In this way God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father [Jerubbaal] by killing his seventy brothers. Also God repaid all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) came upon them. – Judges 9:56-57
The Shechemites were ruined by Abimelech; now he is reckoned with, who was their leader in villany. Evil pursues sinners, and sometimes overtakes them, when not only at ease, but triumphant. Though wickedness may prosper a while, it will not prosper always. The history of humanity, if truly told, would greatly resemble that of this chapter. The records of what are called splendid events present to us such contests for power. Such scenes, though praised of men, fully explain the Scripture doctrine of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the human heart, the force of men’s lust, and the effect of Satan’s influence. Lord, thou has given us thy word of truth and righteousness, O pour upon us thy spirit of purity, peace, and love, and write thy holy law in our hearts. – Matthew Henry Commentary
The question is: Do you want to be a spiritual Gideon or a spiritual Jerubbaal?Greatness does not guarantee permanence.
Church history has provided us with examples of what can happen when anyone—even well-motivated and apparently godly men—moves beyond personal accountability to anyone else. None of us is immune from the corrupting influence of power and position. We can all too easily lose our perspective on ourselves, and with it our moral and spiritual balance. As pastors, we need faithful friends who will pastor us and bring us down to earth from some of our wilder flights of fancy. It is not for nothing that the pulpit is sometimes caricatured as “six feet above contradiction,” or “cowards’ castle.” In a chapter full of irony, we must be careful to see that we do not succumb to the supreme idolatry of worshiping at the shrine of our own infallibility, or power, or pride. The more “successful” a ministry is perceived to be, the greater will be the danger that we start to believe our own press releases! Many a pastor has allowed himself to be “made king” in his little corner of God’s world-wide field, by an enthusiastic band of supporters, and those people have lived to rue the day. (Jackman, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher’s Commentary Series: Judges, Ruth. Formerly Page 147). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson)
Does this story broaden your understanding of how the Lord works to carry out His will?
- He allows Abimelech to rise to power to demonstrate the evil in the people’s hearts
- He allows Abimelech to kill Gideon’s sons to illustrate how Gideon’s actions to keep slave wives and to produce sons were in error
- The Lord spares one son so that son can be used by God to pronounce a curse on the leader
- And he allowed the king to rule harshly over the people for three years to show the foolishness of their desires
- After three years, the Lord proceeded to judge Abimelech for his sin in killing Gideon’s family
- He brings an evil spirit and an opponent into the situation to bring down Abimelech
- But not before He used Abimelech to judge those who partnered with him in Shechem
- The entire episode is a sad lesson in how far the depravity and sin of the human heart can take us when it’s left unchecked
- But even more, this story is a tour de force of the Lord’s sovereignty