Here Joshua commands Israel to maintain total silence as they walk around the city of Jericho. The memory that Israel’s forty-year sojourn in the wilderness was a result of the people’s murmuring in unbelief was doubtless in Joshua’s mind. Also, the spies had returned with a majority report motivated by what man sees without Holy Spirit-given vision. Their lack of belief that they could take the land sealed their fate in the desert.
With these lessons of history in mind, Joshua’s directive to be silent teaches a precaution. When facing great challenges, do not permit your tongue to speak unbelieving words. Keep demoralizing speech from your lips. Words can bind up or set free, hence the order of silence. Later they would see the salvation of the Lord following their shout of triumph (Josh. 6:20).
We cannot help what we see and hear, but our refusal to speak doubt and fear will keep our hearts more inclined to what God can do, rather than to what we cannot do (Prov. 30:32).