Gideon’s son, Jotham, the one who escaped the massacre of Abimelech, speaks wisdom here. We normally think of parables coming from Jesus, who used them to teach the people a hard-to-understand concept of faith. Jotham is also trying to bring understanding to the people of Shechem about what they have just done in allowing Abimelech to be king.
Jotham uses the images of trees. He doesn’t seem to believe that a king does very much when he says over and over, the kings “just to wave back and forth over the trees.” I picture the “wave” they teach beauty queens or other royalty.
Jotham must also see the king’s role as unimportant when he contrasts it to the “good” the trees are doing. The trees are much more interested in doing what they are called to do rather than go off and seek to be rulers of all people. What kind of a tree would seek such glory for self as opposed to being a light to many? Jotham suggests a thornbush.
Think of what has just happened to Jotham. He has lost every single one of his brothers to a cruel and unnecessary death. I could just feel his anguish crying out from the top of that mountain. He wanted his father’s name to be honored not trampled. “Now make sure you have acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelech your king, and that you have done right by Gideon and all of his descendants. Have you treated him with the honor he deserves for all he accomplished?” I don’t know exactly how I would have handled such agony.
We see bravery in Jotham, and yet he retreated because of his fear of Abimelech. What would the fallout be? Jotham said his peace and then left to let God’s will be done. We’ll have to see if this parable may actually be a bit of a prophecy. “If you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Gideon and his descendants today, then may you find joy in Abimelech, and may he find joy in you.” We’ll wait and see what happens next.
Take some time today to reflect on the methods you use to get someone’s attention. What is the message that is burning on your heart?
Let’s pray …
Lord, I can’t even begin to imagine it would feel like to lose 69 brothers all in one day because of the greed of another brother. Thank you for how you were watching out for Jotham and used his wisdom to let some of those emotions go free. Help me be bold in my own faith journey, unafraid to speak the message you are putting on my heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.