Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)— they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel. – Joshua 9:1-2
The LORD has protected Israel and granted His people peace and security for worship and covenant renewal inside the Promised Land. Today’s passage reminds us that this is not the end of the story. The mission of the ancient people of God, like the mission of the Church today, necessarily involves conflict with the world. In fact, after this great time of worship – 5 different small kingdoms unite to wage war against the people of God. This gives us a glimpse into the political makeup of the land of Canaan at the time of Joshua.
Adolph Harstad writes:
The political power in Canaan is in the hands of kings ruling independent city-states. That situation is reflected in the accounts in Joshua about Jericho, Ai, and now the five kings here. It is also evident in the Amarna letters, written from Canaan about the same time as this episode. To resist an invading nation, kings of individual city states would have to swallow their individual pride and amass their combined might. The fall of Jericho and Ai now galvanizes the five kings to unite.
Did this massive force, vastly larger than Israel had faced at Jericho and Ai, strike terror into the hearts of Israel – or did they remember that the LORD was with them and rest in His sovereign care? We aren’t told. Yet, more than three millennia later, we know that we should respond to such threats by entrusting ourselves body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. One way to do this is, in faith to sing Psalm 2:
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 47
Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.