“Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9, New World Translation.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9, New International Version.
Meaning of Joshua 1:9
With these words, Jehovah* God assured his faithful worshipper Joshua that he could “be courageous and strong” despite facing challenging circumstances and seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Joshua had no reason to be afraid of the future if he obeyed God’s commands, because it would be as if Jehovah were right there with him helping him to succeed. God was with Joshua by instructing him and by giving him victory over his enemies.
How could Joshua “be courageous and strong”? He could draw courage and strength from the inspired writings that Jehovah had provided at that time. This included “the entire Law that Moses [Jehovah’s] servant commanded [Joshua].”* (Joshua 1:7) Jehovah told Joshua to “read it in an undertone [“meditate on it,” New International Version] day and night.” (Joshua 1:8) Such reading and meditation fortified Joshua’s mind and heart to do God’s will. Joshua then needed to act on what he learned in God’s Word, to “observe carefully all that [was] written in it.” If he did so, then he would act wisely and be successful. And that is exactly what happened. Although he faced challenges, Joshua lived a full and satisfying life as a faithful worshipper of Jehovah.—Joshua 23:14; 24:15.
Jehovah’s words to Joshua continue to be encouraging today. They reveal how much Jehovah cares for all his worshippers, especially when they face challenges. He wants them to be successful just as Joshua was! And like Joshua, they can “be courageous and strong” by regularly reading and meditating on God’s Word, the Bible, and then acting in harmony with its direction.
Context of Joshua 1:9
After Moses’ death, Jehovah directed that Joshua lead the nation of Israel. (Joshua 1:1, 2) At that time, the Israelites were poised to enter the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. But powerful enemies stood before them. For example, Joshua had to wage war against the Canaanites, who were exceedingly wicked.* (Deuteronomy 9:5; 20:17, 18) The Canaanites were also more numerous and better equipped militarily than the Israelites. (Joshua 9:1, 2; 17:18) But Joshua courageously followed Jehovah’s instructions. And God did prove to be with him, for the Israelites conquered the majority of their enemies in just six years.—Joshua 21:43, 44.
The name Jehovah is an English translation of the Hebrew name for God—the four letters יהוה (YHWH), known as the Tetragrammaton. This name is rendered “the LORD” in this verse in the New International Version. For more information about Jehovah and why some Bible translations fail to use that name, see the article “Who is Jehovah?”
The inspired writings available to Joshua, and now to all of us in the Bible, likely included the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), the book of Job, and one or two psalms.
For a discussion of why such war was necessary, see the article “Why Did God Wage War Against the Canaanites?” in the January 1, 2010, issue of The Watchtower.