The book of Genesis is an amazing narrative of the history of God’s people. One of the most notable features of this history is its honesty- the Scriptures are absolutely clear, truthful, and even blunt about the failures of God’s people. This is noteworthy, because we tend to be most kind when telling our own story- but God’s purpose in inspiring this narrative is to show the roller coaster of life and faith that is the reality of the children of God. The aura of perfection that so many people carry is nothing but hypocritical show- we do not seek to flaunt our sins and failures publicly, but rather, by the grace of God, deal with them honestly! And the biblical picture of God’s people is a picture of constant struggle and growth towards spiritual maturity. So our narrative this morning may strike you as little stunning for its blunt assessment of the failures of God’s people.
What is the principle purpose of this narrative? Historically and theologically, it reveals how the tribes of Israel began developing a negative relationship with the Canaanites, even though they were the people of God. The Israelites were very far from perfect, but that did not mean that they ceased to be the people of God. All in all, as ch. 35ff demonstrate, narratives like ch. 34 are a picture of God’s grace- that God keeps his promises and blesses his people even in spite of major failure, though their failure will also bring about his chastisement. Yet happy are the people of God that walk in the light of obedience, and altogether avoid the shame of sin!