Summary: Don’t let anger drive you, and don’t let anger destroy you. Instead, trust God to deal appropriately with those who hurt you.
One morning Ralph woke up at five o'clock to a noise that sounded like someone repairing boilers on his roof. Still in his pajamas, he went into the back yard to investigate. He found a woodpecker on the TV antenna, “pounding its little brains out on the metal pole.” Angry at the little creature who ruined his sleep, Ralph picked up a rock and threw it. The rock sailed over the house, and he heard a distant crash as it hit the car. In utter disgust, Ralph took a vicious kick at a clod of dirt, only to remember – too late – that he was still in his bare feet. (Brian Weatherdon, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Leadership, Vol. 8, no.1; www.PreachingToday.com)
Ouch! Anger usually ends in agony. So how do you overcome it? How do you keep anger from overwhelming you? How do you stop anger from wrecking your life? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn to Judges 9, Judges 9, where we learn some lessons on anger from a man who tried to establish himself as Israel’s king.
Judges 9:1-2 Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, “Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” (ESV)
Abimelech, whose name means “my father is King,” was the illegitimate son of Gideon. Now, his father had refused the title of king, but lived like a king anyway. He had 70 legitimate sons to his many wives, but Abimelech, born to Gideon’s concubine, was left out of Gideon’s inheritance.
Even so, Abimelech had his mother’s family in a prominent city, which he intended to exploit. He would be king in place of his 70 half-brothers, who were then judging all Israel. So he appeals to his mother’s family to speak to the leaders of Shechem on his behalf.
Judges 9:3-6 And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. (ESV)
The leaders of Shechem make Abimelech king after giving him money to publicly execute any potential rivals to the throne – his 70 half-brothers who were the legitimate sons of Israel’s last judge. Gideon finally gets his way after being excluded by his brothers all his life. He is king over one city and its nearby fortress at least for a little while.
Abimelech’s jealousy drove him all his life. His anger over being excluded goaded him to pursue power, but that power will be short-lived.
Judges 9:7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. (ESV)
Jotham, Gideon’s youngest son, who escaped execution, climbs the mountainside just south of Shechem, which lies in a valley between two mountains. It’s a natural amphitheater, which amplifies Jotham’s voice so everybody can hear what he has to say, which is a fable.
Judges 9:8-15 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ (ESV)