I come across as a really tough person. I know that. But people who really know me know that inside the hard, burnt, and scarred shell is a pool of melted marshmallow. Give me a picture of a sad child, add a little background music, a quotation or a story, and I’ll start crying my eyes out until all that’s left is a puddle with a pair of eyeballs.
Now, that kind of empathy can be really good, but that’s also one of the reasons why I make a lot of wrong decisions in my life.
Joshua’s encounter with the Gibeonites on Joshua 9 was
all about that.
Here’s a quick summary.
The fame of God and His people has spread throughout Canaan. The kings started to unite to give themselves a better chance of winning. But not all of them went all Rambo. The Gibeonites, on their quest for self-preservation, decided to take the deception route. They tricked Joshua into believing that they are travelers from a foreign land seeking for a peace treaty with Israel. Wearing old clothes and worn out sandals, bearing old moldy bread and old wineskins, they looked convincing enough that Joshua promised them peace without consulting God. And so, the story ends with salvation, even if they’re forced into service, for the Gibeonites and grumbling at camp.
I started this article bent on pointing a finger at the Gibeonites for lying and pretending, but God wants me to write a story of mercy, not of hate. So I had to strikethrough a few of my previous statements. Here are a few of my reformed insights on this passage:
1. Fighting can happen without a fight. The Gibeonites realized this early on. Even when the other kingdoms around them decided that the best option is an all out war, the Gibeonites saw that when it comes to God’s plan, resistance is futile.
2. Senses don’t always make sense. Verse 14 recounts how the men of Israel tested the Gibeonites based on how they saw them and the things they brought. They didn’t bother to ask God before making a decision. After all, the answer’s easy. They looked reliable. Then, they must be. Joshua was dead wrong.
3. Prizes come at a price. Instead of risking the lives of their people, the Gibeonites embraced humility as a better option to death. That is never easy. Losing the comfort of a kingdom, wearing tattered clothes and eating stale food is very humiliating as it is. Imagine living your life fetching water and cutting wood (v. 27) in order to survive. But it isn’t without its rewards. The Gibeonites continued to coexist with Israel. They gained salvation.
Joshua’s decision is still wrong, but the Gibeonites’ example deserves some credit. This is a perfect example of how God’s favor is sometimes wasted on His people. So when it comes to making decisions regarding your life and others’:
DON’T JUST LOOK. LISTEN.
DON’T JUST FIGHT FOR YOUR PLIGHT.
YOU CAN LOSE TO WIN.
And that’s my two cents on that.