The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live. Joshua 9:14-15
The Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the Israelite leaders into believing they had come from a distant country to seek peace with them. The Gibeonites knew that God had told the Israelites to only initiate war on those living in Canaan, but to offer terms of peace to those who lived further away. Surprisingly the Gibeonites expressed some faith in Israel’s God, but don’t seem interested in repenting and following the Lord. They feared for their lives and felt servitude with the Israelites was better than death (verses 24-25).
This created a problem. Joshua had given his oath before the Lord, yet God had also commanded the Israelites to wipe out the inhabitants of the land he was giving them. Nevertheless, though it was obtained by deception, Joshua and his leaders honoured their oath and didn’t attack the Gibeonites. They let them live amongst them as woodcutters and water carriers.
Constable in his commentary compares this account with a Christian who marries a non-Christian without seeking the Lord. As time passes the differences in priorities become obvious. The Christian may want to justify leaving the marriage by rationalizing they shouldn’t have married. What are they to do?
Constable suggests making the best of the situation, since breaking the marriage covenant would be contrary to God’s will. God doesn’t normally rescue us from the consequences of our bad choices. Rather, he enables us to live with those consequences.
This story illustrates the importance of seeking the Lord when making significant life choices. God knows the hearts and minds of the people involved in our decisions. While we may be deceived, he never is.