March 16

Read Joshua 9 -- 10

After Joshua's victories over Jericho and Ai, the kings who were in the hill country of Judea and the lowlands along the Mediterranean coast united to fight the Israelites. The Gibeonites were from one of the Hivite towns, which included Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim (Joshua 9: 17), that were located between the land of the Canaanite kings and the encampment of Israel. The Gibeonites decided their chances of survival would be greater by making a league with the Israelites than by joining with the Canaanite kings in their war with Israel. They told Joshua: We are come because of the Name of the Lord your God: for we have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt. And all He did to the two kings of the Amorites . . . to Sihon . . . and to Og. . . . Wherefore . . . we are your servants: therefore now make a league with us. . . . And the (Israelite) men took of their food, and did not ask counsel . . . of the Lord. . . . and made a league with them, to let them live (9:9-11,14-15).

This league with the Gibeonites should impress upon us the enemy's skill in deception. We should also learn how fallible our human reasoning is. If Joshua had prayed for the Lord's guidance, the league never would have been agreed to. However, Joshua and the leaders of the tribes of Israel did make the right decision later when they regarded their oath with the Gibeonites as binding. They had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel (9:18). Evidence that God approved of Joshua's decision to keep Israel's covenant with the Gibeonites was revealed when the five Canaanite kings attempted to inflict vengeance upon the Gibeonites for surrendering to Joshua. God intervened with hail and gave Joshua the most miraculous victory ever recorded, when more (Canaanites) died with the hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword (10:11).

The sacredness of Israel's covenant with the Gibeonites, sworn to by God's Name, can be seen 400 years later when Saul broke that covenant and slew some of the Gibeonites (II Samuel 21:1-14). This resulted in the judgment of God through a famine in Israel that lasted for three years. You shall not swear by My Name falsely, neither shall you profane the Name of your God: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:12).

But, in Joshua's time, the Israelites did not break their oath, even though the Gibeonites deceived them. Through this, the Lord teaches us that the wrong done by another does not give us the right to do a similar wrong. One sin never justifies another. The characteristic of the children of God that distinguishes them from all other people is that they are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). God wants us to learn from the Gibeonite covenant how important it is to have personal integrity and keep our commitments, even when it may hurt or cost us.

Just as the moldy bread seemed to be visible proof of the strangers' words (Joshua 9:12-13), too often we are foolish in making decisions based on what we see or think, without seeking the Lord's will. Too late we ask God to bless our decisions. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Christ Revealed: As the One through whom we have victory (Joshua 10:25; compare I Cor. 15:57; II Cor. 2:14).

Word Studies: 9:4 bottles means containers made of animal skins; 9:5 clouted means patched sandals; 9:6 league means peace treaty; 10:10 discomfited them means caused them to panic, thus creating confusion (compare Psalms 18:14); 10:40 springs means slopes, foothills.

Prayer:

Government Officials: Rep. Joseph Crowley (NY) and Rep. Ron Kind (WI) · BPM Staff: Clarence Rathbone · Pray for Dr. Samuel Thomas, Hopegivers International -- Ministries of Emmanuel, Kota, North India; Hindi and Malayalam Coordinator for Bible Pathway · Country: Bangladesh (127 million) in southern Asia · Major languages: Bangla and English · Present religious freedom may become limited · 87% Muslim; 12% Hindu; .2% Roman Catholic; .2% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: When you are afraid, have confidence in and rely upon the Lord (Psalms 56:3-4).

Optional Reading: John 7

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:9