Bowie Apostolic Church
Day 1: King of the Trees
by From the Pastor's Desk on April 2nd, 2013

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. 8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 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?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15 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.’ 

Introduction to Parables

This month our theme is parables of the bible. Let us qualify what constitutes a parable in the bible. Herbert Lockyer says it so well:

“In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for  ‘parable’ is Mashal, meaning proverb, similitude, parable. In a wide range of use this word ‘covers several forms of picturesque and suggestive speech – all those forms in which ideas are presented in the robes of imagery. As its applications are thus varied, it is variously translated in our English version.’ The root idea of mashal is ‘to be like,’ and often refers to ‘the sentences constructed in parableism,’ so characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The word is never used in the narrow technical sense of its counterpart in the New Testament.”

Many times we have a bias toward New Testament parables, but the Old Testament has plenty of parables in it as well. Since the New Testament is founded upon and is a fulfillment of the Old Testament, Lockyer’s definition fits for the parables of the Gospel accounts also. The use of parables was a part of the culture of the ancient Middle East. It was the way to teach and/or convey opinions. In this month, the word parable will be referred to as any proverb as well as a symbolic saying, act or vision.

 

"The Thornbush King"

Our first proverb is from Jotham the son of Gideon (also called Jerubaal). He was one of 70 sons of Gideon. However, Gideon had another son from a different woman. This son wanted to ascend to the throne of his father even though there was no legitimate way it could happen. Therefore, he took the route that so many take when a king dies: he created a power struggle. The struggle went to the most extreme. Abimelech killed all of his half brothers with the exception of Jotham.

The way this came about was Abimelech’s appeal to his hometown of Shechem. Since Gideon was the judge of Israel and had recently passed away, he asked what their preference would be as far as who would rule them. Of course, they chose Abimelech because he grew up there. They gave him enough money to hire a small army to carry out his conquest for the throne.

Jotham, being the youngest of Gideon, escaped by hiding during this apparent massacre. But he came back to give them a very wise saying. He used the imagery of trees. Different trees have different degrees of usefulness. Trees with great usefulness are awarded great honor.

In the parable, the trees were looking for a king. They asked all of the honorable trees: the olive tree , the most ancient of trees which is busy producing oil;  the fig tree, the most common of trees in Israel whose fruit is a staple food; the vine, whose vintage produces wine for libations in the ancient worship. None them would give up their honor to rule over the trees that were asking. Therefore, they asked the thornbush (bramblebush). This bush was used to kindle cooking fires in the desert areas of Palestine. Basically, it was only fit to be burned.

The statement from the bramblebush in the parable about the tries coming to rest in its shadowy is irony that is used to mock the Shechemites. The bramblebush is a thorn. It provides no shade and it is very short. Jotham is showing them that they had made a poor choice for a leader. A choice that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Many people will allow power hungry people to rule over them rather than a leader that stands for truth and the well being of the people. Always gravitate to the people that are not afraid to tell you the truth, even if it hurts. A man’s hunger for power and position will not suffice when you have ministry needs.


Posted in Bible 2013, Parables    Tagged with Jotham, Bramblebush


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