Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9) Ok, if God needs to say “DO NOT be afraid or dismayed” then there must have been a good reason to believe that Joshua was going to feel that way very soon! As I read this scripture and meditated on it I wondered “Am I sure what dismayed means?” Definitely not a word I hear often. I also noticed that different words that we get use to reading or saying in scripture are no longer considered everyday words in the 21st century.
I am a fan of the Webster’s dictionary in the hard copy if you know what I mean. I love to look up words and ponder their meanings. We can all expand our vocabulary every day if we want to. It just seems that we no longer have the want to. We just read over words thinking we grasp their meaning without really knowing how to define it completely. (Youngest daughter are you listening?)
So, let’s see what this word “dismayed” really means or meant in context to this scripture. Dismay implies that one is at a loss as to how to deal about something. Specifically for this passage it means, a sudden disappointment or sudden loss of courage. At the beginning of the passage God asks Joshua a question. “Have I not commanded you?” My paraphrase would be “Haven’t I already told you this?” I am giving you a warning that what you are about to see or experience is not exactly what you were thinking and it might cause you to suddenly lose your courage and become afraid and disappointed.” God was letting Joshua know in advance that he might be coming up against something that would create a deep despair and a sudden urge to give up! Joshua would need to remain strong and hold onto his courage.
Well, I can’t imagine why Joshua would be afraid; I mean becoming the leader of 2 million people and then crossing the Jordan River with them to the long awaited Promised Land. No problem, right? This new job was going to require great faith and Joshua was going to want to quit. The good news is that God says He will be with Joshua wherever he sends him.
I love this scripture; I keep it close so I can remind myself that God is with me and I can’t do any of this without HIM and I don’t need to be afraid. Life is a series of sudden disappointments, fears and frustrations that can really make us wonder what we are doing here. What I believe God was really trying to do was build a trust relationship between Himself and Joshua. If Joshua could learn to rely on God completely during those moments of extreme fear or when he became dismayed they could be great companions. Joshua would then become a vessel through which God could do great works for His kingdom. Joshua did learn it but God had to remind him a few more times to be strong and hold onto his courage. I think I have been Joshua a time or two how about you?