Scripture: Judges 3: 12-30
Key verses: (15-22) 15But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab. 16Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length; and he fastened it on his right thigh under his clothes. 17Then he presented the tribute to King Eglon of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man.18When Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent the people who carried the tribute on their way. 19But he himself turned back at the sculptured stones near Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” So the king said, “Silence!” and all his attendants went out from his presence. 20Ehud came to him, while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber, and said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he rose from his seat. 21Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly;22the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
Reflection: Sometimes people think that the Bible is mostly full of spiritual advice about how to love God and our neighbors. And there is plenty of that. But if you ever wonder if there is something more real and earthy in the scriptures, here is a story for you.
In the time before kings in Israel, the people were ruled by judges. Some were better than others, and under their rule, the people of Israel tried to remain faithful at worshipping God, to varying degrees of success. At one point, when they had forgotten about God’s law, a Moabite king conquered Israel and ruled over them. King Eglon was in power for 18 years. When the people of Israel cried out in prayer, God raised up Ehud, a deliverer from the tribe of Benjamin, who kills King Eglon, then leads the Israelites to take back their land.
What strikes me about this story are the very human details included in the biblical text. Eglon is described as a fat man. Ehud is left-handed. Some commentators want to translate the uncertain Hebrew to say that Eglon was sitting on his “throne” (meaning the other kind of throne — a toilet) when Ehud killed him. The description of Ehud’s attack (in v. 22) sounds like a cartoon. After Ehud leaves, and locks the door, the servants of the king don’t disturb him because they assume he is relieving himself. I doubt we will ever teach this story in Vacation Bible School, but I know it would appeal to some of our kids.
What this story in Scripture says to me (besides that the writer is very entertaining) is this: Our faith is in a God who works in and through the lives of real and very human people. As people of God, we are more than what is in our heads and our hearts. We can’t ever separate that from our very human bodies. (People who tried to do that in the past developed what we now call heresies.) How amazing to think that God came to us in Jesus in human form. May we, as his followers, know that God loves our whole selves.
Prayer: Lord, you know everything about me. Throughout history you have used very ordinary people to serve your purposes, in weird and wonderful ways. Use me too. In the name of Christ, the Word made flesh, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].