Sometimes we know who God is, but we don’t see the character of God. In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites understood that Yahweh is the God of the universe. But they did not see Yahweh’s righteousness and love. The religion of the people in the region demanded appeasing their idol gods with sacrifices to receive rewards. They had to get anything they needed from their gods with their strength, using their ability. Everything they received from their gods had a price tag attached to it. Their gods gave nothing out of love for the people.
So while the Gibeonites realized that Yahweh is the God of the universe, they did not understand that God loves the people, all of whom He created. They did not know that God never rejected anyone who turned to Him. However, they realized that there was nothing they could do to earn Almighty God’s love. So they naively thought that they could “trick” God, and they pulled one of the biggest cons in history. They managed to con national leaders into signing a peace treaty. But, did they trick God? No! God, in His sovereignty, showed mercy and love upon the Gibeonites when He did not enable Joshua and the leaders with Him to recognize the trickery of the Gibeonites. Later, in 2 Samuel 21, when King Saul, with misplaced zeal, carried out a genocide against the Gibeonites, God was angry at Israel because the Gibeonites were also people who had aligned themselves with God; they were His children.
Sadly, like the Gibeonites, many of us who follow Jesus do not realize how much God loves us. You may think you have to do something or appease God in some way to earn God’s love and generosity. God knows your capacity and propensity to sin – and yet, He loved you and adopted you as His child (Ephesians 1:5). If there is any doubt in your heart today about God’s love for you, then it is my prayer that you will have “the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep” is God’s love for you (Ephesians 3:18).