God loves us so much he sets boundaries for each of us to operate in since he knows what we can or cannot handle. If we stay in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we will have a pretty good idea of how to stay within our boundaries so as not to place ourselves and others in difficult situations unnecessarily. Even Paul recognized there were places he shouldn’t go (Acts 16:6-7; Romans 15:20). It’s the in-thing in this day and age for people to be so self-obsessed in overestimations that they believe they are entitled to exalt themselves and impose on others to be in some high position of power and/or authority.
Such was the case with Gideon’s son Abimelech in Judges 9. His self-obsession with being king over Israel led him to conspire with worthless thugs to get his way. He ended up killing his own brothers, with the exception of the youngest one, Jotham. Jotham, although the youngest, turned out to be the wisest. By the power and wisdom of God, Jotham went to Mount Gerizim, the place where all of God’s blessings were proclaimed when the Jews entered the Promised Land.
It was there Jotham laid out an allegory that holds true throughout scripture and in life today for anyone wishing to be in line with God’s purpose for their lives. In his allegory in Judges 9:7-15, Jotham told of a group of trees who got together to choose someone to be king over them. They approached three trees that turned down the offer and a fourth that accepted the offer.
The first tree offered the position was the olive tree. It refused because it did not see the point in leaving it’s “fatness” that honored God and man for the vain aspirations the group of trees had in mind. Symbolic of a true believer, the olive tree knew its oily fatness of the Holy Spirit’s anointing was for contributing to man’s health and for God’s glory when used for offerings in the tabernacle, the Old Testament symbol of the New Testament church and its ministries.
The second tree was the fig tree. It wasn’t about to give up its “sweetness” and “good fruit” for vain self-exaltation. The fig tree, also symbolic of true believers (Song of Solomon 2:13; James 3:12), had the desire to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit to make church fellowship sweet. It had no interest in the obvious dirty, underhanded compromises the group of trees was asking for.
The third tree was the grape vine. It concluded that it wasn’t worth it to please the trees by giving up its service of rendering wine that pleased both God and man. As a symbol of the believer, it pleases God and holy men when we as a vine are filled with the Holy Spirit and the joy he brings.
It was finally the worthless bramble that accepted the offer from the trees. The fact the trees offered it to a bramble speaks volumes about their character and intentions. The bramble, symbolic of the destructive corruption of the self-centered (Isaiah 34:13; Luke 6:44), had a huge stipulation in its agreement with the trees. It wanted their complete loyalty and if they didn’t give it, the bramble threatened to take down their most powerful members (Judges 9:15). So it is with the self-obsessed who obtain places of power and authority in any setting.
The first three trees knew the principles laid out in Psalm 1 and knew how to be trees which bring forth their fruit in their seasons. The theme that Jotham pointed out to his brother and to all of us is summed up in what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:6–
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.