CONTEXT: Obedience to God (Gideon. selfless service to God) and Disobiedance to God (Abimelech, prideful greed, and the Jewish people) are the two major themes. Matthew Henry breaks it down this way: This chapter gives us a further account of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, with the residue of the story of his life and government. I. Gideon prudently pacifies the offended Ephraimites (v. 1-3). II. He bravely pursues the flying Midianites (v. 4, 10-12). III. He justly chastises the insolence of the men of Succoth and Penuel, who basely abused him (v. 5-9), and were reckoned with for it (v. 13-17). IV. He honorably slays the two kings of Midian (v. 18-21). V. After all this he modestly declines the government of Israel (v. 22, 23). VI. He foolishly gratified the superstitious humor of his people by setting up an ephod in his own city, which proved a great snare (v. 24-27). VII. He kept the country quiet for forty years (v. 28). VIII. He died in honor and left numerous families behind him (v. 29-32). IX. Both he and his God were soon forgotten by ungrateful Israel (v. 33-35).
For today’s devotional, I am sharing “El Comino Biblico” or “The Bible Way” that I get in my inbox each morning from Crossway (translated to English). This morning was a reminder that seeking too much without God first and foremost always leads to man’s demise. Note I have underlined some of the text as emphasis.
El Camino Bíblico
The Biblical Way – March 25
In today’s reading:
Gideon makes an ephod; Gideon’s death; Gideon’s son, Abimelech, kills 70 of his brothers; the accidental death of Abimelech
Gedeon was called by God to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. Thirty-two thousand men responded to Gideon’s call for war; but God decided to use only 300 men to defeat the Midianites. All the other Israelites were sent home. It was only with these 300 men that 135,000 Midianites were defeated. « . . . And he rested the earth forty years in the days of Gideon” (Judges 8:28). This illustrates a wonderful principle. God will not act without man’s cooperation, and man cannot overcome without God’s wisdom and power.
The Israelites begged Gideon to be their king. This was a temptation to his pride. But Gideon knew well that he had not saved his people, but that God had been the True King. “But Gideon answered, I will not be lord over you, nor will my son lord over you: the Lord will rule over you” (8:23). Gideon knew that, as Israel’s judge, he would need God to guide him.
The Israelites soon forgot that God was the Only One who had miraculously delivered them from the Midianites. After Gideon’s death, with an appetite to seize power, his cruel and cunning son, Abimelech, negotiated a large amount of money from the treasury of the temple of Baal to pay some men to kill his 70 brothers. « . . . (But) Jotam remained the youngest son of Jerobaal, who hid” (9:5). After the execution of those who could compete against him “Then all those of Shechem gathered . . . and went and chose Abimelech as king” (9:6). However, at the moment of their great pride in their achievements, Jotham, Gideon’s son who had escaped, warned them that they would soon discover that this king, appointed by himself, was going to bring suffering and death to everyone and himself (9:7-21). Just as Jotham had predicted, they soon saw their own destruction (9:22-57).
Abimelech is an example of a person controlled by deception and by the forces of destruction that come from pride and ambition. Such a person is always guided by personal gain as his end, regardless of who they harm. This reminds us of what Jesus said to the churches of Ephesus and Smyrna: “Remember, therefore, where you have fallen from, and repent, and do the first works . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:5,11).