Hostile Takeover

(Today's post by Chris Queen)

Judges 9:1 – 10:5

Some years ago, my grandfather on my mom’s side did some genealogical work on his family. After spending 20 years digging through painstaking print and microfiche records and only getting so far, he was able – thanks to the modern miracle of the internet – to trace family history back to Wales. Now, I take this with a grain of salt, not because my grandfather is dishonest or has delusions of grandeur, but because records beyond the 19th century are sketchy at best.

The most interesting thing about his research, as far as we can believe it, is that our family is apparently descended from Welsh royalty. Two fascinating names in the family tree emerge: one is Arthwys ap Meurig, the man who is believed to be the historical basis for the legend of King Arthur, while the other is a king named Coel ap Meurig I, otherwise known as “Old King Cole.” As a result, I’ve joked about moving to Wales to reestablish myself as the ruler of my kingdom.

Now, Judges 9 and the first five verses of Judges 10 are kind of strange – like some really violent soap opera. There’s a lot going on and a large cast of characters, and God doesn’t even get a mention! But today we’re going to dwell on one aspect of this meandering tale: Abimelek’s attempt at a hostile takeover of the judgeship of Israel.

As we start chapter 9, the Gideon (aka Jerub-Baal) has just died, and – SURPRISE! – the Israelites have turned their back on God. In the vacuum of power, apparently Gideon’s seventy sons are trying to rule the nation. Now, Abimelek is an illegitimate son and has no clear right to power – unlike, say, King Chris I of Wales. But he makes a play for power anyway, killing all but one of his remaining brothers. The brother who gets away runs to his family’s hometown and tells a weird parable about trees arguing over who should rule the forest. Finally, Abimelek arrives, and it’s not pretty. Some guy named Gaal gets mad, Abimelek sets fire to a tower, killing a thousand, and then Abimelek winds up getting a millstone dropped on his head for all his trouble.

Needless to say, chapter 9 ends on a down note:

56Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness.

Still with me here? All this craziness comes about because of two things: Israel’s neglect of God and Abimelek’s lust for power. Well, guess what? I see a small-scale version of this playing out far too often in my own life. Granted, my efforts at trying to run the show don’t result in bizarre olive tree parables, towering inferno massacres, and a millstone crashing down on my skull, but when I take over it’s not that pretty regardless.

You see, Ole King Chris knows that God is in control and has his best interests at heart, but His Royal Highness often muscles God out and decides to run his own show. When that happens, I find myself missing out on countless blessings, not to mention trying to clean up the messes that result. On second thought, maybe Wales is better off without me on the throne…

My takeaway is this: I want to take my hands off the reins of power in my life and let God have control. Things go much more smoothly when I let the real King rule over me.

In what areas of your life do you attempt a “hostile takeover”? How can you do better at allowing God to have control?


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  • Steven Gregory

    Well written Chris, I have been thinking about this all day. I would have to say that the area of life where I have difficulty with would be time. I go do what Steven allows the world to make me think is important which unfortunately is usually totally backwards. That is where having you all here is so valuable. You all provide accountability that I read the passage, the blog and then I try to spend some time thinking about what I’ve read. That will explain why I’ve tried to leave a response daily even if I don’t have much to add.
    Thanks again for everyone who has written a daily post and for the awesome responses.

  • Andy Mitchell

    I looked into this parable of the Olive Tree in Judges 9. It teaches about how temptation will come to all of us. For me, temptation to spend instead of save. This creates a financial burden that hinders my trusting in the freedom I have in Christ. Attempting a hostile takeover here is what most people would suggest, but you have to get to the root of the issue. We need to be aware of all the idols in our life that can do this. Money is just one example. Turning worry over finances into TRUST in God providing, is a work of the Holy Spirit. I pray and ask Him to help me REST in what I’ve already been given by grace, believing better that it is all I need. This truth will keep me and my family from looking elsewhere for comfort and joy.
    In this parable the Olive Tree asks “Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be
    promoted over the trees?” I think one good point to look at from this parable has to do with special grace and gifts we have been given. Do you give up where God has been using you just so that you can get more honor for yourself? Should we grasp at these opportunities or temptations at the risk of being less at Peace, praying less, and less useful for His kingdom? So looking back at the question that the Olive Tree asked, I think we find an answer in John 6:67-69: “So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Linger in Christ, there is no where else to go. Don’t let temptation creep in and spoil Peace. As Christians, we are secure IN CHRIST. Satan can’t do a thing about that, he is already beaten. He can, however, trick us into believing the lie that we need more or that Jesus isn’t enough.

  • Jeff Morton

    More often than not, I’m willing to let God handle my Finances because I stink at it. I let God handle the sharing of my story, because I’m embarrassed by my story before him, and anything I feel inadequate about oh Lord please do this for me! My family, my friends, and my business relationships…. Oh I got this. I have used sarcasm, even bullying at times to get what I want. My manipulation always seems to pay off in the short term, but in reality it has destroyed most of the relationships I’ve had. I realized last night that next Thursday will be 10 months since I fell apart and gave up. I mean I “accepted Christ into my heart” at 19 and still struggle to surrender but since 8-14-12 I truly know a peace that defies understanding. Knowing who’s in charge. Thanks Chris for some insight on scripture I’ve always struggled with once I got past the “bible story” part.

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