And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few." So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
Let the Victor Beware
On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington fell to the advancing British troops and General Washington was forced to retreat. Secure in his victory, General Howe chose not to pursue the Continental army, but ordered his men into winter quarters instead. On Christmas night, Washington ferried a portion of his troops back across the Delaware and mounted a surprise attack. The British were caught off guard and more than a thousand Hessian soldiers were taken prisoner. On the heels of victory, the British experienced a stinging defeat.
Joshua had the same experience. After an overwhelming victory at Jericho, his soldiers were routed by the defenders of a pile of rubble (Ai literally means "ruin"). While the defeat was brought about by sin in the camp (7:10-13), the attitude of those in leadership was one of arrogance and conceit. Their overconfidence set them up for a humiliating defeat.
Someone has said that the most vulnerable moment for a Christian is the moment following a spiritual victory. We are often basking in the glow of our accomplishments. Our guard is down. And Satan knows that this is a prime time to attack.
If you are experiencing a time of spiritual success, give God the glory. At the same time, be on guard. Continue with your spiritual disciplines and maintain an attitude of watchfulness. As the Scriptures warn, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
The more "puffed up" you are, the better target you make.