It's not long after Israel makes their treaty with the foreign, deceitful people that they realize their mistake. It becomes apparent that these men have lied to them, have tricked them into believing something that isn't true, and the people immediately regret not asking the Lord for His guidance.
And it's not long after that that the people of Israel encounter this deceitful people in their march into the Promised Land. It's time to take on their city, to wage battle for their towns. What should the people of God do?
It's tempting to say that it doesn't matter what they promised this people. Any promises, any deals, were made under false pretenses. This people lied to them, and God had given them very clear orders about the peoples they would encounter in this particular area. So it makes sense to say that the people themselves knew this was going to happen and even their best efforts were not enough. Maybe if they hadn't lied...but there's no reason at all to keep your word to a liar.
Unless, of course, you are by nature a covenant people.
And this is Israel's problem. She is a covenant people. Her entire existence, her very blessing, her everything rests on her ability to keep up her end of a deal. Sure, it's true that her primary covenant is with God, but if you're a covenant people, can you really start picking and choosing when and where you live by your word and when and where you don't?
Once you start that, then it's far too easy to say that maybe you don't have to keep your full word to God. Maybe there are some areas that your covenant with Him doesn't cover. Maybe there are some times that it's okay to not be entirely faithful.
Maybe other peoples hear about this and start to think they can figure out how to play you. You're a covenant people, sure, but now, it's known you are not always faithful. And if you're not always faithful, then maybe here's another case where you don't have to be. If you're a people trying to save your lives, the hypocrisy of a covenant nation seems like an open door for negotiation.
It just raises a lot of trouble when you start to redefine what it means to be, at heart, a people of your word.
So when the advancing Israelite armies encounter this people who lied to them and tricked them into a treaty, what do they do? They live by their word. They take this people as slaves, make them servants...but let them live. They do what they've promised to do, even though it wasn't what God originally wanted them to do.
He would rather they had asked Him for His wisdom. He would rather they had inquired about His plan. He would rather they had brought their impressions to Him and let Him shed light on their dark places. But since they didn't and they went ahead with their own way, what God desires most from them now is that they be a people according to His heart - and that means being a people of their word.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is make a decision to be faithful to God now, no matter what unfaithful decisions brought you here. You've made mistakes. You've foolishly rushed in and done things based on what you know, without thinking about what you don't know. But there's one thing you can know for certain that never changes: you are a covenant people, because you have a covenant God.
And if you are a covenant people, the most faithful thing you can do now is keep your word. No matter what someone else did. Even if they're liars. Even if they're fakes. Even if they're frauds. Even if they talked you into doing something God didn't approve of, you can do something now that He does. You can be His people.
Keep your word.