THEME: The Gibeonites’ Plan
This week’s lessons show the consequences of relying on our own understanding, rather than looking to God for wisdom and blessing.
SCRIPTURE:Joshua 9:1-27

As we come to Joshua 9, we’re told about another group of people living in Canaan. It’s hard not to admire the Gibeonites because, after all, what would you do if you were in their position? They were residents of Canaan, the country that the Jews were attacking. They came from one of the mountain strongholds, the city of Gibeon, from whence they get their name. And they had heard about what the Jews had been doing. The Jews had come in out of the desert and had attacked Jericho, and when they did, the walls of the city of Jericho fell down. They then killed everyone in the city—except, of course, for Rahab and her family. After that, they went on to Ai. Even though they had a momentary setback there, they eventually overthrew that city also. And they killed everyone in that city as well. 
Gibeon was the next in this terrifying line of the Israelites’ march. What would you do if you were a Gibeonite? Well, what they did was resort to a deception. They decided that because they weren’t strong enough to beat the Jewish armies, they were going to have to fool Israel somehow if their lives were to be spared. So they came up with a plan. They decked themselves out in old clothing, and they took bread that was dry and moldy, and wineskins that were old and cracked. They went from where they lived, not really very far away, and went into the Jewish camp. They acted as if they had come from a long, long distance, which they said was why all of their provisions had worn out along the way. They said to Israel, “We’d like to make a treaty with you because we’re distant friends, and we heard what God has done through you. We want to be friends with you and with your God.” 
It’s hard not to admire ingenuity like that. And again, although you can’t exactly admire the response of the Jews to the deception, you can at least sympathize with it because here were these people who had come into the camp.  They were not soldiers; they didn’t have weapons. They wanted to be friends, and they certainly looked like they had come from a distance and were telling the truth. Now it is true that the Jews were suspicious at first. Joshua said to them, “How do we know that you don’t live near us? If you do, we can’t make a treaty with you.” But, you know, the evidence was there. There were the sandals, all worn out. They must have been worn many, many miles. There was the bread, all dry and moldy. There were the old clothes. There were the broken wineskins. Besides, the alternative to believing the Gibeonites and sparing their lives was not believing the Gibeonites and killing them. And I guess at that point, there was even a humanitarian instinct on the part of the Jewish leaders that said, “Well, yes, what harm could be done? Let’s make a treaty with them and let them live.”
So from our point of view, it’s hard not to admire the Gibeonites and sympathize with the Jewish soldiers. And yet the judgment of God does not go along the lines that we find ourselves naturally thinking. The judgment of God on Israel’s action is what you find in verse 14: “They did not inquire of the Lord.” Consequently they made a bad mistake. Now we understand at once reading the story what their mistake was. They trusted in their own judgment, that is, to their own sense impressions. They trusted the evidence that met their eyes.


Who were the Gibeonites? Why did they want to make a treaty with Israel?
What did the Gibeonites do to convince Israel that making a treaty with them was a good thing?

Because Israel did not first seek the Lord in the matter of the Gibeonites, they made a bad choice.  As Dr. Boice says, “They trusted in their own judgment, that is, to their own sense impressions. They trusted the evidence that met their eyes.”

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