Gideon: Relying on God’s Power

KEY VERSE: “It came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.” —Judges 7:9

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 7:2-7, 19-21

A TREMENDOUS army of Israel’s enemies had camped in the valley of Jezreel, and Gideon needed some direct assurance from the Lord that such an array of armed strength could be routed by a mere three hundred men. So “the same night” the Lord instructed Gideon to take with him Phurah, his servant, down into the camp of the Midianites “and thou shalt hear what they say.” The Lord told him that what he heard would give him courage for the attack which was to be made later.—vss. 9-11

This visit to the ranks of the enemy was made by night, and unobserved by the enemy’s watchmen. “And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for unto his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.”—vss. 13,14

Hearing the account of this dream and its interpretation gave Gideon the assurance he needed that the little band of three hundred whom the Lord selected to be his army could actually rout the Midianites. Returning to his soldiers, he said, “Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”—vs. 15

Gideon’s three hundred soldiers had been given no arms, but now he gave each one a trumpet, a lamp or torch, and an earthen pitcher. It is doubtful if any other army in the history of mankind has been equipped in this manner! Although the record does not say so, it is likely that Gideon’s method of fighting and plan of attack were directed by the Lord. Furnishing them with their weapons, Gideon separated his troops into three groups, deploying them on the sides of the hills surrounding the host of Midian encamped in the valley below.

Apparently there was more involved in Gideon’s strategy than appears on the surface. Small though his army was, he had them deployed in such a manner as to virtually surround the camp of the Midianites. Ordinarily only the captains of an army would be sounding trumpets and carrying torches, and for the Midianites to hear three hundred trumpets sounding, and see three hundred flickering torches surrounding them on all sides, would certainly give the impression that they were being attacked by a tremendous army. Fear and panic spread through the ranks of the enemy. Thus the “Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host.” (vs. 22) As the Midianites attacked each other they fled, and Gideon’s victory was complete.

Gideon is one of the humblest, and at the same time ablest, statesmen of the Bible. When the angel of the Lord first spoke to him, he explained that he was the least of his father’s house, and he maintained this spirit of humility. He heard the Midianites use the expression, “The sword of Gideon,” but when he instructed his little army to use this as a battle cry, he added the Lord’s name, and put it first—“The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.”

Gideon continued his campaign against the enemies of Israel until they were completely routed out of the land. In keeping with our key text, the Lord was with Gideon by teaching him his ways. It was because he followed the Lord’s ways that the enemies of Israel were defeated.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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