33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them.
This is where we ended yesterday and after this it would be natural to expect that God would then give Israel over to a king of some tribe as in the past as a punishment. However that is not what happened. Instead one of Gideon’s son, Abimilek, became Israel’s king after killing 70 of his brothers. He was the only son of the concubine of Gideon aka Jerub-Baal. Gideon’s youngest son Jotham escaped.
Jotham presented the people who make Abimilek king a parable of trees in Judges 9:7-21. Matthew Henry brings the meaning of the parable forward very clearly when he wrote
There was no occasion for the trees to choose a king, they are all the trees of the Lord which he has planted. Nor was there any occasion for Israel to set a king over them, for the Lord was their King. Those who bear fruit for the public good, are justly respected and honoured by all that are wise, more than those who merely make a figure. All these fruit-trees gave much the same reason for their refusal to be promoted over the trees; or, as the margin reads it, to go up and down for the trees. To rule, involves a man in a great deal both of toil and care. Those who are preferred to public trust and power, must forego all private interests and advantages, for the good of others. And those advanced to honour and dignity, are in great danger of losing their fruitfulness. For which reason, they that desire to do good, are afraid of being too great. Jotham compares Abimelech to the bramble or thistle, a worthless plant, whose end is to be burned. Such a one was Abimelech.
Later we find Abimeleh ruled Israel for three years until the Lord acted.
22 After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, 23 God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. 24 God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers.
Abimelek, when he discovered the animosity of the people of Shechem he eventually killed them all. These were the same people who had made him king initially. Abimelek went and attacked another city where a woman dropped a millstone on his head. So that no one could say a woman killed him, he had his armor bearer kill him. After his death those who had been supporting him all went home.
56 Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57 God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.
Then God raised up another man to be the Judge of Israel and they had peace once again.
1 After the time of Abimelek, a man of Issachar named Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He judged Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.
What happened next? Another judge, but that is for tomorrow. Bottom line lesson for today, we have to be careful who and how we put someone in charge of our lives as the people of Shechem (and all of Israel) discovered. Abimelek was a terrible choice and God was still raising up judges. Me? I will choose Jesus as my Lord and Savior.