Joshua 9 (4)
Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they weretheir neighbors who dwelt near them. Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers. Joshua 9.14-18
1. Verse 14 is ominous. What does it suggest?
2. What was the effect of this debacle on Joshua and the other rulers of Israel?
Think about it.
My late father, upon coming to the realization of some mistake he’d made in a calculation, could be heard muttering an old proverb to himself, “Too soon old, too late smart.” He’d missed a detail somewhere along the line, and when he finally saw his error, he would rebuke himself as a way of saying, “Don’t make that mistake again.”
Joshua was getting older now, but sometimes he doesn’t appear to be getting any smarter. How could he have failed to “ask counsel of the LORD” in this situation? It’s easy for us to fault him, but we do the same thing. Every day we get a little older, but are we getting any smarter? Do we seek the Lord, praying about everything, in everything giving thanks and praise to God, offering up all our time and work for His purposes and glory? Or do we stumble into snares, miasmas, debacles, and miscalculations because we have failed to seek the counsel of the Lord for every area of our lives?
It’s not clear how Israel came to see the wool pulled over their eyes (v. 16). For three days the rulers undoubtedly congratulated themselves on their “victory” in making the Gibeonites their allies, passing around their confiscated provisions and thinking themselves very smart, indeed. How they must have been chagrined (“Don’t blame me, it wasn’t my idea!”) when the Gibeonites’ ruse became clear.
The people of Israel, riding high on their recent victories, were chomping at the bit to reduce the four cities of the Hivites to rubble and gather the spoils for themselves. But their rulers had to explain there would be no conquest here, because of what they had sworn to the Gibeonites. Consequently, the people took to grumbling and complaining about their rulers: “How can those old guys be so dumb?”
This does not bode well.
Meditate and discuss.
1. How would you counsel a new believer to “ask the counsel of the LORD” for his daily life? How do you practice this in your own life?
2. Church leaders must be careful to make all their decisions within the counsel of the Lord. What can happen when church leaders fail to do this? How can failing to ask the Lord’s counsel affect the health of the local church and its mission?
3. Paul says that believers should do all things without complaining or grumbling (Phil. 2.14-16). Instead of grumbling at our “dumb leaders”, what should we do?
“The chastisement of their levity by the discovery of the fraud, three days after, must, by the swiftness of the punishment, have made them more sensible of the shame and disgrace. For it was thus known, that through sloth and lethargy, they had very stupidly fallen into error from not having taken the trouble to inquire into a matter almost placed before their eyes.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564AD)
You command me to pray about everything, Lord, and I want to make sure I ask Your counsel concerning all things. To help in doing this, Lord, I will…
Pray Psalm 90.
As you pray, remember that God is Your only secure dwelling-place. He sees you at all times, and He can guide you in all your time and all your work. Commit your work to Him for this day, and you’ll be less likely to fall prey to the devil’s deception and schemes.
Psalm 90 (Landas: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
Lord, You have been our dwelling place from generations gone.
Before the mountains came to be, before the earth was born,
Before the worlds, and long before men on the earth first trod,
From everlasting long ago, O God, You are our God!
You turn men back to dust and say, “Return from whence you came!”
A thousand years are in Your sight like yesterday the same.
You sweep away our lives with ease, like grass that sprouts and dies.
Your wrath consumes us and we live dismayed amid our sighs.
You set our sins before Your face; our secret sins You know.
Our days decline in fury as we sigh to see them go.
And though we live for eighty years, yet hard and sad the time,
For soon it goes when Your great wrath consumes us in our prime.
So teach us all our days to note that wisdom may be ours.
Return, O Lord, have pity on those servants who are Yours.
Each morning let Your love appear that we for joy may sing.
And make us glad for every day You us affliction bring.
Now let Your work to us appear; our children show Your might.
And let Your favor rest on us; show mercy in Your sight.
The work that You have given us, confirm, and to us show,
That we Your chosen path may walk and in Your precepts go.
T. M. Moore
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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).