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The DEEP

The Art of Answered Prayer

and the art of seeing it.

Judges 9:50–57

Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he encamped against Thebez and took it. But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower. So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place.

Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

Sorry Abimelech. You were killed by a woman no matter what your armorbearer did. Men do say of you, “A woman killed him.

Better still, they say that Abimelech was killed by an upper millstone. That isn’t random. Remember this?

Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. — Judges 9:5a

That presumably was not a reference to a millstone but an altar. Yikes. Could it be that those seventy sons were sacrificed to a pagan god?

That’s what it sounds like.

A millstone falling on Abimelech’s head makes, “evil being returned on their own heads,” remarkably precise.


God has a way of running His universe so elegantly that it’s like art. Things happen in a kind of symphonic synchrony. Abimelech’s end in today’s passage is a good example of God’s artistic style.

But this is not always so easy to see. In Judges, events have been recorded in a helpful way. Things that took years to transpire are covered in just a few paragraphs. The highlights are highlighted while the mundane is skipped over. That makes the patterns stand out.

But watching these things unfold slowly in real time obscures these patterns. This is especially true in our own lives. In real time, we don’t have the benefit of an inspired summary to help us see.

But we can make our own summaries. In particular, always record prayer requests. I have found this quite valuable on occasion. Big prayer requests can evolve over time. Those can be the most beautiful.

But if you don’t keep a record (of the prayers and of God’s response) you can miss the big picture.


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:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

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

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

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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