Misdirected Questions

Hey Joshua, you're asking the wrong person.

Joshua 9 (2)

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?” But they said to Joshua, “We 
are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” Joshua 9.7, 8 

Reflect.
1.  The men of Israel were rightly wary of the Hivites. Why? 

2.  Joshua steps in to get to the bottom of the mystery of who these people are. What is missing from his inquiry here?

Think about it.
The men of Israel were on the right track. They wanted to find out who these people were, and whom they represented. They understood that they could not “make a covenant” with any of the Canaanite peoples of the land.

The Gibeonites (Hivites) responded only by saying they had come as the servants of Israel. That was clearly less than forthcoming, but it deflected the sharp edge of the question of the men of Israel.

Joshua is not helpful. He is direct, but his question invites the carefully rehearsed answer of the Gibeonites, which we will consider in our next installment. Joshua did not think to seek the Lord about this matter. Or if he did, he chose not to do so (v. 14). He has not learned from the mistake at Ai.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  What did it mean for Israel to “make a covenant” with another nation? What are the distinguishing features of a covenant relationship? Do we still enter into such relationships today? Explain.

2.  Self-reliance is the enemy of faith. Fresh off their victory at Ai and Bethel, Joshua is brimming again with self-confidence. He can figure this situation out without recourse to God. How can we know when self-reliance is beginning to guide our choices and decisions? What should we do then?

3.  Joshua and Israel were easily deceived, but they set themselves up for it. Explain.

“Here, however, a question arises; as the Israelites object that they are not at liberty to make any paction with the nations of Canaan, but are bound to exterminate them utterly. There is certainly a discrepancy between the two things ― to exhort to submission, and at the same time refuse to admit suppliants and volunteers. But although God required that the laws of war should be observed according to use and wont, and that, therefore, peace should be offered on condition of submitting, he merely wished to try the minds of those nations, that they might bring destruction upon themselves by their own obstinacy.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564)

Lord, the great deceiver is always seeking to turn us from the path of righteousness. Help me to stay in communion with You, O Lord, so that…

Pray Psalm 5.

This psalm reminds us that deceivers, liars, and truth-stretchers can turn us from devotion to the Lord. As you pray, think of all the ways you might have to confront deception in the day ahead, and commit yourself afresh to the Lord.

Psalm 5 (Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, attend and hear me, consider how I groan.
Receive my cries and near be, and love me as Your own.
By morning, Lord I seek You, for You will hear my voice; 
My every need You speak to, and make my soul rejoice!

In sin You take no pleasure; no evil dwells with You.
Vain boasts You will not treasure, nor those who boasting do.
Sin kindles Your hot anger, You crush all those who lie; 
The violent live in danger of Your all-searching eye.

O Lord, Your lovingkindness escorts me in this place.
I bow before Your highness and praise Your glorious grace!
In righteous ways You guide me; Your pathway I will know.
No good will be denied me as I with Jesus go.

My foes would fain deceive me and crush me in the way; 
Their lying tongues would grieve me and lead my soul astray.
Their guilt hangs on above them; their guile shall be their fall; 
They spurn the One Who loves them: reject them, one and all!

Let those rejoice who seek You and shelter ‘neath Your wing. 
Their tongues shall rise to speak to Your praise; Your grace they sing. 
Your people You will bless, Lord, all those who to You yield; 
Preserve them with Your best Word, and guard them like a shield.

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from 
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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