When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,…
The quick succession of events shows that the political situation is one of unstable equilibrium. The movement of affairs is rapid, as if the stage were being cleared for the real and important action that is to follow.
I. A NATURAL ELEMENT. The instruments of usurpation soon display their untrustworthy and turbulent character. Their help to Abimelech was chiefly in the interests of disorder. When the hard rule of the tyrant (force of word "reigned") was felt they became restive. The accession to their ranks of Gaal the marauding chieftain gives them the requisite stimulus toward open rebellion. So in time the drunken revels, the highway robberies of Shechem move irresistibly onward toward open revolt, and its consequence, overwhelming destruction. In this way the perpetrators of the coup d'etat are made the agents of the Divine vengeance upon each other. In punishing the rebels a seeming accident made Abimelech the victim of a woman's hand. Blood for blood. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." The tragic element in human history.
II. A DIVINE ORDERING OF EVENTS. So natural does the development of events appear, that there is danger of overlooking the overruling providence of God. What may be termed the "poetic justice" of the political movements of the time and their results renders it impossible to credit the sublimely neutral forces of nature with the working out of the issues. God wrought through the natural forces and the complications of the political sphere. His people have to be led onward in the pathway of national progress and religious illumination, therefore such obstacles must be swept out of the way. Yet all this is consistent with the moral freedom of those whose actions and end are so promotive of the Divine purpose. What was done in one development of events might equally have been secured by another. This principle that "maketh for righteousness" is evident to every careful and devout student of history. It may be detected in the individual private life, and in the history of a nation. How far the evolution of events which we esteem secular and blind is so informed by the Divine purpose we shall not discover in this life. But enough is laid bare to encourage the holy and righteous, and to awaken in the breast of the wicked "a fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,