Summary: Abimelech reigned, after a sort, for three years without any disturbance; he did not do any good for his country, but he was content as long he enjoyed the title and dignity of a king, and not only the Shechemites but many other places paid him respect.
The Shechemite’s Quarrel With Abimelech [Judges 9.22-9.25]
Scripture: Judges 9:22-25 (KJV)
22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,
23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.
25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
God judges both the city of Shechem and Abimelech. Everything was fine for three years; after that, God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The men of Shechem begin to set ambushes on the mountain roads, hoping to disrupt the trade routes that profited Abimelech. The people, in general, accepted what the men of Shechem had done; murdering three score and ten of Gideon’s sons; at least they did not oppose it. They all desired a king and therefore were willing to put up with a cruel person, rather than have none. It is amazing that they had not risen as one man against Abimelech, and avenged the blood of the sons of Gideon, who had been so beneficial and helpful to them; it is said that he reigned over all Israel, and his reign, such as it was, was very short, as is often the case with wicked princes.
22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,–Judges 9:22 (KJV)
22 Abimelech ruled Israel for three years.–Judges 9:22 (GW)
When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel...It does not say here that he was "king," or that he reigned over "all Israel." His `kingship' was a very limited affair. This in no way contradicts Judges 8:23; because, as Barnes said, "The Shechemites alone made him king, and the rest of Israel submitted to his dominion, without allowing him the title of king."
Probably, at first, his reign did not extend beyond Shechem; but by stealthy and progressive encroachments he subjected some of the neighboring towns to his control. At the height of his power he held sway only over a portion of the nation, possibly the tribes of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh. No one could "reign" in Israel, except by rebelliously seizing power; and that's why the reign of Abimelech is expressed in the original by a word signifying "dictatorship;" his administration was not the mild and divinely authorized rule of the judge.
Abimelech reigned, after a sort, for three years without any disturbance; he did not do any good for his country, but he was content as long he enjoyed the title and dignity of a king, and not only the Shechemites but many other places paid him respect. They must have been fond of having a king if they could please themselves with such a one as this. But the success of the wicked is short-lived; as it was with Moab, so shall it be with Abimelech: “But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of a hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble” (Isaiah 16:14; KJV).
_______________verse 22 notes__________________
Judges 8.231--“Gideon replied, “I will not rule you nor will my son. The LORD will rule you.(GW)”
Contemned:--Shall be esteemed of no value; shall be destroyed.
23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:–Judges 9:23 (KJV)
23 Then God sent an evil spirit to cause problems between Abimelech and citizens of Shechem. So citizens of Shechem turned against Abimelech.–Judges 9:23 (GW)
Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem…All unnatural and bizarre phenomena in the Sacred Scriptures are ascribed to Yahweh, whether they lead to happiness or sadness, yet never in such a way as to exonerate the guilty or to attribute moral evil to Yahweh." There are two schools of thought when it comes to this verse: Either God sent an evil spirit or He permitted the evil that resided within them to surface. We will have a brief look at both.
There is no dualism in the Bible. Satan does not share control of the universe with God. Nothing is capable of happening in the entire universe unless it is in harmony with the permissive will or the direct purpose of Almighty God. God commissioned the devil to work upon their minds. He permitted Satan, the evil spirit, to go among them to stir up suspicions, jealousies, hatred, and ill will toward one another, and to sow the seeds of discord and contention among them; or God gave them up to their own hearts' lusts, to think angrily of one another, grow jealous, and contemplate revenge.