A London Minister
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers, and communed with them…
I. ITS INTENTION AND SUCCESS. When William Penn was carrying on negotiations with the Indians he used to gain their respect and attention by exhibiting to them his skill as a swordsman. This was an acquirement which the red man could appreciate. So Jotham here clothes the truths he wishes to utter in the form of parable, and gains the attention of the men of Shechem by his skilful use of imagery.
II. THE CONTENTS OF THE PARABLE. In it we have the national life of Israel set forth under the similitude of the natural life of the tree. In the kingdom of trees we notice —
1. The individuality of each tree.
2. The diversities of size, and form, and worth, found among them.
3. The manifest dependence of some trees upon others.
III. THE TEACHING WHICH UNDERLIES IT. The parable implies that there were men in Israel at this time who possessed the qualifications necessary to a good ruler set forth in the excellences peculiar to the trees mentioned. But these men, the most fitted to rule, refused to do so because there is no honour in ruling where excellence is held in dishonour. They were in the soil of private life, which was congenial to their nature, and to be transplanted to a soil in which only a bramble could flourish, would be to lose their power of imparting light and sweetness. The nation, the city, or the congregation in which a bramble is held in estimation is not the soil in which to plant an olive-tree, a vine, or a fig-tree.Lessons:
1. The honour of a leader depends, not upon the fact that he is chosen to rule, but upon who chooses him.
2. It is the man who gives honour to the position, and not the position which gives honour to the man.
3. In choosing a position in the world, we should be most solicitous to obtain that which will be favourable to the development of our character, and that in which character will be appreciated.
4. The ruler of a nation is a mirror in which is reflected the character of the people.
5. The true leaders of men have resources within for themselves, and therefore for others. Such men can afford to remain in obscurity, their mind is to them kingdom, they are their own society.
(A London Minister.)
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,