When Moses spoke the words to the Israelites, they were about to enter into a land of promise in which they would have to dispossess those who already possessed it (Deut. 31:6). When he spoke the words to Joshua (Deut. 31:7, Josh. 1:6,9), Joshua had been tasked with standing at the front of the line as they marched into enemy territory. So, it was the sort of pep talk you’d expect for those going into battle. A logical rallying cry for those about to wage war. I get that. But use the same words to build a house? Hmm, less intuitive.
Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind . . .
Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”
(1Chronicles 28:11-12a, 20 ESV)
Joshua, take the land! Be strong and courageous! I get it.
Solomon, build the building! Be strong and courageous! At face value, seems a little over dramatic. Building a building doesn’t initially connect for me as being in the same category as conquering Canaan. Worth noodling on . . .
Okay, so both were big, multi-year projects. Both would require endurance and stick-to-itiveness. But while Joshua was essentially entering into the dangerous unknown, Solomon was heading into the domestically determined and had everything laid out for him in advance — blueprints drawn, materials amassed, workforce ready.
But again, Joshua had only one job before him, lead the people into battle as directed by the God who had promised them the land. Hard work. Dangerous work. Yet, pretty singularly focused work. Solomon, on the other hand, had a kingdom to run and a land to defend. Talking on such a huge project ran the risk of losing focus on the day to day needs of the people. Ran the risk of appearing to his enemies as a weakness to exploit as he was distracted, and so many resources were diverted, by building such a magnificent structure.
But worthy of “Be strong and courageous?” Evidently. So, how come? Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head thought.
Not just cause it’s big, or dangerous, or multi-faceted. Not even because it’s unique and unprecedented. But, perhaps, because ultimately what is done in obedience to the Lord, whatever is undertaken for the Lord, is an act of faith. Whether it’s something as radical as leaving a 40-hour-a-week job to enter a mission field dependent on a team of supporters, or something as mundane as determining, by God’s grace and enabling, to get up in the morning and walk the day before you in a manner consistent with the calling over you, it’s gonna take some faith. It’s gonna require some endurance. Quite possibly encounter some resistance. For sure creating a dependence on the God who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
So, ultimately we do whatever we do in obedience to God, with a desire to be faithful for God, that others might see the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). And that sounds big. So . . .
“Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work . . . is finished.”
Worth chewing on? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.