Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. But God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.
Judges 9:22-23 (NRSV)
I have, of late, been enjoying watching Shakespeare’s Henry IV both parts 1 and 2, starring Tom Hiddleston (who played Loki in Marvel’s Thor movies) as the young prince Henry V. The teenaged heir to the crown has a troubled relationship with his father (King Henry IV, played by Jeremy Irons), and chooses to rebel from his royal life and slum around a seedy area of London known as Eastcheap.
There, in a tavern, young prince Henry (known as “Harry” or “Hal”) parties hard and incessant with a fat, licentious fool of an old knight named Sir John Falstaff. Harry, Falstaff and a band of rogues revel in drunkenness and all around dishonest mischief – sometimes enjoying a dishonest turn against one another. Harry’s friend, Poins, steals Falstaff’s horse from him, causing the old fool to quip, “It stinks when there is no honor among thieves.”
There is no honor among thieves.
That line came to mind when I read in this morning’s chapter about Abimelech’s treachery against his brothers and his grab for power. Not to question the validity of “God sending an evil spirit,” but I wonder if that spirit found it easy work to stir up trouble between Abimelech and his co-conspiritors. There being no honor among thieves, those who deal in treachery and dishonest gain tend to breed conflict and mistrust among their own.
This morning I am reminded of the simple wisdom of keeping good company. When we surround ourselves with those who seek truth, peace, joy, and love then we tend to find our lives rewarded with the fruit of our corporate longing. Young Henry learned this lesson in time. He eventually repents of his folly, restores his relationship with his father, and eventually becomes a legendary hero in Shakespeare’s sequel, Henry V.