Hobson’s Choice

1 Samuel 11:2 “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you” (NIV).

Observation: Ammonites led by Nahash besieged Israelites living in the area of Jabesh-Gilead. Preparing to surrender, the men of Jabesh told Nahash that they were willing to be subject to him if he would agree to peace. His response was that he be allowed to gouge out the right eye of all the townsmen, the price required to end his siege.

Application: Think of it! The men of an entire city—your city or mine—first blinded in their right eye, then enslaved, but promised to be overrun and killed if they don’t agree to such terms. A Hobson’s choice, indeed.

What would have been my choice had I been a member of that community? Willing to surrender to enslavement in exchange for the lifting of my enemy’s siege, I then receive word that something more would be required: a mutilation that would still permit servitude, yet assure that I could never again aim a weapon at my oppressor.

As difficult as it is to imagine my response in that situation, my own reality is far worse. The men of Jabesh-Gilead had a profound advantage over us who today face similarly stark choices: they knew their enemy. He was self-disclosing. They had dodged his slings and arrows. He was approachable under the white flag of temporary truce. They could hear his terms of surrender and thoughtfully weigh their response. But the enemy of my soul gives me no such advantages. He is a master of self-concealment, and he comes with enticements intended to ensnare by their sensory appeals, thence to lead to my destruction. He would indeed enslave and blind me, but he is far too cunning to so freely advertise the consequences of surrender. The damnable thing about his sensory enticements is that he so masterfully counterfeits the very pleasures God created for my enjoyment.

Lust and greed, pride and selfishness are but poor substitutes for the far greater pleasures God lays before me. Pascal addressed the problem of seeking happiness and fulfillment from things that can never satisfy when he wrote in Pensées, “But these are all inadequate because the infinite abyss can only be fulfilled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.” Without wholehearted, passionate devotion to Him, I run the risk of being both enslaved and blinded without even being aware of the battle raging ‘round about me.

Prayer: Father, open my eyes to Your majesty and beauty. Cause me to so focus on You in all Your glory that all else fades into insignificance. I choose today to violently command my soul to find its satisfaction only in You.

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