Unprincipled Men

“And they gave to him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Ba’al Beryth and Abimelek hired for himself unprincipled and reckless men, and they followed after him.”

(Judges 9:4)

Thugs, hoodlums, criminals…these are the men that Abimelek will attract to himself. The Apostle Paul cites the wisdom of the Greek poet, Menander, when he reminds the Corinthian church that “bad company ruins good morals’ (1  Corinthians 15:33). But if bad company ruins good morals and “the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20), what happens when the wicked attracts more wicked into their service? Nothing good, that can be for certain.

The reality is that whenever you see the phrase, “worthless fellows” or something similar to that, you can be sure that there is nothing good that can come out of it (cf. Judges 11:3; 2 Samuel 6:20; 2 Chronicles 13:7). The term in question is the Hebrew word  רֵ׳ק (reyq), which literally means “empty.” These men which Abimelek is attracting to his side are empty. They are empty of morals, empty of principles, empty of virtue, and empty of God. And now we see that money is being used to gain these men’s allegiance. Again, nothing good can or will come from an arrangement such as this.

Can it be said that the church never acts this way? We may be tempted to say that the church does not murder the people they don’t like…though that has certainly taken place in history — the name Thomas Becket comes to mind as just one example. But need we murder a man to be guilty of murder? Certainly not. How often has slander ruined a person’s reputation or even a person’s career. How rarely have we really acted on the idea that people are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by two or there witnesses? How often has the church practiced passive-aggressive behavior toward one they do not like…or even toward their pastor? All of this is empty, unprincipled, behavior…wicked to the core. And God brings every deed into judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

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