After the death of Moses, Joshua took the leadership reins of the Israelites and guided them along the path to the Promised Land. In one of his first speeches, he admonished them, saying: “Only be strong and very courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you—turn neither to the right nor to the left from it—so that you may succeed wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).”
Joshua’s call to courage reminds me of the words of Alfred North Whitehead: True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.
Some people act courageously because they assess a situation and move forward with confidence in their abilities. There are others who are just as confident, but for a different reason; their available resources give them a sense of boldness.
David is a good example of both forms of courage. In Psalm 27, he said: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of? Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence in the Lord.”
Courage, as David used it in this Psalm, is resource-based. He speaks of his trust in the presence and power of God.
Earlier in his life, David displayed courage that was focused more on his own ability. This was the skill he used to kill the wild animals as attacked his sheep.
There may be times when you doubt your ability, but you should never doubt God’s availability. Just as God was present to walk David through the trials of life, He is present for you as well:
- God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble—Psalm 46:1
- God is the shield of Your salvation, and His right hand will support you—Psalm 18:35
- God will deliver you because He delights in you—Psalm 18:19
- The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and He saves those crushed in spirit—Psalm 34:18
While there’s not a single one of us who can look to the future and know for certain what challenges await us, each of us can be confident in knowing that God is waiting to guide us.
Solomon believed this, and he wisely said: “The heart of man devises his way, but the LORD directs his steps . . . He that follows after righteousness and mercy shall find life, righteousness, and honor.”