Burns’ Night Reflections

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Tonight is known as Burns’ Night, a celebration of Scotland’s iconic poet.  In tribute, I will be making turnips and potato (neeps and tatties) and preparing a gluten-free haggis for my wife and some smoked Scottish salmon.

Scottish themed dinner aside, Burns is noted for famously reflecting in his “To A Mouse,” that, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley.” Put simply, the plans of both beasts and men often fail.

This is no clearer than in Judges 9.  In this side story in the biblical narrative we find Abimelek, the son of Gideon plotting with his mother’s people against his seventy brothers.  His aim is to be made king, a title and role his father had eschewed.  He surrounds himself with a group of ruffians and kills his brethren.   He then is proclaimed king, though he is called out and cursed by his youngest brother who has escaped the carnage by hiding.

Like Burns’ mousie, Abimelek’s scheme fails.  God in the end punishes him for the treachery towards his brothers, and his presumption to rule rather than giving the lead to God.  Abimelek has a falling out with his supporters, and this leads to open conflict.  Those rebelling against him become hold up in a tower, which he personally assaults with the aim of burning down its gates. It is at this point that a woman in the tower drops a millstone crushing his skull.  The scripture reflects, “56 Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.”

Who is the author of our plans today?  Are they “of mice and men,” or of God?