Jud 9:15-The Bramble King
Question: “How could the people of Shechem choose such a ruler as Abimilech on the heels of Gideon’s leadership?”
Answer: It seems remarkable that those so directly effected by Gideon‘s leadership were so short-sighted when it came to choosing his successor. Several factors influenced their choice.
First, the problem of idolatry was never really ever purged from the land. What Gideon began to do he followed through on inconsistently; with the reward from his conquest of Midian, he made an ephod “which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.” Nor was the influence in his house alone: the Bible says, “all Israel went a whoring after it” (Judges 8:26-27). It should come as no surprise, then, following this, “the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies” (8:34).
Secondly, the people lacked the discernment to recognize Abimelech’s ploy for power for what it was. Earlier, Gideon refused such a role, instructing them not to have his sons rule over them. He was opposed to the establishment of a monarchy, believing only one King had a right to the throne of Israel: “the LORD shall rule over you” (8:23). In spite of this, after his death, they looked to Gideon’s sons for leadership. Had this not been the case, they would never have listened to Abimilech in the first place.
Finally, their actions were a manifestation of rebellion against God’s rule over them: the very thing Gideon warned against. Of course, this was the cycle during the era of the judges. Time after time, the children of Israel rebelled against God’s right to reign over them and chose to follow Baal, chose the ways of the heathen, chose to place men of inferior character in positions of authority. They found themselves in a classic security over freedom scenario, choosing security over righteousness and peace; this never worked out the way they fancied.
Jotham’s parable of the bramble ruling over the trees highlights the danger of choosing leaders of inferior character. Ultimately, the trees were devoured by the bramble; and the poor choice of leaders came back to bite the people of Shechem, just as it does any people who despise the place of integrity, choosing power when selecting their leaders. Ponder that in the next election cycle.
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