‘So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.’ (Joshua 9.14)
In the book of Joshua, it seems like Israel swings back and forth between asking counsel of the Lord and then relying on their own wisdom and following their own desires over Yahweh’s desires. In this instance, they were tricked, but this wasn’t their sin. Rather, they did not ask counsel from the Lord. If they had, the trick would have been up, and the Gibeonites wouldn’t have received shelter and would have been placed under the ban.
It is often the case in our lives that we tend to rely on our gut or to consider our wisdom as good enough in living our lives. How often do we ask counsel from the Lord? In our Sunday school discussion recently, many questions have arisen about how we should live. How should we respond to such and such a situation? We are looking for a practical answer. But the book of Joshua reminds us that we first must ask counsel from the Lord.
Like the Israelites, we are cursed by the desire for a practical solution, and perhaps like Aachen earlier in the book of Joshua, we are filled with a wrong desire that opposed Yahweh God. Based on appearances, the Israelites were right in what they did with the Gibeonites. They had compassion on the foreigner and the poor. It made sense to them to make peace and a covenant with them.
The result of this covenant with the Gibeonites, though, reveals itself at the end of Joshua and the beginning of Judges. Although the Israelites inhabited the land, they are not alone. Instead, because they incompletely followed the Lord’s counsel, they did not hold the best places of the land. The rich valleys were still in the hands of the Canaanites. The strong city of Jerusalem was still in the hands of the Jebusites. They inhabited the hills above the fertile land, where they could see the strength and wealth of the Canaanites which they failed to dispossess and failed to put under the ban because they did not fully follow the Lord’s counsel.
The result wasn’t just that they didn’t fully inhabit the land, it was that they also began to go after other gods, to go after the gods of the land, to let loose from the morals of Yahweh God and to live in the splendor and utter wickedness of the Canaanites. They did not realize their full depravity until God gave them into the hands of the Canaanites or the Philistines.
And so we can be tempted to live like the Canaanites, like non-Christians. Although we now have the seal of Holy Spirit, we are still affected by our depravity. The world around us still affects our thoughts and attitudes. Many of our practical decisions and best laid plans can reflect the world and the world’s priorities more than they reflect our inquiring of the Lord. So this verse reminds us: ask counsel from the Lord, and you will get wisdom for how you ought to live and respond to the challenges in your life. As we saw in James, the Lord will give generously and without reproach.
--J. Andersen 5/26/16