In today’s chapter we see some what happened after Gideon’s death. Abimelech went to his relatives on his mother’s side and asked them a simple question, “[Do you] want to be ruled by all seventy of Gideon’s sons or by one man?” (9:2, NLT). His intention was for them to give him their support, so he could overcome all of his half-brothers. After they said they wanted Abimelech to be their ruler, he hired a band of “reckless trouble-makers” (9:4, NLT) and killed all but one of Gideon’s other sons. Jotham, the one who survived, made this proclamation to the people of Shechem, “If you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Gideon and his descendants today, then may you find joy in Abimelech, and may he find joy in you. But if you have not acted in good faith, then may fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leading citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo; and may fire come out from the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” (9:19-20, NLT). After three years of ruling, Gaal came up against Abimelech. Two battles are recorded, with the last one taking Abimelech’s life.
Abimelech was acting in his own interests. He had no concern for other people, he simply wanted power. He clearly did not learn from his father. We saw in the last chapter that the people asked Gideon to become their king. He refused and requested that they put their faith in God to rule over them. Abimelech acted completely differently. He sought power, and was willing to do anything to take it. He even went to the extreme of killing all of his brothers!
There are many examples in the Bible that warn against this kind of ambition. I believe that ambition can be good, if used for the glory of God. But Abimelech only acted for himself. Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3, NASB). When we think of only ourselves, we hurt others. This is the opposite of what it means to be a follower of Christ. To follow Christ means that we should first be seeking God’s interests, which most often means to put others before ourselves. Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled’ and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” and “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 23:12, 6:33, NASB). This says to be that God wants us to care for others above ourselves. It also shows me the importance of being ambitious, so long as it is ambitiousness for God.
Ambition can be a great tool, it’s only when it is used for personal gain that it is bad. If we constantly focus our lives on God, our ambition will follow after Him as well.
Also in this series
- Just a Bit of History (Judges 1)
- The Testing of Israel (Judges 2)
- We Need God to Succeed (Judges 3)
- Make Your Enemy Flee (Judges 4)
- Being Thankful (Judges 5)
- Staring Down the Mob (Judges 6)
- We Don’t Need More (Judges 7)
- Are You Obeying (Judges 8)
Psalms to Pray: Psalm 57-58