort and hope to Joshua, the successor of Moses. God promises to be with him in everything. The background of the verse is that Joshua was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel from the wilderness to a ‘promised land’ which was Canaan. However, God sets conditions for Joshua in order to achieve success. He was supposed to be strong and brave in obeying God’s word as he led the people of Israel to the war. The verse also applies to every believer or Christian if they obey God’s word and live a life according to God’s decrees.
Interpretations of Joshua 1:9
The verse of Joshua 1:9 is one of the most popular verses preached in churches and among Christians. It was quoted to offer strength and hope to Christians. However, the verse is also misinterpreted in different ways. Here are the examples.
Interpretation #1 God will support Christians no matter what they do
The interpretation of the verse, “be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” is that a Christian will always have God’s support in everything they do. The last part of the verse indicates that no matter what a Christian does, God will always support him or her. The reader believes that God is a sympathetic God, and He loves his children so much that he would support them through everything they do. This also applies to their wrongdoings and unlawful behaviors. The readers also believe that this explanation applies to all progressive churches as there is no consequence if the Christians are protected by God.
Interpretation #2 A Christian must not be afraid
The meaning of the verse, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed” is that a Christian should not be afraid of anything. The Bible repeatedly encourages the readers to be strong and courageous. A few denominations strongly frown upon Christians who come across as cowardly and anxious. Some preachers also believe in conducting one-on-one sessions of counseling to help the believer get rid of their anxiety or fear. Hence, Christians who live in fear or feel afraid of everything are not encouraged to be part of society without support.
Interpretation #3 A hopeless person is not a Christian
The interpretation of the verse, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed” is that anyone who has lost hope or lacks hope cannot be a true Christian. The verse implies that being hopeful and courageous is a commandment every Christian has to follow. Hence, the reader believes that if he or she doesn’t have faith in God and hope for His guidance in their lives, are not qualified to be called a believer or follower of Christ. Christians are meant to carry a positive approach to life and any issues that they face. They are taught to walk in faith since their childhood in order to be good Christians. Failing to live without hope means that they cannot be part of the faith.
Interpretation #4 Being strong pleases God
In this interpretation, the reader believes that God is pleased and delighted when he sees a Christian showing strength and resilience through hard times. The verse focuses especially on hard and difficult times, and God is commanding his children to be strong even during disastrous events such as wars. Most churches focus their teachings on being courageous during challenges while encouraging other Christians to build their faith in God to follow His plans. Also, in this version, readers learn to believe that when he or she exercise faith and courage, they are chosen by God to be in higher positions, such as leaders. Thus being rewarded for their strength.
Interpretation #5 God’s courage is an additional aid to a strong Christian
The final interpretation of the verse, “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” is that God’s courage leads to the making of a strong Christian. Joshua believed in God, and his courage came from his faith in God. According to the accounts from the Bible, God has always assured his presence, strength, and love towards his people, and the same has helped many servants and disciples of God to conquer difficult times as well as tasks. Hence, here reader understands that Christians must believe in God and His promises. He or she must also believe that God will be with them in every difficulty and they can overcome them with ease.
Historical background of Joshua 1:9
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Bible, which belongs to a custom of Jewish history and law that was written somewhere around 550 BCE, during the Babylonian Exile. Joshua was Moses’ personal aide and succeeded him later. As Israel’s new leader, Joshua functioned as a military commander in taking the land of Canaan. The book of Joshua is separated into three sections: the conquest of Canaan, the distribution of the land among the Israelite tribes, and Joshua’s farewell address and death. The ninth verse of the first chapter is about God promising to be with Joshua as the leader of the people of Israel and helping him through everything.
Literary Devices of Joshua 1:9
Joshua 1:9 is one of the most used verses in church sermons as an encouragement. The verse contains some significant literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The primary theme of the verse Joshua 1:9 is comfort, strength, and courage.
Consonance – The verse has repeated use of the sound /th/ in ‘for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’; the sound of /d/ ‘for the LORD thy God’ and the sound of /s/ in ‘for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’.
Assonance – The verse uses one vowel sound in repetition. For example, the sound /au/ in ‘Be strong and of’; the sound of /e/ in ‘be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed’; the sound of /o/ in ‘for the LORD thy God’; the sounds of /i/ and /o/ in ‘for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’.
Alliteration – The second part of the verse Joshua 1:9 also uses one consonant sound successively. For example, the sound of /th/ in ‘for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’.
Irony – The verse Joshua 1:9 is a possible example of verbal irony as the author hears the command to be strong and courageous from God directly. At the same time, there is a promise of God’s presence and guidance wherever he goes. This verse also applies to the reader.