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Monday, April 4, 2016

Abimelech: A Man With "A Chip On His Shoulder" (Judges 8:29-31; 9:5)

"Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech . . . He went to his father's home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal."

The name "Abimelech" means "my father is king".

Abimelech, Gideon's son by a concubine, had "issues". Though his name meant that his father is king the stigma of his birth to a concubine alienated him from Gideon's other sons and his right to inherit. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a famous war hero as a dad but to be excluded from "home, hearth and heritage". Talk about a dysfunctional home life!

Psychologists who've studied criminals and the criminal mind say that many criminals experienced painful rejection and harsh treatment as children. Without inner healing these kids grow up with a huge "chip on their shoulders" and act out in hostility toward others. These "issues" can either drive a person to the Lord or to aberrant behavior. Abimelech doesn't come to the Lord in his pain, but in bitterness stirs up his mother's clan, the people of Shechem, to follow him instead of Gideon's sons. He then murders Gideon's seventy sons.

Our ambitions give us away; they reveal much about our character. Abimelech wanted to become king no matter what he had to do to obtain a crown.

Everyone is driven by something. Driven by the need for love, affirmation, and affection many people use sex, power, obtaining money and spending money, food, etc. to soften the cry of their unmet need. Abimelech, with a "chip on his shoulder" against his father and his family seeks power over others and he murders everyone who gets in his way. Because he doesn't come to the Lord with his emotional "deficit" he acts out in anger. He is an accident waiting to happen. He's a kid with an attitude who grows up into a man with an attitude. And he hurts a lot of people in the process.

What Christ offers in the way of healing and hope is seen in the Gospels. Prostitutes, lepers, and other outcasts who come to Christ receive love, cleansing, and forgiveness. They walk away from their encounter with Christ changed people. Sadly, many people cling to their hurt and rejection and, like Abimelech, they strike out against family and friends and they fall into destructive behaviors.

Everyone is born with some kind of deficit. What will we do with it? Will we bring those deficits to Jesus Christ and experience His healing and health or will we allow our "deficit" to drive us to hurt others and self-destruct?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Judges 8:1-9:57
  • Describe the relationship between the different tribes of Israel during the time of Judges.
  • Why does Gideon refuse to be king?
  • How does Jotham confront Abimelech with what he has done?
  • How is Abimelech portrayed in Jotham's parable?
  • How does Jotham's prophecy come to pass?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to show you where you turn to other things to meet your "deficit" instead of coming to Him. Turn to Him in your hurt and pain; don't allow these things to rule over you but bring them to Jesus.