When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. — Judges 9:7
They did it again. The people of Israel didn’t remember. Brothers fought over who was to reign over the nation. Jotham hid away and survived as his brother Abimelech went on a murder spree. In response, Jotham told this parable about the ruler of the trees
“One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’ “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’ “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’ “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’ “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’ “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’ “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ [Judges 9:8-15]
Stories like these are part of God’s salvation history. Sometimes it is hard to believe that people who are vengeful, greedy, vicious, and ambitious for personal gain play a role in God’s story. Yet, despite — and perhaps as a contrast to human nature — God continues to act in the world. Why? Because God’s nature is love.
How many times am I like the people of Israel? How many times do I not remember the Lord? Thanks be to God, that God continues to love and forgive. If only I would learn….
A haiku prayer:
My forgiving God
help me to remember you
always without fail
I forget to keep you first
guilt consumes my soul
You do not condemn
You do not give up on us
praise and thanks to You!
Deaconess Deborah Matern Graf, Reading, PA