Saturday, January 28, 2006

American Bravado Won't Always Do

Perhaps it is not so much an American characteristic as it is merely human tendency, but we glorify strength. To tell of overcoming some incredibly difficult situation is a sure way to win admiration and accolades. Your story may be written up in Reader's Digest. You may even gain a slot on Oprah.

I myself love to hear of deeds requiring bravery and daring. I get goosebumps, my heart swells, and my eyes tear up. So it is only natural that I should feel immediate disdain when I read the story of the Gibeonites who didn't face the children of Israel in battle, but rather deceived them with pretense and trickery. On closer reflection, I find that a commendation is in order. Let me remind you of their tale.

God had told Joshua to defeat every nation in the new promised land - to destroy them all. After they had soundly defeated Jericho and Ai, the neighboring nations sat up and took notice. Quickly they all decided to join forces and stand together to gain victory over Israel - all except one. The Gibeonites instead "worked craftily"; they donned old clothes, packed moldy bread, carried torn and mended wineskins, and wore patched sandals. Their pretense was that of having travelled from afar to make a covenant with this people whose God had earned fame. No neighboring nation were they (so they said!) "This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy." The leaders of Israel bought it hook, line, and sinker, and entered into a covenant of peace with them.

The Gibeonites knew that God had promised complete victory to His people. Apparently they feared this God and His word. They strategized accordingly and were not destroyed. Somewhere in my Bible I read that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps they were on to something.

It is true that there are other lessons to be learned from this story. The leaders of Israel failed to inquire after the Lord regarding entering into this covenant. Who knows what the outcome may have been had they sought His counsel.

But the Gibeonites had heard of the Lord's word and responded, not with false bravado or prideful arrogance, but with acceptance and belief in His word. They feared His greatness. And this is the beginning of wisdom.


Blogger Keila said...

Darlene, I'd love to get copies of those little books you've been working on, both for myself and to send down to Guatemala... I know we'd all benefit from it! Let me know what I need to do!
I love you!

1:42 PM  

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