In Joshua 9, the people of Israel, led by Joshua, were conquering one people after another according to the Lord’s command, as they moved towards taking the Promised Land. They were told by the Lord not to make treaties. They were commanded to completely wipe out all the peoples in the land so as to avoid being led astray by their idols and false gods.
But this one people group, the Gibeonites, saw how Israel was conquering everyone in sight and they hatched a plan to pretend to be sojourners from a far-off land in order to trick the Israelites into covenanting with them (and thereby keep them from being killed). And they execute the plan flawlessly because the people of Israel rely on themselves, instead of God.
Let’s read the interchange from Joshua 19:
 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?”  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,  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.  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.”’  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.  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.”
 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.  At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them.
(Joshua 9:9-16 ESV, emphasis added)[i]
“…But they did not ask counsel from the Lord.”
The people of Israel relied on outward appearances and made what appeared to them to be a practical and fair decision by all known data; however, they neglected to consult the Lord, who presumably would’ve revealed the deception by the Gibeonites and spared them from making a mistake that would cause them to disobey the direct command of the Lord.
How many of us struggle in the same way? How many of us make choices every day – be they small or large decisions – relying solely on our own wisdom, thoughts and ideas and what “seems best to us” based on the circumstances that are plainly visible?
I know I struggle with this on a daily basis. To my shame, I rarely go through a day in constant dialogue with God about what is going on in my life. I far too often neglect prayer when the correct course of action seems “obvious” to me.
But we cannot afford to trust our own human wisdom as we saw Israel do in Joshua 9. Although we definitely want to operate with God-given wisdom (see the entire book of Proverbs), we must always submit even decisions to God, seeking His wisdom to guide where ours is lacking (even when we don’t realize we’re lacking).
May we be a people who walk with Holy Spirit-empowered wisdom every day of our lives!
[i] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.