And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. — Joshua 9:14
Beep, beep, beeeeeep! Another morning begins with the sound of the alarm, and immediately the decision-making process starts. Shall I get up now, or will I still be able to get to work on time if I set the snooze for ten more minutes? What shall I wear today? Should breakfast be fruit with yogurt, or eggs and sausage? Should I make it at home or drive through at McDonald’s? And so it goes. Every day I make dozens of choices.
Many of those daily choices are automatic and relatively unimportant. I make choices based on my personal likes and dislikes, my personality, or my internal values, and that’s fine. Even as a Christian, many of the choices I make are easily decided because I know Christ, and in knowing Him, I feel sure of what He would have me do in a given situation.
However, there are times when I need to go to God and ask for His specific guidance before making a decision. I don’t always know how each decision will change my life, until after it has already been made, so I must stay alert to God’s voice, and be careful that I do not make a decision on my own when I should have consulted Him first.
In today’s text, Joshua and the leaders of Israel were deceived because they failed to seek God’s direction in a critical matter. God had specifically instructed Israel to make no treaties with the people who inhabited Canaan. However, the treaty proposed by the people of Gibeon seemed harmless, so Joshua and the leaders made this decision on their own. By neglecting to seek God’s guidance, they had to deal with angry people and an awkward alliance.
At times, I may be tempted to go forward on my own, thinking I have all of the facts and a good grasp of a situation. However, only God knows the future. If I want God’s best for my life, I must stay in constant communication with Him. I must know His voice, and listen for it. I must ask Him to guide my thinking when it comes to situations that need decisions. It is dangerous business, as the leaders of Israel discovered, to neglect the counsel God is so willing to give!
Joshua’s leadership of the Israelites began with a series of great victories. At God’s direction, he had led the Israelites across the Jordan River to conquer Jericho and Ai. In the incident recorded in chapter 9, Joshua decided to make a decision on his own.
God had told the Israelites that all of Canaan would be theirs. They were not to share it with anyone. God would destroy the inhabitants and give all of the land to Israel. The city of Gibeon was located about 25 miles from the Israelite camp and was a strategic place directly in Joshua’s next line of attack. In order to avoid being conquered, the Gibeonites decided to trick the Israelites into a treaty.
The Israelites had been directed not to make covenants with anyone but God. However, when a group of ambassadors from “a far country” came to the camp, Joshua and his men did not check into their story any further. Instead, without asking for God’s direction, they made a covenant of peace with them. Later, when the Gibeonite’s trickery was discovered, the agreement still stood, and Joshua appointed them to be “hewers of wood, and drawers of water” for the service of the Tabernacle. The covenant would soon cost the lives of some Israelites when they found themselves in battle against four allied Canaanite kings in order to defend the Gibeonites and protect Israel.
The Gibeonites remained in Israel, and eventually came to be known as the Nethinims, meaning the “given ones” — those given to assist the priests. This was an important role in society at that time. In later years, King Saul violated the treaty with Gibeon. For that, his children were punished by God (2 Samuel 21). King David restored the covenant, and placed the Gibeonites in service to the Levites. The fact that, after the Babylonian captivity, over 500 Nethinims returned with Ezra to Jerusalem (see Ezra 2:43-58 and 8:20), suggests that the Gibeonites retained their role throughout Hebrew history and became devoted to God and the Temple.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The land contested
B. The history of the conquest
1. The central campaign
d. The treaty with the Gibeonites (9:1-27)
(1) The confederation against Israel (9:1-2)
(2) The deception of the Gibeonites (9:3-13)
(3) The failure of the Israelites (9:14-15)
(4) The discovery of the plot (9:16-21)
(5) The subjection of the Gibeonites (9:22-27)
In today’s study, the Israelites failure to consult God had far-reaching consequences. Let us learn to identify the types of choices that require deeper thought and prayer, and ask God to help us place those decisions in His hands, allowing Him to work out His plan in our lives.