Summary: The story of Abimelech demonstrates the shortfalls of Human Wisdom.
Right in their Own Eyes
Text: Judges 9
The Poem "Smart" by Shel Silverstien (from Where the Sidewalk Ends--available at your library)
Judges 21:25 "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" or "everyone did what was right in his own eyes"
Proposition:. Like the boy in the poem there’s a problem with us thinking we’re so smart:
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Likewise James contrasts the Wisdom that comes from God with the wisdom from the devil, noting that Godly wisdom brings peace but human wisdom is the source of selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice.
Interrogative: As we look at the story of Abimelech it reads like a screenplay written to demonstrate the pitfalls of Human wisdom. To fully appreciate the wisdom God means for us to gleam from this passage the question we must ask ourselves is what’s wrong with doing what seems right in our own eyes?
Transition: In the Story of Abimelech we can plainly see at least four reasons that doing what seems right in our human eyes is a recipe for disaster. The first and perhaps the most obvious reason is that Human wisdom fails to...
In the opening verses of the passage we find Abimelech and the people of Shechem trying desparately to justify their own desires:
1-3Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2"Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ’Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood." 3When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they
said, "He is our brother."
A little later in the passage we find Abimelech’s half brother challenging their justfication.
16-20"Now if you have acted honorably and in good faith when you made Abimelech king, and if you have been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family, and if you have treated him as he deserves17and to think that my father fought for you, risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian 18(but today you have revolted against my father’s family, murdered his seventy sons on a single stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave girl, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is your brother)19if then you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today, may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelech!"
The truth is that without a God-centered standard for right and wrong there can be no such thing as justification. In the abscence of an absolute plumb line, the sole basis for deciding right and wrong becomes the desire of the individual. And becuse my desire and your desire will eventually come into conflict there is no overidding JUSTIFICATION.