Jesus told a parable about a man who built his house on a foundation of rock. A storm came, but the house stood firm. Another man built his house on a foundation of sand. When a storm came, the house collapsed. The first house is a picture of a wise man who “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” The second is a picture of a foolish man who hears the words but fails to put them into practice (Matt. 7:24–27).
While Bible reading and study are essential, they’re not enough. They must be accompanied by obedience (v. 7). The Israelites (for the second time) stood on the verge of entering the promised land. Joshua faced his first big leadership test. One may think the emphasis would be on preparing the nation for battle. Instead, the Lord stressed, “Be careful to obey.” Stay on the path—don’t turn aside to the right or to the left. In covenant terms, obedience leads to success. This is what they’d failed to do in the previous generation.
To promote obedience, God also commanded Joshua to saturate his mind and heart with Scripture: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night” (v. 8). “On your lips” includes reading aloud and reciting. Whereas Eastern meditation often focuses on emptying the mind, godly meditation fills the mind with God’s Word.
The exhortation is to “[b]e strong and courageous” (vv. 7, 9). “Strength” here is not a military one; it means to “hold on firmly.” We must believe that God will do what He said He will do. Such faith is strong and courageous, not fearful and discouraged, because we’re relying on God, not ourselves. “The LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
>> The words “courage,” “discourage,” and “encourage” are all connected. How can we best encourage fellow believers or help them take courage? By reminding them that God never leaves us nor forsakes us (Josh. 1:5).
Praise be to our God! Not only have You preserved Your Word for us to read and study, You have also given us the Holy Spirit, who helps us understand the Scriptures. We take courage in knowing You are with us in this way.