Joshua 9:1-15

Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—those in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Great Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)- they came together to make war against Joshua and Israel.

However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. The men put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us."

The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty with you?"

"We are your servants," they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, "Who are you and where do you come from?"

They answered: "Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, 'Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, "We are your servants; make a treaty with us." ' This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey."

The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

Two aspects of the story here. This was after the Israelites sacked Jericho and Ai. Their God-granted success had led to a coalition of kings against them but also led to the Gibeonites resorting to deceive them. The decision to deceive the Israelites instead of fighting them demonstrated one important result from the previous conquests, that the hands of Yahweh our God were with the Israelites and the Gibeonites at least knew better than to face them head on. I sometimes consider the alleged surrender of the Gibeonites be a blessing to Israel. At one level, it was a consequence of God's blessing. At another level, it means that Israel did not need to waste another man fighting another nation, causing deaths. This is important because few verses later, it says that Gibeon was an important city and it was larger than Ai. It means that by God's action, the Gibeonites took the choice to surrender.

The other aspect of the story lies with the Israelites. They relied completely on the appearance of Gibeonites that they could discern nothing wrong with them and relied on human effort and wisdom to make the decision to make a treaty with them. I would not say that making a treaty with the Gibeonites was a wrong decision or that the Gibeonites were a wrong people to make treaty with. However, what matters more is the attitude of the Israelites. The failure to inquire of the LORD in such an important issue is the wrong move that the Israelites had made. More than it, it reflects the pride of the Israelites after their successes.

What does it mean for us? Combine the two aspects of the story together, we ask ourselves, when a blessing comes our way, and when we see a door opening for us, do we pray through before making the decision? Do we seek the guidance of God before making the decision? I remember an incident that I thought God was opening a door for me. But sometimes maybe God was testing us. Maybe God was testing the Israelites after all the successes. But sometimes, we forget to pray through, and we forget to seek godly counsel. Gary Frismen wrote a book on Decision making and he emphasized on relying on biblical wisdom in making everyday decision, but one question is that do we rely on biblical guideline in the first place? By this I mean not overplaying certain aspects but to consider the decision making process in its entirety.

Where does it begin? I believe it begins by praying, then seeking godly counsel. The decision making should happen after that. We sometimes need to rely less on ourselves and rely more on God to make major decisions for us. Remember the Stool that I posted here some months ago? Yeah, we need to let Jesus take the stool of our decision.


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