Skip to main content
6th March

Joshua 1-4; Psalm 65

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
6th March

Joshua 1-4; Psalm 65

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


Just as the Torah is traditionally said to have been written by Moses, Joshua is said to have been written by Joshua himself. This is unlikely as we see the phrase “to this day” appear multiple times throughout the book, suggesting it is written by someone looking back on Israel’s history.

Like Deuteronomy, Joshua is best understood as part of Deuteronomistic history (along with Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings). These tellings of Israel’s history are often framed in light of the blessings and curses we read of in Deuteronomy 28. When the people are obedient, we see them flourish. When they are disobedient, we see them struggle and suffer.

Joshua 1-5 - Joshua leads and prepares Israel

Joshua 6-12 - Military campaign

Joshua 13-22 - Allotting the land

Joshua 23-24 - Joshua’s last words

Joshua picks up where Deuteronomy left off. Joshua is taking over from Moses and will lead the people across the Jordan to take the land promised to them.

Some key themes are, as we’ve already mentioned, obedience and disobedience. When the Israelites are obedient, they see victory. When they are disobedient, they suffer defeat.

Tied into this is an understanding is that this isn’t a story about how God supports Israel as they fight against the Canaanites. It’s a story about how God uses Israel for his plans. He is using Israel to remove the wickedness of the people that already live in the land.

Joshua 1-4

Now that Moses is dead, Joshua is the leader and the first thing we read in this book is God affirming Joshua's leadership. God tells Joshua that he is committed to him, just like he was to Moses. He encourages Joshua that he is going to succeed and lead the people into the land promised to them. Then he reminds Joshua to stay faithful to be Law, that is the Torah, the first five books we've just read.

In this, God sets a useful paradigm for leadership. Leaders are to go and step into what God has already given them. They aren’t claiming and winning for themselves. They are receiving what God has on offer for them. In order to do that, they have to be courageous to step out, and utterly faithful to who God is.

Joshua then stands up and takes leadership, reminding the people of the duties. The people turn around and commit themselves to Joshua. They recognise his leadership and tell him wherever he leads they will go.

Just like Moses before him, Joshua sends out spies into the land promised to them. Immediately, we're thinking, 'is this going to go as badly as last time?'. But this time, they are committed and God is with them.

The spies arrive in the house of Rahab, but the king of Jericho immediately finds out. They were clearly not very good spies. The king sends soldiers to Rahab's house, but she protects the men and says that they have already left. Once the soldiers have gone, she tells the spies how incredible their stories of their God are and how everyone is afraid of them.

This is so different from the previous time the spies entered the land. That time, the Israelites were afraid of the Canaanites. Now the Canaanites are afraid of the Israelites. The spies agree to save Rahab and her family when they attack the city and then return to Joshua, telling him what had happened.

Rahab joins a growing list of people in the Old Testament that aren’t Israelites but are shown to be people of wisdom and an understanding of who God is. Previously we’ve had Hagar, an Egyptian, who was the first to name God. We also had Jethro, a Midianite, who gave wisdom to Moses.

Rahab is a Canaanite woman. More than that, she was a prostitute. As the Canaanites are characterised by their sexual depravity in the Old Testament (see Leviticus 18:3 and then the rest of the chapter) she is the most Canaanite woman they could have found.

She should have been dedicated to destruction like all the other Canaanites. But her grasp and understanding of who God was made a way for her. In this, we see God’s mercies in a rule that previously had seemed absolute. She’s going to go from a depraved Canaanite to integrated directly into the Israelite community. So much so that she appears in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

But also notice the subtly of this story. The Israelite spies didn’t come back with the information they needed because they were incredible spies. They would have been captured, but God rose up a woman from their enemies to make a way. The spies and Rahab are all part of God’s plan.

We then get two chapters focused on the crossing of the Jordan. This is a significant moment. The Israelites are finally entering the land promised to them, and they're doing it through God's power. In the same way that God split the red sea so the Israelites could flee Egypt, here he now splits the river Jordan.

The same God that brought them out of Egypt in mighty power will now bring them into the land promised to them with that same power.

The Israelites are then commanded to take twelve stones from the now dry river bed and pile them up, as a way to remember God's incredible power and faithfulness to bring them into this land promised to them. Once again, something is put in place to remind the people in years to come of the good things God has done.

So far, everything is going well. The people are being obedient and putting their confidence in God. Because of this, they look poised to receive God’s blessings and victory.

Psalm 65

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of praise psalm. Psalms 65-68 are often grouped together as a mini-cluster. They are all communal praise psalms that talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’.

Psalm 65:1-3 - Praise God for his forgiveness

Psalm 65:4 - Entering the house of God

Psalm 65:5-8 - Awe at God’s power

Psalm 65:9-10 - God waters the earth

Psalm 65:11-13 - God causes abundance

The psalmist opens with praise to God. Why? Because he atones for our transgressions. He forgives our failings.

Now, because our transgressions have been forgiven, the psalmist is able to enter God’s house. His presence. There, we shall be satisfied with God’s goodness and holiness.

And then the psalmist turns to God’s great deeds, which will carry through to the end of the psalm. The psalmist is in awe of God’s power.

God is the one who puts the mountains in place and organises the chaotic seas. Likewise, he brings peoples into line when they start to get chaotic and tumultuous. Because of God’s order, all peoples across the earth will be in awe and will rejoice.

Next, the psalmist looks to God’s provision. First, God provides water in rivers and in rain. Water is the source of life. With it, things grow.

And so the psalmist points to the abundance that God has provided. There is much crop, everything is green, and the flocks grow large. Because of this, there is much singing and rejoicing.

These praise psalms serve a few purposes. Firstly, they give God the praise he’s rightly due. Secondly, they remind the readers of where their abundance comes from. It’s all from God.

Finally, it also allows the people to remind God of who he is. Multiple times in the Bible, we see people appeal to God’s character in prayer. Like Abraham with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, or Moses with the Israelites.

If the people are struggling and the harvest is poor, this psalm gives them language to pray to God to remind him that he’s the God of plenty and ask that he once again provide them with abundance.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

Share this article