Be CAREFUL before TRUSTING anyone else - only TRUST GOD: “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us’” (Josh. 9:3-6).
The humiliating defeat at Ai should have taught Joshua and the leaders of Israel the need to take time to seek the mind of God. After all, Jehovah God was the Commander of their army (5:13–15), and He should have been consulted before every important decision that they were to take. However, they walked by sight and not by faith, nonchalantly accepted what the Gibeonites had told them to be true, and without any delay made a covenant of peace with them. This was totally contrary to what God expected from His people (see Isaiah 28:16; 30:1–2).
God had actually instructed Israel to destroy all the Canaanites without fail, and not make any treaties with them (Deut. 7:2). The city of Gibeon was relatively close to Ai; located just about five miles northwest of Jerusalem and about twenty miles west of the camp at Gilgal. The Gibeonites knew that their neighbors were fighting a losing battle, for God was fighting for Israel, and no army could resist Him. It was a fact that the Gibeonites belonged to the Hivites, which was one of the ethnic groups that God had promised to drive out of Canaan (3:10). Therefore, the Gibeonites had to work cunningly (v. 4) in order to make it appear they were from another country altogether.
In this respect, Joshua and the elders of Israel failed miserably concerning the Gibeonites as they made a hasty decision just on the basis of outward appearances rather than doing a careful study, reflection, and a detailed investigation (9:12–14). They failed to check the facts of the Gibeonites’ story, and were apparently satisfied with circumstantial evidence. Further, they made the decision without seeking counsel from God (9:14), which was by far their gravest mistake. Normally Joshua was known as a leader who moved only after seeking God’s direction (see 5:13–15; 8:30–35; 11:15), but on this occasion God was kept out of their equation. As a result, the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership made a bad decision under pretentious circumstances!
A lesson for us is that we should be very careful before trusting anyone these days, as our natural tendency is to blindly trust people not knowing their evil intentions. We know that Joshua and the Israelites trusted the Gibeonites, who actually deceived them by their play acting. Even though the Israelites were somewhat suspicious (v. 17), they did not seek counsel from God (v. 14) and made a peace treaty with the Gibeonites. Let us remember that if Satan cannot defeat us trying to scare us as a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8–9), he will try to deceive us as a serpent (2 Cor. 11:3). We not only need the power of God to overcome our obvious enemies; but we also need the wisdom of God to detect our subtle enemies as well.
Today let us trust God alone and seek Him prayerfully for every decision that we make! It is better to seek counsel from God’s Word (Psalms 119:105), godly people (Prov. 11:14) and God Himself (James 1:5; 4:2; Eph. 6:11). We should be convinced by now that we cannot consistently make good decisions without God’s Word and God’s Spirit to guide us continually every day.