Joshua 9 Commentary: Gibeon deceives Israel
In Numbers 21 we saw the defeat of Sihon, king of the Amorites. It was reported that Israel had captured all the cities of the Amorites and had occupied them. In this chapter we again see the Amorites. The kind of reporting we find in Joshua may be compared to a report on a game of football. A reporter may use terms like ‘total destruction’ to convey complete superiority of one team over the other. The terminology may not be taken literally. The context is important.
Again the reference to ‘all the kings west of the Jordan’ in verse 1 is a reference to the concept of ‘all’ and not necessarily the literal ‘all’. The application here is that the enemy gathers together in order to scatter Israel. The success of the saint is an invitation to all God’s enemies to prepare arms for battle. When you succeed, know you have battle right on your doorstep.
But how does the enemy attack? This chapter gives us one method of attack that the enemy deployed very successfully against Israel: deception. Take care of the smiles.
This chapter is headlined by one statement: “but did not inquire of the LORD.”
The enemy decided to take the battle to Israel. No weapons. Only deception. Israel’s weakest link was logic. This is one moments when logic fails and wisdom becomes an enemy. Israel examined the evidence on the table and the logical conclusion was that Gibeon was a ‘safe’ partner.
The enemy doesn’t show up with an empty head. The example of Gibeon gives us an insight into enemy operations. Many saints would tell you had they known the outcome of their actions, they would not even have glanced at the transaction. But it is all hidden away in logic, rationale, convenience, consultation and human management. Joshua wasn’t alone when Gibeon deceived Israel. An entire leadership team was involved. Can the enemy be this sharp? Yes. Can human logic fail so spectacularly? Yes. Is there any better reason for us to always consult the LORD?
The fact that Israel had to live with a problem (Gibeon) within her borders tells its own story. There are some human scandals whose consequences we must unfortunately live with for the rest of our lives. Sad.
Why do we get it so wrong even when we put our best heads together? And why is Israel making so many schoolboy mistakes? The saint has the same questions today. Yes, this in itself is an invitation for self-retrospection. We cannot. Only He can.
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