Joshua 9

* The kings combine against Israel. (1,2) The Gibeonites apply

for peace. (3-13) They obtain peace, but are soon detected.

(14-21) The Gibeonites are to be bondmen. (22-27)

1,2 Hitherto the Canaanites had defended themselves, but here

they consult to attack Israel. Their minds were blinded, and

their hearts hardened to their destruction. Though often at

enmity with each other, yet they united against Israel. Oh that

Israel would learn of Canaanites, to sacrifice private interests

to the public welfare, and to lay aside all quarrels among

themselves, that they may unite against the enemies of God's

kingdom!
3-13 Other people heard these tidings, and were driven thereby

to make war upon Israel; but the Gibeonites were led to make

peace with them. Thus the discovery of the glory and the grace

of God in the gospel, is to some a savour of life unto life, but

to others a savour of death unto death, #2Co 2:16|. The same sun

softens wax and hardens clay. The falsehood of the Gibeonites

cannot be justified. We must not do evil that good may

themselves to the God of Israel, we have reason to think Joshua

would have been directed by the oracle of God to spare their

lives. But when they had once said, "We are come from a far

country," they were led to say it made of skins, and their

clothes: one lie brings on another, and that a third, and so on.

The way of that sin is especially down-hill. Yet their faith and

prudence are to be commended. In submitting to Israel they

submitted to the God of Israel, which implied forsaking their

idolatries. And how can we do better than cast ourselves upon

the mercy of a God of all goodness? The way to avoid judgment is

to meet it by repentance. Let us do like these Gibeonites, seek

peace with God in the rags of abasement, and godly sorrow; so

our sin shall not be our ruin. Let us be servants to Jesus, our

blessed Joshua, and we shall live.
14-21 The Israelites, having examined the provisions of the

Gibeonites, hastily concluded that they confirmed their account.

We make more haste than good speed, when we stay not to take God

with us, and do not consult him by the word and prayer. The

fraud was soon found out. A lying tongue is but for a moment.

Had the oath been in itself unlawful, it would not have been

binding; for no obligation can render it our duty to commit a

sin. But it was not unlawful to spare the Canaanites who

submitted, and left idolatry, desiring only that their lives

might be spared. A citizen of Zion swears to his own hurt, and

changes not, #Ps 15:4|. Joshua and the princes, when they found

that they had been deceived, did not apply to Eleazar the high

priest to be freed from their engagement, much less did they

pretend that no faith is to be kept with those to whom they had

sworn. Let this convince us how we ought to keep our promises,

and make good our bargains; and what conscience we ought to make

of our words.
22-27 The Gibeonites do not justify their lie, but plead that

they did it to save their lives. And the fear was not merely of

the power of man; one might flee from that to the Divine

protection; but of the power of God himself, which they saw

engaged against them. Joshua sentences them to perpetual

bondage. They must be servants, but any work becomes honourable,

when it is done for the house of the Lord, and the offices

thereof. Let us, in like manner, submit to our Lord Jesus,

saying, We are in thy hand, do unto us as seemeth good and right

unto thee, only save our souls; and we shall not repent it. If

He appoints us to bear his cross, and serve him, that shall be

neither shame nor grief to us, while the meanest office in God's

service will entitle us to a dwelling in the house of the Lord

all the days of our life. And in coming to the Saviour, we do

not proceed upon a peradventure. We are invited to draw nigh,

and are assured that him that cometh to Him, he will in nowise

cast out. Even those things which sound harsh, and are humbling,

and form sharp trials of our sincerity, will prove of real

advantage.

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