I just had one of those moments where the scripture reaches out and smacks me on the head to get my attention.
My first thoughts after reading Judges 12 were to think the Ephraimites were so dumb! Let me expound-
Jephthah led the Hebrews to victory as they battled against their enemies the Ammonites. The men of Ephraim, one of the tribal groups of Israel, grew angry because they were not involved in helping bring the enemy down.
Now this is the dumb part- they were so angry they Ephraimites went to Jephthah’s house with the intent to burn it down with him inside. Jephthah told them he called for help but Ephraim didn’t come.
In response the Ephraimites moving against him, Jephthah called out his people the Gileadites and a battle between the two Hebrew groups ensued. When all was said and done forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed.
What an absolute tragedy over something so dumb!
As I pondered this event, I looked up to see the descriptive title my study Bible had for this passage and read ‘petulant Ephraimites punished”. Wanting to make sure I had a clear understanding of that adjective, I looked it up. According to the Merriam-Webster app, petulant means-
“Having or showing the attitude of people who become angry and annoyed when they do not get what they want.”
Yep… definitely describes the Ephraimites.
But wait… that describes me sometimes too!
Over the course of my career as a teacher, I’ve butted heads with administration and other teachers and sometimes students because things were not going as I thought they should… Was I being petulant? Not always… but sometimes- yes! Thank goodness for the work of the Spirit in me because the older I get the more I learn to roll with the punches and keep going without such attitude.
Then at home… the Spirit challenged me to look back over 28 years of marriage to my dear husband and admit that yes, sometimes I’ve been petulant. I’ve gotten attitude because things didn’t happen just as I wanted.
Recognizing that petulant sometimes describes me is not enough. I must look at how the Ephraimites paid for their bad attitude- 42,000 died. When I get attitude at school, I usually cause more problems and stress myself out. When I get petulant at home, tension fills the air and joy is sucked out of the atmosphere.
Lord, thank you for the lesson of the petulant Ephraimites. Their attitude over not getting what they wanted cost them dearly. Help me to learn from their mistake. Help me grow and mature and become more Christ-like in my attitude. May ‘petulant’ not be an adjective that describes me. Amen!