Do you keep your word? I’m sure you do.
But, should you keep it even if someone tricks you into giving it?
This is the situation Joshua finds himself in when he gets ready to fight the Gibeonites and the southern kings.
And, I hope we both learn about the importance of promises.
Let’s see what happens when people don’t consult God first.
Keeping Promises During the War with Southern Kings – Joshua and the Gibeonites
Once again the people of Israel are up against the southern kings. And, the people are now aware of what God is doing in their lives.
God gave them victory against their enemies and word is spreading fast throughout the land.
Joshua is now taking on the kings of the southern region who are uniting to fight this formidable force.
Also, he has to reckon with the deceit of the Gibeonites as we see in chapter nine of the book of Joshua.
But, Who Were the Gibeonites?
According to Joshua 10:12 and 2 Samuel 21:2, the Gibeonites, were Amorites.
Joshua 10:12 says;
“Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” – NASB
Also, I looked up the verses from 2 Samuel 21:2 at BibleGateway, and they read…
“So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).“ – NASB
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.”
The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?”
But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” – Joshua 9:6-8 NASB
The plan to extract a covenant with Israel is laid at this point. The people did not consult with God first, as they had in the past.
So, we move on to what happened in verse 14..
Making Promises – Joshua Makes Peace with the Southern Kings
So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord.
Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. – Joshua 9:14-16 NASB
Although God had commanded Joshua to “destroy all the inhabitants of the land“, Israel made a covenant with the deceivers and let them live.
Should Israel keep this agreement even though they were misled?
Looking back, and having the advantage of the rest of the Bible, we know that Joshua should have consulted God before making a treaty, as he had in battle.
But, he didn’t.
What about us? I know that I don’t always talk to God before making decisions – especially the “innocent” ones. In fact, many times I only consult God after the wrong decision has backfired.
This is the situation in which Joshua found himself. Now, he has disobeyed God and finds himself in a bad situation with his people – not to mention having to honor the covenant he made with his enemies.
Israel held covenants and vows as sacred. In other words, if you were a child of Israel, you did not break your word.
In our society, we see lawyers & politicians twist and turn words so they don’t mean exactly what was said or written.
This world makes it difficult for us to understand that a promise is a promise.
Joshua did understand. And so, the agreement was honored – even though it went against Gods command.
When We Promise …
The next time we get ready to make a promise, let’s consider the possible end results.
Finally, let’s make sure we can keep it – and still follow God.
Don’t make promises in haste.
Love in Christ
These Bible study lessons showed how deceit can interfere with our following of God.
The good news is, Jesus always keeps His promises. He promised to forgive us of sin when He went to the cross.
And, that promise is just as true today. Have you accepted Christ yet?
If not, learn about how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ at John 3:16 now.