“But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy.”Joshua 9:3 – 5 NLT
This is such an interesting story! Joshua was the leader of Israel, and they were taking the promised land, Canaan. They conquered Jericho and Ai. The surrounding kings heard and were afraid. They came together to wage war. But the people of Gibeon decide to confront the problem differently.
In Deuteronomy 20, God said that Canaan’s people would be destroyed. But for cities outside Canaan, the Israelites could make peace if those cities were willing to become Israel’s servants. It appears that the people of Gibeon knew about this provision. So they pretended to live far away, to have traveled a great distance. Interestingly, Joshua accepts their story based on the logical evidence provided and does not ask God for guidance. Joshua makes a treaty with the Gibeonites. Three days later, when Joshua learns the truth of the matter, he makes it right by making the people of Gibeon servants, to which they agree.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
So where’s the mercy
The Gibeonites explain their wrongdoing to Joshua and offer themselves, saying, “Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.” They become servants to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose.
The Gibeonites served Israel faithfully, never giving them any trouble. In fact, one Gibeonite becomes a leader among David’s thirty “mighty” men. In Nehemiah, we read that the Gibeonites were present to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
God granted mercy even to a pagan people group who lied about who they were. Mercy illustrated – not getting what they deserved!
Prayer of Gratitude
Father, we, too, would try to deceive You if it meant we could hide our sin from You. And yet, You remind us that, even while we were Your enemies, You sent Your Son to die for us. Instead of hiding, we ask that You search our hearts, know our thoughts today, and move us to repent and serve You well. We are grateful for the promise that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Today we claim that promise yet again! Amen.
Hymn of Praise
When Joshua, by God’s command,
Invaded Canaan’s guilty land;
Gibeon, unlike the nations round,
Submission made and mercy found.
Their stubborn neighbors who, enraged,
United war against them waged,
By Joshua soon were overthrown,
For Gibeon’s cause was now his own.
He, from whose arm they ruin feared,
Their leader and ally appeared;
An emblem of the Savior’s grace,
To those who humbly seek His face.
The men of Gibeon wore disguise,
And gained their peace by framing lies;
For Joshua had no power to spare,
If he had known from whence they were.
But Jesus invitations sends,John Newton
Treating with rebels as His friends;
And holds the promise forth in view,
To all who for His mercy sue.