God looks at the heart
The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” “But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’ Joshua 9:7-10 NLT
The Gibeonites, in their deception brought bread that was moldy and their clothes and shoes had apparently become old and worn because of the long journey. These are evidences they will use should anyone doubt their story. They had heard of the fame of Israel and wanted to make an alliance with her. Though they heard the victories won by the Israelites, they did not speak of Jericho or Ai, for that would have blown their cover, as these battles had only recently taken place. Also they will be found lying that they came from a far country! They intentionally omitted information in order to keep up their deceitful facade. Sometimes it is not what people say that betrays them—it is what they do not say. False teachers will speak smoothly about many good things in the gospel but they will leave other basic issues unsaid, and the naïve and trusting will not discern the difference. The teachings of the false teachers will be accepted on the harmless issues they present and will lead the people on to a powerless gospel with no message. The people are deceived and the church desperately weakened. The deeds of the God of Israel prompted the Gibeonites to make an alliance with the people of God: “...We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt” (v. 9). But Joshua and the men of Israel can detect some deception; “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” (vv. 7–8). Without asking and looking to God for guidance and wisdom, Joshua and the rulers of Israel made a covenant with them. They were deceived by the trickery and guile of the enemy. How could they be so gullible? Satan comes not only as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but also as a subtle serpent; “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals” (Genesis 3:1). This is why Jesus told Peter, James, and John, “Watch and pray” (Mark 13:33). How easily we can be deceived by outward appearances! But God said, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul rebuked “those who boast in appearance and not in heart” (2 Corinthians 5:12).