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9 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, 2 they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.
Verses 1-2: Nothing brings enemies out in droves faster than success. Joshua and the Israelites were having great success in their campaign through the Promised Land, and word spread like wildfire. So the kings in the land came up with a great idea: to band together as one to face Joshua and Israel. We like to dream of finding success in our own campaigns, whether those are to advance up a corporate ladder, become the next big artist, or a myriad of other dreams and ambitions. Yet when we find that success, we will also become a target. The closer we draw toward our dreams, the greater the force of opposition. Metal is tested when it is thrust into the heat of the forge, and the same holds true for us. We can break under the pressure trying to stand on our own, or we can strengthen ourselves through a reliance upon the Lord to grant us strength and patience and understanding. Having those ambitions can be a good thing, so long as we turn toward God for our comfort and strength rather than things of this world.
3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5 with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. 6 And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” 7 But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” 8 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
Verses 3-15: Here is one of the points in the book of Joshua where we see Joshua make a mistake. He was taken in by the things he saw and the words he heard, but he never took the time to inquire of God what he should do. After all, God had commanded Joshua and the Israelites to sweep through the land and eradicate everyone in there. God understood that the Israelites were human, after all they tried to worship a golden calf right after being led out of Egypt. So God understood that cohabitation with the current inhabitants of the promised land would, eventually, lead them to drift away from God and His teachings. There is a fine line to tread between being a part of the world and being apart from the world. The things of this world, whether material or otherwise, are not inherently bad. Money itself is not evil. Things are not evil. Music is not evil. Yet each of those things can be taken to excessive lengths and corrupted from their intended purpose. Each of them can become idols in our lives that lead us to break the first commandment and place them above God in our lives. So while it seems extreme and brutal that God would want all the people to be killed by the Israelites, we can on some level understand. The more entrenched we become with the ways of the world, following along with the popular trends in thoughts and science and politics, the greater risk we run in allowing something to de-throne God as the top priority in our lives. Nothing, whether family or spouse or sports or money, should hold that top spot over God. Yet time and again I know that I fall short. I go through dry patches where I waste time on idle things and put God and the Bible on the back burner. It often takes a period of rejuvenation for me to realign my priorities and shift them back to the order they belong. If you find you pray less, or rarely open your Bible, perhaps God is calling to you, asking for you to put Him first in your life.