And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers, and communed with them…
The fable teaches that temptations will come to us all, however sweet, or useful, or fruitful, even as they came to the fig, the olive, and the vine. These temptations may take the shape of proffered honours; if not a crown, yet some form of preferment or power may be the bribe.
I. APPARENT PROMOTIONS ARE NOT TO BE SNATCHED AT. The question is to be asked, "Should I?" Let us never do what would be unbecoming, unsuitable, unwise (Genesis 39:9). Emphasis is to be laid on the "I." "Should I?" If God has given me peculiar gifts or special grace, does it become me to trifle with these endowments? Should I give them up to gain honour for myself? (Nehemiah 6:11). A higher position may seem desirable, but would it be right to gain it by such cost? (Jeremiah 45:5). It will involve duties and cares. "Go up and down among the trees" implies that there would be care, oversight, travelling, etc. These duties will be quite new to me; for, like an olive, I have been hitherto planted in one place. Should I run into new temptations, new difficulties, etc., of my own wanton will? Can I expect God's blessing upon such strange work? Put the question in the case of wealth, honour, power, which are set before us. Should we grasp at them at the risk of being less at peace, less holy, less prayerful, less useful?
II. ACTUAL ADVANTAGES ARE NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH. "Should I leave my fatness?" I have this great boon, should I lightly lose it? It is the greatest advantage in life to be useful both to God and man: "By me they honour God and man." We ought heartily to prize this high privilege. To leave this for anything which the world can offer would be great loss (Jeremiah 18:14; Jeremiah 2:13). Our possession of fatness meets the temptation to become a king. We are happy enough in Christ, in His service, with His people, and in the prospect of the reward. We cannot better ourselves by the move; let us stay as we are. We may also meet it by the reflection that the prospect is startling: "Should I leave my fatness? " For an olive to do this would be unnatural: for a believer to leave holy living would be worse (John 6:68). That the retrospect would be terrible: "leave my fatness." What must it be to have left grace, and truth, and holiness, and Christ? Remember Judas. That even an hour of such leaving would be a loss. What would an olive do even for a day if it left its fatness? That it would all end in disappointment; for nothing could compensate for leaving the Lord. All else is death (Jeremiah 17:13). That to abide firmly and reject all baits is like the saints, the martyrs, and their Lord; but to prefer honour to grace is a mere bramble folly.
III. TEMPTATION SHOULD BE TURNED TO ACCOUNT. Let us take deeper root. The mere proposal to leave our fatness should make us hold the faster to it. Let us be on the watch that we lose not our joy, which is our fatness. If we would not leave it, neither can we bear that it should leave us. Let us yield more fatness, and bear more fruit: he who gains largely is all the further removed from loss. The more we increase in grace the less are we likely to leave it. Let us feel the more content, and speak the more lovingly of our gracious state, that none may dare to entice us.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,