THURSDAY, APRIL 26
SCRIPTURE: JUDGES 9
This is an interesting chapter. At the end of chapter 8, Gideon died. The nation of Israel had chased after the god, Baal. And the people quickly forgot about all the good that Gideon had done for them.
At that point another character comes to the forefront. His name is Abimelech. He is not one of the judges that this book is named after. He is instead a son of the late Gideon and Gideon’s Shechem concubine. Abimelech is the one whose name means “my father is a king”. But instead of living up to that name, Abimelech decided that he would be king.
His approach to that was to go to the leaders of Shechem. They were quickly convinced that Abimelech was their man. They took some money out of the temple of Baal that Abimelech used to hire some mercenaries. The fact that he accepted this money is indicative of the fact that Abimelech had turned his back on God and was now aligned with Baal.
At that point, Abimelech set out to kill all of his brothers so that there would be no threat to his throne. He killed them all but Jotham.
The end of verse 6 mentions Abimelech and his crew meeting at the oak of the pillar at Shechem. This was probably the “oak of Moreh” where the Lord appeared to Abraham to give him the Promised Land. It was also near the site that Moses read the blessings and cursings from the Law to Israel. And it was there that Joshua gave his last speech. In other words, this was a significant place. The sad thing is this wasn’t a moment when the nation of Israel was coming back to God but going away from Him.
In verse 7, we find Jotham on Mount Gerizim. It was from this mountain that Moses actually read the blessings of the Law to Israel. Jotham shares a parable from this very place. By the way, this is the first parable recorded in the Bible. It was a parable about which of the trees would rule over the rest of the trees. The solution was that the bramble would do that. The application is Abimelech was that bramble.
As the chapter continues, another man, Gaal, decided he wanted to be king. The leaders of Shechem agreed and forced Abimelech to fight for his “throne”. It was in the midst of this fight, that a woman dropped an upper millstone from the tower and hit Abimelech in the head.
You might remember from yesterday that the method of death was very important to a soldier. Abimelech’s death was a disgrace for a couple of reasons. One, he was killed by a woman. Two, he was killed by a rock not a sword. You might argue that Abimelech was killed by his young sword bearer but 2 Samuel 11:21 points out that it was the woman who dealt the death blow to Abimelech.
So what are we to make of this chapter? One thing we can take away from this is the place of ambition in the life of Christ followers. Ambition can be a devastating characteristic of anyone particularly a Christ follower. The reason that is true is pride often drives ambition and pride often causes us to do stuff that we should not do. That was the downfall of Abimelech.
On the other hand, if we are sure of what the Lord is calling us to do, then some Spirit controlled ambition is often necessary to have the faith and courage to step out into the unknown. The unknown, by the way, is often the direction that God calls us to. That is why it is called faith. But the point is ambition is not necessarily bad. It is, in fact, often necessary to move an individual or a church to the next level. The key is to make sure that the source of that ambition is believing God and trusting Him which is an antidote to our pride.