42 Now it came about the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was told to Abimelech. 43 So he took [aj]his people and divided them into three [ak]companies, and lay in wait in the field; when he looked and [al]saw the people coming out from the city, he arose against them and [am]slew them. 44 Then Abimelech and the [an]company who was with him dashed forward and stood in the entrance of the city gate; the other two [ao]companies then dashed against all who were in the field and [ap]slew them. 45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he razed the city and sowed it with salt.
46 When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the inner chamber of the [aq]temple of El-berith. 47 It was told Abimelech that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took [ar]an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees, and lifted it and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do [as]likewise.” 49 All the people also cut down each one his branch and followed Abimelech, and put them on the inner chamber and set the inner chamber on fire over those inside, so that all the men of the tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women.
50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he camped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower. 52 So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that it will not be said of me, ‘A woman slew him.’” So [at]the young man pierced him through, and he died. 55 When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each departed to his [au]home. 56 Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57 Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came [av]upon them.
One of the results of a giving in to pride is a thirst for power. If pride is the hook, power is a mighty lure and seems to be one of the proofs (however faulty) that prideful people crave.
When you have pride, you think you’re above others, and when you have power, you can forcibly put more people beneath you. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, and Abimelech was full of it.
Abimelech was so full of pride, that when his eventual downfall came (via a rock on the head, thrown by a “lesser” woman), that he tells his armor bearer to kill him in order to avoid shame. So how did that work out? Because of his pride, he died, plain and simple. He took down one tower with fire, and then took on what seems to be an even bigger tower, no doubt thinking he was invincible.
Instead, he should have learned from his father’s example. Gideon was a humble man, not puffed up (at least not early on), and God exalted him. Abimelech (and Gaal) were prideful, craving power, and God humbled them, bringing them low.
Jesus said once, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first…” If God wants to exalt you, that’s His business. Your business is to do His will, and be humble, even when God exalts you. Which is a tricky business, but one of the important things is to keep the attitude of a servant.
When your goal is to serve others, it’s hard for power and pride to gain footholds. When your goal is to serve others for the glory of God, it very nearly rules them out. Keep your eyes on Him, and let God have all the glory. He may share some with you, He may not, but that’s His business.