Scripture Sketches.

19. Ehud.

1894 107 When Israel had been eighteen years oppressed under the tyranny of Eglon, king of Moab, God raised them up a deliverer from the tribe of Benjamin — a strong, brave, capable man, whose work however is discredited by the unscrupulous way in which he did it. This was Ehud, the left-handed chief, who was (lit.) "shut — maimed — of his right hand." Having only one serviceable arm, he had the choice before him of sitting down and mourning for the other, as many would do, or of making the best use he could of the one remaining. He chose the latter alternative and delivered God's nation.

If the deliverance wrought by the Judges be typical of the work of Christ for His people, the seven prominent Judges whose lives are given in detail would represent so many distinct aspects of that work. Thus Othniel is seen in relationship with the bride, Gideon with the overthrow of idolatry, whilst Ehud represents the conquest of a malignant power by one who was wounded and weakened. There is a very distinct line of thought, most pathetic and affecting thought, relating to our salvation by a wounded Saviour, beginning with the very first promise where God had said that the woman's Seed should bruise the Serpent's head, but should itself be bruised in the heel; that is, the part which comes in direct contact with the earth — the humanity of our Lord. "He was wounded for our transgressions." After His resurrection He shows the marks of His wounds to His disciples. The prophet Zechariah says, "One shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." His conflict had a terrible reality. It was in no sense of a nature perfunctory or sinecure. The Emperor Commodus used to fight in the arena against a man armed only with a leaden sword, whom he of course easily and invariably conquered; but the wounds of Christ show that the weapons which assailed Him were real and fearful. And these wounds are the signs of the true Christ.

In delivering Israel, Ehud was doing God's work and receiving His approval; but we are not to suppose in such cases, that everything which is done, especially as to the manner of its doing, was divinely sanctioned or approved. Thus the manner of his approach to Eglon was characterised by extreme treachery, though it was certain that if Ehud, being divinely empowered for the work, had taken an open course, the result would have been equally successful and his success untarnished. On the other hand it would be absurd for us to judge a man of such times and circumstances by the standard of — the nineteenth century! nay, the light of Christianity. The great matter is that he did his work; if not in the best way — somehow: are his critics doing theirs?

He approaches the king with a present, having under his clothing a dagger, long and keen as that which Harmodius concealed with myrtle when he slew the Athenian tyrant. The fat sensual monarch is in a good humour, and invites him into the "summer parlour." "I have a secret errand for thee, O king," says Ehud. The king, doubtless, thinks to hear of fresh ways to plunder and oppress the Israelites: an obsequious parasite of their own nation is just the person to tell him, so he sends the servants and courtiers out. Imprudent to be sure; but what can an unarmed — and one-armed — man do to him? — and the man looks so innocent! The king wants to hear now what it is. The left-hand man is certainly very gauche — or is it sinister? He is stooping, groping under his clothes. . . The king rises, alarmed. "A message from God to thee"! says the Benjamite, and, with the dagger in his left hand, smites him an awful blow, like the kick of a horse, driving the blade, nearly two feet long, right into the fat king's body and out at the back so that the haft goes in after the blade. Well, there is nothing like being thorough after all. Then the Benjamite walks out unconcernedly, locking the door after him. Once outside the palace, he hastens to the mountain of Ephraim, and blows such a réveil on his war trumpet as awakens Israel from their troubled nightmare, and puts ten thousand Moabites to sleep for ever.

And the courtiers are outside the "summer parlour" waiting, — waiting, — fearing to disturb their monarch, wondering at his long silence; whilst the gross body of their lord inside lies sprawled in the coagulating blood, announcing from the mute ghastly lips of its dreadful wound that — sooner or later, in time or in eternity — the enemies of God and His people shall grovel helpless in the dust.

The doctrine of the Survival of the Fittest has little thought of hope or comfort for any of those whose fangs are not strong, whose claws are not sharp, whose faculties are not entire, and whose hearts are not pitiless. Even Professor Huxley lately admits that in itself it is not sufficient to produce the highest forms of human character, and Mr. Wallace, Darwin's twin-discoverer (of Lamarck's obsolete theory) never considered that it was sufficient to produce human character at all. Is He the God of the Fit only? is He not also the God of the Unfit? Is not His strength made perfect in weakness? His greatest victories accomplished in defeat? Many of the most glorious and enduring achievements have been done by the Unfit whom He has fitted. To all those who are conscious of being maimed and limited in function or faculty of body or mind, the words of that great leader of men, who bore about in his body the "stigmas" of Christ, come as an inspiration and a hope, — "when I am weak, then am I strong." "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." The maimed Ehud struck such a blow with his left hand that it still reverberates through history, what time he laid prostrate the colossal iniquity of Moab.