Moses is dead; a new leader for the children of Israel has been selected. Israel is about to go into Canaan. There will be many battles ahead. God lays down the rule to guarantee their success. It is given in our text:
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8
BOOK OF LAW NOT DEPART FROM THY MOUTH: In whatever age man lives, he must hear God’s law. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9). Israel was commanded to hear (Deut. 4:1; Mark 12:29), and so are we (John 6:44-45; Rev. 2:7). God’s prophets were required to speak God’s word faithfully (Jer. 23:28). Today, God’s preachers must speak the gospel faithfully (Acts 20:27; Gal. 1:6-10; I Pet. 4:11).
MEDITATE THEREIN DAY AND NIGHT: How we think affects what we are. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). The psalmist says the man is “blessed” when his “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Christian meditation is spoken of in I Timothy 4:13-16, where Paul, after urging Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,” instructs him to “Meditate upon these things.” Paul even gave a list of good things to meditate upon in Philippians 4:8.
DO THAT WHICH IS WRITTEN: God always requires obedience (Matt. 7:21). Solomon summed up his search for meaning with this conclusion: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Today, as when God gave the children of Israel this rule of success, we must do that which is written. An inactive religion is vain (James 2:22-25). James also describes how our faith is perfected by works (James 2:22). And listen to what John says about the man who does not do what is written: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4). It is also important to note that we are limited to “all that is written.” We must not go beyond it. “I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written” (I Cor. 4:6 RSV). And a strong warning is given to us in II John 9-11, “There is one gospel” (Eph. 4:5), and only that one gospel must be preached and obeyed (Gal. 1:6-10).
RESULT OF THIS RULE: Our ways will prosper (Josh. 1:8). Listen to David’s description of this success: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1). Christ’s statement to us is found in Matthew 6:33.
Do you want to be successful? Follow this rule. It is from God.
—Paul M. Wilmoth