Lessons from the Reign of Abimelech

This meditation is based on a passage for August 7, 2010 in the Daily Lectionary Year 2 from the Book of Common Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1993).

Text: Judges 9:22-25, 50-57

Reflection and Question: It is worth reading the whole story of Abimelech, who was one of Gideon’s seventy sons, though only a son of a concubine, not of a wife. Contrary to the way God works in Judges by raising up leaders when there is need, Abimelech seizes power by killing his half-brothers and getting himself named king. However, the lords of Shechem never accept Abimelech and the strife against him leads to his utterly ignominious death at the hands of a woman (though the story says that as he is dying, he asks to be run through by his armor-bearer to save some dignity). What is the moral of this story?

Prayer: Spirit of God, we confess that the story of Abimelech feels ancient and alien and Your message from such violence and revenge is elusive for us. We shall take Abimelech’s ambition as a cautionary tale, placing ourselves into Your care. Amen.