Ehud: A Lesson in Creative Problem Solving

religion (3)

Written by Ben Perkin

I feel comfortable admitting that I am terrible at time management. I often find myself chasing deadlines and completing assignments minutes before they are due. My head spins when I walk from class to class thinking about the things I should have done yesterday. Over time, I watched helplessly as this problem transformed itself from a minor concern into a giant towering over me. 

To fight this, I tried researching ways to control my time better, but nothing could help me. Checklists were useless, reminders were a nuisance and self-help YouTube videos only taught me how to make my notes more beautiful. I was stuck. At that point, I knew I was in need of divine intervention, some sort of inspiration that did not involve buying more sticky notes. 

Because I felt like I was facing a giant, I first turned to the story of David. Here was a situation I could relate to — perilously high stakes, an underequipped protagonist and seemingly insurmountable odds in the form of a massive, spear-wielding warrior. I remember thinking, “If David defeated his giant by facing it head-on, then I can too.” 

However, in the end, David’s straightforward approach did not work out. I discovered that repeatedly throwing myself against the clock only made things worse, and I continued to slip farther and farther behind. I wanted to believe the Bible had insight to give me, the cure I so desperately needed. But despite my best efforts, doubt began to creep in. Then, suddenly, without meaning to, I stumbled onto the answers I was looking for in the seldom-read story of a man named Ehud. 

In this story, Ehud, a left-handed Benjamite, delivers Israel from the Moabites by killing their king, an enormously fat man named Eglon (Judges 3:12-30). While reading this story, I noticed that Ehud and David are extremely similar in many ways, the most noticeable being their calling. Both men are called to deliver Israel from foreign invaders by killing a giant. Of course, Goliath and Eglon are not giants in the same respect, but both are massive from different perspectives. 

However, there is one major difference between them: How they approached the task of killing their giants. David approaches Goliath directly, fighting him in an open space with only a slingshot. Ehud does things in a more roundabout way. The Bible says Ehud hides a short sword under his clothing when he visits Eglon to pay Israel’s tribute. After making the payment, he tells the king he also has a secret message to deliver. When Eglon closes the doors to his chambers so the two of them can speak privately, Ehud kills him.

Reading this story was a huge turning point for me. Here were two men who used incredibly different methods to achieve the same result: A defeated giant. After comparing Ehud and David, I realized I did not have to approach time management in the recommended ways I had found online. Like Ehud, I could be creative. Eventually, through experimentation, I found that waking up early in the morning was the method that worked for me. Before deciding to think “outside of the box,” I would have never considered early mornings as an option. Now, even though it can still be a struggle, time management is less difficult for me. My assignments are done on time, and I can walk across campus without getting a headache. 

So, I encourage anyone who is dealing with an “unsolvable” problem to try something you would not normally try. For a moment, think like Ehud. Through creative thinking, God might give you the inspiration you need to kill your giant. 

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