Judges 9:53, 54
And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone on Abimelech's head, and all to broke his skull.…
In the moment of his death Abimelech is anxious to save his reputation, which he thinks would he dishonoured if it could be said that a woman slew him.
I. REPUTATION AMONGST MEN IS SOMETIMES VALUED MORE HIGHLY THAN INNOCENCE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. Abimelech is anxious about the opinion of the world, he cares nothing for the judgment of God. He is concerned with what will be said of him, he is not troubled about what he really is. He is dying after a most wicked life, yet he has no thought about his evil nature and his vile misdeeds, but only anxiety about his fame. So we constantly see people much more occupied in securing a fair appearance than in living a true life. Yet how hollow is this pursuit I After our death it matters nothing to us what men may say, but everything turns on what God will do. A man's future state will depend not on the splendour of the fame which he leaves behind in this world, but on the character of the revelation which will be made of his life in the other world. An epitaph is no passport to heaven.
II. REPUTATION AMONGST MEN IS OFTEN DETERMINED BY A FALSE STANDARD OF CHARACTER. Abimelech knows that his misdeeds have been blazed through the country, yet he has no concern for the judgment of men on these, but very much concern for their opinion of the accident of his death. He sees no dishonour in cruelty and treachery, but great dishonour in death from a woman's hand. The code of honour differs from the code of God's law. Public opinion is too much formed on artificial points of merit and superficial appearances. Thus cowardice is commonly felt to be more disgraceful than cruelty; yet it is at least as bad not to be just and generous as not to he brave. Men commonly think more of masculine excellences than of saintly graces. Both are good, but the first obligation lies on the more Christian. Among the Christian duties which a consideration of merely worldly reputation leads men to neglect in comparison with lower obligations, are -
(1) purity on the part of men,
(3) forgiveness of injuries,
III. THE INFLUENCE OF REPUTATION SHOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTIVATING A HEALTHY PUBLIC SENTIMENT. Whilst so many are governed by the opinion of the world, it is imperative that this should be purified as far as possible. There is something natural in respect for reputation. The bad man who has lost this proves himself to be utterly abandoned. Next to the fear of God, shame before men is the strongest safeguard for conscience. A healthy social atmosphere is an immense aid to goodness. The society of the Church is helpful for the preservation of the faithfulness of the Christian. A pure Christian home is a most valuable security for the character of its members. It is dangerous to stand alone; therefore, while regarding right and God's will first, and rising above the fear of man which bringeth a snare, let us reverence Christian public sentiment, and seek to keep it pure. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull.