There were some hard looks at rulers and sibling rivalry and battles but lessons to be gleaned:
- Jealousy and a thirst for power can make an ugly mix. Abimelech kills his brothers to gain rule over the people. The people allowed themselves to be influenced in ways they should not. We must be careful to ask God to help us discern who is telling us the truth; who has our best interests at heart; and who we should allow to take a position of influence in our lives.
- It can take years to undo damage. After Abimelech, there were two judges who ruled – Tola, who judges for 23 years, and Jair, who judges for 22 years. It takes 45 years to recover from the damage done by poor leadership. God was gracious to bring healing.
- God is moved by our misery. I continue to be amazed at how God is moved each time the people cry out to Him. He knows of our unfaithfulness to Him. It never escapes His eye. But His compassion towards us, when He sees our misery and hears our cries, is beyond comprehension. Judges 10:16, stood out to me > “And he was grieved by their misery.” He will respond to us when we cry out to Him with a sincere and repentant heart.
- Our words matter. We find the people again facing an enemy. Jephthah has been called back to lead the people. He speaks at length with the Ammonite king. One might have called Jephthah diplomatic for his words diffuse an otherwise, volatile confrontation. He tried to resolve this peaceably but the king was bent on war and used any excuse (even a lie) to wage it. We need wisdom when dealing with the combative or difficult people in our lives.
- Don’t make promises. Oh my gosh, was there ever a time that I wished I didn’t have to read something …. this is probably it. Yet there it is, written in God’s Word so there has to be something we can learn and apply from this sad story. Jephthah makes a vow, a very foolish one at that. He vows to sacrifice whatever comes out of his house to greet him. What?? He only has one child. Was he hoping for a puppy? It is horrifying to read that he followed through on his vow. He did not know, or remember, God’s Word about offering children as sacrifices, that this was an abomination to our God. There are several lessons to learn from this: ~ to be careful as to the promises we make; ~ to be sure our words always align with God’s Word; ~ to KNOW God’s Word so we do not follow through on something foolish. We desperately need discernment so that we can spot untruth when we hear it, when we see it and when we are about to do it.
Darcy Wiley shares this quote by Dale Ralph Davis:
“Our hope does not rest in the sincerity of our repentance
but in the intensity of Yahweh’s compassion.”