Read: Joshua 9
Deceit of the Gibeonites; their servanthood to Israel; defeat of the Amorites; sun and moon stand still until all the kings are defeated.
And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim (Josh. 9:17).
After Joshua’s victories over Jericho and Ai, five kings united to fight the Israelites. However, the Gibeonites, located between the land of the Canaanite kings and the encampment of Israel, decided their chances of survival would be greater by making a league with the Israelites rather than by joining the Canaanite kings in their war with Israel. They deceptively told Joshua: From a very far country thy servants are come because of the Name (Reputation) of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt. . . . Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals (provisions, food) with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league (treaty) with us. . . . And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live (9:9-11,14-15) – a violation of the Law (see Exodus 23:32-33; 34:12).
The Israelites did not break their oath, even though the Gibeonites had deceived them. However, over 400 years later, King Saul broke this covenant and it resulted in a 3-year famine in Israel (2 Samuel 21:1). 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 us from all other people is that we do not seek vengeance. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). God wants us to learn from the Gibeonites’ covenant how important it is to have personal integrity and keep our commitments.
This points out that ignorance of God’s Word does not nullify whatever actions that occurred as a result of that ignorance. 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, this deceitful league never would have been agreed to.
The moldy bread and worn clothing seemed to be visible proof of the strangers’ words (Joshua 9:12-13). Too often we foolishly make decisions based on what we see or think. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Thought for Today:
Christians usually suffer more from the Devil's deceptions than from his direct attacks.
9:4 bottles, containers made of animal skins; 9:5 clouted, patched sandals; 9:6 league, peace treaty; 10:10 discomfited them, caused them to panic, thus creating confusion (compare Psalm 18:14); 10:40 springs, slopes, foothills.
Optional Reading: John 7
Memory Verse for the Week: Revelation 1:3