Of Covenants and Servants

from Lynda Lindsey

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. Joshua 9:11(b)

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

And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it. So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord… Joshua 9:25-27(a)

The Gibeonites, in the face of the advancing Israelite army, cunningly lied to Joshua and his men in a ploy to avoid annihilation. With stale bread, worn and dusty shoes and clothing, and dried out wineskins, their claim of traveling from a far distant country was convincing. The Gibeonites told of hearing about the powerful Israelite God and their desire to be in a covenant relationship with God and His people. Without consulting the Lord, relying on the evidence of what he saw, Joshua made peace and an irrevocable covenant  with the men. Once the deception was uncovered, it was too late. 

Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies; the Gibeonites lied directly to Joshua. Nevertheless both Rahab and the Gibeonites shared a desire to be saved, protected, and delivered from certain death and destruction. Joshua couldn’t kill his former enemies, so he “cursed” them with menial servant work; they would serve God in the tabernacle as woodcutters and water drawers. Imagine it: God’s former enemies, saved from death, end up serving God in His tabernacle! Once the covenant was established, God even defended the Gibeonites against other Canaanite nations.

The Gibeonites were once God’s sworn enemies, marked for destruction; yet when they found refuge in God, God became their ally and defender! The Canaanites fought the Gibeonites, but God allowed Joshua victory by supernatural means. Huge hailstones rained from heaven and the sun even stood still. Mercifully, once we join forces with God, we are no longer His enemy. God forgives and forgets our past, fights our battles, weaves all things together for our good, and allows us to serve Him in righteousness all our days. Are you a child of the covenant? Jesus is the way.