A Slave to Self-Image

Robert Wurtz II

But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower. So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place. Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers.” (Judges 9:51–56 NKJV)


The context of the book of Judges can be summarized in the final verse, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 21:25 KJV
) In fact, the truth in this verse was mentioned earlier in Judges 17:6 word for word. If we could read it playing out in flesh and blood it would certainly be personified in the life of Abimelech. Here is a man so bent on being king that he killed seventy of his own brothers. This man was like the bloody Roman Emporer Nero — but on steroids (so to speak). It is sometimes said that the number 70 is connected with God’s administration and order. Abimelech, in a figure, wiped out any competition for imposing his will upon the people. 


The way of a fool i
s right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15 KJV)

A fool can never be wise so long as he/she refuses to listen to Godly counsel. Moreover, there is great danger in believing that we are above counsel or that our way is right and we need no advice. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, and 24:6). Therefore, the foolish man who rejects instruction and counsel is always in peril (void of safety). A wise man surrounds himself with Godly counselors who are willing to speak the truth no matter how it’s received. 

A fool fills the council chambers of his life with what the world calls “yes men.” In other words, because he/she believes his/her way is always the right way — they seek out people who will “rubber stamp” (easily agree with) their decisions. This has been true down through the ages even until this day. Yet with Abimelech it was different. Once Abimelech became “king” he went on a power trip that is legendary. He didn’t defriend people on social media or something similar — because they didn’t have those things back then. When he encountered opposition he either threatened the people or killed them. His ruthless and violent intimidation caused tremendous resentment and hatred towards him. 

Self-Deception

What Abimelech failed to realize is that he was moving swiftly towards judgment. He probably wanted a monument of stone made of him and tales of his heroism to be repeated for generations. What he got was one of the most embarrassing fatal blows in the Bible. A woman threw a rock and hit him in the head. He attempted to smoke out, burn out, and kill the women and men of the city, but instead presumably woke up in the flames himself. And rather than be concerned that in a few moments he was going to face God (for his skull had been fractured by the millstone fragment), he focused his attention on how he would be remembered. Again we read, But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. So it would seem that he got his wish. He won’t be remembered as the man who was killed by an unnamed woman with a rock. Not so fast.

Despite Abimelech’s efforts to control the narrative as to how he met his demise, he is immortalized as a foolish man who got too close to the city walls in battle and was killed — not by a mighty man of valor — not by a valiant host against one man — but a nameless, faceless woman who threw a rock and hit him in the head. God made the man famous (infamous). In fact, so profound was this story etched in the conscience of the Israelites, that when the men brought David news that Uriah the Hittite had been killed — they expected a lecture from David about the dangers of being close to the wall with Abimelech as the illustration (2 Samual 11:21). 

Can you imagine being a slave to your self-image to the point that at the point of death you weren’t even thinking about your everlasting soul? Who can fathom being more concerned with peoples’ opinion than God’s opinion just seconds before meeting Him in judgment? This is the epitome of self-deception. This is narcissism run amok. The people hated the man. Why was he so wrapped up in his own self-image? And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place. Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers.” What a fleeting thing his power and image proved to be. 

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