To the Upper Room

“And Ehud went in to him where he was sitting in the upper room on the roof, where he was alone, and said to him, ‘I have something from God for you.’ And he rose from on his chair.”

(Judges 3:20)

Eglon has retreated to a room on the roof of his palace. Remembering that this is long before the days of air-conditioning, such an act should not surprise us. These were places that were higher up and open to the breeze; much more comfortable in the stagnant air of the house. So, the fat king goes up and Ehud follows in tow. When the king is comfortable, he turns to Ehud and gives him the chance to speak.

Ehud’s response is to say again, “I have something from God for you.” And once again, we have the vagueness in the language — rDb∂;d (dabar) — “a word, a thing, an idea, an instruction, etc…” Eglon rises from his chair, perhaps in anticipation of what Ehud will say, and what follows is clearly not what Eglon expects, but then again, we get ahead of ourselves.

As we retell this story, we must not neglect the human element, for that adds to the fun of the account. We don’t know what it is that Eglon thought that Ehud had meant by rDb∂;d (dabar), but clearly Ehud takes Eglon by surprise. You can almost envision this very fat and greedy king rising up, wringing his hands in excitement at this new gift, a personal bit of tribute, that Ehud is about to pay. Or, perhaps Eglon doesn’t completely trust Ehud and is beginning to realize the foolishness of coming upstairs for a private audience, then getting up to call his guards, just before he is silenced forever. We don’t know each and every detail, but it is important to reflect on such things not simply to aid good story-telling, but to preserve us from falling into the trap of thinking of this as nothing more than a story, and not an historical account that included real people in time and space.

So, don’t lose sight of the human element as you read and then retell these accounts. For that is typically the means by which God works — the lives of real people in the lives of other people — you and me even. My prayer is that thinking this way will open yourself up to be better used by the Lord of Lords in building his Kingdom.

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