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Two Facts

The road to perdition.

Judges 9:1–6

Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, “Please speak in the hearing of all the men of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal reign over you, or that one reign over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.”

And his mother’s brothers spoke all these words concerning him in the hearing of all the men of Shechem; and their heart was inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.

Any fact recorded in scripture is actually two facts: the fact recorded plus the fact that God chose to include it in His word. There are no throwaway lines in the Bible.

We must not ignore the fact that Abimelech was the son of a concubine in understanding how he grew to commit mass murder. He was presumably despised and mistreated as an illegitimate child. This left deep wounds. Gideon may have even given Abimelech his noble name to compensate for his ignoble origin.

If so, that backfired big time. His regal name morphed into a plan for how to get even with everyone who had picked on him. He has dozens of his brothers murdered to get them out of the way so that he’s the heir to the throne.

Except that there’s no throne. Gideon said, in Judges 8:23, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.”

Abimelech’s name pointed him down a path to perdition.

Killing off heirs to the throne seems to be a thing—in the Bible and throughout human history. But why?

The answer is, as always, sin, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Why does this variation on sin seem to reach such a fevered pitch when it comes to royalty?

Well, we know power corrupts. Being king is a lot of power. Can just coveting power corrupt?

The truth is that it’s not the power that corrupts in the first place. All power does is bring to the surface the corruption that’s already there. And yes, just coveting power can have the same effect.

Our corruption is constrained by our civilization. Laws, and the people that enforce them, train us to behave. Take those constraints away and our evil nature breaks out in full bloom.

That’s the message of Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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