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  • Chad Werkhoven

Joshua 9 - Done Deal

You must fulfill your vows, even if you were swindled into making it.

Read / Listen

Read Joshua 9

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 101

Q. But may we swear an oath

in God’s name

if we do it reverently?

A. Yes, when

the government demands it,

or when necessity requires it,

in order to maintain and promote

truth and trustworthiness

for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good.

Such oaths are approved in God’s Word

and were rightly used by Old and

New Testament believers.



There's a tremendous irony that unfolds in today's passage. The heathen Canaanites, the very people whom God had decreed must be wiped out because of their wickedness, are very much aware of God's mighty power in protecting and providing for His people, which is a concept the Israelites can't seem to remember for long even though they've witnessed this power with their own eyes.

Neither group acts admirably in this episode.

Imagine how different this story would be if the Gibeonites had submitted themselves in repentance before God. But instead, they attempt to bamboozle Him and His people. They know God's law just as well, and maybe even better than the Israelites. God had forbidden Israel from making treaties with nations within the borders of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 7:2-4), but they could enter into agreements with far off nations (Deuteronomy 20:10-11). So the Gibeonites, who lived only seven miles from the city the Israelites had just destroyed, came up with a ploy to convince Joshua they were from a 'distant country.'

The Israelites are so convinced by the ruse that they didn't feel the need to inquire of the Lord for guidance before jumping into a formal peace treaty, ratified in the name of YWHW, the God of Israel.

Yet because Israel had bound themselves to that sinful treaty in God's name, they were obligated to abide by it. It mattered not that they'd been lied to and that the premises of the treaty were false.

Taking an oath in God's name is a serious commitment. The Israelites found out that day just how serious of a commitment it is.

Dig Deeper

There's lots of applicable lessons in today's passage. The Gibeonites learned that God's Law is not a tool to manipulate for your own benefit. The Israelites remind us that we should inquire of the Lord even when the path forward seems obvious.

But our focus today is to be reminded of the significance of swearing an oath in God's name. This isn't something you face often, but you likely have made such vows at baptisms (either as the parent/recipient, or as a member of the congregation), your profession of faith or even your wedding. There are times, as we noted yesterday, that the government will ask you to invoke God's name to signify your truthfulness.

Know that you must do all that you can to fulfill whatever you obligated yourself to in making these oaths, even if you later feel that the other parties misrepresented the premises of the deal.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, whose greatness is seen even by the pagans;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the wisdom to inquire of the Lord no matter how obvious things may seem, and for the strength to fulfill the vows you've made in His name;



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 Timothy 2


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