Failure in the Midst of Success


Read Judges 9:22-57

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 

Abimelech was made king by the people. They knew his character, and his leadership was not what they needed yet they chose to make him ruler. To think that everything will turn out right would be wishful thinking for the people of Shechem. In fact, according to Judges 9, God sent a spirit to bring division to the people of Shechem and the leadership of Abimelech. On the other hand, Abimelech also knew that the people of Shechem were known to change allegiances easily.

Keypoint #1: When we start living for ourselves, it results into division and dysfunctions in leadership and relationships.

So a group of people led by Gaal rebelled against Abimelech. When Abimelech learned of the rebellion, he devised a plan to destroy them which he did – which showed how strategic he is. In spite of his talent, people despised him because of his character. Abimelech was not to be taken lightly because of his ambition to prove himself worthy of the throne.

45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

And the city of Shechem where Abraham worshipped was made desolate because of the civil war that happened between Gaal and Abimelech. At this point, we see both sides living their lives independent of God that results in chaos for both sides.

Keypoint #2: Without God, what once is a place of worship can be a place of desolation.

When the enemies of Abimelech where cornered, they went to take refuge in the temple of their gods (46) yet Abimelech’s drive for revenge needed to be satisfied. He ordered the temple to be burned and killed a thousand men and women in the process.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it.51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home.

And in one of the most significant twist in history, a strategic, influential leader in Abimelech was murdered by a woman who threw a millstone and crushed his head. In desperation because of a dishonoring death – Abimelech ordered his men to kill him with the sword, so people won’t say that a woman killed him.

All this we look back at verse 23 when God put a judgment on Abimelech and the people of Shechem for the sin they have committed sending a spirit of disunity among them that led to a disgraceful death.

Keypoint #3: Disgraceful death in the midst of tremendous conquer. This is a picture of a life without God. When we start living for ourselves and forget that our lives are lived for God’s purpose – we can end up alone, disgraced and forgotten in the midst of worldly success. 

Talk it over:

  1. How does God seemingly silent judgment challenge our view of life?
  2. Are there instances in your life, where in the midst of success can lead to a lonely, disgraceful, dishonoring life?

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