Defeat at Ai
Verse 1 – God was very plain in verses 6:17-19 about destroying “everything!” The accursed thing or (devoted things some versions say) is referring to clothing, livestock, inhabitants and objects such as gold and silver and any of the other plunder that God said to destroy. It was not only the attitude of, “Well, it’s going to be thrown out anyway, so I’ll just put it to good use.” It was a deliberate defiance of God’s command (see Deuteronomy 20:16-18).
Verses 2-5 – So Joshua sends out spies; the spies come back and say, “We can take them, because they are few.” The Israelite’s go to attack and are chased out and some were killed. Now all of Israel is scared.
Verse 6 – Joshua, the elders, and most of Israel are confused by the defeat after such a huge victory of Jericho. As we should today, Joshua humbled himself and went before God to get His wisdom and guidance about what had just happened.
Verses 7-9 – I didn’t read anywhere that Joshua consulted God before they attacked Ai. Could it be that after that great victory he might have had a smidgen of pride in thinking, “piece of cake, I got this one Lord!” Too often, we rely on our own skills and talents to handle the small stuff and only go to God for the big things. When the obstacles seem too big we cry out to God for help. Joshua didn’t understand what had happened, so he poured out his heart to God. It will do us no good to hide our true feelings when praying to the All Mighty. God is all-knowing and all-powerful.
I remember Moses praying the same way as Joshua did when he said, “Then what will you do for Your great name?” (This was when God was about to wipe-out the Israelite’s in Exodus 32:12 and Numbers 14:13-19). I’ve asked God the same thing in a crises; “What will happen to my testimony that I have for others about who You are if you don’t help me?” I really don’t think God is worried about His reputation as we are about ours. Even when we mess up, God is still God All by Himself.