“So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. 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” (Joshua 9:14-15).
One particular emphasis throughout the book of Joshua is the importance of prayer. Before Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, he received a special word from God, in which Gd told him not to be afraid but to instead be strong and courageous. Prior to defeating Jericho, God gave Joshua specific instructions on how to do so. Every time Israel achieved a great victory, it was because God had told them beforehand how to fight.
It stands to reason, then, that their worst defeats resulted from a failure to seek God’s will. One example of this is the Gibeonite deception. As Israel waged war on all the enemy nations, the remaining ones became afraid. They knew they stood no chance against Israel and their powerful God. So to avoid fighting at all, one nation decided to con their way into Israel’s good favor. These men of Gibeon came to Joshua, claiming to be from a foreign land. They had heard about God, they said, and they had come to be make a covenant of peace with Israel. This seemed like a good idea to Joshua and the other Israelite leaders, and they proceeded to make this covenant with the Gibeonites. But they never asked God what they should do. If they had, He certainly would have told them that the Gibeonites lived among them and that they were some of the people they needed to defeat. Israel failed to seek God, however, and so they made a covenant with their enemies.
Israel’s problem was that they assumed they knew God’s will in the situation. How could it be wrong for them to be at peace with a foreign nation, one that claimed to have been drawn to them by the power of the LORD? And besides, the Gibeonites came as their willing servants. How could accepting their offer possibly be wrong?
But the thing is, God alone knows the hearts of people. He sees all things, and if His people had asked Him about the Gibeonites, He would have told them who they really were. We will never fully understand His will, which is why we must constantly seek Him. Every decision should fall under His jurisdiction. We must never assume we know what He will say. Often, what we believe is the right decision is actually quite the wrong one. Only God knows the right way to go; therefore, we must always seek His counsel.