A Fallen King



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    Judges 9 tells an interesting story of betrayal, rise to power, and downfall. Gideon was a godly man who had ruled over Israel for some time and when he died there was a power vacuum in the land. Gideon had 70 sons...yet they did not take the throne. The people decided they would rather have Abimelech as their king, so Abimelech took all 70 sons of Gideon and put them to death and proclaimed himself as king. The problem was, Abimelech failed to kill the youngest son of Gideon because he was hiding when the slaughter took place.
    Jotham, the youngest son proclaimed a parable against the newly, self appointed king. He told of how the trees decided that the olive tree should be king, but the olive tree did not want to be. So they decided the fig tree should be king, but the fig tree did not want to be. So they decided the vine should be, and the vine did not want to be. So they were left with the bramble...and the bramble therefore became their king because no other tree was left who would do it and the bramble would burn the trees if they didn't submit. As you can imagine, Jotham had to hide from Abimelech to keep from being put to death, however Abimelech’s wickedness did not go unnoticed by God.

    Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years when God brought punishment against him. After three years of reigning, the same men that lifted Abimelech up as king turned against Abimelech. Gaal thought himself to be better suited to take Abimelech’s place so he went to battle against Abimelech and Abimelech killed many of them, took their city, and sowed it with salt.

    The rest of the men who put Abimelech as king were now in fear of Abimelech. They ran and hid in a tower. Abimelech and his men burned the tower with them in it killing about 1000 people...people who had originally supported Abimelech.

    So far it looks as if Abimelech is doing great. He has overcome many of his foes and has still maintained the throne. Yet that won’t last long. Next Abimelech goes to take Thebez. All of the people hid in a tower, so Abimelech went to burn the tower as he had done to the people of Shechem. A woman in the tower dropped a millstone out of a window and it crushed Abimelech’s head.

    Sometimes it may appear that wicked leaders are successful. Yet God is still in control. God will punish and bring an end to wicked leaders. It may not be on our timeline, but rest assured it will come to pass. Not only did God punish Abimelech, but He also used Abimelech to punish all of the men who originally backed Abimelech as king. We must be careful who we support and who we lift up as our king. We must realize that we will be held accountable if we stand for and defend a wicked king and his wicked actions.

    JUDGES 9
    [9:1] Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother's brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, [2] “Please speak in the hearing of all the men of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal reign over you, or that one reign over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.” [3] And his mother's brothers spoke all these words concerning him in the hearing of all the men of Shechem; and their heart was inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” [4] So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. [5] Then he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. [6] And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem. The Parable of the Trees [7] Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them: “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, That God may listen to you! [8] “The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them. And they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ [9] But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I cease giving my oil, With which they honor God and men, And go to sway over trees?’ [10] “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us!’ [11] But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit, And go to sway over trees?’ [12] “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us!’ [13] But the vine said to them, ‘Should I cease my new wine, Which cheers both God and men, And go to sway over trees?’ [14] “Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us!’ [15] And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, Then come and take shelter in my shade; But if not, let fire come out of the bramble And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’ [16] “Now therefore, if you have acted in truth and sincerity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him as he deserves— [17] “for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian; [18] “but you have risen up against my father's house this day, and killed his seventy sons on one stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother— [19] “if then you have acted in truth and sincerity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. [20] “But if not, let fire come from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem and Beth Millo; and let fire come from the men of Shechem and from Beth Millo and devour Abimelech!” [21] And Jotham ran away and fled; and he went to Beer and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother. Downfall of Abimelech [22] After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, [23] God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, [24] that the crime done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his brothers. [25] And the men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way; and it was told Abimelech. [26] Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. [27] So they went out into the fields, and gathered grapes from their vineyards and trod them, and made merry. And they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. [28] Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? [29] “If only this people were under my authority! Then I would remove Abimelech.” So he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!” [30] When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused. [31] And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem; and here they are, fortifying the city against you. [32] “Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. [33] “And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may then do to them as you find opportunity.” [34] So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. [35] When Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate, Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait. [36] And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.” [37] So Gaal spoke again and said, “See, people are coming down from the center of the land, and another company is coming from the Diviners’ Terebinth Tree.” [38] Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out, if you will, and fight with them now.” [39] So Gaal went out, leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. [40] And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate. [41] Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they would not dwell in Shechem. [42] And it came about on the next day that the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech. [43] So he took his people, divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field. And he looked, and there were the people, coming out of the city; and he rose against them and attacked them. [44] Then Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city; and the other two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and killed them. [45] So Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city and killed the people who were in it; and he demolished the city and sowed it with salt. [46] Now when all the men of the tower of Shechem had heard that, they entered the stronghold of the temple of the god Berith. [47] And it was told Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. [48] Then Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it and laid it on his shoulder; then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done.” [49] So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech, put them against the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire above them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women. [50] Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he encamped against Thebez and took it. [51] But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower. [52] So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. [53] But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech's head and crushed his skull. [54] Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. [55] And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place. [56] Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. [57] And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.