Bad boys, bad boys…. You guys know this song- whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
Taking a look in the book of Judges, our textt is Judges 11:1-12:7
Have you ever encountered someone who is so afraid that they will be cheated, short-sheeted, burned or screwed over at every turn, that they are wholly unpleasant to be around? It feels as though you need to put everything in writing for them. They want assurances and promises from others before they will take any requested action or partner in any conceived plan. You know, because they don’t want to waste their time and effort on you, especially if nothing good is going to come of things.
We learn from this text that Jephthah is the illegitimate son of Gilead, born of a union between his father and a lady of the evening, rather than his wife. However, when the truly “legitimate” sons of Gilead grew up, they drove Jephthah away so they wouldn’t have to share their inheritance with him.
The wording seems to suggest that he was older than the rest; perhaps conceived and born before Gilead even married Mrs. Gilead, the woman who gave him his other sons. In this case, and according to the tradition of the day, the oldest son would receive a double portion and the sons under him would divide up what was left of the inheritance between them equally.
So, we have an unknown number of brothers who have grown up in a house with a half-brother as the oldest, and he is in line for the lion’s share of the inheritance. He is an embarrassment to them because of the circumstances of his birth. Their solution is that, as their father is dying, they tell Jephthah that he has to hit the road.
The first verse says he was a valiant warrior. This is what drew gang of street toughs around him.
The Bible says they were ‘worthless fellows’. The NIV uses the word ‘adventurers’. The Hebrew word means ‘empty’, idle.
They all hung out together in the land of Tob, an area east of the Jordan and according to Bible maps, just outside of Gilead.
Bringing the Bad Boy home
In due time, while Jephthah was away, the Ammonites attack Israel. The citizens need protection. Now, of course, they call upon their most valiant, Jephthah. Not the unworthy and illegitimate Jephthah, but mighty warrior Jephthah. But, he wants some assurances first. He has a bit of an attitude, some of which may be justifiable, but he rapidly moves to extremes.
In verse 7, we see one of the first evidences of this poor attitude in Jephthah. He tosses their earlier ill treatment of him back into their faces and then challenges them to justify their behavior, now that they are coming to him for help. The elders state their reason for coming and in the very wording, say they want him to come and be their chief.
As we move to verse 9, Jephthah asks for a confirmation of what they have just offered. In fact, he puts the question to them as though they have not even made an offer. Plus, he wants to take credit that it was his idea to begin with.
Don’t you cringe when you have to work with people like that. You ask them to help with you with something, but they want to sound like they invented toast and that you may be the most moronic person they’ve ever met! Thankfully, everything we do is not about who gets the credit. But I digress…
Basically, he wants to know what’s in it for him, and he’s not going to mount up until he has a verbal (if not written) agreement before witnesses. “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the Lord gives them to me, will I become your head?” This sounds like wise planning since they kicked him out before. What’s wrong with it?
What’s the life application to this?
When we find ourselves in a position to do something for others, are we right in asking ‘what’s in it for me’? Are we ever justified in listing all that we have done to be of service to them before we help?
Here’s your challenge:
Pick a day, soon. For one day set aside your all of your grudges, everything you want to get even for, everything you think an individual (or the world) owes you…and just be helpful to anyone who asks.
I’m only asking you to do it for a day, 24 hours.
Let me know how it works out for you.