The Hebrew verb most frequently expressing the sense of being courageous is cha·zaqʹ. It basically signifies “be strong.” (2Sa 13:28; 2Ch 19:11; Eze 3:14) Often cha·zaqʹ is used together with ʼa·matsʹ, which also means “be strong.” Both verbs are found in the expressions “Be courageous and strong” (Jos 10:25) and “Be courageous, and may your heart be strong.”—Ps 31:24.
The idea of weakening or enfeebling is expressed by the Hebrew term ra·phahʹ, which at times may mean to ‘lose courage’ (Jer 49:24) or ‘show oneself discouraged.’ (Pr 24:10) When rendered “drop down,” as in the phrase “May your hands not drop down,” it has the meaning “lose courage, become too weak to act.”—Zep 3:16; Isa 13:7; Eze 7:17.
In Greek, the state of being bold or courageous is expressed by the verbs thar·reʹo (2Co 5:8) and thar·seʹo. (Mt 9:2) The verb tol·maʹo is variously rendered “dare” (Jude 9), ‘have courage’ (Mr 12:34), “venture” (Ro 15:18), ‘act bold’ (2Co 11:21), the emphasis being on the manifestation of courage or boldness in an undertaking.
God’s servants have always needed courage to remain faithful to the Most High. Thus, when the Israelites were ready to cross into the Promised Land, Moses told them: “Be courageous and strong,” and he repeated that same admonition to his appointed successor Joshua. (De 31:6, 7) Fortifying those words of Moses, Jehovah himself later told Joshua, “Be courageous and strong . . . Only be courageous and very strong.” (Jos 1:6, 7, 9) To be supplied with the needed courage, the nation had to listen to, learn, and obey the law of Jehovah. (De 31:9-12) Similarly, to become courageous and strong, Joshua was told to read God’s law regularly and to take care to apply it.—Jos 1:8.
The Scriptures contain many express commands to take courage and they also show how one can gain it. (Ps 31:24) The association of fellow worshipers can be a great aid. (Ac 28:15) At Psalm 27:14 David, himself a man of courage, said: “Be courageous and let your heart be strong.” In the preceding verses of Psalm 27, he reveals what helped him to be courageous: Relying upon Jehovah as “the stronghold” of his life (vs 1), past experiences with how Jehovah dealt with his adversaries (vss 2, 3), appreciation for Jehovah’s temple of worship (vs 4), trusting in Jehovah’s protection and in his help and deliverance (vss 5-10), continued instruction in the principles of God’s righteous way (vs 11), and the qualities of faith and hope (vss 13, 14).
The Christian needs courage to remain uncontaminated by the attitudes and actions of a world at enmity with Jehovah God and to remain faithful to Him despite having to face the world’s hatred. Jesus Christ told his disciples: “In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” (Joh 16:33) Never did the Son of God yield to the world’s influence, but he triumphed over the world by not becoming like it in any respect. The sterling example of Jesus Christ as a conqueror and the outcome of his flawless course can fill one with the needed courage to imitate him in remaining separate from and undefiled by the world.—Joh 17:16.