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EHUD AND EGLON
Judges 3:20. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
GOD frequently is pleased to make use of his enemies for the correction of his own people: but when he has accomplished by them the purposes of his grace, he then calls them also into judgment for the acts which they have performed. In executing his will they have no respect to him, but follow only the wicked inclinations of their own hearts; and therefore he recompenses them, not as obedient servants, but according to the real quality of their actions. Thus he dealt with Sennacherib, who was only gratifying his own ambition, whilst, as a sword in Jehovah’s hand, he was inflicting punishment on Israel: and thus he dealt with Eglon also, whom he had raised up to power for the purpose of chastising his offending people. Yet there is something very remarkable in the way in which God requited the wickedness of Eglon, and in which he delivered his people out of his hand. The man whom God raised up as his instrument, was Ehud; who, by a stratagem, effected the death of Eglon.
We will briefly set before you,
The conduct of Ehud—
Eglon, king of Moab, having subdued Israel, himself resided in Canaan, in the city of Palm-trees: and Ehud was sent, as the representative of Israel, to offer to him their accustomed tribute. But Ehud, hoping for an opportunity to assassinate Eglon, took a dagger with him: and, after having presented the tribute and left the city with his attendants, went back alone to Eglon, pretending to have a secret errand to him. Eglon ordered all other persons to depart from his presence, and thus gave Ehud a good opportunity of accomplishing his design. Ehud availed himself of it with great success: being left-handed, he drew forth the dagger without any suspicion, and plunged it, even the haft together with the blade, into the belly of Eglon, who instantly fell down dead. Ehud then retired from the secret chamber where the transaction had taken place, and locked the doors after him, and went composedly away, as though nothing particular had happened; and thus effected his escape; and instantly stirred up Israel to cast off the yoke of Moab, before their enemies should have had time to concert their measures under another head.
Now to form a correct estimate of this action, we must consider it in two different points of view;
As voluntarily undertaken—
[In this view it was altogether indefensible. Treachery and murder can never be justified. Though Eglon was an usurper and a cruel oppressor, still the Israelites professed subjection to him; and Ehud went as their messenger, to present to Eglon their acknowledgments of that subjection. If he had chosen to cast off the yoke of Moab, he was at liberty to do so in a way of open warfare: but to become an assassin he had no right: nor could the end which he proposed, sanctify the means he used: the means were wrong; and he had “no right to do evil that good might come.”]
As divinely commissioned—
[No created power could have authorized Abraham to slay his son, or Israel to plunder Egypt, and extirpate the inhabitants of Canaan: nor could any human being have executed such things of his own mind, without contracting very heinous guilt. But God is not bound by the rules which he has imposed on us: he may act towards his creatures as he sees best, and may employ instruments in any way that he pleases: nor would even an angel contract defilement in executing any commission that God had given him. An angel slew in one night all the first-born in the land of Egypt; and on another occasion, a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians: yet no one thinks of imputing guilt to him on that account:—so Ehud, if appointed to the work by God, might innocently effect it in the way he did. Jehu was commissioned by God to dethrone Ahab, and destroy his family: and, though he was punished afterwards because he was not actuated by a becoming zeal for the glory of God, yet for the action itself he was rewarded even to the fourth generation. Precisely thus may Ehud at this moment be receiving a reward from God for that act of his, which, under other circumstances, would have been highly sinful. And there is reason to believe that he was directed by God in that action; since not only were his wisdom, courage, and success, beyond all that could have been expected in a merely human enterprise, but we are expressly told that “God raised up this man to be the deliverer of his people [Note: ver. 15.].”
We must not however imagine, that his conduct is to be followed as a precedent: for no man can dare to follow it, unless he have infallible evidence that he is called of God to do so: but, as no man can expect such a call at this time, no man can without the deepest criminality presume to imitate his example.]
Having thrown what light we can on the dubious conduct of Ehud, we proceed to suggest,—
Some reflections arising from it—
Supposing Ehud to have been divinely commissioned, he might well say to Eglon, “I have a message from God to thee.” At all events his language leads us to observe,
That God does send messages to mortal men—
[The whole creation is delivering to us, as it were, a message from God, and conveying to us the knowledge of his perfections [Note: Romans 1:20; Psalms 19:1-4.] — — — Every providential dispensation also has some important lesson to communicate: the mercies of God declare his goodness to us, and invite us to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4.], and his judgments are intended to discover to us some truths which we did not previously discern: “Hear ye the rod,” saith the prophet, “and Him that hath appointed it [Note: Micah 6:9.].” But it is in his word more especially that God comes down to commune with sinful man. His Gospel is so called from the very circumstance of its being a message of mercy, or, as the word means, good tidings from God to man: and ministers are ambassadors from him, sent to beseech you in his name to accept reconciliation with him through the death of his Son. Indeed this message contains the substance of all that we have to speak to you in God’s name; and from hence it is called by God himself, “the ministry of reconciliation.” Behold then this day we come unto you and say, “We have a message from God to you!” He sends us this day to invite you to come to him for all the blessings of salvation, and to receive them freely at his hands, “without money, and without price [Note: Isaiah 55:1-3.].” — — —]
That, by whomsoever his messages are delivered, we should attend to them with the profoundest reverence—
[Though Eglon was a king, and Ehud an oppressed servant, yea, though Eglon was a heathen that did not worship the true God, yet, the very instant that Ehud announced that he had a message from God unto him, he rose up from his seat, that he might receive it with the greater reverence. And does not this idolatrous heathen reproach us, who, when God’s servants are delivering messages to us in his name, scarcely pay any attention to them, or perhaps fall asleep in the midst of them? Behold, how Israel listened to the reading of God’s word in the days of Nehemiah [Note: Nehemiah 8:3; Nehemiah 8:5-6.] — — — that is the way in which we should read or hear the word of God at this time. We should not come to the house of God as critics, to sit in judgment; or as curious persons, to be entertained; but as sinners, to “hear what the Lord God will say concerning us.” Beautiful is the example of Cornelius and his family [Note: Acts 10:33.]: they did not regard Peter as a man, but as a messenger from God: and in like manner should we also “receive the word, not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God [Note: 1 Thessalonians 2:13.].” O that the spirit of Samuel were more visible in us [Note: 1 Samuel 3:10.], and that we sought instruction from the word, only in order to obey it [Note: John 9:36.]!”]
That we should ever be prepared for whatsoever message he may send—
[Who can tell but that as his message to Eglon was a message of death, so he may send to us this day, saying, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.” He needs not the aid of an assassin to take away our lives: there are millions of ways in which death may seize upon us. As for our security, the more secure we are in our own apprehension, the more likely are we to receive such a message from God [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:3.]. It was when the rich fool was looking forward to years of enjoyment, that God said to him, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee:” and it was when Job fondly expected he should “die in his nest [Note: Job 29:18. See also Psalms 30:6-7.],” that God pulled down his nest, and despoiled him of all that he had. Let us not then promise ourselves an hour’s continuance even of life itself [Note: Proverbs 27:1.]: but be standing “with our loins girt, and our lamps trimmed, that at whatever hour our Lord may come, he may find us watching” — — —]
Application — — — [Note: This may be more appropriate or more general: in the former case, a message may be delivered as from God himself to Oppressors, and the Oppressed; (to awe the one, as Isa 10:5-18 and encourage the other, as Isaiah 10:24-27.) in the latter case, an Address may be made to the Careless, the Backsliding, and the Faithful, with the prefatory Remark to each, “I have a message from God to thee.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Judges 3". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany