Read Joshua 9:1-27
Not every covenant recorded in the Scriptures is one made by God or one sanctioned by God. This one you just read in Joshua 9 between the Israelites and the Gibeonites is a good example. The Israelites had been instructed by God to take possession of the land God had promised them. In order to guard against the influence of pagan worship of the current inhabitants, God told descendants of Jacob to conquer, destroy, and drive out the pagan people.
And the Israelite victory over Jericho intimidated the residents. Many of the people groups came together to join forces in hopes of defeating the people of God (vv. 1, 2). But not the Gibeonites. No, they had a different plan. Pretending to be God-fearing people who had come from a great distance, they promised to serve the Israelites in exchange for being permitted to live. They asked God’s people to make a covenant with them.
Their arm twisting worked. Joshua and the people of God made a covenant with them. The men of Israel took some of their possessions and let them live. They had given their word and had obligated themselves with a covenantal agreement.
But it only took three days. After three days, they learned that these men and women were their neighbors. Joshua and the leaders had been deceived by their costumes, their script, and their acting. Still, regretfully, they had made a covenant. It was an agreement that would impact their dealings with them immediately and for generations to come.
All of that disappointment could have been avoided. Verse 14 gives us the key: “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” They did not go to God asking, “What do You think?” They failed to seek His will but followed their own inclinations. They did not follow the instruction that James would later make clear in James 1:5, 6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
Seek God before you make a commitment!