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Bible Commentaries
Judges 9

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the BibleSpurgeon's Verse Expositions

Verse 9

Judges 9:9 The Faithful Olive Tree

But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Judges 9:9

THE fable teaches that temptations will come to us all, however sweet, or useful, or fruitful, even as they came to the fig, the olive, and the vine. These temptations may take the shape of proffered honors; if not a crown, yet some form of preferment or power may be the bribe. The trees were under God's government and wanted no king; but in this fable they "went forth" and so quitted their true place. Then they sought to be like men, forgetting that God had not made them to be conformed to a fallen race. Revolting themselves, they strove to win over those better trees which had remained faithful. No wonder they chose the olive, so rich and honored; for it would give their kingdom respectability to have such a monarch; but the olive wisely declined, and gave its reason. I. APPARENT PROMOTIONS ARE NOT TO BE SNATCHED AT. The question is to be asked, Should I? Let us never do what would be unbecoming, unsuitable, unwise (Genesis 39:9 ). Emphasis is to be laid on the I Should I? If God has given me peculiar gifts or special grace, does it become me to trifle with these endowments? Should I give them up to gain honor for myself (Nehemiah 6:11 )?

A higher position may seem desirable, but would it be right to gain it by such cost (Jeremiah 45:5 )? It will involve duties and cares. "Go up and down among the trees" implies that there would be care, oversight, traveling, etc. These duties will be quite new to me; for, like an olive, I have been hitherto planted in one place. Should I run into new temptations, new difficulties, etc., of my own wanton will? Can I expect God's blessing upon such strange work? Put the question in the case of wealth, honor, power, which are set before us. Should we grasp at them at the risk of being less at peace, less holy, less prayerful, less useful?


"Should I leave my fatness?" I have this great boon, should I lightly lose it? It is the greatest advantage in life to be useful both to God and man "By me they honor God and man." We ought heartily to prize this high privilege. To leave this for anything which the world can offer would be great loss. "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon?" etc., (Jeremiah 18:14 ; Jeremiah 2:13 ). Our possession of fatness meets the temptation to become a king. We are happy enough in Christ, in his service, with his people, and in the prospect of the reward. We cannot better ourselves by the move; let us stay as we are. We may also meet it by the reflection. That the prospect is startling "Shall I leave my fatness?" For an olive to do this would be unnatural: for a believer to leave holy living would be worse (John 6:68 ). That the retrospect would be terrible--"leave my fatness." What must it be to have left grace, and truth, and holiness, and Christ? Remember Judas. That even an hour of such leaving would be a loss. What would an olive do even for a day if it left its fatness? That it would all end in disappointment; for nothing could compensate for leaving the Lord. All else is death (Jeremiah 17:13 ). That to abide firmly and reject all baits is like the saints, the martyrs, and their Lord; but to prefer honor to grace is a mere bramble folly.


Let us take deeper root. The mere proposal to leave our fatness should make us hold the faster to it. Let us be on the watch that we lose not our joy, which is our fatness. If we would not leave it, neither can we bear that it should leave us. Let us yield more fatness, and bear more fruit: he who gains largely is all the further removed from loss. The more we increase in grace the less are we likely to leave it. Let us feel the more content, and speak the more lovingly of our gracious state, that none may dare to entice us. When Satan sees us happily established he will have the less hope of overthrowing us.


Many to obtain a higher wage have left holy companionships, and sacred opportunities for hearing the word and growing in grace. They have lost their Sabbaths, quitted a soul-feeding ministry, and fallen among worldlings, to their own sorrowful loss. Such persons are as foolish as the poor Indians who gave the Spaniards gold in exchange for paltry beads. Riches procured by impoverishing the soul are always a curse. To increase your business so that you cannot attend week-night services is to become really poorer; to give up heavenly pleasure, and receive earthly cares in exchange is a sorry sort of barter. Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice of England in the time of James I., was a man of noble spirit, and often incurred the displeasure of the king by his patriotism. On one occasion, when an unworthy attempt was made to influence his conduct, he replied, "When the case happens I shall do that which shall be fit for a judge to do." Oh, that all Christians in trying moments would act as shall be fit for followers of Christ to do! In Tennyson's story of the village maiden, who became the wife of the Lord of Burleigh, we see how burdensome worldly honors may prove, even when though unsought they have been honorably gained:

"But a trouble weighed upon her, And perplexed her, night and morn, With the burthen of an honor Unto which she was not born. "Were it not better to bestow Some place and power on me? Then should thy praises with me grow, And share in my degree. "How know I, if thou shouldst me raise, That I should then raise thee? Perhaps great places and thy praise Do not so well agree" George Herbert

Say not this calling and vocation to which God has appointed me is too small and insignificant for me. God's will is the best calling, and to be faithful to it is the worthiest. God often places great blessings in little things. Should thy proud heart learn humility and resignation by this humble work, wouldest thou not have high wages for thy low service? From the German

Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Judges 9". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/judges-9.html. 2011.
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