22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 . . . the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. (from Judges 9 – ESV)
Abimelech ruled for three bloody years. He had his 70 brothers killed to secure the throne, destroyed families, ambushed groups of people, killed another 1,000 hiding in a tower, and captured and killed until a woman dropped a millstone on his head. And, as much as he wanted to avoid the disgrace, it is still recognized that a woman ended his reign of terror even though his armor bearer officially ended his life.
All that wickedness, and he was afraid that he would have the reputation of dying at the hand of a female. The least of his worries.
Sadly, the leaders bear some blame as well. Instead of standing up to Abimelech, they strengthened his hands. (Lord, give me the wisdom to recognize evil and the boldness to speak out against it!)
We assume that Israel had at least a bit of a change of heart as the next two judges fill a brief five verses at the beginning of chapter ten with their length of reign and a note about their death and burial.
Before long though, Israel goes her own way. How often do I also find myself repeating the same sins? How often do pride and self-righteousness and bad habits and laziness poke their noses into my choices? My issue might not be foreign gods, but I have plenty of issues.
I find a bit of comfort in Jephthah’s story, despite the tragic ending. God used him. Someone rejected by society because of his out-of-wedlock birth, still had a place in God’s plan. (reminds me of Ruth, Rahab, Mary, and Tamar) I love that God forgives and looks at us from His unique perspective as our Creator. If we repent and surrender, and even sometimes when we don’t, he shows a love for us that goes beyond comprehension.
Lord, speak gently to my heart and help me to learn my lesson before I need to cry out to you from a place of punishment. Help me remember Your saving hand in times of peace and blessing as well as times of challenge. Thank you for using the broken, even me. ~Amen