Choosing Trustworthy Leaders

KEY VERSE: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” —Proverbs 16:18

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 9:1, 2, 4, 5

THE Bible tells us that Gideon was the father of seventy sons, one of whom was named Abimelech. Departing from his father’s example, Abimelech aspired to be a king, and managed to be accepted as such for a time, having first mercilessly slain his brothers.

He intended to kill them all, but Jotham, the youngest son, hid himself and escaped. Later, and apropos to the desire of the people that Abimelech should be their king, Jotham related one of the very interesting and pointed parables of the Old Testament. (Judges 9:7-21) In this parable, Jotham describes the trees endeavoring to persuade one of their number to rule over the others. The olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine, all refused, giving good reasons. Then all the trees invited the bramble to rule over them, and the bramble accepted. In its acceptance speech the bramble said, “If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”—vs. 15

Jotham then explained to those who had made Abimelech king that if they had acted sincerely, and if they had dealt properly with his father’s house, then they could expect Abimelech’s rulership to be a blessing to them. If not, then much trouble was ahead for them, for they would find that, as with the bramble, a fire would go out from their king and destroy many, and that finally the king himself would be destroyed, bringing to an end the unhappy experiment. The latter proved true—“upon them came the curse of Jotham, the son of Jerubbaal.”—vs. 57

Jerubbaal was another name for Gideon, meaning to contend with Baal, because when he was young he had destroyed the altars of Baal.

While Abimelech used his father’s good name and reputation to gain power, he was not interested in preserving the good name of Jehovah. Some of his followers stole silver from the shrine of Baalberith, called the Canaanite “god of the covenant,” and gave it to Abimelech to buy the services of the evil men he hired to kill all the other sons of Gideon, and to set himself up as king. Actually he never became king of Israel—his influence did not extend much beyond the fortified city of Shechem where he ruled as a petty tyrant, causing much bloodshed and grief to the people. Abimelech’s pride and evil ways led him into a life of violence, and he died the way he lived, with his head crushed by a millstone cast by a woman from a tower. His life was a good example of where pride and haughtiness can lead.

Pride is a poisonous manifestation of selfishness. It is, as someone has well said, selfishness gone to seed. Everyone should be on the alert to resist the encroachments of pride, because to whatever extent it is permitted to influence our thoughts and actions, it will distort our outlook in keeping with its own ugly form.

One manifestation of pride is undue self-esteem. Paul speaks of it as thinking more highly of one’s self than is warranted—than one ought to think. Self-esteem manifests itself in many and unsuspecting ways, and if not corrected can rapidly bring us into a situation where God resists rather than supports us.

Humility is a quality of character much esteemed by our Heavenly Father. In his arrangements, those who humble themselves shall be exalted, and those who exalt themselves shall be abased. This is an ultimate working principle in his kingdom.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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