A Grave Message From God
19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”
The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.
20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
God used the Judges of Israel to lead the people out of oppression from their enemies. Israel had turned her back to God, and they needed to be disciplined. God would often discipline them by sending them into captivity. God’s hand would be against them, and no matter what the Israelites did, their enemies would conquer them and force them into servitude.
God had heard the cry of the Israelites, and sent them Ehud, a left-handed man. Being left-hand dominant was a bit difficult in those times. After relieving themselves of their scat, people at that time would wipe their behinds with their non-dominant hand. For most people at that time, it would be their left hand. So God, with a bit of a sense of irony, sent a left-handed man to do what no right-handed man could do. Because of the scarcity of left-hand dominance, the guards would not check the right side of a person for weapons, for it would be very awkward for any right-handed person to quickly access the weapon to defend themselves, and no one would willingly wipe themselves with the hand that they ate with. Because of this blind spot, God was able to use a left-handed man to deliver a “secret message” to Eglon, king of the Moabites, oppressors of God’s people at that time.
Judged with Justice
God’s message was justice. Ehud successfully smuggled a knife into the palace on the right side of his body, and, when alone with king Eglon (who was vetted by his guards and thought Ehud was unarmed), pulled out a large knife (a cubit long, about 18 inches) and successfully delivered the message of justice from God to king Eglon. This message was very effective, because the king had grown obese and was unable to defend himself.
Although God will often use other nations to discipline His people, after the discipline is over, God has a tendency to destroy the nation that was used to oppress His people. Even though they had been chosen by God as a rod of discipline, God keeps his word – those that bless Israel are blessed, and those that curse Israel are cursed.
God is a God of justice. If this assassination was not God-appointed, He would have surely made certain that His Judge would have been caught and put to death for murder. In this case, the death of King Eglon was decreed and approved by God for the deliverance of His people from this wicked nation.
Ehud was able to successfully leave the palace, and to gather the Israelites together to rise up against the nation that had oppressed them. God had given the country of Moab into their hands, and they took possession of the fords of the Jordan:
28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I doing anything that would require God to discipline me?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are full of grace and mercy. You have spared my life when I was still a sinner. Forgive me for my sins, and train my heart in the way it should go. Help me to be fully submitted to the Holy Spirit, so that I would not need to be disciplined. Help me to have the same love for Your people, the Israelites, that You have. Help me to always bless them and not curse them. May the enemies of the Israelites receive the full measure of Your wrath and your anger in the day that You deliver them from their oppressors. Help me to have the strength and courage to stand for Israel even when the leaders of my country refuse to honor You and them. Remember me in my distress, Lord God, when my government acts in ways that deserve Your wrath, cursing, and destruction. Help me to advise them and, if given the opportunity, to elect leaders that will honor You rather than themselves, culture, or Your enemies. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.