READ: Judges 9-10
BACKGROUND: These 2 chapters are a great microcosm of the depressing cycle of the book of Judges. The people forget God and stop obeying him. Then they suffer. Then they realize they made a huge mistake and repent. Then God sends someone (a judge) to rescue and protect them. Then they follow God until that judge dies. Then…repeat.
By Verse –
9:1 – Jerubbaal is another name for Gideon.
2 – This is a particularly ironic verse. Gideon had been offered kingship by the people but he turned it down in an apparent show of humility because he knew God hadn’t appointed him to that. But then he turned around and named his son Abimelech. So it’s not surprising that this son ended up betraying his God, his country, and his family by violently appointing himself king. Why not? Abimelech literally means “my son is king.” Irony = thick. Stupidity = thicker!
7 – Jotham, the only one of Gideon’s sons still alive told this parable to the men. The geographic features described in the verse allow us to know that the reason they didn’t just seize and kill him was that he spoke to them from a cliff, standing above them.
15 – The big idea of this story is that Abimelech offers them no security and this evil arrangement will eventually bring about the destruction of both the people (at the hands of Abimelech) and Abimelech (at the hands of the people)
45 – “Sowed it with salt” is figurative and literal. It means totally destroyed it. How? Sprinkling salt all over everything meant that nothing could grow there again.
53 – Millstones were about 12-18 inches in diameter and 4 inches thick.
10:1-5 – We don’t know a lot about Tola or Jair other than the fact that while they were alive the people of Israel followed God and after Jair’s death they foolishly turned away again.
15-16 – Confessing sins to God also meant that they were rejecting all of the other pagan gods.
THINK: The theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is generally applied to the military realm of nuclear warfare. The idea is: if one superpower with enough weaponry to destroy another shoots off a weapon of mass destruction, then the power that has been attacked will respond with equal or greater force. Eventually, this will mean the complete destruction of both powers – thus deincentivizing the use of such weapons in the first place.
Though it’s a military term, I’m pretty sure that MAD applies to a lot of other situations as well. Just a few examples: The prank war on our recent High School Ministries trip to Chicago where it took 15 minutes to create a huge, glittery mess and 2 hours to clean it up immediately after. Or the time in college when we had a huge box of the big plastic Pixie-Stix at the house I lived in, and I decided it would be funny to hit my roommate in the back of the leg with one when he wasn’t looking and then 15 minutes later a bunch of us – especially me – had giant welts all over our bodies from a Pixie-Stix whipping fight. I could go on…
Judges 9 tells the story of some MAD. The murder and the faithlessness that it took to make Abimelech king meant that it really couldn’t have ended any other way. He destroyed those who had helped him gain power and eventually they destroyed him. The blood that was shed went well beyond Abimelech’s murdered brothers. And though it sounds like a crazy story from a different time period, it isn’t that far removed – spiritually anyways – from our lives today. We are constantly enticed by a wicked and self-absorbed culture to turn away from God and to put other things – often ourselves and our selfish desires – in his rightful place. We push God aside and ignore his will in order to chase after the empty promises of a sinful world. And when we do there is only one possible outcome: destruction. As with Abimelech and his supporters, it may not be immediate. But it will come. Eventually the sin and the selfishness will destroy us and we will play a part in the implosion of our culture instead of healing and redeeming it.
ASK: What are the things that I have put in God’s place? What are the things I’m chasing after rather than seeking and following him?
PRAY: Take some time to confess to God the things that you’ve put in his place – the things you’ve sought instead of being obedient to him. Ask for forgiveness and ask for the strength to put him first.