The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 2
A stubborn people, two leaders, and two different outcomes—a recipe for disaster.
Israel begins asking for a king like the peoples around them—just like Moses told them would happen in Deuteronomy 17. They ask Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian” (Judges 8:22). Gideon proves himself the smartest politician of all time and declines, “The LORD shall rule over you” (8:23).
Gideon leads his small army to defeat the Midianites because he submits to God’s authority. The people of Succoth and Penuel, however, refuse to feed his exhausted army. Afterwards they ask Gideon to rule over them. Who would want to rule over a people who despise bold faith and God’s authority? Not Gideon!
After Gideon’s death, his son Abimelech runs for office. Abimelech’s political platform sounds good, “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” (9:2). Abimelech wins the support of his brothers and uses their endorsement to establish his office. He spends his campaign funds to hire “worthless and reckless men,” and kills all of his brothers except for Jotham, the youngest, who escapes. None of this bothers the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, who gather to crown Abimelech as their king. The people choose a leader like themselves. A slick man of action. A man without scruples, who doesn’t trust or fear God.
What do Gideon, Abimelech, and Israel reveal about people and politics?
- People are easily deceived by smooth talkers.
- Leaders who sacrifice others to advance themselves cannot be trusted.
- Real leaders build up others, while poor leaders tear them down.
- Real leaders fear power while poor leaders crave it.
- The courageous leader often appears small, while the cowardly and self-seeking leader appears large.
- Men need governing; they’ll settle for poor leadership rather than to submit to God’s governance.
Questions from today’s reading (Judges 7:1-9:21):
What does God teach Gideon and Israel about Himself when He trims their already pitiful army down to three hundred men?
Describe the interaction of the twelve tribes of Israel. What does this reveal about people who live in disobedience to God?
What does Gideon’s family reveal about families during the time of the Judges Era?