When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, "Look, people are coming down from the mountains!" But Zebul replied, "The shadows of the mountains look like men to you."
Zebul served Abimelech faithfully according to his lights. His devotion appears strangely misplaced.
I. GOD RELATES THE LIVES OF THE GOOD AND THE BAD FOR WISE ENDS. "Never any man was so ill as not to have some favourers: Abimelech hath a Zebul in the midst of Shechem" (Bp. Hall). Every situation has its moral complications.
II. THE WORTHLESSNESS AND IMMORALITY OF A SUPERIOR DO NOT EXONERATE FROM EXTERNAL RESPECT AND FAITHFUL DUTY, UNLESS HIS AUTHORITY IMPOSES UNRIGHTEOUS TASKS. Much of the routine of life is neutral from a moral point of view, otherwise it would be impossible for the righteous to live amongst men. We must fulfil our bond until the conduct of our employer renders it impossible for us to serve God in serving him. So with natural duties, as of a child to a parent.
III. ON THE OTHER HAND, FAITHFULNESS IN DETAILS WILL NOT ATONE FOR NEGLECTING TO STUDY THE MORAL DRIFT OF THE WHOLE SITUATION OF WHICH THESE DETAILS ARE A PART. The judgment of Abimelech involves Zebul. There comes a time when we share the guilt of the master in continuing to serve him. An honourable quittance should be sought at once in such a case, "The Lord will provide." Otherwise we shall be involved in the same judgment. - M.
God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem.
It is not said that he was judge over Israel, for they were raised up by God, but he ruled and usurped, as tyrants use to do. And to begin first with his prosperity in that God gave him this short time to enjoy his desire, and to domineer as he did, it is to teach us that He doth for some little time give wicked men their longed-for desires; and yet not for that He applaudeth them therein, but that they may have time to repent, and to bethink themselves what they have done, and how they have gone to work, and how many ways they have provoked God. But to go forward: this evil spirit that was sent betwixt them, being the first occasion of their overthrow, was the devil, by whose malice and subtlety ill-will and hatred were kindled betwixt them, and this, with the breaking their promise, doth show us clearly that the league and friendship of the wicked is soon broken off. For why? It hath no good ground. The use whereof is that we make no such wicked and cursed leagues. Secondly, that we account no otherwise of them where they be made, but as of the spider's web, soon swept down; and thirdly, praise God highly when we see them broken. And in that it is said that the Lord sent an evil spirit betwixt them, we may note, that though God be not the author of evil, yet that sin which is in the wicked, hidden in their hearts, and never so secret, He bringeth forth at His pleasure, and lets it break out at His commandment, ruling and overruling the same. And they that nourish it in themselves, and do not give it a vent by repentance, may ever justly fear, and do sometime too truly find, that as water pent in breaks out violently in some place or other, even so the sin that is entertained in men's hearts shall one time or other break out to their shame in their lives. But as the stink of the dunghill riseth not from the sun, no more doth sin proceed from God. Also, by this division betwixt them we may note, that when God suffers division among the wicked, or an evil spirit any way to lead them, it is to punish their lewd fellowship, and to revenge the sin of both parts, and to make each the other's executioner. And yet, oh what a sweet liberty it is thought to be, to enjoy fellowship with such? And first, grudges secretly being conceived, they are nourished by jealousies and suspicions exasperated by daily injuries, till they break out into hatred, and end in extremity. These things are commonly seen, but who beholdeth God's justice therein? or is thereby prevented from having anything to do with such? or made wise to lay a better foundation of their amity and friendship. Furthermore, by this, that God would have the blood of the innocent sons of Gideon revenged upon Abimelech and the men of Shechem, He teacheth us that He will revenge the innocents' cause. The Lord will bless them that bless His, and curse them that curse His.
, Diviners' Oak
, Mount Gerizim
, Mount Zalmon
, Tower of Shechem
TopicsBehold, Gaal, Ga'al, Hills, Mistake, Mountain, Mountains, Replied, Seeing, Seest, Shade, Shadow, Shadows, Tops, Zebul
Outline1. Abimelech by conspiracy with the Shechemites, and murder of his brothers, is made king7. Jotham by a parable rebukes them, and foretells their ruin22. Gaal conspires with the Shechemites against him30. Zebul reveals it34. Abimelech overcomes them, and sows the city with salt46. He burns the hold of the god Berith50. At Thebez he is slain by a piece of a millstone56. Jotham's curse is fulfilled.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 9:36
5575 talk, idle
LibraryHere, by Way of Objection, Several Questions are Raised. ...
Here, by way of objection, several questions are raised. Scripture relates that God sometimes complied with certain prayers which had been dictated by minds not duly calmed or regulated. It is true, that the cause for which Jotham imprecated on the inhabitants of Shechem the disaster which afterwards befell them was well founded; but still he was inflamed with anger and revenge (Judges 9:20); and hence God, by complying with the execration, seems to approve of passionate impulses. Similar fervour …
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith
Trials of the Christian
AFFLICTION--ITS NATURE AND BENEFITS. The school of the cross is the school of light; it discovers the world's vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God's mind. Out of dark afflictions comes a spiritual light. In times of affliction, we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God. The end of affliction is the discovery of sin; and of that, to bring us to a Saviour. Doth not God ofttimes even take occasion, by the hardest of things that come upon us, to visit …
John Bunyan—The Riches of Bunyan
Hence is Also that which Thou Hast Mentioned that they Speak Of...
28. Hence is also that which thou hast mentioned that they speak of, that the Lord Jesus, after He was risen, walked in the way with two disciples; and upon their drawing near to the village whither they were going, He made as though He would have gone farther: where the Evangelist, saying, "But He Himself feigned that He would go further,"  hath put that very word in which liars too greatly delight, that they may with impunity lie: as if every thing that is feigned is a lie, whereas in a truthful …
St. Augustine—Against Lying
The Hebrew Sages and their Proverbs
[Sidenote: Role of the sages in Israel's life] In the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. xviii. 18; Ezek. vii. 26) three distinct classes of religious teachers were recognized by the people: the prophets, the priests, and the wise men or sages. From their lips and pens have come practically all the writings of the Old Testament. Of these three classes the wise men or sages are far less prominent or well known. They wrote no history of Israel, they preached no public sermons, nor do they appear …
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament
Sovereignty of God in Administration
"The LORD hath prepared His Throne In the heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all" (Psa. 103:19). First, a word concerning the need for God to govern the material world. Suppose the opposite for a moment. For the sake of argument, let us say that God created the world, designed and fixed certain laws (which men term "the laws of Nature"), and that He then withdrew, leaving the world to its fortune and the out-working of these laws. In such a case, we should have a world over which there was no intelligent, …
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God
Seasonable Counsel: Or, Advice to Sufferers.
BY JOHN BUNYAN. London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1684. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. THIS valuable treatise was first published in a pocket volume in 1684, and has only been reprinted in Whitfield's edition of Bunyan's works, 2 vols. folio, 1767. No man could have been better qualified to give advice to sufferers for righteousness' sake, than John Bunyan: and this work is exclusively devoted to that object. Shut up in a noisome jail, under the iron hand of …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Greater Prophets.
1. We have already seen (Chap. 15, Nos. 11 and 12) that from Moses to Samuel the appearances of prophets were infrequent; that with Samuel and the prophetical school established by him there began a new era, in which the prophets were recognized as a distinct order of men in the Theocracy; and that the age of written prophecy did not begin till about the reign of Uzziah, some three centuries after Samuel. The Jewish division of the latter prophets--prophets in the more restricted sense of the …
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible
An Exhortation to Love God
1. An exhortation. Let me earnestly persuade all who bear the name of Christians to become lovers of God. "O love the Lord, all ye his saints" (Psalm xxxi. 23). There are but few that love God: many give Him hypocritical kisses, but few love Him. It is not so easy to love God as most imagine. The affection of love is natural, but the grace is not. Men are by nature haters of God (Rom. i. 30). The wicked would flee from God; they would neither be under His rules, nor within His reach. They fear God, …
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial
Of Prayer --A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It.
1. A general summary of what is contained in the previous part of the work. A transition to the doctrine of prayer. Its connection with the subject of faith. 2. Prayer defined. Its necessity and use. 3. Objection, that prayer seems useless, because God already knows our wants. Answer, from the institution and end of prayer. Confirmation by example. Its necessity and propriety. Perpetually reminds us of our duty, and leads to meditation on divine providence. Conclusion. Prayer a most useful exercise. …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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