Discerning: Joshua 9-10

Coincides with Sunday,  October 9, 2016

(Only study chater 9) 

Many of life’s circumstances are ambiguous, colored in shades of gray and requiring on-the-spot wisdom. The Gibeonites tricked Israel into making a covenant with them, and then became the catalyst for Israel’s decisive battle victory over an alliance of Canaanite kings. In reading the Bible’s stories, we are always looking for the evaluative viewpoint, trying to discern through the story if the characters are to be deemed good or evil. In this case, the evaluation is unclear. Were the Gibeonites deceitful and therefore punished? Or were they wise and therefore saved? Were they a hiccup in God’s plan for Israel? Or were they an integral part of his plan? The story is as ambiguous as the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and thus portrays the ongoing need for applied wisdom.

Preliminary question

  • What are some examples of ambiguity in your day-to-day life?

TAKING IN: Understanding?

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?

  • How is the story introduced? (See 9:1-2.) How is this significant for what follows?

  • How do you evaluate the Gibeonites actions? As you see how they ultimately responded to Joshua’s decisions what do you think about them?

  • How do you evaluate Israel’s response?

  • Compare this story to the previous one about Achan’s sin. How does God’s role differ in the two stories? What difference does this make in your interpretation of each story?

  • They did not ask counsel from the Lord (verse 14). Notice that God neither speaks nor acts in this story. What do you learn from this?

  • Why did the congregation of Israel complain about their leaders? What do you think about their complaint? How do we see ourselves in them?

  • A follow-up story occurs in 2 Samuel 21:1-9. Read that story and, as you connect it to the Joshua 9 event, think together about what principle we are to learn.

  • The Gibeonite deception is set within the context of a description of Israel’s bigger enemies (9:1-2 and 10:1-5). Whether or not you think the Israelites failed in regards to the Gibeonites, what do we ultimately learn about God’s sovereignty?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • In regards to discernment, what do you learn from the Gibeonites?

  • In regards to discernment, what do you learn from the Israelites?

  • God is both absent and sovereign in and through this story. What does this mean to you?

  • What do you learn from the people murmuring against their leaders?

  • What are some situations that you personally need discernment at this time?

  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:30 in light of this story? How does Jesus become its fulfillment?


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