Othniel dies; the children of Israel return to their evil ways, and forget the Lord. The same God who had strengthened Othniel against the enemy, now, in judgment, strengthens Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel. Eglon and his allies take possession of the city of palm trees (Comp. 1: 16, Deut. 34: 3), of Jericho, not in its character of the accursed city, but in that of blessing for Israel. And now Israel, in their fallen state, make use of the very one, whom God was about to employ for their deliverance, to carry a present to Eglon, ratifying thus their subjection to the world, whose favour they seek. How many gifts there are in the present day which become but willing instruments for keeping God's children under the dominion of the world. But Ehud is faithful - he makes himself a two‑edged sword: his first act - his only resource. The Christian in the day of ruin has also his two‑edged sword, the Word of God being his chief and only offensive weapon. ( Heb. 4: 12; Rev. 1: 16; Rev. 19: 15; Eph. 6: 17) True, this sword was only a cubit in length; Ehud's weapon was short, but well suited to its work. It was a tried sword, capable of piercing to the inward parts of God's enemy and of giving him his death blow.
Before using his weapon, Ehud "girt it under his raiment upon his right thigh," carrying it about him, ready for use; not displaying it, conscious that it was there. The Bible is often displayed, and much quoted, without being used. But the Word of God has a purpose. Ehud, left‑handed, adapts his sword to his infirmity, girding it on his right thigh. Had he worn it in the usual way it would have been useless. The manner in which the weapon is used invariably corresponds to the personal state of the one using it. To imitate others is of no avail, as we learn from the case of David, who was unable to handle Saul's sword, being accustomed, as a shepherd, to a sling and a stone.
Having brought the present to Eglon, Ehud turned again from the graven images (Judges 3: 19, margin) that were by Gilgal; having, as he said, a "secret message" unto the king. It was not, as with many others, a public victory, but a secret, single‑handed encounter between the deliverer and the enemy, the public results of which were soon to appear. It was so with Christ when He was tempted of Satan in the desert. Here all takes place silently, with no apparent struggle, no cry; the enemy was found dead by the servants, who thought their Master was resting. The power by which Israel had been enthralled is destroyed by the short sword of a left‑handed man.
There was no fame or glory attending such a victory. It was a secret message, but a "message from God" unto Eglon (Judges 5: 20). Our weapon is divine, and therein lies all its power. With Ehud, as with Gideon, it was the "sword of the Lord." The king was dead, but the weapon was not drawn out of his belly. Ehud was gone, but the servants had before their eyes the instrument of victory; God proved to their confusion, that it was this short sword which had abased the proud man, whose eyes stood out with fatness.
It remained for Ehud to reap the fruits of his victory. "He blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim" to assemble the people of God, and they "took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over." The people recovered these usurped possessions; and, through the vigilance of the children of Israel, the way of approach for the enemy was cut off. The usurper was expelled and destroyed, Moab could no longer maintain himself on the two banks of the Jordan. Such should be the practical result of conflict at the present time. If the actual effect is not to make us openly break with the world, it is fruitless and does not answer to the purpose of God. The more complete the separation, the more lasting is the peace. "The land," we are told, "had rest four‑score years."