The most haunting verse in Joshua 9 is verse fourteen. It is easy for us to expect more from Joshua, Eleazer, and the elders of Israel than we expect from ourselves. Only a few days earlier, they demolished Jericho according to the word of the Captain of the Lord’s Host. They were successful when they followed the word of the Lord.
Then Ai was a startling upset. Thirty-six men were killed! Joshua had seen these people face disappointment before and it was not a pretty thing. Their parents wanted to stone Moses and return to Egypt. Would they repeat the bad behavior? Joshua turns to God and learns of sin in the camp. After Achan’s treachery was punished, God gave Joshua instructions to defeat Ai. Would you be surprised to know they won the victory? They were successful when they followed the word of the Lord.
As a caravan rides into the camp feigning to be distant travelers, you would think Joshua would take a trip to the Tabernacle to seek God’s counsel. However, he does not and instead presumptuously makes peace with them! “And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord” (Joshua 9:14). They were duped when they refused to follow the word of the Lord.
Several years later, the time of the judges was characterized by a lack of seeking God’s will. “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It appears to be their nature to lean more upon their own ideas than search God’s infinite wisdom. Hundreds of years later, not much has changed when Isaiah writes:
“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, That take counsel, but not of me; And that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, That they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, And have not asked at my mouth; To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:1-2)!
Apparently, human nature chooses to ignore God’s counsel, and over time the children and grandchildren become less interested in seeking His will in their lives. God’s wisdom is not elusive. It is easy to be intreated. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). God is not at fault for man’s tendency to ignore his wisdom. If you ignore wisdom, then, in contrast, you choose foolishness. Choose today to follow the instruction of the wisest counsel given to us on earth.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).