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  • Writer's picturePaige Patterson

Abimelech and the Woman Who Dropped a Rock

Judges 9 adumbrates the 3000-year-old story of Abimelech who is as contemporary as the morning news. When Gideon prevails over the Midianites, a grateful contingency of Israel offers him the kingship and rule over all Israel. Gideon was not a man of unprecedented political ambition, and he declined the offer. Instead of ruling as sovereign, Gideon seems to have planned to use his multifarious sons as judges throughout the land. One of those sons was the offspring of a concubine in Shechem. Following the death of Gideon, Abimelech hatched a plan to jettison the 70 sons of Gideon and replace them all with himself.

Abimelech, in addition to being a puppet to his own ambitions, was less than grateful to his father Gideon and demonstrated no appreciation for the colorful life and contribution of Jerubbaal (another name for Gideon). Ungrateful to Gideon or God, Abimelech was inspired by his own image and his prospects for national fame. Gathering together Gideon’s 70 sons, he executed them all, inflicting upon the family of Gideon and all the other families unspeakable sorrow and actually doing nothing to assist God’s people.

Herein, from 1100 bc we discover the quintessential postmodern leader. Abimelech’s postmodernity was expressed with little regard for the sacrifices of women and men of another generation and a willingness to bring sorrows upon their families and followers and almost total disregard for the work of God among His people. All that really appears important is his own career. Abimelech’s offspring abound in contemporary denominations, and Southern Baptists are no exception.

Somehow Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, survived the purge. To the men of Shechem, Jotham appealed his case:

“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. 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!” (Judg 9:19-20)

The tendency in most of the human family is to set the record straight. There is a need to “get even” with Abimelech. But the matter is properly adjudicated by God Himself. When we take matters into our own hands, we are almost always doomed to overdoing or underdoing, and handling the matter ourselves almost always results in personal guilt because to handle anything without building our own guilt is problematic. Abimelech was left to God’s judgment.

“Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers”(Judg 9:56). And God acted most decisively to show His hand in this matter. “But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull” (Judg 9:53). How humiliating! The great warrior dies not from a mortal wound inflicted on the field of battle but from a rock dropped by a nameless woman! God has a way of correcting the record; and even if unbeknown to us, God inevitably sets the record straight.

No leader in the world of evangelicals assumes his leadership role with inadequate appreciation for those who labored before him. If he fails in this, God will provide a woman with a rock. Our task is to pray for such leaders that they will repent and avoid the judgment of God. Proverbs 24:17 forbids that we ever rejoice when an enemy falls or allow our hearts to be glad when he stumbles. To rejoice in the intervention of God is always right, but to push further and rejoice over the plight of the enemy is forbidden. God is just and any wrong is ultimately set straight.


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