“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Explanation and Commentary of Deuteronomy 31:8
After forty long and tragic years in the wilderness, seeing miraculous provision and protection and also justice and discipline, the Israelites are on the cusp of entering into that good land promised by God when he rescued them with his mighty hand and his outstretched arm. Moses is not to be the one to take them in. His successor, Joshua will carry the responsibility forth into what is the next chapter of redemptive history. Moses is commissioning Joshua in these verses, and verse eight follows the iconic, “Be strong and courageous” of verse seven.
Moses’s encouragement is that “the Lord himself” will go before them and be with Joshua, never leaving or forsaking him. Considering that, Joshua should not be afraid, and should not be discouraged. The promised land is still full of hostile peoples. The Israelites will have a great deal of work to do to take it. God showed Abraham over four hundred years prior (Gen 15:13) that part of the plan was that he would use the Israelites to bring judgment upon the abominations of the pagan peoples of Canaan, who sacrificed to their demonic gods in all manner of evil ways. If the Israelites would only be faithful to God alone, and not go like an adulterous bride after the false gods, God would do nearly all the work, and bless and empower the work that the people would do.
Can the Christians take the words meant for Joshua for themselves? They can, and they should. If God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus
Christ, how much more will he be with us by his Holy Spirit that he first promised, and then sent to his Church? He has not, and will not forsake us.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Deuteronomy 31:8
#1 “The Lord himself goes before you…”
Indeed, he has already gone before us on the cross. Jesus became the firstborn among many sons and daughters of God in Christ (Ro 8:29). He has gone before us to open the curtain by his blood so that we also can come into the presence of the Almighty. And he always goes before us to prepare our way, particularly when we are walking in him and looking to him, seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness (Mt 6:33).
#2 “…and will be with you;”
Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Helper, the Counselor, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to them to dwell in and among them (Jn 15:26), that by this means he would be with them to the very end of the age (Mt 28:20). The Christian receives the Holy Spirit upon regeneration and salvation and can be subsequently filled again and again over the course of his or her life for the sake of empowerment.
#3 “he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Once saved, always saved is the battle cry of Christians who believe in the doctrine of eternal security. This is biblical. The fact that the Holy Spirit, by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption (Eph 4:30) cannot be taken away, is a sign and a security deposit. If one who seems to be a Christian forsakes God and the Church, then they prove that they never were one to begin with (1 Jn 2:19).
#4 “Do not be afraid;”
The believer has many reasons to “not be afraid,” but among them are that God is with us, goes before us, and will never leave us.
#5 “do not be discouraged.”
Just as we have no reason to fear, we have no reason to be discouraged. Everything that happens is part of God’s good design for us, even when it is painful discipline. Ultimately, he, being perfectly good, can only do good to us (Ps 119:68), and nothing happens to us outside of his will (Isa 45:11). Therefore, we should never be discouraged, but rather, encouraged by the fact that he directs our course, and, while we put in the effort required of a good steward, the outcome always belongs to God (Isa 14:24).
Expert Overview of Deuteronomy
Biblical Translations of Deuteronomy 31:8
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.