WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Israel’s deliverance from Moab would come through an unlikely source: Ehud, the “lefty.” Whether Ehud was disabled (lacking the use of his right hand) or a trained assassin who was ambidextrous, he represents an improbable deliverer. If Ehud was selected because of a disability and therefore posed no obvious threat to Eglon, King of Moab then his story shatters the pattern of Othniel; thus, revealing that the LORD delivers His people in unexpected ways. Conversely, if Ehud was an elite soldier, his selection is equally puzzling because it seemingly associates the LORD with the assassination of the Moabite King. Either way, Ehud represents an extreme departure from the pattern of Othniel. Furthermore, it is important to note that Ehud is not referred to as a judge, and he is not said to be empowered by the Spirit of the LORD to carry out his mission.
SO WHAT? This story begins with the LORD empowering Eglon, whose name means “fat calf/cow,” to oppress the tribes of Israel. The fact that the LORD providentially empowers the oppressor may be difficult for the modern reader to reconcile with a neutered version of God. However, human precepts do not limit the sovereignty of God, which is displayed in both His righteous wrath and His merciful grace. Furthermore, the LORD will, when necessary, discipline His people through unlikely sources, as well as deliver them through improbable people. The preservation of the tribes of Israel is a demonstration of the LORD’s sovereign power over the nations and His steadfast commitment to the covenant.
Regardless of the circumstances, the LORD will preserve His people. God’s people may not fully comprehend His methods, but they can understand His message: He is saving and preserving a people for Himself.
1. The cycle of sin and rebellion restarts.
2. The LORD is sovereign over the nations.
3. The LORD uses unlikely people.
4. The character of God and the assassination of Eglon.
5. The LORD grants peace to undeserving people.
NOW WHAT? Israel’s deliverance through the actions of Ehud provides the reader with a stark and powerful reminder that God works in ways that we don’t expect, nor fully understand. The complexities of this story may, if you are not careful, overshadow the central truth of God’s absolute sovereignty over both the discipline of his people and their deliverance. He disciplines those He loves, and he always delivers His people. His deliverance, however, may not happen in the way you expect. Therefore, we must be careful to not presume upon God’s grace by expecting Him to respond/act according to our preconceived ideas. Instead, we trust that God will providentially preserve His people until the final consummation when we are with Him in the glorified state.
12And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 13He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. 14And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. 15 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16And Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit[a]in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his clothes. 17And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man (Judges 3:12-17 ESV).
STUDY QUESTIONS (Judges 3:12-30)
1. What is the significance of Ehud being left-handed (3:15)?
2. How does the narrator mock the king of Moab (3:17)?
3. Explain the significance of an idol worshiper (Eglon) being portrayed as ignorant and easily fooled.
4. Why is Ehud not described as being empowered by the Spirit of the LORD?
5. Does God command holy war?
6. Explain how God, who is perfect in every way, apparently permitted Ehud’s actions to deliver His people.