A Double-Edged Sword
I love when I discover new things in passages of Scripture I’ve read numerous times before. It shows how God’s word is alive and speaks to us at different points of our lives in different ways. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” I’m reading through the book of Judges each morning and trying to practice the art of Biblical meditation, which is mulling over and thinking deeply about each word, studying deeply, and pondering how the passage applies to my life. This week I came across this passage about the second of the judges of Israel named Ehud in Judges 3:
Once again the Israelites did evil in the sight of the LORD. So He gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. After enlisting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join forces with him, Eglon attacked and defeated Israel, taking possession of the City of Palms. The Israelites served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.
And again they cried out to the LORD, and He raised up Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed Benjamite, as their deliverer. So they sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Ehud had made for himself a double-edged sword a cubit long. He strapped it to his right thigh under his cloak and brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was an obese man. After Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he ushered out those who had carried it. But upon reaching the idols near Gilgal, he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” “Silence,” said the king, and all his attendants left him. Then Ehud approached him while he was sitting alone in the coolness of his upper room. “I have a word from God for you,” Ehud said, and the king rose from his seat. And Ehud reached with his left hand, pulled the sword from his right thigh, and plunged it into Eglon’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and Eglon’s fat closed in over it, so that Ehud did not withdraw the sword from his belly. And Eglon’s bowels emptied. Then Ehud went out through the porch, closing and locking the doors of the upper room behind him.
After Ehud was gone, Eglon’s servants came in and found the doors of the upper room locked. “He must be relieving himself in the cool room,” they said. So they waited until they became worried and saw that he had still not opened the doors of the upper room. Then they took the key and opened the doors—and there was their lord lying dead on the floor.
Ehud, however, had escaped while the servants waited. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. On arriving in Seirah, he blew the ram’s horn throughout the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites came down with him from the hills, and he became their leader. “Follow me,” he told them, “for the LORD has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they followed him down and seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over. At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men. Not one of them escaped. So Moab was subdued under the hand of Israel that day, and the land had rest for eighty years. (Judges 3:12-30 Berean Study Bible Version)
The Enemies of the Sinful Israelites
The first thing that jumped out at me was name of the three people groups who God allowed to defeat Israel and force them to pay tribute. First there was the king of Moab, Eglon, who was the main character in the account. Both Moab and his allies the Ammonites came from the same father. These boys were born to Lot’s daughters what they fled from Sodom and Gomorrah and went to live in the mountains. Lot’s daughters got him drunk and committed incest with him in order to get pregnant and have these boys. Both of their names have meanings with connotations pointing to their incestuous birth. Their father, Lot, was a picture of a believer who tried to compromise with sin rather than take a stand against it. These guys were long time enemies of Israel even though they were relatives through Abraham. The last people group was the Amalekites. I did a study several years ago where I learned that the Amalekites represent the flesh. It would totally derail this study to go into detail, so I’ll share that study in its entirety soon. But for now, you can just go along with me that all of these people in some way represent our greatest enemy as a child of God, and that is our own fleshly desires that we have to constantly wage war against. It’s fitting that God chose these people to punish the children of Israel because they were committing spiritual adultery by worshipping other gods and their worship involved sexual immorality – a sin of the flesh. The very people that God used to bring judgment were guilty of the same types of sins that the children of Israel were guilty of committing against God.
Ehud the Judge and Deliverer
I never noticed before that this guy was a lefty! Usually the Bible speaks of the right hand being the one of strength, probably because most people statistically are right-handed. However, left-handed archers and warriors are mentioned as men of strength, as well as the right and left side of Jesus being desired by James and John as places of honor. Ehud is the only named left-handed person I could find in the Bible. But notice that he made for himself a double-edged sword. The Word of God is called a double-edged sword, as well. And Ehud, because he was left-handed, wore the sword on his right side – the side of honor and strength. If he had been right-handed the sword could not have been worn there. So in this case, the sword has the higher place of honor.
Interesting Insights about the Sword
When Ehud thrust the sword into Eglon, he said to him, “I have a message (a word) from God for you.” The sword was the word! Just look at the imagery here. This sword was completely sufficient to destroy the enemy. For the enemies of God, the Word of God is judgement and wrath. For the children of God, it is forgiveness, grace, and mercy. The Word of God is sufficient to defeat our enemies, and especially to defeat the flesh. The more of God’s Word that we pour into our minds, the more help we will have dealing with the temptations to indulge the flesh. Even so, God doesn’t just defeat our enemies for us, we must use the sword, or the Word of God and resist the devil’s temptations. God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us, but we must ask for help and do our part studying the teachings of the Bible and applying them to our lives. This is where meditation on the Scriptures is so valuable. As we mull over the Word of God throughout the day, we are actually carrying around a spiritual sword that is stronger than any temptation of the devil.
Feeding the Enemy
The description of the sword being swallowed up in King Eglon’s big fat belly is disgusting! Sin is equally disgusting. The children of Israel had been giving tribute to Eglon for eighteen years. They were the ones making their enemy so fat. We also feed our sin when we indulge the flesh. It’s interesting that the picture used is one of being disgustingly fat! What a great picture of how sin grows out of control in our lives when we continually indulge in it. Thankfully, God has a Word for our sin and our flesh! Jesus said we must die (to the flesh) daily, take up our cross, and follow Him. We have to thrust the sword into our belly of flesh and reject our self-centered indulgences.
The Results of Ehud’s Bravery
Ehud was able to lead Israel into battle after killing the enemy king. He blew the trumpet and led the rest of Israel’s fighting men into battle where they killed 10,000 Moabites, not one of them escaped. After the battle, the land had rest from their enemies for eighty years. Ehud’s name comes from a root that means “to unify.” He unified the children of Israel against their enemies and in their worship of God. They followed the Lord for eighty years as a result of his leadership. Who are you called to lead in serving the Lord? We all have our circle of influence. We need to be brave and lead others in rejecting sin and the flesh and following the Lord in obedience.
As far as I know, I can’t remember ever having a lesson on Ehud the judge. I know I’ve read the passage before, but it never stood out to me until this year. It’s like finding gold in the river back in gold rush days. The Bible is full of these precious nuggets of truth just waiting to be discovered. I certainly enjoyed learning about this little-known judge of Israel. I hope you did, as well. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Until next time, God bless you!