This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for July 17) is written by James Hansee, senior associate minister with Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cleves, Ohio.
Use God’s Strength (Judges 3:15-25, 29, 30)
By James Hansee
Where the world sees disability, God sees potential. Where the world sees disadvantage or defect, God sees opportunity. When people rely on God’s strength, even their weaknesses or perceived shortcomings can be powerful tools in his hands to accomplish his plans.
Such is the case with Ehud. As numerous scholars have pointed out, throughout the book of Judges a cycle repeats itself in the life of the nation of Israel. After Israel’s disobedience, they lived under the oppression of another nation for a period of time until God would raise up a judge or deliverer to free them from their oppression. During the time of Ehud, the Israelites were under the strong arm of Eglon, the king of Moab. In response to the cry of the people (Judges 3:15), the Lord raised up Ehud to be Israel’s deliverer.
Ehud’s Flaws and God’s Victory
The author of the text immediately points out two flaws or weaknesses in Ehud. First, he is of the tribe of Benjamin, which is considered the least of the tribes of Israel, as is seen in the later narrative of Saul, Israel’s first monarch.
Second, Ehud is left-handed. Left-handers are, and have always been, a minority. While left-handed starting pitchers are prized in baseball, in the ancient world there was a negative association with being left-handed. The derivation of that negativity may have come from the Latin word for “left,” which is sinistra, from which we get the word sinister. Ehud was left-handed and some saw this as a negative trait or even a disability. As a left-handed warrior, he would have carried his sword on his right thigh or on his right hip. Conversely, right-handed warriors would carry the sword on their left hip or left thigh.
God used the apparent weakness of Ehud being left-handed as an advantage to conquer Moab. Here’s how this worked. Ehud was chosen to present tribute to Eglon. Because his sword was on the “wrong” side (and probably hidden), he was not suspected of being a threat to Moab’s king. After the tribute was presented, Ehud began the journey home.
But he turned back, alone, saying he had a “secret message” for the king (3:19). He approached the king, who was alone on a rooftop. As the king rose from his seat to receive the message, Ehud grabbed the sword from the “wrong” side of his body and plunged it into the king’s belly. As King Eglon lay dying on the floor, Ehud left.
When news of the king’s death was received, Ehud and the Israelites attacked the Moabites and killed 10,000 of their strongest warriors (3:29). With Moab subdued, Israel rested—or had peace—for 80 years (3:30).
Our Weakness and God’s Strength
God raised up a deliverer for Israel who was not like other prime candidates. His résumé did not match expectations for a leader. He had perceived deficiencies, disadvantages, and disabilities. But in God’s hands and in God’s strength, Ehud was a mighty tool to rescue Israel.
We have a deliverer named Jesus, who was also seen as being the least or having disadvantages. His résumé did not meet expectations, but as God’s Son and with God’s strength, he delivered all people from sin’s punishment. With Jesus as our deliverer, our job is to deliver the gospel message about the Savior, which is not to be kept secret.
Do you feel like you have disabilities or disadvantages that hinder your ability to be used by the Lord and to share his message? Maybe you see poorly or are hard of hearing. Maybe you are mobility-challenged. Maybe you have a sketchy family history. No matter what weaknesses you have, the strength of God is strong enough to use even the weakest vessels.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” As is seen in the case of Ehud, God’s strength led to a glorious victory. Never question the strength and power of God to work through your challenges and frailties. God is strong enough to lead his people to victory following the ultimate deliverer, Jesus Christ
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|July 11: Psalm 27:1-6|
|July 12: Psalm 27:7-14|
|July 13: Habakkuk 1:1-5|
|July 14: Psalm 56:1-11|
|July 15: Psalm 29|
|July 16: Isaiah 31:1-5|
|July 17: Judges 3:15-25, 29, 30|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: James Hansee is senior associate minister with Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cleves, Ohio.